Young reaches ‘Next Level’ with reality show
By Terry McCormick, [email protected]
May 11, 2006
With reality television all the rage, Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Vince Young is coming this fall to a TV set near you.
Sorry, ladies, Young won’t be following the lead of former New York Giants QB Jesse Palmer by starring in The Bachelor. Nor will he be voting anyone out of the Titans locker room or trying to tickle the ears of Simon Cowell on American Idol.
Instead, Young, who turns 23 next Thursday, is allowing a television crew from BET, led by Emmy Award-winning director Brendon J. Carter, to make a six-episode show entitled Vince Young: Next Level. The show will depict what life has been like for the former Texas star through the months from his readying for the NFL Draft through the early stages of his career with Tennessee.
“They’ll follow him around through the whole process. People see the end product, but they don’t know all the things he’s had to do to get himself prepared for that,” Young’s agent Major Adams said. “They’ve been following him around since March, and they should be finished following him around sometime in June.”
The series will air beginning in October, and is the first of the sports-based “Next Level” series that will feature other athletes in future episodes.
‘Has the appeal’
Carter, the executive producer of the show, is no stranger to reality TV, having directed The Osbornes for MTV.
“This is a sports-based reality TV show,” Carter said. “It focuses on athletes who are in transition. They may be making the transition from college to the pros, or maybe from high school to college, or someone who is making a comeback from a career-threatening injury.”
Young, fresh off leading the Longhorns to a national championship, makes for the perfect candidate for TV viewing, says a BET executive.
“We have delved into the reality genre before, and it’s been pretty successful for us,” said Michael Lewellen, BET’s senior vice president of corporate communications. “For us, from a ratings standpoint, the sweet spot is ages 18 to 34, and we feel like Vince Young is the type of person who has the appeal that fits those demographics.”
Carter wants to depict life for the quarterback as he makes the move from college hero to multi-millionaire pro. Carter believes Young’s background mixed with his future could make for compelling viewing.
“We can show him as a football player, but I believe it’s more important to show him as a person and with the people who are a part of his life — his mother, his grandmother, his uncle, his agent,” Carter said. “It plays at your heartstrings more to see him with his family, especially his grandmother, who practically raised him and worked her fingers to the bone for all of them, and have Vince be able to interact with her and tell her, ‘Grandma, I made it for us, so you don’t have to work anymore.’”
The show’s access into football meetings as Young moves to the NFL will be extremely limited, but Carter says the other aspects are more attractive anyway.
“We went to church with Vince and his family on Easter Sunday,” Carter said, “then went home and had Easter dinner with them. The pastor at the church blessed me and the crew while we were at church.”
In humanizing such odd characters like Ozzy Osborne, Carter likes to show his subject’s less-public side. He says what will show through with Young is his strong character and convictions.
“He’s a guy who came from humble beginnings and has overcome a lot,” Carter said. “What this will show is that Vince Young is a character guy. He’s a guy who cares about people and community.”