Normally I don’t give a crap about celebrity and I’m not a big fan of reality shows, but I am thrilled that Austin’s own Zach Anner will get the travel show he’s always wanted to make after winning the Your OWN Show contest on Oprah’s new network. (Buffalo, NY wants to claim him just because he grew up there, but they can’t have him.) In fact, it was a tie. Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco gets her cooking show as well.
I didn’t see it coming, but I think Oprah made the right decision. She wound up with two people who were too talented to let go. They would probably just get picked up by some other network at this point.
I got a chance to see Zach in person last night at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar at a viewing party put on by his friends from Lark the Beard Production Company (the guys from the Wingmen series on Youtube). For a while I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. My pickup overheated in the traffic on Lamar and I had to pull over a couple of times and let it cool off. But I did make it and had a great time watching the show. They started off showing some of Zach’s videos and he made wisecracks and told how they came about. He also gave some great commentary during the commercials as we waited to see who was going to win.
“I want you guys to root for Kristina too,” he said. “We’ve gotten to be really close. Plus, she’s really cute and looks like Sandra Bullock.” I didn’t think about it till he said that, but she does, kinda.
I had a feeling in the beginning that Zach had it in the bag, but I was still on pins and needles as they showed Kristina’s cooking show pilot and it was really good. Of course Zach’s was also excellent. Then the surprise ending came and got a standing ovation.
Zach said he’s known that he and Kristina won since October. “I had to come back and lie my pants off and hope everybody still liked me once they found out,” he said. His mother also knew, but “nobody goes outside in Buffalo in the winter” so it was easier for her to keep the secret.
Zach said the travel show will begin sometime in summer and he will start out visiting places in the States at least for a while before venturing out of the country.
I appreciated that he took time to meet with everyone and pose for pictures after the show. I felt a bit awkward at first, since I was with a bunch of people who knew him personally and I was just an “Internet person,” but he seemed genuinely happy to see me. I didn’t have a Reddit T-shirt to wear, but I told him I was part of the “Reddit wave” that helped him win the online voting. (That wave for Zach is also what got me to quit lurking and join that frustratingly addictive site.)
I loved the way he dealt with the question about the online voting controversy last summer that turned out to be a tempest in a teapot (People noticed Zach’s total was dropping for a time — most likely it was just the tech guys working for Oprah trying to combat mass voting by mischief-makers from 4-chan, God love ’em).
“I didn’t really think about it,” he said. “There was so much positive news to think about. I don’t have any idea how the Internet works. As far as I know I still have Compuserve.” Funny and graceful as always. In fact though, I believe he does know quite a bit about how Internet culture works, a perspective that might prove valuable to people on Oprah’s network who are probably somewhat baffled by it.
Can’t wait to see Zach’s show. I know it’ll be great. I don’t have the premium cable channels, but I might have to sign up by summer.