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Urban Explorer's Handbook 2006

Gimmie a C-A-L-L!

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It was a crazy day, but the real kicker about this one was that this day ended up as the red-blooded American male's ultimate fantasy: Cheerleaders lined up ready to simper, jump and pose on cue for the camera.

Creative Loafing was invited to observe the secretive casting world via Paige Johnston, who owns Corrigan & Johnston Casting with partner Mitzi Corrigan. C&J Casting offers an unlimited range of casting services for the entire Southeast with divisions for film, commercials and extras. The company's work includes national commercials like Coke, UPS, Target and Home Depot; local commercials for Carolinas Medical Center and Harris Teeter; an Alan Jackson music video; and such films as He Got Game and indie Body Count, starring John Leguizamo and CSI: Miami's David Caruso.

OK, back to the cheerleaders. This particular casting call was for a NASCAR-related commercial. It was reminiscent of those skits on Saturday Night Live featuring Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri as the rejected Spartan Cheerleaders. The cheerleaders are giving it all they've got and getting absolutely no response from the "Bubba"-ish fans, who are kind of preoccupied with the race.

"The humor in the commercial comes from the fact that the cheerleaders are all gung ho and the race fans are very, very calm," says Johnston.

The most important qualification for actors on a casting call is believability. Hopefuls have a very small window in which to charm the casting director with just the right energy for the role. The decisions are then made after the taped auditions are reviewed by the clients, sometimes resulting in a callback. Most often not.

A highlight of today's call came when a Reese Witherspoon doppelganger hit the floor and injected a little fun into the parody with her eager and overly dramatic gesticulating. Beforehand, the rather nondescript bunch of ex-cheerleaders shouted things like, "Drive Fast! Pit Stop! Tire Man!" as if they were just going through the motions.

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