Upon hearing the casting call for a new Aflac duck voice, a Murphys man got quacking.
Tom Pratt, 53, once lived the Hollywood life, like the former duck Gilbert Gottfried. Comedian Gottfried lost the coveted job when he made insensitive remarks on Twitter in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Pratt, a former assistant casting director for soap opera “General Hospital” and producer on local newscasts in Los Angeles, left show business after experiencing burnout six years into his career in 1986.
“I told everybody I retired at 26,” he said.
The California State University, Northridge, theater major “always wanted to do voiceovers. My whole life, since I was a kid.”
He said he couldn’t pass up the chance at the Aflac insurance gig.
He put together a tongue-in-cheek audition tape from home and joined more than 11,000 wannabe white-feathered waterfowl on YouTube.
His video, highlighted by an animated egg-laying, drew the attention of “Good Day Sacramento” weekend co-host Cody Stark.
Pratt appeared on the show April 3 where Stark raved about the 25 minutes he spent replaying and cracking up at Pratt’s audition.
The egg-laying got him.
“I think that last one might be what gets you the gig,” Stark told him after rolling the clip.
Campfire impersonation sessions with his brother as a child helped Pratt develop almost a dozen Looney Tunes and Disney characters from Donald Duck to Sylvester the Cat to Elmer Fudd.
Pratt has some steep competition.
A little more than 12,000 people have submitted demos or been auditioned in person, according to Columbus, Ga.-based Aflac spokeswoman Laura Kane.
“As of Friday, we had listened to 10,000,” she said.
The competition includes numerous seasoned voiceover artists, and even Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones.
“There are people who have day jobs on Wall Street, and others who have undiscovered talent.”
The selection process is involved.
The team is supposed to make call backs by this Friday and have a final selection by the end of April.
An advertising agency will narrow the pack in the meantime.
“The writer and art director who created the ad are screening submissions,” she said.
“They are putting anyone who has a possibility into one pile. Then the two of them are going to come together and listen to the most promising.”
They’ll whittle the pack down to 15, screen them and present the final three to company higher ups.
Stark sells insurance to cover his bills these days, but if he beats the odds and gets chosen as the Aflac spokesduck, it would come with a six-figure payday, company representatives told The New York Times this week.
In addition to the local TV slot, Pratt’s tryout has generated some Web buzz.
“It’s taken on a life of its own. It probably got about 500 hits,” Pratt said. “And I don’t know 500 people.”