Fox to air 'Who's your Daddy?' reality adoption pilot on January 3
By Reality TV World staff, 12/15/2004
In an announcement that at first glance would appear to push the bounds of bad taste in ways not seen since it announced and later canceled its Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay reality special this spring, Fox has announced that it will air Who's Your Daddy?, a reality series pilot that features a young adopted woman attempting to win $100,000 by picking her biological father from among a group of masquerading impostors.
First disclosed by NBC chief Jeff Zucker at July's television writer tour and hosted by Finola Hughes, Who's Your Daddy?, a 90-minute special, will air Monday, January 3 at 8PM ET/PT -- assuming that, as it did with Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay, Fox doesn't give in to advocacy group protests and cancel its broadcast plans by then.
The Who's Your Daddy? reality special -- one of six episodes that have already been filmed in anticipation of the special's success -- will begin with the young woman meeting a panel of eight men who all claim to the birth father that she has not seen since being put up for adoption as an infant. Over the course of three elimination rounds, the woman will use her limited knowledge of her birth father to interview and question the men -- and try to see through the seven imposters attempts to fool her into believing that they are her father.
If the young woman picks the right man in the end, then she wins the $100,000 prize. If she guesses wrong, the imposter who managed to fool her will receive the $100,000.
Scott Hallock, Kevin Healey and Ken Mok, the show's executive producers, insist that despite the provocative title, Who's Your Daddy? is an emotionally uplifting show -- and that not only were both the father and daughters completely willing participants, but the cash prize is merely intended to motive the imposters to try their best and keep the legitimate father from immediately revealing his identity.
"The people who are on the show are not there for the money. They're there to meet their dad," Hallock told Reuters. "If you watch the show, it's going to be impossible for you not to get choked up," Healey added. "We had Teamsters on our set that were crying."
Unconvinced, adoption activists immediately began attacking the special. "This is really perverse," Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan P. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a research and policy organization told The Associated Press. "It takes a deeply personal and important experience and turns it into a money-grubbing game show. I think it is despicable."
Joseph Kroll, executive director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, called the idea "repulsive." "If someone were to try doing that to my daughter, what I consider to be abuse, I would not behave appropriately," Kroll told The Associated Press.
Hallock wasted no time firing back at the activists, telling the AP that "I find it curious that people are calling it that without having seen an episode." "You might get the impression from the title that it is somehow salacious or exploitive. But nothing could be further from the truth."
"The dads wanted to find their daughters, and the daughters wanted to find their dads. All of them were pitched the concept well in advance of coming on the show," Healey told Reuters. "We had to get permission from both parties before anyone's contacted."
"Our main focus was to see that it would be a positive experience and we were determined not to go forward with it if that was not the case," Healey told the AP.
"It's the most emotional show we've ever put on the air," Mike Darnell, Fox's reality programming head told Daily Variety. "I guarantee you: If you have any heart, you'll be bawling at the end of the show," he added, while also acknowledging that, "sometimes you'll wince at what happens."