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Tough Decisions Loom as First Round of Check Please Auditions Conclude

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David Manilow and Andrew Kaplan
David Manilow and Andrew Kaplan

The second portion of the first round of auditions took place yesterday at The Riverwalk at Kendall College, where 75 host hopefuls braved a blustery late winter day to pitch producers on their personalities and food knowledge. The "meet and greets" concluded the initial audition period, leaving executive producer David Manilow and his team with over 150 candidates under consideration. They will whittle that list to between 12 and 20 by next Wednesday.

The audition day was much more organized and less hectic than the first, as producers changed the process to funnel auditioners through one producer or the other, rather than both. Hopefuls were scattered around the indoor patio, camped out at white tablecloth-clad tables emitting palpable nervous energy. The process: Check in, sign a release, wait at tables for an hour or so, interview with an associate producer or David Manilow, leave, exhale. "It's beyond my wildest expectations," Manilow said. "We have dozens of great candidates."

Some highlights include Andrew Kaplan (Rachael Ray restaurant guru), Susan Goss (West Town Tavern), Cleetus Friedman (the shuttered City Provisions), Sarah Levy, and Rochelle Trotter (Charlie Trotter's wife). Other attendees included a server at Maude's Liquor Bar, an actor, and an Australian import.

"I'm passionate about hospitality to the point of perversion," Trotter said. "Get out of the way, you retired, I didn't," she also said of her conversation with her famous husband.

Manilow seemed to be especially impressed with chef and writer Alia Dalal. "I thought her video showed a lot of personality, and you hope that meeting them in person will confirm that," Manilow said. "She was tremendous."

There's 140 audition tapes to sort through by next week, plus close to 25 that Manilow says he knows well enough already and didn't need to see audition. He cautions that those can be either positive or negative.

He says the first auditions were a blur, but he's got an idea of how to handle the process. "We do this all the time with guests, we have 1000 possible guests that sign up," he says. "You have to accumulate all your data and then see."

He has eight days to sort through the mountain of tapes before posting the finalists next Wednesday. The final decision is May 1.
· Check, Please Auditions Underway, Hear Who Was There [~ECHI~]
· All Coverage of Check, Please [~ECHI~]
· Check, Please [Official Site]

Kendall College

900 N. North Branch St., Chicago, IL