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Fox's 'Paradise Hotel' ends with couple switch and mixed results among "Barbies"

By Wade Paulsen, 10/02/2003 

Finally, after a 16-week run that sometimes seemed like it was never going to end, Fox's "Paradise Hotel" wrapped up its first season in a two-hour finale Wednesday night. When all was said and done, three of the four members of "Team Barbie" walked away with prize winnings, but the fourth was left high and dry.

As previously spoiled, the final bootees were Scott Thomas and Holly Pastor, leaving Dave Kerpen and Charla Pihlstrom, and Keith Cuda and Tara Gerard-Mateski as the final two couples. The "Ultimate Reward" that the teams were playing to win turned out to be $500,000, to be split among the winning couple. However, the "Ultimate Twist" was that the couples were swapped for the final vote, thus mixing up the "Barbies." As a result, the booted contestants had to vote for either Keith and Charla or Dave and Tara as the winner.

In a not-too-surprising outcome, Keith and Charla were selected as the winners of the $500,000, aided by a sympathetic speech from Keith asking for votes from the booted contestants and apologizing for hurting anyone during the game. However, the "greed" part popped up immediately thereafter.

Each member of the winning couple was given the chance to share his or her prize winnings with his or her original partner. Charla, the 21-year-old waitress from Minnesota, asked Dave, a 26-year old marketing consultant from Boston, if he'd still be her friend if she didn't share ... and then, egged on by booted contestants Toni Ferrari and Melanie Barger, decided to keep the whole $250,000 for herself, claiming that her family needed the money. However, Keith, the 23-year-old male model from Ohio, had no hesitation about sharing his winnings with Tara, a 21-year-old college student and wannabe actress from California.

In further contrast to Charla, Keith and Tara decided to take their now-meager $125,000 each and treat all of the cast to a trip to Las Vegas. We can only hope that Charla ends up spending the night hypnotized by the roulette wheel, in the manner of Julie Hagerty in Lost in America.

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