Cole Burnett wants to be on T.V.
Rick and Ramona Burnett say the whole thing started when their grandson was watching cartoons one January day, looked up at them and made the announcement.
"All of a sudden he turned to me and asked, 'how do you get to be on television?' I told him 'I didn't know. Why?'" recalled Mrs. Burnett. "He said 'because I can do that better than they can.'"
And things just seem to have blossomed from there.
A couple of weeks later Mrs. Burnett spotted a newspaper advertisement placed by John Robert Powers Entertainment and Talent Agency out of St. Louis, seeking individuals between the ages of three months and 80 years.
On Jan. 12 Cole, his mom Andi, and his grandparents headed for the audition which was conducted at the Ramada Inn in Miner where they joined an estimated 500 other parents, grandparents, children and adults. They were going with the attitude that if it led to something that would be great. If it didn't, that would be fine too.
But the 6-year-old surprised everyone, especially Tracy Jones, now his agent. Not only did he breeze through the audition, but those in charge believe he has a good shot at stardom.
"I wasn't nervous," said Cole, as he belted out a few lines of the song "I Believe I Can Fly" to prove his lack of shyness. "I learned that song in kindergarten, the tune just comes into me. I have to sing loud so I can blend," he explained.
"Tracy asked us why we were doing this and before we could speak up, he said 'cause I just want to be on T.V.' Then to make him a little bit more at ease which he already was she asked him about his hair and they were talking about that. Then he piped up and told her he'd gotten out in the rain and his hair rusted, that's why it's red. I thought she was going to fall out in the floor," laughed Mrs. Burnett.
When they got the call-back and were told Cole had been accepted with the agency, The Burnetts remember the talent scout who made the remark that Cole isn't intimidated by anyone. "She said we've got to get this boy to California," said Burnett.
Added Mrs. Burnett, "She had told me of all the people she had taken out to Los Angeles and New York, gotten on T.V. and in modeling careers, she had never in her life met anybody his age who is as outgoing, as personable, as confident and as pleasurable as he is. We had come this far in just a very short time," she said enthusiastically. "Sine then he has gone for a photo shoot, been requested to get an entertainment work permit from Jefferson City and has been going to St. Louis for monthly auditions since April."
The next step: the International Modeling and Talent Association Convention in Los Angeles Jan. 5-11. There he will meet with top modeling and talent agencies, casting directors, film producers and modeling industry leaders from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Paris, Milan, Brazil, Tokyo, Hamburg, Munich, London, as well as others important figures in the modeling world.
The catch, the Burnetts said, is the expense involved. There are registration fees, costs for a photo in the IMTA Convention Program Book, workshops and seminars, enrollment in required competitions, meetings with agents and scouts, one-on-one meetings with agency call-backs, tickets to awards night celebrations and round-trip airfare from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
Also there are expenses for a six-night stay in Los Angeles, a portfolio, training preparation at the agency in St. Louis prior to the convention, and acting and television workshops.
In total, they need $15,000. Of that, $1,600 is due into the agency's office no later than Aug. 26 which means the family needs it by Aug. 20 to ensure it will be there on time.
The family is turning to the community to help make Cole's dream come true. "We are hoping for sponsors to help with these expenses," said Mrs. Burnett. "We would greatly appreciate any help you could give us in the endeavor. If you would be in a position to sponsor Cole for $100 or more, your name, company or organization would be listed in the International Modeling and Talent Association Official Program Book, along with Cole's name and picture.
Anyone interested in being a sponsor is asked to send the tax-deductible donation to Rick and Ramona Burnett, P. O. Box. 1302, Sikeston, Mo. 63801. Please include a phone number and address so a receipt can be sent back. If enough money is not raised, the family assures all donations will be returned. For more information contact that Burnetts at 472-1231.
"He's really a natural at this," said Burnett, "and I honestly don't know where he gets it because I know he it's not from me."
"He really is," chimed in Mrs. Burnett. "And that's why I am trying so hard to come up with the money to be able for him to go to Los Angeles. I can't let him down, I won't do that."
Yet as excited as they are about the possibilities, his mom and grandparents stand firm in their promise to Cole and to each other that if he does move up the ladder of stardom, they aren't going to forget what's important, Cole's happiness.
"If he wants to continue doing this as much as he does right now, then we're going to be right here to support him," said Mrs. Burnett. "But the minute he decides it's not fun anymore, then we stop. That's all there is to it."
For now Cole is soaking up all the attention and looking forward to one day being famous. "I want to be on T.V., I think it will be fun and cool," Cole said. "If I don't get to go to Los Angeles I'll be sad because it's the only way I can get on T.V."
But if television doesn't work out, Cole has a back up plan. He said he'd consider being a policeman or fireman.