Biggest Loser casting tips (season 11)

This post is waaaaay overdue!  NBC’s Biggest Loser has been casting for season 11 for a while now – part of me still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that they’re now working on the eighth season since mine!  Crazy!  Basically, this post is a collection of tips I’ve written based on my experience making the cast of season three, as well as some links to casting advice I don’t think you should miss:

  • NBC has posted casting information and the application here.  They have all the casting news and information on a special blog just for Biggest Loser casting, which you can find here.
  • Pete Thomas, the season 2 $100,000 winner has some of the best casting call advice out there, which you can find at his website, Winning Man.
  • Jen Kerns, a season three contestant like myself, and a doctor for the show for seasons four and five, has also put together some fantastic casting advice that you can read here.
  • Holland, a casting director for Biggest Loser sent me a bunch of great advice on how to be casted, you can find it here.  She updated them October, 2009.
  • I’ve been posting these casting tips for the last few seasons and they always seem to end up with thousands of comments; just about every season has contestants that were hanging out on here, reading and giving each other thoughts and advice.  You can find the most recent one here.
  • If you’re dealing with disappointment about not being cast, then check out my post on Biggest Loser casting disappointment.

One of the questions I hear a lot is about money … how do contestants afford to be away from home and work for months at a time? I don’t know what it is now, but when I was a contestant there was a $500 a week stipend for cast members on the ranch. When you received the check you could cash it and spend it, send it home, save it, whatever. All airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, etc., for the contestants and potential cast members are taken care of by NBC, and during the casting process it self there was a $50 per diem to cover food costs.

Another question is timing; typically a season lasts for about 8-9 months. About four of this is spent in filming; if you last all the way until the final three or four, you could be away from home for as much as four months or so. Once the ranch filming wraps and the last few contestants are sent home, however, there is still another four or five months that all the contestants have to continue losing weight until the finale. In addition, potential cast members are flown out to California a couple weeks before filming begins for the final round of casting, medical checkups, psychological evals, etc. NBC brings out more people than what they need and the cast is not finalized until filming literally begins. People have been cut at the last minute and replacements flown in with hardly any time to spare. Nothing is in stone until it’s on camera!

When will you hear from Biggest Loser about your video? There is no way of knowing. I heard back a few weeks after I sent it in, but even after that it’s a big waiting game. If you get a phone number or email from a casting direction, definitely drop them a line/call every couple weeks to find out if you’re still in the running or what’s going on. Schedules and plans change almost every day, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t hear back within a month I would think your video didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean you can’t send in another or visit a casting call – it’s just up to you!

Finally, here’s my video application tips! This is by no means a recipe for success; it’s based on my video application and the conversations I had with casting directors out in LA in between things. I was pretty curious about the whole process so I was pumping them for info even after filming began. I’m such a nerd!

  • They’ve usually decided if they’re interested in you within the first 30-60 seconds of your video, so front load it with your best stuff. Make it interesting! Start off with something funny or exciting!
  • Keep in mind, if you’re going to be cast, your video is going to be watched hundreds of times by producers, executives, casting directors, etc. If it bores you or your friends the second or third time watching it … put some more time into it!
  • Special effects? Don’t bother! We’ve all got video editing software with all sorts of bells and whistles on our home computers, but fancy transitions are not going to sell you to people who do video editing for a living. In fact, it can distract from who you are. I’m a video editing nerd and I didn’t use any special effects other than putting my name and contact info on as a subtitle at the beginning.
  • Don’t bother talking about why you need to lose weight. When I first started filming my audition video I started describing all of my health reasons for losing weight – but when I was watching it back, I realized … they don’t need to hear it! One look at me was all they needed to know I needed to lose weight! Show them why you need to lose it; I said I needed to lose weight for my kids, and then I followed it with a minute or two of the best footage I could find of me with wrestling with my three boys. We probably filmed half an hour of that insanity and I grabbed the cutest, loudest, and funniest few moments for the audition video. Your physical need to lose weight is not nearly as interesting as who or what your losing the weight for.
  • Live loud! Reality TV is over the top, dramatic, and filled with loud personalities. They need to see that on your video! I wanted them to know that even though I was morbidly obese I was up to the challenge of the crazy competitions and workouts – so I threw on a bunch of clips from my different youth group activities; me getting slimed, snowtubing, playing paintball, screaming at events, being on stage, running around … you get the idea. Other contestants did things appropriate to their lives; Tim from Oregon had himself spinning out on his Harley, Tim from Delaware recruited his elementary school class to do things with him, Heather Hanson filmed herself running around in a sports bra all day doing her household chores and errands. The less talking and more action you can have, the better (in my opinion)!
  • If you have footage or photos of yourself thin, include those at some point on the video. If you can show them what your after will be, then do it!

