Reality shows have come a long way since Troy McClain, a mortgage broker from Boise, became a local celebrity by getting fired on The Apprentice in 2004.
Perhaps nobody knows that better than Brooks Dame of Eagle. He was a finalist to appear on that first Apprentice season. A Spanish and business major at Brigham Young University, he submitted his information on a whim, was flown to Seattle, interviewed ... then cut.
Troy made it, acknowledges Dame, 33, now vice-president of human resources at Woodgrain Millwork in Fruitland.
On Feb. 22, Dame gets his second chance.
Flanked by his brothers Taylor and Tanner, he will be shown pitching Proof Eyewear, a small company he founded in his Eagle garage, to the power brokers on the ABC reality show Shark Tank.
The Dames appearance will be one of three by Idahoans on reality TV shows in the next two weeks.
Ryan Pickett, 32, who grew up in Rigby and relocated to Boise in 2011 for a stint at Scentsy, is one of five contestants on the CBS series premiere of The Job on Feb. 8.
And Sherri Biethman, 41, who owns franchise restaurants in Boise and Meridian, is one of the stars of the new season of Survivor: Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites. It premieres Feb. 13, also on CBS.
CBS hearts Idaho, Pickett quips.
The romance could be short-lived. Only Survivor is set up to feature an Idahoan for more than one episode. And reality show contestants are bound by nondisclosure agreements, so its impossible to know whether these appearances will be positive or, shall we say, more Trump-like.
Pickett says he will be relieved just to see The Job air.
Its been difficult to not share anything with family or friends, he says in a phone interview monitored by a CBS publicist. Bottling it all in. Holding a poker face.
For the Dame brothers, Shark Tank was an opportunity to gain exposure for Proof, which only recently moved out of the garage and into an office. Proof is a business that probably could benefit from a wealthy partner, too which is what the shows sharks potentially offer.
Urged by friends, Dame emailed the show. Its the first time hes reached out to reality TV since that flirtation with The Apprentice.
Ive never thought of myself, like, Hey, Im a reality star, he says.
Two days later, ABC responded.
It was all pretty quick, he says. I think that happened in August, and by September, we were in California shooting at the studio.
Picketts journey to The Job came after seeing an online ad. After being diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 29 a life-changing challenge that caused him to sell his stake in two Picketts Bambino restaurants hed opened in Rigby and Idaho Falls he was looking for a new experience.
I saw an ad on Craiglist, remembers Pickett, who was raised working in his parents Rigby pizzeria. It said, Do you have an interesting background in restaurants?
Contestants on The Job compete for career-boosting employment at interesting places such as Cosmopolitan magazine, Major League Soccer and Epic Records.
On Picketts episode, they try to land a job at the prestigious Palm Restaurant Group.
I came in with a few reservations about reality TV, Pickett admits. ... But the cool thing about this show is that at least from the promo youve seen as much as I have the promo really allayed my fears of those reservations that I had. I came away feeling that this reality show ... it almost seems like an opportunity.
Dame had equally positive things to say about Shark Tank not that presenting your idea and company to billionaire Mark Cuban or inventor Lori Greiner is easy.
Its kind of like putting your baby out there, Dame says. Its a little nerve-wracking. Honestly, you show up and they say, OK, pitch. Its not like you meet the sharks beforehand. You just walk into the room.
Its probably as real as reality TV gets, honestly. Theres no real coaching that went on.
Dame wont say whether any of the sharks dominated the Proof conversation more than others. (Theres that whole nondisclosure thing again.)
But he does say that not being alone helped.
It was nice to go with my brothers, because we kind of back each other up, he says.
Biethman probably wont have quite the same warm and fuzzy experience on Survivor.
The wife and mother of three in Eagle has experience operating Wetzels Pretzels, Cinnabon and Haagen-Dazs at Boise Towne Square and two Jimmy Johns in Meridian.
But what about living on a cutthroat island?
Ive been preparing myself cardio, and working out, seven days a week for three months, she says in a Survivor profile video on YouTube.
Adds Biethman: Im not here to make friends ... I didnt leave my kids for 40 days, 45 days, to come out here and play nice. So Im here to win.
Maybe its a good thing that a few of Idahos TV contestants will have one-and-done appearances this month short, sweet and mostly painless.
I dont know if I would have made the cut for Survivor, Dame says, chuckling.
OLDIES RADIO EXPANDS
Oldies are coming back to the Treasure Valleys AM airwaves. Barring any unforeseen hitches, Ontario AM country station KSRV 1380 The Bull will switch formats to Oldies 1380 on Feb. 15 and spin music from the late 50s through early 70s.
The station is being purchased by local radio veteran Jack Armstrong, best known for his 14 years as the voice of now-defunct Kool 104.3.
Big Jack expects to play his first oldies tune at 3 p.m. Feb. 15.
- In other oldies news, familiar voice KJ Mac, who was let go at K-Hits as part of restructuring, will return to the Treasure Valley airwaves Feb. 4.
Mac will do the morning show from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays at Kool Oldies 99.5 FM.
TONIGHT IN THE OTHER STUDIO
I wont mention a word about Beyonces Super Bowl performance. But we will spin new music from Kris Kristofferson, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Strokes and Boise band Edmond Dantes.
The Other Studio airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.
IN SCENE ON FEB. 8
- Even in a tough economy, Boises arts scene continues to grow. Three new theater companies started production in the last year and another is coming.
- Been to the new Boise location of The Griddle? We have. And well review it.