ABC Goes Digital in Search for Next Big Star

Digital casting initiative offers aspiring thesps, comedians talent holding and option deals with ABC

ABC is heading to the internet in search of breakthrough talent with the launch of Make Me A Star.

Initiative marks the first time a major TV net has offered a digital talent competition that exclusively targets aspiring actors and comedians. Instead of relying on already represented thesps in major metropolitan areas for the cast of scripted programs, Alphabet is broadening its talent pool by offering a platform for unknowns in any city to virtually showcase their skills.

Keli Lee, exec veep of casting at ABC, told Variety that Make Me A Star was conceived after one particular video went ultra-viral online.

“My team and I are constantly in pursuit of talent,” Lee said. “When Psy blew up, my executive heard about it on KCRW and sent me a clip of this guy — at the time, it was at around 33,000 views. I sent it to hundreds of my friends, and now it’s at a billion-plus views. In that moment, I thought, ‘Here’s a guy from South Korea who made it globally…How do I get people from around the world to come to us?'”

Make Me A Star kicked off at the beginning of this month and offers both a public and private competition.

In the public competition, ABC reviews vids posted on the Make Me A Star website and ABC Casting Facebook page for the public to vote on. Winner nabs a 6-month $10,000 talent option agreement with the net. In the private competition, ABC narrows down the finalists to a winner in-house. That winner receives a one-year $25,000 talent holding deal with the Alphabet.

Contestants in both competitions must be 18 or older to enter, though Lee notes she’s currently working on launching a digital casting site for tykes, as well. The competitions are accepting submissions through July 12.

Make Me A Star joins ABC’s other casting initiatives, including a Gotham and LA talent showcase that has led to castings such as Jesse Williams in “Grey’s Anatomy,” Dania Ramirez in “Devious Maids,” Liza Lapira in “Super Fun Night” and Jorge Garcia in “Lost.”

While heading to the digital waters in search of undiscovered talent is becoming increasingly common in showbiz, ABC’s casting site arises against a backdrop of fall skeins that boast big name talent, with thesps like Andy Samberg, Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox and Rebel Wilson toplining new programs.

Where do fresh faces fit in in this mix?

“My view on talent,” Lee said succintly, “is that we need to have a diverse portfolio of actors: we need big stars, we need to reinvent stars, and most of all we need a pipeline of new talent coming into ABC.”

Visit http://www.abcmakemeastar.com or http://facebook.com/abcegcasting for more info on the Make Me A Star initiative.

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