Jake Sasseville may finally get his wish: fame.

The 21-year-old Edward Little High School graduate has rented offices in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan, hired a staff of 25 and secured advertisements from several multi-national corporations.

What’s his product? A version of the same talk show he hosted as a teenager on public access TV in Lewiston-Auburn, “The Edge with Jake Sasseville.”

“It’s surreal in every way,” Sasseville said in a phone interview from his New York City office. “It’s produced by a professional staff rather than 15-year-olds.”

The show is tentatively scheduled to begin airing on Jan. 17 in 39 TV markets, from Portland to Anchorage.

How has he done it? Lots of nerve.

First, he came up with a business model. He found that 70 percent of the nation’s ABC affiliates didn’t have anything running after the increasingly popular Jimmy Kimmel talk show. Rather than getting a network to put him on, an admittedly dicey prospect, he managed to sign some advertisers to pay the costs of creating a show and buying the airtime directly, just like the makers of an infomercial.

Sasseville – the show’s executive producer, host and best ad man – signed Overstock.com, Bed Head and others to six-figure deals.

“Nobody can sell this show better than me,” Sasseville said.

The central theme of his pitch: The young generation has no spokesman.

“I’m 21,” he said. “I’m doing this. I’m moving. I’m shaking. I’m merging and branding myself as the voice of the generation. Because there really is no voice of Gen Y right now.”

It’s a position he’s been aiming for since he was in elementary school.

Jake and his brother put on pretend TV newscasts in their basement when they were little. By high school, Jake was pursuing local celebrities such as Zoe Zanidackis, a former contestant on “Survivor” and TV meteorologist Joe Cupo.

He tried getting bigger names by calling the families of the rich and famous: Ashton Kutcher’s mother in Iowa and Adam Sandler’s parents in Florida were among his targets.

“I later got a call from a publicist in Lewiston,” he recalled. “She goes, ‘Why don’t you think you’re getting people to go on your show? Because you’re calling their family.”

Was it silly? Sure, Jake said. It was also a sign of a certain show-biz stubbornness.

“People laughed at it,” he said. “But that is the type of energy that it takes to succeed.”

These days, he has a talent booker on staff. He has slimmed down, begun using product in his hair and swaggers with even more confidence than he did as a high-schooler.

One press release for the new show refers to him as a “dynamic and multi-talented mega-personality.”

The pride is tempered with experience, though.

“This took a lot of hustle,” he said. “I’ve fallen before. My energy and zealousness trips me up sometimes.”

His production company is appropriately named: Foot in Mouth Inc.

The challenges of launching the new show have been scary, Sasseville said. “We’re burning a lot of money every week.”

Just two weeks ago, he was hours from running out of money and sending everyone home when he managed to secure more funds from an advertiser.

“It was like a war that we went through,” he said.

He called everyone together, described what was going on and answered questions.

“This is a rough ride,” he told them. “If you’re on board, you’re on for the whole roller coaster.”

Meanwhile, there is a show to produce. Some of the behind-the-scenes drama was filmed for the show. And before he goes on the air in January, there are guests to book and comic bits to create.

“We are rocking and rolling for a 13-week run in 40 million households,” he said. The show is slated to run on Thursdays, right after Kimmel, which airs for an hour beginning at midnight.

One of the first bits will be an interview with a nude art studio model.

What makes it edgy?

Jake also will be nude for the interview.

“It was disgusting in every way, but fantastic television,” he said.

He insists that none of his private parts will be public when the show airs.

“I’m going to be a Nazi about it,” he said.

But the concept is still leaving some folks back home a little uneasy.

“I told my grandmother about it and she said, ‘I’m not going to tell people to watch you on television,'” Jake said.


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