Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal published a half-page article about hiring a consultant in order to be cast on a reality TV show. This trigged VideoAge’s curiosity, so we checked with several reality experts, but were unable to find any meaningful answers in order to expand on the topic. VideoAge then reached out to Phil Gurin of The Gurin Company, who has won four Prime Time Emmy Awards for his work as an executive producer for ABC’s Shark Tank. Gurin succinctly answered in an e-mail, “Sadly, I don’t really know any of these consultants, nor have I worked with any.” Gurin is also co-chairman of FRAPA, the international Format Recognition and Protection Association, which is based in Naarden, in the Netherlands.
And yet, according to the WSJ, casting consultants are “part of a growing cottage industry of former casting agents and contestants who are now working directly with people who want to be on reality TV.”
VideoAge then reached out to one of the consultants quoted in the WSJ article, Jodi Wincheski, who said: “I’m phasing out of the casting business. I am working in sales enablement training. I am in sales and we sell training to corporations, mostly for the tech industry.” Nevertheless, she agreed to answer a few questions. (The second consultant quoted in the WSJ article, Adam Klein, contacted through his agent, did not reply.)
“I help people make their best video, but do not connect them with casting or make any promises about them being cast,” said Wincheski. However, she said, “There is at least one organization that claimed they could get people cast and made claims about working with the casting organization. It was a scam and when I was in casting, we had never heard of them except from people who were scammed by them.”
When asked about the reluctance of reality TV show producers to accept casting consultants, Wincheski said: “I would say that casting probably doesn’t appreciate it [but] casting departments should appreciate it because they are getting better videos with information they actually need to make a decision.” She then concluded: “I don’t believe in changing people to fit what casting is looking for. We guide people to include the most relevant information that is applicable for the show. People don’t inherently know how to make casting videos, and with guidance, people who made terrible videos on their own have gotten cast on shows and have been great!”