Joe Millionaire

Joe Millionaire (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Joe Millionaire is an American reality television show that was broadcast on Fox beginning in January 2003. It was broadcast in the UK that same year. A sequel, The Next Joe Millionaire, followed in October 2003.

The show was wildly successful and became a pop culture phenomenon, with over 40 million viewers in the United States tuning in to the season one finale making it the most-watched episode of any reality show since the season finale of the first season and premiere episode of the second season of Survivor.


The basic premise is that bachelor Evan Marriott has inherited millions of dollars and is searching for a potential bride. He takes a group of hopeful women on several dates to exotic and luxurious locations, eliminating women at the end of each episode until only one woman remains. The main gimmick of the show is that the entire "millionaire" premise is actually an elaborate ruse. The women are not aware that this bachelor is in fact a working class construction worker. (The Smoking Gun later discovered that Marriott had also been an underwear model for California Muscle.) After all other contestants have been eliminated, the secret is revealed to the last remaining woman. If she decides to stay with Marriott anyway, the couple is surprised with a real check for a million dollars.

The show thus had moral overtones. Viewers could see how differently women treat a man they believe to be rich, and see if these attitudes change once they find out he is not rich.

First season

A theme throughout the first season was Marriott's attempt to ascertain which of the twenty contestants were sincere and which ones were simply seeking a wealthy mate.

The show made a minor star out of Paul Hogan, the manservant whose role developed in the words of the network "into the glue that held the show together". Hogan was not actually the host of the program - Alex McLeod was the program's host, although she appeared only briefly on each episode, for an estimated total of five minutes during the six-episode season.

Runner-up Sarah Kozer received notoriety when the media reported during the course of the show that she had appeared in bondage videos while she was attending law school. A scene from the show implied that Kozer and Marriott engaged in a sex act while out for a walk together. Marriott and Kozer claim no sex acts occurred. In the VH1 program VH1 News Presents: Reality TV Secrets Revealed she alleges that her statement "let's go somewhere quiet" was in fact spoken while she was receiving a back massage from another female contestant and that the producers dubbed it in during post editing and added suggestive sound effects and subtitles. The show's editors corroborated this fact later in an interview for Radar magazine.

Fourth place finalist Melissa Jo Hunter received celebrity status after Evan Marriott dumped her when she confessed her admiration by giving him a puzzle and a poem. She displayed to Marriott a check for one million dollars that she wrote to herself as a goal setting tactic, however Marriott mistakenly assumed she wanted someone else to cash the million dollar check.

A contestant known only as Heidi made waves when she admitted she already had a boyfriend and would marry a man for his money. An interview segment in which she quipped 'I'm a banker, I can help' about Marriott's supposed wealth seemed to underscore Heidi was a gold digger.

Zora Andrich was the last woman to stay with Marriott and the two were delighted by the million dollar reward. Unsurprisingly their union did not last - she claimed she was attracted to a completely different man and he claimed she lost her sex appeal when the show was over. Consequently they did not see each other afterwards. But the million dollar check was real and the pair split the money. Zora would later explain in the VH1 show VH1 News Presents: Reality TV Secrets Revealed that Marriott told her via cell phone that he did not choose her but Fox insisted he do so.

Joe Millionaire was filmed primarily at the Château de la Bourdaisière in the countryside of the commune of Montlouis-sur-Loire in the Indre-et-Loire département in France. Marriott is said to have made upwards of $2.5 million between Fox Networks payout, personal appearances and commercials. In 2004 he would go on to host the less than popular (GSN) Game Show Network show "Fake A Date". Marriott went back to contracting and now resides in Orange County, CA Nearly a decade later, Marriott, whose appearance has changed since the end of the series, was interviewed for FOX's 25th Anniversary television special. Marriott would later speak of his disdain for reality television in interviews done after the special.

The Next Joe Millionaire

The second installment, following the same premise, was set in Northern Italy, primarily at the Villa Oliva in Tuscany. Marriott was replaced by 24-year-old David Smith from Midland, Texas, who, viewers were told, had earned only $11,000 the previous year as a cowboy on the rodeo circuit. Needing to find contestants who were unaware of the first show, the producers went to Europe and cast 14 English-speaking European girls from the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Italy and Sweden. During casting, the women were told by Fox casting agents that the show they were going to appear on would involve a group of European girls interacting with American males on an island somewhere.

There was also a new "hostess," a then-unknown Samantha Harris. The butler was, once again, played by Paul Hogan.

However, the show's popularity, which depended entirely on its charade, dissolved very quickly. As the Associated Press put it, Joe Millionaire "has gone from one of TV"s most surprising successes to the new season"s most spectacular flameout." FOX"s entertainment chair Sandy Grushow said, "Our instincts told us from the very beginning that 'Joe Millionaire' was a one-time stunt and I think we got greedy." He added, "We tried to sneak it by the American public a second time and we got called on it."

Initially, Fox appeared to promote the show to its American audience as a massive practical joke played on some snobby European women, who were shown nursing champagne-induced hangovers and depicted as turning up their noses at assimilating the lifestyle of an American cowboy. Smith was shown as polite and well-mannered, but unable to grasp any of the phrases or words he was taught in the different European languages or remembering the details of the faux-millionaire ruse he was expected to carry out. The show's climax occurred when one of the contestants, Linda Kazdová, from Czech Republic, was brought back to the show after eliminating herself, and was later selected by Smith as the winner. By that time, though, the show's popularity had irreversibly declined, and no more seasons were produced.

A theme throughout the second series was the place of materialism and surface beauty in world culture. The show presented the world as a tapestry lain out for the contestants to frolic in, not as a real environment where real people live. Discerning viewers could also note the manner in which creatively deceitful audio editing, heard in many of the voice-overs from contestants, characterized much of the production. The 'Joe Millionaire' series was a benchmark of a whole era of Fox Television reality shows that followed a similar formula"perpetrating a big scam on a group of unsuspecting contestants, with the audience watching them go through embarrassing situations, only to provide a 'happy ending' by awarding the eventual survivors a large sum of money.

Instead of sharing a million dollars, like Andrich and Marriott had in the first show, Smith was awarded a ranch in Texas, while Kazdova was given a check for $250,000. As with the first installment, the couple's post-show interaction was short-lived, as Smith and Kazdova were separated by distance shortly after the show aired. After an unsuccessful attempt at a show business career, Smith abandoned the rodeo and currently works as a deputy sheriff in south Texas, still living on the ranch he was given at the end of the show. Kazdova went back to Prague to continue her education and currently resides in San Francisco, working as a marketing manager for a telecommunications firm. Several of the other contestants -- Giada Benedetti, Olinda Borggren, Alessia Loungo DiGiacomo, and Yassmin Pucci -- went on to film and television careers in their native lands.

The Next Joe Millionaire drew less than 7 million viewers a week with a season finale attracting only 9 million viewers.

In 2010, 'Entertainment Weekly' listed 'The Next Joe Millionaire' as being among the '50 Biggest Bombs In The History Of Television'.

See also

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