02/19/06 — Hundreds audition for pizza commercial

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Hundreds audition for pizza commercial

By Turner Walston
Published in News on February 19, 2006 2:05 AM

The chance at a slice of stardom drew hundreds of people to Pizza Inn on East Ash Street Thursday and Friday.

The restaurant chain held auditions for a national commercial spot to be filmed in Goldsboro next week. Pizza lovers and wannabe actors hoped to make the initial cut.

More than 300 people tried out. By late Friday afternoon, the rest were being directed to tryouts going on Saturday and today at the Pizza Inn in Rocky Mount. That store is on Hunter Hill Road.

Casting agent Jimmy Kup said he was looking for people of all ages.

Mildred Casey, 80, auditioned Thursday, hoping to get her big break into show business. She said she was a natural, since she loves pizza and eats at the Ash Street restaurant at least once a week.

"Enough that the waitresses say, 'I know you want hot, thin crust pepperoni,'" she said. "I can eat a lot. They don't make a lot of money on me."

"She is so excited about this," said Mrs. Casey's daughter, Lois. "I just can't believe she's doing it."

Mrs. Casey said she was more than willing to tout her favorite food.

"I just want to be on TV, and I want to support pizza. I love pizza," she said.

Mrs. Casey said the audition was not as tough as she had anticipated.

"They asked me what kind of pizza I would recommend," she said. "I said I would want pepperoni."

Leslie Anderson, 18, also had dreams of fame.

And she had experience.

Miss Anderson has been onstage for a number of local productions, even playing the lead role in the Stagestruck version of "Peter Pan."

"I like pizza, and I'm comfortable in front of the cameras," she said. "I thought, 'Let's give it a try.'"

Miss Anderson said Kup asked her about her favorite Pizza Inn memories.

"I told them in high school, we had it for lunch. They would bring in cinnamon stromboli. It gave me something to look forward to," she said, laughing.

John Dennington, 33, said he was auditioning to inspire his children.

"I'm just doing it to show my kids that you can do anything you want to do. If I'm not selected, at least I tried," he said. "If you don't succeed, at least you tried."

Jill Poythress Nielsen of Pizza Inn said company officials were happy with the turnout in Goldsboro.

"We want to do a warm and fuzzy, hometown commercial," she said.

Meryn Bandy, production manager with Rocket Productions of Dallas, said the number of auditioners was encouraging.

"Things are just looking better than we could have anticipated," she said Friday. "We wanted to get people that really enjoy Pizza Inn pizza, being themselves in the restaurants and around town."