Zach Anner (born November 17, 1984 in Buffalo, New York) is an Austin, Texas-based stand-up comedian with cerebral palsy who gained world-wide attention with the submission of a video to Oprah Winfrey's "Search for the Next TV Star" competition. He won his own TV show on OWN through Oprah's Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star. Zach Anner's show is a wheelchair travel show, called Rollin' With Zach and premiered December 12, 2011.
Zach Anner is originally from Kenmore, New York. He was born with cerebral palsy. Anner graduated from Kenmore West Senior High School. After a stint working for Disney World as a park security specialist at Epcot, he started college at the University of Texas, Austin, in 2005. While attending school, he obtained celebrity interviews through That's Awesome, a sketch comedy program on Texas Student TV K29HW-D,the university's local Public-access television cable TV channel. That’s Awesome was created by independent filmmaker Mark Dennis, a friend Zach credits as the one who encouraged him to be in front of the camera. In 2008, he and fellow production mates started a comedy troupe called Lark the Beard, which produced a Streamy-nominated web series entitled The Wingmen. Anner is currently involved in writing shows and feature movies with Lark the Beard.
Oprah contest and Rollin' With Zach
On June 2, 2010, Zach Anner uploaded a video submission to a contest sponsored by Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Productions. Oprah's "Search for the Next TV Star" contest is a chance for one "top five" finalist to compete on a reality show located in Los Angeles, California. The winner of the reality program receives a show on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The "top five" online finalists are determined by the number of votes their video receives. On the morning of Friday, June 11, 2010, Anner had just over 3,000 votes for his video submission, while the leader of the competition possessed over 9000 votes.
By the night of Saturday, June 12, celebrity endorsements and support began to appear for Anner. John Mayer, an early supporter of Anner's, posted words of encouragement for Zach on his blog. According to The Daily Texan, Anner, who took a weekend trip to Dallas, Texas, was unaware of the overnight success of his video submission. With video cameras, friends of Anner filmed his first reaction to the then over 2,000,000 votes, as well as the blog and "To Zach Anner" video by John Mayer. Anner exclaimed, "How....What the...What the Balls is this?" at the sight of his new popularity. As a response, Anner posted the subsequent "Thank You, Internet" and "I want to come and see you!" videos.
On February 25, it was announced that Zach Anner won the competition; winning his own television show, $100,000, and a Chevrolet Equinox. The show, titled Rollin' With Zach, premiered December 12, 2011 but was cancelled after six episodes.
Celebrity and media support
As of June 15, 2010, Anner has received support from Perez Hilton, John Mayer, Harry Knowles, David Hasselhoff, Daniel Tosh, and others on the Internet. He has also received coverage in New York Magazine, Time, Entertainment Weekly, ABC News, Fox News (Red Eye), Tubefilter.tv, and G4TV.
According to internet speculation, the contest was rigged against Anner, as a contestant named Dr. Phyllis received over 300,000 votes in 20 minutes and surpassed Anner. Many voters noticed that after they placed a vote for Anner, the total number of his votes would actually decrease, further adding to the belief that the system was rigged. Anner expressed skepticism about the alleged rigging, stating, "I sincerely doubt that Oprah would do anything like that. She’s probably too busy building schools and helping children to even notice someone like me."
Anner has a YouTube channel that he posts videos for on a weekly basis.The channel has over 100 thousand subscribers and over 7 million total views. He has multiple series that he includes on the channel including project Riding Shotgun, which premiered on October 23, 2012 and Workout Wednesday which premiered on August 21, 2013. The latter of which had a video that was auto-tuned by The Gregory Brothers.
- "About Zach Anner". The Real Zach Anner. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
- Rich, Gerald (June 16, 2010). "Zach Anner flattens 'Next Oprah' competition". The Daily Texan. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Meet the Contestants of Your OWN Show". OWN.
- Rubin, Josh (June 16, 2010). "Internet star with cerebral palsy could be the next Oprah". thestar.com (Toronto Star). Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- The Daily Texan, Volume 124, Issue 30 The University of Texas, 2006.
- "Zach's Audition: Zach is Oprah 2 (now with wheelchair and world travel)". The Oprah Winfrey Network. June 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Zach Thanks The Internet". BuzzFeed. June 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Zimmerman, Edith (June 23, 2010). "Zach Anner, Oprah’s Replacement, Gives a Taste of His Travel Show". New York Magazine. New York magazine / New York Media LLC. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Topic: Zach Anner". TIME NewsFeed (Time magazine / Time Inc.). June 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Armstrong, Jennifer (June 14, 2010). "Evidence of a benevolent Internet: Zach Anner's journey into the Oprahsphere". EW.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Alfonsi, Sharyn (June 16, 2010). "The Conversation: Zach Anner, Oprah's Unlikely Star". ABC News. go.com. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Zach Anner: Oprah 2.0". Fox News Channel. June 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Cohen, Joshua (June 14, 2010). "Oprah Should Choose Zach Anner to be Next Oprah". Tubefilter News. Tubefilter. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- Ishimoto, Moye (June 30, 2010). "Your OWN Show's Contestant Zach Anner". Attack of the Show. G4TV. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- Finnegan, Leah (June 22, 2010). "Oprah NOT Rigging Votes Against Zach Anner [UPDATED]". Huffington Post.
- Bierly, Mandi (June 23, 2010). "Oprah Winfrey Network to investigate Zach Anner-Dr. Phyllis voting controversy". EW.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Zach Anner - about". YouTube. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
- Anner, Zach. "Pullups and Pick-me-ups - Workout Wednesday #1". YouTube.
- "Lo Lo Lo Lo Lohan". YouTube.