Schmo-ed Up ... and Spike TV's 'Joe Schmo' Matt Kennedy Gould didn't have a clue
By Wade Paulsen, 10/29/2003
In the long-awaited finale to Spike TV's The Joe Schmo Show, Matt Kennedy Gould finally learned that he was the only contestant among a sea of actors ... and, contrary to popular suspicion, Matt had no idea what had just happened to him until all the details were laid out.
In the final vote on the phony "Lap of Luxury" show, Dr. Pat voted for Hutch, giving Hutch the victory, 3 votes to 2 for Matt and 1 for Brian. However, before the $100,000 prize was awarded to Hutch, the producers pulled a twist that had been anticipated by some fans, by then announcing that they had a problem because somebody had to be disqualified, namely Hutch.
Hutch then told Matt and the rest of the cast that he was an actor pretending to be a character named Hutch. As the rest of the cast started castigating him for his deception, Hutch "blurted" out that Kip was an actor as well. Host Ralph Garman then asked if anyone else was playing a role -- and everyone but a clearly-stunned Matt raised their hands.
In the remainder of the show, everyone explained to Matt that he won (the $100,000 grand prize plus a flat-screen TV, a trip to Tahiti and other goodies), and that the whole show was a put-on designed to fool him. When Matt was informed about the hidden cameras everywhere, his first concern was whether there were cameras in the bathrooms -- and he seemed to relax when he found out that there weren't.
Although many, including us, had stated that Matt had "refused to participate" with the producers in promoting the show, the finale made it obvious that Matt was not angry with the producers, although he was shocked by the successful deception. Instead, the decision to keep Matt "under wraps" appears to have been made by the producers themselves -- perhaps in the hope that a significant number of people would keep tuning it to see whether Matt had really been fooled by the ruse. If so, we offer our congratulations to Stone Stanley Productions and Spike TV, because that's exactly what happened.
One focus of the after-show discussion has been what our cynicism about law-school dropout Matt says about ourselves. For example, the Toronto Sun noted Matt's comments that he was "like a three" out of 10 on figuring out that something strange was going on and that he was "definitely a gullible type person" and then wondered why it was so hard for us to believe that "anybody could still care about a fellow human being on television."
We can answer that question, if simply by pointing to Matt's fellow Pittsburgh-area resident, Survivor: The Amazonwinner and famous nude model Jenna Morasca, who was so unpopular that even the media wouldn't talk to her. However, Matt seems to have much more in common with another Pittsburgh-area Survivor alum: the beautiful and guileless Amber Brkich from Survivor: The Australian Outback. Although, upon closer examination, Matt's desire to become an actor may indicate that he has a little Jenna in him that we didn't see during the show. Ah, the wonders of editing.
One interesting note: as shown on the series finale and mentioned in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazetter, Matt was playing basketball in a Pittsburgh league when a casting director spotted him. We wonder what about him attracted the casting director's attention -- but whatever it was, we think the casting director deserves high praise.
Now, Matt is dating a friend of his from his days as a law student at the University of Pittsburgh; she called him up to congratulate him after reading over the summer that he'd been selected for Joe Schmo. And even his parents are proud of the "character and integrity" that he displayed on the show. Obviously, there's an upside to being a "Schmo."