After rocketing to internet stardom thanks to his audition video for Oprah Winfrey’s Your OWN Show reality TV series — and unwittingly finding himself in the middle of a possible vote-rigging kerfuffle (see below) – the irrepressibly charming Zach Anner has taken his idea for “a travel show for people who never thought they could travel” to YouTube. Anner, who has cerebral palsy (which he calls “the sexiest of the palsies”), posted a series of videos about his current home town of Austin, Tex. back in June. But since he didn’t really need to travel all that far to shoot it, we’re counting the episode he posted Aug. 4 of his tour of Niagara Falls as the true series premiere of Zach in the Buff. And it is awesome. Check it out after the jump.
I’m not sure what part I enjoyed the most: Anner marveling at Buffalo, N.Y.’s fine railings, his assertion that Niagara Falls itself is a conceptual art created in 1929 for the Guggenheim, or his determination to run over a seagull. But I do know for certain that I can’t wait to see the next episode.
As for Your OWN Show, on July 9 Anner was named one of eight Web finalists who nominally get to audition for 10 contestant slots on the reality competition series, which launches on Oprah’s OWN cable network in January, 2011 — but voting irregularities still seem to haunt this endeavor. Pay attention; this gets oddly complicated. The main page of the show’s website reports that Anner has 9.2 million votes and first place, while the page with the “official” count — i.e. the count that determines who will go on to compete for a slot on the actual TV show — gives Anner 3.5 million votes and seventh place, a drop of almost 6 million votes. Official first-place finisher Jacqueline Wattimo, meanwhile, has 2.3 million more votes than what’s listed for her on the main page.
When reached today for comment, a spokesperson for OWN tells EW that a third party (which the rep declined to reveal) reviewed the entire pool of votes, and discovered that some tabulated votes (like many of those for Anner) violated the contest rules and were discarded, while other votes that had been initially discarded (like many of those for Wattimo) were in fact valid and were added back to the official count. (The official rules of the contest state that “use of any computer auto-voting software or any other software or device intended to tamper with the proper functioning of the voting system and use of any other means to subvert the voting process is strictly prohibited and all such votes will be void.”) The rep stresses that while the top eight did change rank, they all remained in the top eight, and have been going through the standard audition process for the show. However, the rep also noted that only one finalist from the top five is guaranteed a contestant slot on the series. Get all that?
Regardless of whether Anner makes it on to Your OWN Show, PopWatchers, after watching his tour of Niagara Falls, what do you make of his chances as a travel show host? Will you be eagerly clicking in to see his next episode?