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ABC announces some contestant details for Mark Cuban's 'The Benefactor'

By Wade Paulsen, 07/16/2004 

At least none of the Dallas Mavericks will be getting another million dollars from Mark Cuban on his new ABC show The Benefactor.

Cuban, the billionaire founder of (now part of Yahoo!) and current owner of the NBA's Mavericks, will give away $1 million to one of 16 lucky contestants on the show, which was originally planned as a six-episode summer series with up to 30 contestants but which morphed into a eight or nine episode series to be broadcast prior to (or after, on the West Coast) Monday Night Football.

During The Benefactor, Cuban promises to take the finalists and the audience on a journey… albeit with some of the rules made up along the way. Said Cuban, “It’s like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. When you walked into Willy’s factory, you had no idea what the game was.” We'll soon see if Mark Cuban's imagination is a match for Roald Dahl (the writer of both the movie and the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, on which it was based).

This week, ABC announced the names, hometowns, and occupations of the finalists:

• Tiffaney, McAllen, TX -- Unemployed
• Mario, Glendale, CA – Vocational Counselor
• Shawn, Hemet, CA – Elementary School Teacher
• Claude Chappel IV, Portland, OR -- Histologist
• Christine, Boise, ID – Project Coordinator
• Kathy, Rochester, NY – Medical Student
• Chris, Atlanta, GA – Sales and Marketing Director
• Dominic, Las Vegas, NV – Waiter/Model
• Femia, Las Vegas, NV – Disease Intervention Specialist
• Grayson, Portland, OR – Graduate Student
• Linda, North Hampton, NH – Women’s Pro Football Player
• Kevin, Dallas, TX – Bartender/Nanny
• Spencer, Atlanta, GA – Computer Programmer
• Latane, San Diego, CA – Marketing Director
• Laurel, Santa Monica, CA -- Marketing
• Rich, Alpharetta, GA – Floral Designer

In addition, Mark Cuban has put the show's "sizzle reel" -- the promotional video aimed at advertisers that may contain spoilers for the show -- on line through his "" site. The sizzle reel shows brief clips of all 16 contestants plus several challenges that Cuban set up for them, including testing their reactions to a lousy joke (to see how much they "suck up," in his words) and giving them three hours of his time with the warning that they had better not waste it.

Unlike other reality shows, Cuban will not wait until the end of a show to eliminate contestants who don’t live up to his expectations -- which makes sense, since he has to eliminate 15 contestants in only 8 or 9 shows. Thus, contestants may find that at any time during the game, if Cuban doesn’t like something, he may tell them, “Sorry, your million-dollar dream just ended.” We don't know if Cuban has tried to trademark this phrase.

The Benefactor was created by and is executive-produced by David Young for 12 Yard Productions (a UK reality producer making its U.S. debut). Clay Newbill (formerly executive producer of The Mole, Celebrity Mole and The Bachelorette) of Dog-Fight Industries, and Todd Wagner, CEO of 2929 Productions, also serve as executive producers.

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