Remember, enjoy the conversation here and know that I will never compromise your anonymity – not to NBC, 3Ball, Casting Directors or anyone. You can post anonymously, or you can leave your names and contact information … just remember that NBC likes to be the one announcing their cast for the show, so if you start identifying yourself publicly as a finalist, you’ll probably find yourself eliminated from the casting process. Be aware that casting directors do check in at my blog to see what people are saying, get a feel for what questions are going on out there, and sometimes to give us updates. Good luck to everyone … and let me know if you make the show! I get a kick out of hearing about the different contestants that have hung out on my blog before making the show! ;)

Fast Food As Addictive As Heroin

Just saw this article linked to by Jillian Michaels; while I’m not really surprised – I’ve definitely believed there is an addictive component to fast food and other junk foods, it’s a really fascinating read!  It is a bit shocking to think the addictive aspect of it could be so strong as to be compared to a heroin or cocaine addiction, at the same time, it helps shed light on why it’s so difficult to lose the weight and keep it off!  Here’s an excerpt, click the title to go to the whole article, and let me know what you think.

Fast Food As Addictive As Heroin, Study Confirms

Amber Greviskes

Scientist have previously proven links between drug addiction and fast-food addiction, but now there is a growing body of research that is finding out how junk food is hard wiring our brains for cravings.

The latest study, published March 28 in “Nature Neuroscience,” likened the affects of high-fat, high-calorie fast food to those of cocaine or heroin, in animals at least.

The researchers showed that the pleasure-center in rats brains were overstimulated from the fast food similar to an addict’s cocaine binge. Eventually, the pleasure centers became so overloaded that rats needed more and more food to feel normal, according to Paul H. Kenny, an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute.

Throughout the study, Kenny and his co-author studied three groups of lab rats for 40 days. The first group ate healthy food. The second ate a limited amount of junk food. The third group, however, was allowed to gorge on high-fat, high-calorie foods and became obese.

The startling side effect? The brains of the obese rats changed. “The body adapts remarkably well to change — and that’s the problem,” Kenny said in a press release. “When the animal overstimulates its brain pleasure centers with highly palatable food, the systems adapt by decreasing their activity. However, now the animal requires constant stimulation from palatable food to avoid entering a persistent state of negative reward”.

During the study, the rats lost complete control over the ability to regulate whether they were hungry, often eating despite electric shocks. When the obese rats were put on a healthy diet, they refused to eat, starving themselves for two weeks.

Biggest Loser season 9

Hey, I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple weeks now!  Pete Thomas, the season two $100,000 winner, has been doing weekly video updates on the season 9 episodes.  It’s always fun to get that ‘insider’ view of what is going on.  Check out the videos below, and what do you think of season 9 so far?

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Biggest Loser casting tips (season 10)

Casting has begun for season TEN of Biggest Loser. Can you imagine?  Here are some links with some great casting advice, followed by some of my own advice based on my experience getting on to season three of Biggest Loser (still the best season in my opinion!!!):

  • NBC has posted casting information and the application here.  You can download the application for season ten here.
  • Pete Thomas, the season 2 $100,000 winner has some of the best casting call advice out there, which you can find at his website, Winning Man.
  • Jen Kerns, a season three contestant like myself, and a doctor for the show for seasons four and five, has also put together some fantastic casting advice that you can read here.
  • Holland, a casting director for Biggest Loser sent me a bunch of great advice on how to be casted, you can find it here.  She updated them October, 2009.
  • I’ve been posting these casting tips for the last few seasons and they always seem to end up with thousands of comments; just about every season has contestants that were hanging out on here, reading and giving each other thoughts and advice.  You can find the most reason one here.
  • If you’re dealing with disappointment about not being cast, then check out my post on Biggest Loser casting disappointment.

