By Travis Gulbrandson
One Burbank native’s abilities to sing six songs could end up netting him $1 million.
That’s because Doug Roegiers is among the contestants of NBC’s “The Winner Is,” which is set to premier at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 11.
“The talent I was put on the show with is incredible,” Roegiers said in an interview with the Plain Talk. “I like the phrase that someone else used. They said. ‘I can’t wait for you all to meet my new, very-talented friends.’”
“The Winner Is” will feature average people of all ages and vocal styles as they compete for the million-dollar grand prize.
Hosted by Nick Lachey, each episode will consist of three rounds. In the first, contestants will be offered $10,000 to leave the game, $25,000 in round two and $50,000 in round three.
These offers rise throughout the series, culminating with the two final acts competing for the grand prize.
Unlike other competition shows, no voting will be required from the home audience, Roegiers said.
“It’s not that kind of show. Just sit back and enjoy the tension,” he said.
Roegiers, 37, first auditioned for the show in November.
“I was actually on my way to a gig,” he said. “I was in my tuxedo … and they put me in a room with three other people. They started asking questions and saying, ‘What makes you think you’re going to win the million dollars?’ My first response was, ‘Because I’m the best in the world.’
“I could sense the animosity coming off the other three people, but I thought, ‘It’s TV, the heck with it, let’s do it,’” he said, laughing.
The second question he was asked was, “What would you do with the money?”
“I said, ‘Well, first I’ll probably take my girlfriend to Paris, which is where she’s always wanted to go. Then I’ll probably take my wife to Ireland, where I’ve always wanted to go.’
“They did not laugh at that,” he said. “Long story short, they liked me, but they told me I probably wouldn’t get on the TV show. But they brought me in for some rehearsal, like dress shows.”
It was during this rehearsal process that the decision was made by NBC to have Roegiers perform as part of the show’s first season.
Roegiers will croon standards on the show. Although he said he listened primarily to hip-hop when he was growing up, his musical tastes broadened when he moved to New York in 1998, the year Frank Sinatra died.
“I saw the Empire State Building lit up blue, and I remember thinking, ‘Who do you have to be for them to light the Empire State Building the color of your eyes?’” Roegiers said. “It’s really specific and it shows a lot of respect. I just hadn’t been exposed to that, so that had a big impact on me.”
At that point, he started researching crooners, although he didn’t consider singing professionally. After college, he moved to California in 2000.
“I’ve been out here off and on since then pursuing acting and performing,” he said. “I fell into singing back in ’06 or ’07, and that’s really carried me for a ride so far.”
Before he “fell into singing,” Roegiers pursued a career in acting.
“(That) basically meant I was a waiter,” he said. “I said I needed a career change, so I started selling suits and just kind of trying to learn more about fashion, being a gentleman and those kinds of things. A couple of my friends who are singers said, ‘Your voice is too good to keep to yourself.’ I didn’t ever think … that singing and performing in that way on my own would pay off.”
After a period of performing on the Santa Monica Promenade, a friend told Roegiers he might be able to make a living as a busker.
“I took what little money I had, because I was in debt, and I had enough money maybe for rent,” he said. “I owed my roommate money. I went out and bought some equipment. It was either buy equipment or pay the rent, essentially. …
“Within the first month I was able to pay off the equipment and pay the rent. I was like, ‘Well, that just means I made the right decision,’” he said.
A year later, Roegiers had made LA Magazine’s “Best of LA” feature.
“That was kind of the beginning of it,” he said. “Then I started singing indoors, in lounges and restaurants and stuff like that. Now I’m the frontman of a nine-piece swing band called Phat Cat Swinger.”
Roegiers said he is looking forward to the premier of “The Winner Is.”
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I hope it goes really well.”
For more information on Roegiers, visit http://www.douglasroegiers.com/.