Ursula Watson / The Detroit News
You’re selected to be on a major reality TV show but you can’t tell a soul what happened. Family gatherings and once-refreshing breaks at the water cooler turn into an interrogation scene straight out of “Law and Order.”
Two local couples have been living in a bubble of secrecy since July as contestants on ABC’s one-hour extreme driving reality show “Crash Course,” which premieres tonight. “It was so hard,” says Mariam Cicarella 24, of keeping quiet. “I am so close to my sister and couldn’t say anything to her, my mom or my dad.”
Her husband and teammate Gino says it was equally tough for him.
“It has been really hard to avoid the subject,” says Gino, 31. “Friends and family were like ‘Come on, you can tell me.'”
Fellow contestants Jennifer and Ralph Bryant of Farmington Hills also struggled with keeping mum about the show.
“A few people have been trying to get it out of us,” says Jennifer, 36, “but absolutely no one knows.”
Filmed at Belle Isle, the show is a hybrid pinball machine and amusement park, where cars go airborne trying to knock down 15-foot-tall bowling pins, land on the flatbed of a moving truck, drive in reverse with a boat attached to the car or flip and slide on the roof in hopes of winning $50,000. Hosts Orlando Jones (“MadTV”) and Dan Cortese (“Veronica’s Closet”) will provide humorous and pithy commentary as the five teams of two compete.
The Cicarellas say they plan on having a party when they appear on the show. But revealing that date would reveal how far they went in the competition.
Sorry, no spoilers here!
In addition to possibly being the winners of $50,000, the Royal Oak couple, who are parents of a 2-year-old son, say they are happy that a bit of Hollywood has come to Motown.
“It was such a great experience to be a part of a huge production, and it is great for the city,” says Gino, who is a student at Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts and has an interest in TV production. He is so ready for the big time that he has even selected an industry name, Gino Bicci.
Like the Cicarellas, the Bryants found being on the show an opportunity for adventure.
“I wanted to take a chance and do something different,” says Jennifer of auditioning for the show. “I didn’t think they would call us.”
Filming of the show doubled as a stay-cation because during the experience, they were put up in a hotel, only going to the set, and were totally separated from the world.
“We didn’t have to look at e-mail or the stock market. We had fun,” says Jennifer, a mother of an 8-year-old, 15-year-old and 18-year-old, who describes herself as a silly girl who enjoys doing silly things.
Ralph, 50, whose wife describes him as the more low-key, workaholic of the two, agrees the experience was a fun change of pace.
“We haven’t had a multi-day vacation alone,” says Ralph, “because we always take the kids on vacation with us.”
When asked if being on a show where she executed hair-raising stunts has changed her driving habits, Jennifer Bryant says definitely.
“We found out I loved using cars as toys,” she says. “If I am ever reincarnated, I want to come back as a stuntman.”