The worst and the best of times
Erskine, Minn., woman with screeching voice wins $100,000 in TV spoof contest
By ELISA L. RINEHEART
Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald
Winners have one thing in common: They believe in themselves against all odds.
Jamie Foss, 20, of Erskine, Minn., knew she was going to win "WB's SuperStar USA" when the show's camera crew surprised her in her Minneapolis apartment two months ago.
"WB's SuperStar USA," a contest where only the bad survive, aired its final episode Monday night. The show was a spinoff of "American Idol," but with a wicked twist.
The 28 hopeful contestants who signed up, hoping to become another overnight success on reality TV, actually were competing for the title of America's Worst Singer.
In the final episode, Foss, who was kept in the dark throughout the entire contest, learned she was "the best" of all.
"I went through so many different emotions because I won all this money, yet I was told that I wasn't talented," Foss said.
Foss, who sang Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and "The Time of My Life" from the hit movie "Dirty Dancing," said that holding such an embarrassing title won't stop her from pursuing her dream.
"I don't have to listen to them," said Foss, a charismatic, busty blonde. "I am still very confident. And even though I contradict myself sometimes, I tell myself over and over 'You are a good singer.' These people don't know what they are talking about."
Foss won $50,000 in cash, another $50,000 in payments over the next year, plus a $50,000 recording contract. The name of the label was not revealed.
"Yes! I get my own CD," said Foss to herself when she won the recording contract. "I really hope it is a good, respectful album. I want to sing to the best of my ability."
Foss said that having a personal assistant, traveling in limousines and staying in the best hotels in California, where the show was filmed, was a dream come true for someone who grew up in a small town in Minnesota.
"People dream of doing the things I did," Foss said.
She said she even signed autographs for the same live studio audience that saw her put on a mediocre duet with co-finalist Mario and be humiliated in front of millions of people in the final episode.
After being presented with a $50,000 check, Foss was told the show was an hoax.
To be part of the show, contestants had to satisfy three requirements. They had to be bad singers, believe they were God's gifts to the recording industry and pass a psychological evaluation to determine their threshold for humiliation, Foss said.
"They wanted to know that people were not going to get upset and set a bomb or something," said Foss of the mental evaluation. "I passed it with flying colors."
Most reality shows, taped in advance, require participants to sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents them from divulging the outcome before the finale. Foss was not an exemption to the rule. She said she couldn't wait to tell her family that she was the winner, but she had to wait.
"I would have gotten sued $5 million if I would've told anybody," Foss said. "It was so hard even for me, so I knew it would have been a burden if I told anyone in my family."
Back to reality
Foss said she made a lot of contacts in the entertainment industry through the show.
"I have gotten a lot of modeling offers, but I couldn't do anything until the show was over," Foss said. "What I would really like to do is become a Hollywood actress. I'm hoping to get with the same agent as Tom Cruise, because producers said he is really good."
With the money that she won, Foss said she plans to move to California, complete her last two years of journalism school at UCLA and look for a job in the entertainment industry -- anything decent, she said, as long as she is in front of a camera.
"WB's Superstar USA" will rerun the final episode at 5 p.m. Sunday on Channel 7.