*Oprah Winfrey’s new cable channel has announced the 10 contestants competing on “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star.”
The finalists include a travel guide who’s in a wheelchair, a comedian who thinks the U.S. needs a gay best friend, and a businesswoman aiming to make a show about money both informative and fun.
The finalists were chosen from more than 9,500 online audition videos and thousands more hopefuls at open casting calls, the Oprah Winfrey Network announced Thursday. More than 143 million votes were submitted online, OWN said.
The winner will be selected on the show by judges including Dr. Phil McGraw and Gayle King, who will subject them to a range of TV-host-related challenges.
The winner gets a show airing on Winfrey’s cable channel.
With Nancy O’Dell and Carson Kressley hosting, “Your OWN Show” premieres Jan. 7. The Oprah Winfrey Network launches Saturday.
The contestants include:
• Zach Anner, of Austin, Texas, a globe-trotter in a wheelchair who wants to host a show for people who never thought they were physically capable of traveling.
• Elizabeth Espinosa, a TV news reporter from Los Angeles who wants to share what she’s learned helping raise a younger brother who is learning disabled.
• Aunt Flora, of Cincinnati, who specializes in Southern cuisine.
• Leigh Koechner, a Valley Village, Calif., mother of four and the wife of actor David Koechner who wants to host a talk show.
• Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco, of Alhambra, Calif., who wants to demonstrate on her food show that “cooking doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it’s fun, easy and delicious.”
• Ryan O’Connor, of West Hollywood, Calif., who says he wants to be the country’s gay best friend. “If a variety show and a traditional talk show had a baby, that’d be my show,” he said.
• Tony Roach, an Abilene, Texas, minister who dropped out of high school to live on the streets before getting his doctoral degree in divinity.
• Terey Summers, a comedic motivational speaker for youth from Phoenix.
• Alicia Taylor, of Las Vegas, who started a mortgage company and says, “People need a practical and fun show about all things financial.”
• Eric Warren, an expert in the kitchen from Lawndale, Calif., who has dropped 62 pounds and wants to host a cooking show that has America losing weight along with him.