Fox is seeking people with varied skills to appear on their new reality show, “Utopia,” in which a group of strangers in a remote, isolated location will create their idea of an ideal society. The show is based on a Dutch television series that aired in January and, according to Fox, “became an instant sensation.”
Casting producer Jaqueline “Jax” Topacio thinks Vermonters are the kind of people who could thrive on “Utopia.” When Fox executives asked producers to pitch states in which to recruit cast members, she recommended Vermont.
“Vermont isn’t one of the states casting producers go to often,” she said. “But I knew Vermonters were people with heart who work hard and have different passions.”
Topacio first traveled to Vermont as casting producer for “Building Wild,” a National Geographic Channel reality show in which Hoosick Falls, NY-based builders Paulie DiMeo and Pat Bakaitis build fantasy cabins for their customers. One of the shows, shot in Dover, featured the construction of a cabin built on the base of an excavator that rotated for a 360-degree view.
During that casting trip, Topacio says, she met many Vermonters with diverse skills. “It seems like nobody in Vermont had one single job, people do a little bit of everything,” she said. “There are builders who are also sugarers, veterinarians who are also carpenters, and people who may have been on Wall Street who bought a little slice of heaven in Vermont and now they’re running their own farm.”
With only 15 “Utopia” cast members to create a society, each one will have to bring a variety of skills that complement the skills others bring to the group. Unlike other reality shows, the object of Utopia is for the whole group to succeed, rather than one individual.
“You want to keep people on your team,” Topacio says, “The only way your civilization is going to survive is with the skills people have, whether that’s fishing – so you have food from the river – or teaching, building or metalworking.
“Utopia” cast members will be like “pioneers,” according to Fox, creating their community from scratch, building their own shelter, providing their own food, solving problems, and governing themselves. Fox says viewers will also play a role, becoming “a valuable and powerful asset to the community.”
John de Mol, the creator and executive producer of the “Utopia,” is also behind reality TV hits “Big Brother,” “Deal Or No Deal,” “Fear Factor,” and “The Voice.”
There will be no open casting call for the show, Topacio says.
Anyone who is interested in being considered as a potential cast member should fill out an online application at utopiacasting.com before April 11.
Topacio says she’ll be in Vermont after the deadline to meet with prospective cast members. Potential cast members must be at least 21 years old and in good health. The location for the show is top secret – Topacio says she doesn’t even know where it will be – but it will be somewhere in the United States.
“It will be in a remote place, so cast members should be in decent shape to survive by living off the land.”