"It's Just Ludicrous, All That Controversy"
MG: So that night before, did you stay in Santa Fe?
Sophia: Yeah, Santa Fe. I think two days before we started.
MG: So you rode on the school bus all the way from Santa Fe to the ranch?
Sophia: It was only like fifteen minutes, except they drove us around in circles so they could get different camera shots.
Sophia: That was actually my first taste of reality TV.
MG: Doing stuff over and over again for the cameras?
Sophia: Yeah. And it's not that the show was scripted or staged or anything. It's just that if they saw something they'd say, "Oh, we like that, do it again so we can get it from this angle."
MG: About the first Gold Star: you were the only person who got one who didn't already know that it was worth $20,000. So what went through your mind when you first got it, but before you knew about the money?
Sophia: I was flattered. I was a little confused, because I kind of figured there would have been something behind it, you know? It was just really nice. That's not a very exciting answer.
MG: I was wondering how the camera crews always seemed to get to the parents' houses so quickly for the phone call home.
Sophia: My mom told me that they called a few hours ahead of time. I know that they had camera crews stationed around the country by the residences of each of the kids.
MG: Wow, each of the kids? All forty?
Sophia: Yeah, that's what they told us. I mean, people sort of knew who would get the Gold Star. It was always made pretty obvious to us. So I guess they had the crews on standby.
MG: It seemed like there were always frontrunners on the show, too.
Sophia: Right, right.
Lori: And Sophia had said that there's so many hours that elapse between getting the Gold Star and calling the parents, so it gives the news crews time to get to the house. They do all the interviewing of the kids after the Gold Star before they call home.
MG: That makes sense. So, Lori, how long were they there setting up before you got the call?
Lori: I'd say maybe two and a half hours. Sophia was the first Gold Star and I think maybe things were a little more disorganized the first time around, so things took a little longer. I think they expected her to call in before she did. And I had no idea. I just thought she was calling home. I mean, all the parents were totally shocked. That was genuine. Except Alex's mom [laughs]