Hopefuls for new reality show converge on Farwell

Eleisha Murillo of Clovis, with daughter Ava, fill out a sheet for the show “Three Wishes” on Sunday at the Farwell Community Center. (Staff photo: John Eisel)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

The Farwell Community Center was full of hopeful folks Sunday afternoon, all wishing for a better future with a little help from NBC.

The network is producing a show called “Three Wishes” for this fall that will grant large and small wishes for people throughout small-town America. Recording artist Amy Grant will host the show, and suggested the Farwell area because of ties she has there, producers say.

A couple of rock ‘n’ rollers patiently waited Sunday for their chance to tell producers about their vision for a youth community center in Clovis.

“We’re trying to bring something to Clovis for the kids,” said Chance Shirley, “something to do Saturday night rather than drive up and down Main Street.”

In May, a music venue called The Hole was shut down in Clovis for not having proper business licenses. Shirley and business partner Jon LeBlanc were running the venue, and are pursuing alternative ways to hold concerts now. In the meantime, they hatched a new idea they hope NBC will like.

Their wish is to open a community center where kids can develop creative talents — processing photos, making and recording music, and learning graphic design skills. Besides that, on the weekend Shirley and LeBlanc could promote rock ‘n’ roll shows, they said.

“Remember how cool Clovis was in the 1950s?” LeBlanc said, citing that Buddy Holly recorded “Peggy Sue” here, “It should be that cool again.”

Traci Green, senior casting producer for the show, said the show has received more than 6,000 wishes in e-mail and letters. She called the series a “big priority” for NBC. Wishes to be granted could cover an entire community or be as simple as a pair of shoes for a destitute child.

Some of the folks at the community center just wanted to see their lives improve.

Smokey Ball desperately wants his farm to be paid off, noting that producers have said money is no object when granting wishes. Painful arthritis in his feet makes it hard for the 54-year-old farmer to perform his daily duties, and the cost of a cesspool means his 145-acre farm east of Portales doesn’t even have a bathroom, he said.

“It’s hard to make a living farming,” he said.

When Ball inherited the farm from his parents, it was already $60,000 in debt, he said. When hail destroyed two of his seasonal crops, he sank further into debt. Now, he a crippling disease could destroy his ability to make a living, he said.

Sheri Chenault of Portales asked for a wish for her parents, who are both in their 80s and have difficulty getting around. Her father obtained a motorized wheelchair to help, but the weight of the loader and wheelchair on the back of their sedan causes the car to drag. So she is wishing for a utility vehicle or van.

“I guess their will to live can be affected by a lot of little things,” she said. “We want them to enjoy what time they have left here.”

Green said NBC has not committed to shooting a show in the Farwell area, and multiple casting crews are traveling America in search of compelling stories. By mid-afternoon, producers had already heard about 100 wishes, she said.