One of the questions I hear a lot is about money … how do contestants afford to be away from home and work for months at a time? I don’t know what it is now, but when I was a contestant there was a $500 a week stipend for cast members on the ranch. When you received the check you could cash it and spend it, send it home, save it, whatever. All airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, etc., for the contestants and potential cast members are taken care of by NBC, and during the casting process it self there was a $50 per diem to cover food costs.

Another question is timing; typically a season lasts for about 8-9 months. About four of this is spent in filming; if you last all the way until the final three or four, you could be away from home for as much as four months or so. Once the ranch filming wraps and the last few contestants are sent home, however, there is still another four or five months that all the contestants have to continue losing weight until the finale. In addition, potential cast members are flown out to California a couple weeks before filming begins for the final round of casting, medical checkups, psychological evals, etc. NBC brings out more people than what they need and the cast is not finalized until filming literally begins. People have been cut at the last minute and replacements flown in with hardly any time to spare. Nothing is in stone until it’s on camera!

When will you hear from Biggest Loser about your video? There is no way of knowing. I heard back a few weeks after I sent it in, but even after that it’s a big waiting game. If you get a phone number or email from a casting direction, definitely drop them a line/call every couple weeks to find out if you’re still in the running or what’s going on. Schedules and plans change almost every day, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t hear back within a month I would think your video didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean you can’t send in another or visit a casting call – it’s just up to you!

Finally, here’s my video application tips! This is by no means a recipe for success; it’s based on my video application and the conversations I had with casting directors out in LA in between things. I was pretty curious about the whole process so I was pumping them for info even after filming began. I’m such a nerd!

  • They’ve usually decided if they’re interested in you within the first 30-60 seconds of your video, so front load it with your best stuff. Make it interesting! Start off with something funny or exciting!
  • Keep in mind, if you’re going to be cast, your video is going to be watched hundreds of times by producers, executives, casting directors, etc. If it bores you or your friends the second or third time watching it … put some more time into it!
  • Special effects? Don’t bother! We’ve all got video editing software with all sorts of bells and whistles on our home computers, but fancy transitions are not going to sell you to people who do video editing for a living. In fact, it can distract from who you are. I’m a video editing nerd and I didn’t use any special effects other than putting my name and contact info on as a subtitle at the beginning.
  • Don’t bother talking about why you need to lose weight. When I first started filming my audition video I started describing all of my health reasons for losing weight – but when I was watching it back, I realized … they don’t need to hear it! One look at me was all they needed to know I needed to lose weight! Show them why you need to lose it; I said I needed to lose weight for my kids, and then I followed it with a minute or two of the best footage I could find of me with wrestling with my three boys. We probably filmed half an hour of that insanity and I grabbed the cutest, loudest, and funniest few moments for the audition video. Your physical need to lose weight is not nearly as interesting as who or what your losing the weight for.
  • Live loud! Reality TV is over the top, dramatic, and filled with loud personalities. They need to see that on your video! I wanted them to know that even though I was morbidly obese I was up to the challenge of the crazy competitions and workouts – so I threw on a bunch of clips from my different youth group activities; me getting slimed, snowtubing, playing paintball, screaming at events, being on stage, running around … you get the idea. Other contestants did things appropriate to their lives; Tim from Oregon had himself spinning out on his Harley, Tim from Delaware recruited his elementary school class to do things with him, Heather Hanson filmed herself running around in a sports bra all day doing her household chores and errands. The less talking and more action you can have, the better (in my opinion)!
  • If you have footage or photos of yourself thin, include those at some point on the video. If you can show them what your after will be, then do it!

Remember, enjoy the conversation here and know that I will never compromise your anonymity – not to NBC, 3Ball, Casting Directors or anyone. You can post anonymously, or you can leave your names and contact information … just remember that NBC likes to be the one announcing their cast for the show, so if you start identifying yourself publicly as a finalist, you’ll probably find yourself eliminated from the casting process. Be aware that casting directors do check in at my blog to see what people are saying, get a feel for what questions are going on out there, and sometimes to give us updates. Good luck to everyone … and let me know if you make the show! I get a kick out of hearing about the different contestants that have hung out on my blog before making the show! ;)

Biggest Loser spin-off show coming

Wow, looks like NBC is adding to the franchise!  How in the world will Jillian have time to film multiple seasons of Biggest Loser and this new show every year?  What do you all think?

