Going To Extremes

Going To Extremes
SEATTLE - When the topic of "Reality TV" comes up, you're either an extreme fan, or an extreme foe.

So, what's it like getting involved with one of these shows? To find out, I went behind the scenes of the hit show "Extreme Makeover" and met some local women auditioning for the show.

Searching, Respectfully

Dawn Stroupe's day begins by instructing her assistants that respect and dignity are key. After all, they're about to meet 500 women all of whom desire an Extreme Makeover.

Her question for all the hopefuls? "It's not what you want done, it's why are you here? This isn't an easy thing to come out and ask for."

Their reasons? Many aren't confident in their appearance. But the show's Executive Producer insists it's about much more. "The wish is not only to be beautiful, but to change your personality, your wardrobe, and to change your life," says EP Lou Gorfain who is looking for 20 candidates for his show. "Once they're selected, we'll fly them to Los Angeles for six weeks."

He likens his job to the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. "When they return home, they come back with a different identity."

Opening Up

Auditions are being held throughout the country and this week, the show was looking for contestants in Renton.

The women go through an initial interview, where they must be uncomfortably candid, and completely honest.

Before they shared with the show's producers, these local women shared their stories with me. Women like 'Jen.' "There's a lot of sagging in places where it just shouldn't be on a 29-year-old woman with no children," she says.

Most women who try out for the show aren't happy with their appearance. But as I would soon find out, this isn't about vanity.

"When I was 21, I was unhappy. I jumped off a 7-foot building and tried to commit suicide," says 'Peggy' who was seriously hurt in the fall. "When they put my jaw back together, it wasn't fixed right. I have a crooked smile now."

You'd think the worst may be behind her. But today, Peggy is going through a divorce and she just lost her job.

'Kim' is battling her weight. "I've lost 40 pounds so far," she says.

But she wants to lose more, the same battle Jen is fighting. "Two years ago, I had gastric bypass surgery, and so far have lost 160 pounds," she says.

The 29-year-old hopes to get on the show. "I just want to continue the journey. It's taken a lot to get down to where I feel better about my body."

Odds Are Extreme

Out of nearly 10,000 applicants, only 20 nationwide will be chosen for an Extreme Makeover.

But even though the odds for this group aren't good, just the process of auditioning may make the difference for some.

'Peggy' says she has a lack of self confidence. Maybe so, but you have admit, coming out for the audition is a big step. Sounds like you're doing better, Peggy.

"Yeah, I am. I have a normal life again."

'Kim' who wants to lose weight, and extra skin, revealed that when she achieves her goal, she wants to donate her skin to the Northwest Burn Foundation. "I called them and they said they'd love to have my skin to help other burn victims."

As for Jen, who's also battling extra pounds, the other contestants applauded in support when she revealed that she'd lost 160 pounds on her own. She was one of many who found new confidence and new friends in what she's already accomplished, without TV.

"Extreme Makeover" returns to the TV line-up this fall, and can be seen on KOMO 4.

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