As host of PBS's “Everyday Edisons,” Michael Cable is probably Charlotte's least-acknowledged celebrity. The show, a reality series dedicated to novice inventors, is filmed at an office near Bank of America Stadium. The Observer first wrote about it in 2007, when Cable and show creator Louis Foreman were filming their first season. “Everyday Edisons” has since won two Emmys. It airs Sundays at noon on UNC-TV (Channel 58) and at 7 p.m. on WTVI (Channel 42). Following are excerpts of an interview Cable had with staff writer Mark Price.
Q. Are you recognized in public?
Louis (Foreman) and I give each other a hard time about this, because we tried hard to make sure the show was more of a documentary than a reality show. But people look at us like celebrities.…We get recognized in airports and on airplanes a lot, because that's where we spend the majority of our time for the show. People stop us and tell us their ideas, and stuff like that. I have no fan club, no groupies. My kid still loves me, and that's all I care about. But it is nice when someone says on a blog that I'm a good storyteller.
Q. How is casting going for season three?
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For season one, we saw 5,000 ideas. For season two, we saw 10,000, and for season three, it was more like 15,000 ideas. We had to pick 10 out, and that is an excruciating process. … I can say that our season three inventors are probably the most boisterous group we've had.
Q. Are you surprised at the show's success?
Every day. People blog about the show, have parties around the show, talk about what they hate, what they love about the show. …There were other shows about inventors that started the same time as us, and they died off. They made fun of the inventors, humiliating them, like cookie-cutter reality TV shows. It's one thing to do that to someone who thinks they can dance or sing. It's totally another to make fun of an inventor who has spent all their 401(k) money on proving something can work. .
Q. How many inventions have been picked up by companies?
On season one, we had 14 products and two never got picked up. On season two, we got 12 out of 12 picked up. In some cases, they were picked up by companies for test marketing. In a case like that, it might be offered in a portion of their stores. It takes time.
Q. Has anyone gotten rich?
No. The biggest financial winner so far is from season one, Jennifer Waldroup Holloway, who came up with a piece of exercise equipment. The initial purchase order from Dick's was several hundred thousand dollars, and that was just for the introduction. If it sells through, it will multiply to a million-dollar order for January, when everyone has made their New Year's resolution to lose weight. She gets 10 percent of that initial several hundred thousand dollars.
Q. What's the craziest thing someone has done at a casting call?
In San Diego, when a woman who looked like your average American grandma came in on a rickshaw, pulled by two standard poodles, and she was brandishing a whip yelling commands in Russian or German at the poor dogs. She was also wearing a sequined leprechaun outfit. … We were in stunned silence.