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Milwaukeean takes his shot at reality TV

Greg Matzek, a Milwaukee radio producer and Water Street bartender, is heading for reality TV Friday ... or so he hopes.

Matzek, 25, is one of 16 finalists who are trying to secure eight spots on ESPN's second season of "Beg, Borrow & Deal." He'll fly to Miami, and if chosen, travel the country from there.

The show's plot is simple. The show dishes up 40 sports-themed tasks, of which contestants pick 10. A typical game may involve playing basketball against Chris Webber, for example, or kicking a goal against an MLS goalie.

"You have to get from point A to point Z, but the middle of the alphabet is up to you," says Matzek. Think of it like "Road Rules," ESPN style.

Two teams of four players won't compete for money but for fabulous prizes, including two tickets to various major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four. The losing team gets consolation prizes, including ESPN merchandise.

"I watch all those reality shows and think, 'I could do that,'" says Matzek.

Contestants cannot carry any money, just a watch and ID. "If I call you in Atlanta, I could stay with you, I can eat your food. But you can't give me $20 to get some food, or you couldn't get me a pizza and bring it back. Everything I use has to be inside your place."

Matzek began the application process in November by making a video and completing a seven-page written application.

"The questions were awesome. They asked me to name a time in my life when I used deception for personal gain. I couldn't think of a time in my life when I hadn't."

His real answer revealed the time he sneaked into a Dave Matthews concert by telling security he worked for Trojan and had to pass out condoms.

A month later, ESPN asked him to send in another tape, this time with Greg in action. For that tape, he sneaked into a movie theater by pretending he left his wallet under the chair. "The hard part was getting my friend with a video camera inside a theater."

If Greg doesn't get on the show, he can still be chosen as an alternate. Like every reality show these days, contestants do get voted off the show, and then the alternates are on.

"At first I didn't know how to react when I got the call," says Matzek. "At first I was thirsty, then a little gassy, but I had spinach for lunch."

Could Greg's appearance on ESPN turn him into the next "Real World" star, like MTV's Puck?

"That's what I'm shooting for," he says. "Puck is really the pinnacle. Maybe I can get an episode of "Cribs" done."

ESPN told Matzek to be prepared to be gone for a month, which presents logistical and job challenges, he says. Fortunately, his employers have been more than understanding.

So what does Matzek think the biggest challenge will be on the show?

"It won't be winning," says Greg. "It will be paying my rent while I'm gone. Maybe can start a fund."

Probably not, Greg, but we expect a full report when you get back. ESPN will air the second season of "Beg, Borrow & Deal" some time this fall.


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