Impersonators get a chance to be the celebrity

Published May 30, 2007

Outside a sound stage in Los Angeles, Jennifer Aniston leans against Frank Sinatra while Lt. Columbo, Superman and Stevie Wonder bring up the rear. It's all in a day's work for Hollywood. This is an early audition for ABC's new "alternative" show, The Next Best Thing: Who is the Greatest Celebrity Impersonator? premiering at 8 tonight on WFTS-Ch. 28. Auditions were held across the United States to search out these famous clones. Contestants will compete in a series of eliminations, until the grand finale, which will be broadcast live from Las Vegas. The winner carts home $100, 000. Comedians Jeffrey Ross, Lisa Ann Walter and Elon Gold will judge.

The competitors not only have to look like their subjects, they have to sound like them and sing and dance like them. Waiting for an audition this day, garbed in his trademark tux, spinning a martini glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other, is Dean Martin. Steve Apple has been doing Martin for 11 years. He's also been playing Groucho Marx for 18 years at Universal Studios Tour Hollywood.