Michaels to host ‘Loser’ companion

NBC orders eight episodes of ‘Losing It’

NBC is looking to extend its “Loser” streak, picking up a new skein starring “The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels.

“Losing It With Jillian” will follow the host as she moves in with families to help change their diet and exercise habits. Reveille and Empowered Media are producing. NBC has ordered eight segs of the series.

“I hear all the time from people about ‘Oh, it’d be so easy to do if I was on the ranch, if I had a personal gym,’ ” Michaels said of “The Biggest Loser’s” weight-loss success stories. “I got sick of hearing it. So we’re telling people, we’ll come to you and teach you how to be healthy.”

The project won’t just be about weight loss, however, as Michaels — who will indeed bunk inside a different family’s home each week — sets out to coach participants in all aspects of their lives.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Challenge week three results

tending the temple challenge

Is suspense good for weight loss?  I’m going to pretend it is to justify taking so long to post these results!  Sorry!!!

Our Biggest Loser for the week, with an impressive 2.3% loss, is Joshua J!  You da man!  Talk about a great week!

Our weekly hall of fame (people who lost 1% or more) has three people in it; Lina B, Mary C and Julia P!  You guys are amazing!  Great work!

If you are one of the handful that forgot to send in weights, you can still send ‘em in!

So, if you could get a day with a trainer, who would choose and why?  Bob or Jillian?  What would be the hardest part for you?

Biggest Loser season 8 premiere

Wow, are we already on season eight?  Has this show really been around that long?  I can’t believe it’s been that many years since I made my way to the Ranch!  I have to admit, I’m a little more into this season than I have been the last few, mostly because of Sean Algier!  He’s a youth pastor!  My wife and I were laughing while we watched the premiere because my wife kept saying whenever he was speaking, ‘wow, sound familiar?’ ‘I think I’ve heard that before!’

I did have one negative reaction to the episode; and it’s not Jillian’s ever increasing drama and wrath – she and Bob are both losing some of the compassion they had for incoming contestants that they used to have.  To me that’s one of the problems of filming two seasons a year, back to back – the trainers aren’t getting down time and it’s taking its toll.

But I digress!  This is the second season premiere in a row where contestants have been hospitalized in the first episode.  Remember last year?  Jerry?  Basically, here’s the problem in my mind – they’re turning these morbidly obese contestants loose without any kind of guidance for their protection.  Last year, they were turned loose in the gym without supervision and they over worked themselves, Jerry to the point of being hospitalized.  This year it was two contestants, fighting so hard for this prize that they over pushed themselves.  The trainers play a HUGE role in keeping the contestants safe, keeping them in a healthy range of activity.  Makes for great TV, but it’s not good for the contestants.

Otherwise I really loved the show!  It was a great start to the season and I can’t wait to see all their transformations!  What did you think of it?

Biggest Loser Season 8 preview!

Wow, just stumbled across the new preview for season eight of Biggest Loser! You can find it here. It’s only a minute long, but it managed to make my wife tear up! One of the most surprising aspects of it is the return of Daniel! On the one hand, the kid definitely has the weight to lose and the heart to do it, but on the other hand … by now he has all the tools to do it on his own. It kind of gives him a huge advantage over the other contestants in that he has had months of experience on the show, with the trainers, and arrives on day one knowing how to work the game. Then again, it is kind of nice to give him a chance at having a finale with a total transformation – he had too much weight to lose to pull that off in one season! What do you guys think?

Jillian Michaels’ final podcasts

Here are the last podcasts from Jillian Michaels!  Her official page is over at KFI AM 640, with summaries of topics covered and call in questions.  It looks like she is finished with her radio show for now – which is too bad, it was a great resource!  Just right click the links below and select “save target as” to save them to your computer.

June 28th, 2009 podcast – Jillian gets a Vision award

July 5th, 2009 podcast – The perfect day for weight loss

July 12th, 2009 podcast – Biggest Loser Story

If you’re looking for some workout motivation, there’s not much better than listening to Jillian while you exercise!