South Jersey-bred school counselor Lina Carollo had no idea what she was getting into when she showed up to the airport this spring to fly off to film a reality show she had been cast in called The Quest. She didn’t even know where she was flying until a front desk attendant said, “Have fun in Austria!”
When she arrived she was in for even more of a surprise. Producers took away her cell phone, and the bags of brand new clothes she had bought for the occasion. She was set up in a Medieval castle outside Vienna. There was no plumbing. She says she had to use an outhouse, and showering was minimal. She had to wear what she describes as "warrior in training" garb, and eat meals akin to something you'd find at a hobbit's dinner party. She would be there for a month, living and competing in a fantasy world called Everealm.
Her adventure will play out for the world starting tonight, when The Quest airs on ABC. She'll compete with 12 other contestants from around the country in an array of challenges that, you know the drill, will send a contestant home each week until there is one "true hero of Everealm." The show's trailer gives a little more insight into what it's all about:
Carollo says that, despite the far-fetched idea, the experience was about as realistic as it could get. "The whole point for producers (the same folks who created The Lord of the Rings and Amazing Race) was to immerse us in this world. It's kind of like a long movie," she says. "It's broken into hour shows every week. There's a plot, a storyline, and a cast of characters (played by actors following a script.) We had to live among them and follow their rules."
I asked her if it was like that time Oprah and Gayle "went back in time" to live as colonials. She said kind of.
Carollo isn't the only local face taking part in the show. She's joined by Media, Pennsylvania's Jasmine Kyle, co-owner of event-planning business JDKJ Events. Both ladies will be in attendance tonight at Carollo's family restaurant, Casa Carollo in Marlton, to host a viewing party when The Quest airs at 8 p.m. For more on the show, and to learn about the other characters, go here.