Zach Anner set out to do what many would have considered impossible. The 27-year-old Buffalo, New York native and Austin, Texas-based stand-up comedian refused to let cerebral palsy get in the way of his dream. He became a finalist in Oprah Winfrey’s Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star reality competition for his own television show.
Anner was selected as a finalist after a controversial voting process, during which another contestant jumped ahead with a surge of over 300,000 votes in just 20 minutes. Voters immediately took notice and voiced their dissension online, accusing the OWN network and Winfrey herself of rigging the contest against Anner, a charge he immediately dismissed.
“I sincerely doubt that Oprah would do anything like that,” he said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.
“She’s probably too busy building schools and helping children to even notice someone like me. I’m grateful for everyone’s continued support and to Oprah for giving me this opportunity. Thanks again, happy travels, and keep being sexy!”
OWN did launch an investigation into the matter and issued a statement to Entertainment Weekly: “The online voting rules for the Your OWN Show video submission competition were carefully crafted to be fair to everyone. Any allegations of impropriety will be investigated and the appropriate actions taken to keep the process unbiased.” By the following day, however, Anner was back in the lead by more than 400,000 votes.
In the final auditions, contestants had to pitch their dream show to the producers. Anner’s was a travelogue for people like him, who believed they would never be able to travel.
“I just tried to relay that I was trying to make the most kick-ass travel show there ever was and they seemed to be excited about that idea, too,” he said.
“It was mainly just talking to people and figuring out the best way that we could do it and it just all worked out. I got very lucky.”
Rollin’ with Zach debuted in December 2011. But the show was canceled after four episodes, angering many new fans.
To date, OWN has no further plans for Rollin’ with Zach. Obviously, there is a demographic that could boost the network’s ratings if the show is resumed. We can only hope that Oprah and her network reconsider their position on this one.
Do you think OWN was justified in canceling Rollin’? Is it discrimination against the handicapped?