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?

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9 Comments

  1. No not really but I understand, that clip is hard to watch, I can’t imagine a full 30 min 1 hour show.

  2. I do think OWN was too hasty in canceling the show – I liked it, and Zach Anner, very much. Was it discrimination against the handicapped? No, but I do believe the low ratings might have something to do with it, and the fact the network isn’t doing as well as they had hoped with their programming.

    This is a case of pulling the trigger before the show had a chance to find an audience. OWN should reconsider and bring Zach and his show, back.

  3. Epic Fail, Oprah!! Zac was and IS a hilarious performer. She’s not discriminating against the disabled, she’s discriminating against comedy and humor. Of which, she obviously knows nothing about…

  4. This is a GREAT show. Why would she cancel it? I don’t even get what the issue could be. He is funny. He makes great observations. He’s an “accessible” character…wth Oprah?

  5. Oprah’s network is trash and she cancelled the damn thing about her network! I loved this guy’s show. I voted in the reality contest a while ago, but her network didn’t promote. It was like they were ashamed to market Zach who has WONDERFUL personality and is funny

  6. Guess you’re the four people that watched it….

  7. Justified? I am guessing they panicked and decided not to be innovative since OWN was not doing so well. I am really disappointed that OWN did not embrace this opportunity! I know they did NOT market this show, and I know there IS an audience for this show. I work with the special needs population and there is a large audience. I hope (OWN allows) someone wants to finance this show through another network or at least one of Zach’s projects. He is brilliant!

  8. I understand why it was cancelled. I understand the station is new and having growing pains. But I am saddened. Could not the Oprah team see this is exactly the guy they need? Is he not also at the heart of this new company. Maybe package him in a different way. But Zach is a winner! Open your creative minds to Zach- see the light in everyone- you see it in race, religion, sex orientation but Zach represents those with disabilities. We need to let his light shine!

  9. I do NOT understand why the show was cancelled! During the weekday, OWN shows crime TV and only recently started showing the network brand in the corner of the screen. During all other hours, the network shows Oprah interviewing people. These are new shows, but without an audience. She may be interviewing, but somehow she is not connecting with her subjects or the audience. There is also a show about working in a restaurant and Lisa Ling has a very interesting show. The only ads are for her show. I totally missed Zach’s show, but I saw him during the competition and really liked the pilot.

    Most of what she advertises is her show. It is really a crazy way to run a network! Zach would have been great for OWN, but never got a chance. I wonder what happened to his co-winner who won a cooking show?

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