Texans have talent — and lots of it.
So it wasn’t all that surprising to see thousands of people turn out Jan. 12 for "America’s Got Talent" auditions at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
The hit NBC show has had excellent luck in our state, supervising casting producer Roz Jordon told me. The Alamo City was selected this time around after previous stops in Austin, Dallas and Houston.
"Everything’s bigger and better in Texas," she said. "Everybody’s so nice and we get a great response — great characters."
Other cities visited by "America’s Got Talent" in recent weeks include Los Angeles; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis; Nashville; Savannah, Ga.; Raleigh, N.C.; Norfolk, Va. and Columbus, Ohio.
"We’re looking for everything," Jordon said. "Once you see it, you just know."
The competition is gearing up for its ninth season — and the pressure’s on to keep things fresh.
"Every year it gets harder and harder," she said. "It’s like, ‘Wow, how are we going to top that?’"
Hillbilly Jane — yes, she says that’s really her name — was among the folks hoping to impress judges. She showed up with her dog, Roger Pepito, about 8 a.m. and snagged one of the very last audition slots — almost exactly 12 hours later, at 7:59 p.m.
The musician, who said she hadn’t slept in almost two days, found Roger Pepito abandoned on the side of the road when he was just three weeks old.
"He’s the ONLY guitar-playing dog," she told me outside the convention center.
This wasn’t Hillbilly Jane’s first time to audition for reality TV. She’s tried out for Fox’s "American Idol" several times, as well.
"It seems that, as the years progress, I’m seeing fewer people at the auditions who make me cringe," she said.
A few steps away, Rockstar and Thunderkat, part of a San Antonio-based hip-hop dance group, were showing off their moves.
"We’re just gonna be us – that’s it," Rockstar said.
The group practiced pretty much nonstop for two weeks before the casting call, Thunderkat said.
"We’re here to show the whole world what we’ve got," he said.
Lindsay Kopp said her 6-year-old daughter, Avery Davis, was invited to audition after "America’s Got Talent" producers came across a video of her singing that’d been posted on YouTube. They drove to San Antonio from their home in Tulsa, Okla. — an 11-hour trip.
"I gave it all I could — 110 percent," Avery said with a toothy grin moments after belting out a tune for the judges.
Wesley Hunt, a stand-up comedian from the Dallas area, certainly stood out in the crowd, thanks, at least in part, to a pair of bright pink high heels.
"Duh, I want to be famous," he said. "Doesn’t everybody?"
While Hunt won’t know for several more weeks whether he made the cut — callbacks aren’t until March, I was told — he thought his chances were good.
"I’m getting too old for this," Hunt said. "It’s now or never."
Channel surfing …
Roger Allen’s "Lone Star State of Mind" radio show has moved from Fridays to Sundays on 93.3 KGSR-FM. Tune in from 10 p.m. to midnight each week. … Time Warner Cable customers will soon have more ways than ever to enjoy their favorite shows. The area’s largest cable provider is planning to make as many as 300 of its live TWC TV channels available via Roku players. There will be no additional charge for the service, which is set to launch sometime early this year, the companies said. … Read my blog at austin360.com/tvblog or follow @gdinges on Twitter to get the latest updates on local radio and TV stations.