Originally created 02/23/01

Hog-calling family hits Hollywood



AIKEN - A country singer who wails "There is no Arizona" shares top billing with a designer who's hopelessly in love with her gay best friend - a guy.

But Aiken County's Campbell family hog callers plan to steal the show Monday.

They're not famous like the other folks on Jay Leno's Tonight Show lineup. But they're loud and they're proud, and they aim to put Bath, an Aiken County mill town, on the map by hollering for hogs while the cameras roll.

It won't be the first time someone has summoned swine on the late-night TV show, but it will be the first for an entire family, producer Steve Ridgeway said Thursday.

So will real pigs root on center stage? Maybe, maybe not. Mr. Ridgeway won't say. He says he hopes the curious won't be able to resist the Campbells - Darrell, Angela, Carvie and Candis. They'll make their debut during the second half of the show after Mr. Leno finishes his one-liners and daily jabs at newsmakers.

But they never would be jet bound for Burbank, Calif., if a researcher for the Tonight Show hadn't stumbled on an article in The Augusta Chronicle about Carvie, the one to beat at the town of Salley's hog-calling contest. It's held each year during a festival called the Chitlin Strut, which honors the humble hog intestine. Carvie has won the hog-calling trophy every year since 1997, beating his father, the former repeat champion. Both get plenty of practice hunting wild boars in Gum Swamp at Savannah River Site.

So far, hollering for hogs has brought home 13 trophies for the Campbells, but no bacon.

Forget the bacon; Carvie needs chitlins to be his best. Eating them gets him in the mood, he says.

"If you're going to sound like a hog, you've got to eat hog," he says.

That's another tightly kept secret about Monday's show. Will Carvie get his secret ingredient before letting loose on national TV? Mr. Ridgeway wouldn't say. He did say he'd heard of chitlins before, but he'd never heard of Bath, so the Campbells already have educated one city boy.

The Campbell family will share the spotlight with Debra Messing, Grace of Will and Grace, an interior designer who is roommates with her gay best friend. And Jamie O'Neal, a blonde balladeer, will make her first national television appearance. Her debut single There is No Arizona is No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

Reach Chasiti Kirkland at (803) 279-6895.