South, who wants to get Made?

By Denebola
Published: September 2008

By Rebecca Goldstein

MTV’s hit reality series Made is seeking participants in the Boston area, and will hold auditions at Newton South on October 8.

The series, which chronicles high school students wishing to transform their lives and images, provides coaches and cameras for five months to help and follow subjects as they work towards their goals.

According to Principal Brian Salzer, MTV casting assistant Samantha Sterling contacted him “out of the blue last September, but when he called back, all of MTV’s slots were full. He encouraged MTV to call back this year, and they did, agreeing to the early October audition time.

“I’m so excited about it, he said. “I love anything that gets the students excited.

MTV casting assistant Michael Livingston, who has taken over for Sterling, said that MTV chose Newton South as one of its possible schools mainly because of its high level of extracurricular activity.

“We look for a lot of school activity because we can’t do a casting if no one shows up, he said. “I can’t tell you if [South] will be picked, but I can tell you that we’re looking for the best possible story, and we’re looking at about 20 schools in the area.

Livingston explained that if South is chosen, there will be a six-month filming period, but “very limited [filming] within the school.

Audition forms for the show are being handed out by Theater Department Head Jeff Knoedler and METCO Coordinator Katani Sumner.

“It seems like a good idea, Knoedler said, “and it’ll certainly be a cool experience for whoever’s chosen.

Knoedler also voiced some skepticism about how the show might portray the school.

“There are concerns around the building about how South or the Newton community will come out looking¦ How the school looks is really in the hands of the producer and the editors, and they’re out to make compelling TV. If they can do that at the expense of Newton South, they will, he said, adding, “obviously, we hope this will be positive for the school.

One South teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, put it more bluntly.

“I’m afraid it’ll reek of white middle-class privilege, he said.

Salzer does not share any concerns about South’s image.“I think we’ve got a great school, he said. “They can’t make us look foolish. And if for some reason we don’t look good, I think people who know us will say, ‘ËœThat’s not really South.’

Regardless of image concerns, students seem excited about the possibility of the show filming at South.

Knoedler and Sumner describe high levels of enthusiasm from the students, but with few students actually having concrete ideas about what they would like to be “made into.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but kids seem not to know what they’d like to become, Knoedler said.

Sumner expressed a similar sentiment.

“I get a lot of kids who say, ‘ËœI want to be on Made!’ But they don’t really know what to do. I tell them, ‘ËœMTV’s not going to give you an idea. You have to go to them with an idea,’ she said.

Junior Julie Katzeff, then, who wants to be made into a member of the Newton South Step Squad, seems the exception to the rule.

“When I meet new people and tell them that I’m from Newton South, she said, “I get this look like, ‘ËœOh, that’s a jappy girl who gets whatever she wants’¦I want to show that I can do something different, that not all Newton girls are worried about clothes and cars.

Katzeff, who is Caucasian and Jewish, would certainly be in the minority on the Step Squad, whose members are all African-American except for senior Alex Caron, also a caucasian. This seems to be a motivating factor for Katzeff.

“I see myself as someone who’s friends with everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity, she said. “I want to send a message while doing something I really want to do.

Caron, who co-captains the squad with seniors Kyra Baker and Shaqueta Burke, was somewhat skeptical about the ease with which the Step Squad might accept a new member.

“Like a lot of groups, Step Squad is kind of exclusive, he said. “If she’s gonna be made into a stepper, she better be good at stepping, because we’re going to have to deal with her, cameras or not.

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