Phill Brandt wasn't one of those kids who grew up dreaming of a career as a film or TV star. His dream was to play in the NFL. But there was another reality waiting for him in the form of the TV Guide Network's "Tequila Sisters."
The 23-year-old Fresno native was a quarterback at Bullard High School, the College of the Sequoias in Visalia and finally as a scholarship player at Washington State. His dream faded when a string of injuries kept him out of the college team's lineup.
His last hope was an NFL Pro Day, a chance to show he had what it takes to play in the big leagues. Despite setting a record by bench pressing 225 pounds a total of 40 times, NFL teams were hesitant to take a chance on him because he didn't have any game film to show.
Brandt returned to Fresno, and that's where his career path took a different direction. He was told by local agent/promoter Rick Mirigian that he should look into acting or modeling as a career. Despite being totally into sports — he's currently on the coaching staff at Liberty High School — Brandt agreed to take a chance.
"I saw something special in Phill and a look that I felt was destined for Hollywood. So I took him to a well-connected agent and told the agent about Phill's raw talent, looks and ideas and they agreed and it happened that fast. That kid is special. I think a lot of doors will open for him in acting, modeling and more."
Brandt spent a couple of hours talking to the agent. Although the meeting went well, Brandt didn't expect to hear anything. Two days later, he got a call asking him whether he would be interested in going for an audition. That tryout was for "Tequila Sisters," a reality show that follows the wealthy California tequila entrepreneur Bill Marin and his independent-minded daughters — Jen, Lauren, Jackie and Catherine.
"I talked with the producer for about 20 minutes and he said they liked everything about me. Then he asked if I would be interested in shooting the show soon," Brandt says. By Sunday, less than a week after his first trip to Los Angeles to look into an acting career, Brandt was in front of the cameras.
The term "reality" is used rather loosely here as Brandt was selected from a field of 300 to be the young man who is being pushed on Lauren by her parents. There's not a script, only guidance as to how a scene should play out.
Brandt appears in three of the eight episodes in the first season and has been told that if a second season is ordered, it's almost a lock that he will be back. The next episode of "Tequila Sisters" airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
"It was a fun thing to do, and it just fell into my lap. Now, I'm taking acting classes and had a photo shoot. Although acting is not something I thought I would pursue, I would love to do more now," Brandt says.
Class is in session
KMJ580's venerable talk guru Ray Appleton is showing some class. Actually, it's two classes.
Starting in January, the local host will teach two classes as part of the Clovis Adult Education curriculum. Those classes include "From Retail to Zen Marketing Master!" and "America's Great Military Moments." The first deals with the hard-core basis on marketing a business. The other looks at military history "from Fort Hood to 30 seconds over Tokyo."
For more information on the classes, go to www.clovisadultschool.com.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.