Zach Anner, who has cerebral palsy, will get his own travel show on Oprah Winfrey’s new cable television network after being handpicked by the TV legend herself.
Anner was one of two finalists in Winfrey’s “Your OWN Show” competition, a reality show contest designed to select a new television host. In a surprise decision, Winfrey said on the final episode, which aired Friday, that she would award shows to both Anner and another finalist, Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco.
“Both of you have given your heart and the truth is that both of you really deserve to have your own show,” Winfrey said. “I’m going to make that happen.”
An early fan favorite in the Winfrey contest, Anner’s online audition went viral last summer, attracting over 9 million votes from the public and the attention of singer John Mayer. The buzz helped Anner become one of 10 contestants on the reality show where participants were mentored by well-known television hosts including Suze Orman, Dr. Phil and Winfrey.
In the audition tape, Anner described himself as a man with “the sexiest of the palsies” and said he wanted to “make a travel show for people who never thought they could travel.” Now he’s poised to do just that.
On the final episode of “Your OWN Show,” Anner produced and pitched a pilot for his planned show, titled “Rollin’ Around the World with Zach Anner.”
“I want to show people how they can get around on a budget cause I have some problems myself getting around, but not everybody has one of these things,” Anner said, referring to his power wheelchair. “So it’s a show for everybody that just shows them that you can see a place as long as you have the right attitude and then when things go wrong you just adapt and have fun with it.”
Winfrey expressed some concern about Anner’s ability to sustain himself physically given the “grueling” demands of television. But, she said that in spending time with him she’s seen that “the wheelchair doesn’t come first.”
“Being around him makes you want to be a better person,” Winfrey said of Anner. “I’ve never seen anybody with that kind of heart, that kind of humor who had all the challenges he’s had to deal with from the time he was born and I’ve met a lot of people.”
For his part, an ecstatic Anner joked that he could could do backflips after learning that he would get his own show. “I won’t show you, but I could do them,” he said. “I guess I’m going to need a map and some travel brochures because we’ve got a lot of work to do.”