NEW YORK – ESPN has a message for some "SportsCenter" (search) anchor wannabes who think they can do it better: Here's your chance.
ESPN's new, six-episode reality show, "Dream Job," (search) now entering its third week (Sundays at 10 p.m.), is giving a group of sportscaster hopefuls from all walks of life the chance to win a one-year contract as a "SportsCenter" anchor - think "American Idol" (search) for the jock set, complete with snarky judges and audience voting.
"I've worked here for many years, and when I travel and tell people I work for ESPN, the first thing they tell me is who they like and don't like on 'SportsCenter' - and they finish up by saying 'I can do it better,'" says Carol Silver, ESPN's director of special events, who created the show.
"We're trying to find that diamond-in-the-rough."
Each week, the contestants undertake a variety of "on-air" tasks - sideline reporting, anchoring, play-by-play - and are judged by a panel including ESPN co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Kit Hoover, NFL star LeVar Arrington and ESPN talent coordinator Al Jaffee.
"I think as the weeks progress, the tasks we give them are going to become increasingly more difficult," says Silver. "At the end of the day, one of them is going to end up on 'SportsCenter' - and we know this isn't an easy job.
"We're giving [the contestants] more difficult tasks to get away from their surface ability to talk about sports." Viewers also help decide who gets booted each week by voting on ESPN's Web site (espn.com) or via wireless text messaging.
Thus far, two hopefuls have been sent to the showers: Alvin Williams, a retail manager from Alabama who was booted off last Sunday's episode; and Chris Williams, an attorney from Massachusetts cut in Week No. 1.
That leaves Chet Anekwe, Mike Hall, Lori Rubinson, Maggie Haskins, Aaron Levine, Kelly Milligan, Michael Quigley, Casey Stern, Nick Stevens and Zachariah Selwyn.
The show has also caught on among viewers. The first "Dream Job" episode averaged 1.1 million households, up a whopping 209 percent over the previous timeslot average.
The winner will be announced during a two-hour episode airing Sunday, March 28 at 9 p.m.