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Cowboy David Smith picks Linda, wins ranch as 'Next Joe Millionaire' wraps up

By Wade Paulsen, 11/25/2003 

In what might be the least surprising final selection ever, rodeo cowboy David Smith, 24, selected brunette Czech beauty Linda, 25, in the final episode of Fox's The Next Joe Millionaire on November 24. However, the events of the final show left serious doubt as to whether they would live happily ever after.

Why was the choice so unsurprising? Because Linda had actually left the show by her own request, but David was so unhappy that she was gone that the producers brought her back. Poor Cat, the 22-year-old blonde German who was the other finalist, never had a chance after Linda's return, despite the producers' best efforts to indicate otherwise. As David so clumsily put it, "I don't mean this bad but, like, I didn't choose you."

Despite David's clear preference, Linda was none too thrilled when David confessed to her that he hadn't been "completely honest" with her and actually wasn't worth $80 million. Unlike last year's finalist, Zora Andrich, who was rewarded with $500,000 after she decided that she could live with Evan Marriott's deception, if only for the cameras, Linda failed to show up for the final ceremony in the Italian mansion, leaving a visibly dejected David waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... alone in the house with butler Paul Hogan.

However, the "waiting-for-Godot" ending (minus the humor) apparently didn't sit well with the show's producers ... and the fact that there was still half an hour of show left gave sharp-eyed viewers a hint that a reconciliation might still be brokered between David and Linda. Sure enough, when David finally arrived back in Texas, he was taken to a ranch, where (surprise, surprise) Linda was waiting for him.

At this delayed reunion, Linda said that she "felt that David was calling for me." Also calling to her was a check for $250,000 ... while David was given title to the 90-acre ranch. At the end, Linda and David rode away into the sunset on his horse North, as he tried to explain to the horse that "I've been to Italy ... It-ah-ly." We think he expected the horse to understand. Poor Linda.

The Next Joe Millionaire, though, was a horse of a different color for Fox. Although the first edition averaged 23 million viewers, the second edition attracted an average of just 6.5 million. Yesterday, a senior Fox executive admitted that "we got greedy" by bringing the show back. Unfortunately for Fox, in TV programming (unlike, perhaps, finance), greed is not good.

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