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NASCAR Reality Show Gets Network Nod

COM grad student wins truTV pitch-fest

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Lauren Houston (COM’09), who pitched a show to truTv executives when they visited campus in December, this month was named the winner of the network’s College Pitch Tour competition. Photo courtesy of Lauren Houston

Last December, some College of Communication students got an unexpected shot at the real world of television production when truTV, the new version of Court TV that launched this year, visited Boston University to solicit pitches for new reality shows. Students in COM Assistant Professor Garland Waller’s Producing I class developed their concepts and set up pitch packets, and this month, one of Waller’s graduate students learned that her show had won the network’s grand prize.

Lauren Houston (COM’09) took home top honors for The Crew, a reality show she developed that has contestants competing for a position on a NASCAR pit crew. The show will be based at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. Houston says that truTV and NASCAR were very interested in working together to further develop the idea.

“I really thought the show would be a good fit for truTV,” Houston says. “I thought the inherent drama of the sport and the contestants’ desire to achieve a lifelong goal were appealing.” In addition to winning a cash prize of $2,500, Houston was offered a job at the network for the summer.

TruTV visited BU and Rutgers University on its College Pitch Tour, designed to help the network identify new programming as it changed from Court TV to truTV. Participants had 10 to 15 minutes to make their pitches and were required to include a written treatment covering the format, the characters, and potential storylines.

While Waller made pitching a show a class requirement for all of her students last semester, the contest was open to the entire University community. Students, faculty, and staff participated, with ideas ranging from a show about people with multiple marriages and divorces to an exploration of aspiring actors and writers working in the mailroom of a Hollywood talent agency. For most students, the Pitch Tour was their first experience pitching a show, but the atmosphere was “really laid-back,” says Houston. “They made us all feel very comfortable.”

After truTV’s December tryouts at the George Sherman Union, Houston, Lauren Houseman (COM’08), and Rutgers University student Heidi Garrett were selected as finalists in March. The three went to New York to present their ideas to truTV network executives, and Houston was named the winner in early April.

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.

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