Butler guarantees million-dollar answer tonight
By BILL BRIOUX -- Toronto Sun
Will tonight really be the night when they spill all the beans on Joe Millionaire (8 p.m. on CITY and Fox)?
Viewers were told last week that pseudo-millionaire Evan Marriott, supposedly just a humble construction worker, would choose between the final two contestants, Sarah and Zora. Instead, Fox pulled the old bait and switch. The episode was mainly a rehash from past shows.
They even goofed about it last Tuesday on Late Show with David Letterman. Osama bin Laden emerged from his cave to rail against Fox.
"The treachery of the infidels has reached a new height," went the bogus translation.
Disgruntled fans of the show went ballistic on the Internet, many vowing to ditch tonight's finale. Get over it, says that other Paul Hogan, the dapper Aussie who plays Marriott's butler on the red-hot reality series.
"Well, you can't shoot the messenger, can you?" says Hogan, who had to deliver the news that there would be no announcement last week, "nor can you bite the hand that feeds you."
Besides, the whole show is built upon a $50-million-dollar lie. What's another little fib for ratings?
A real butler and former diplomat (he served as an attache to the Australian embassy in Ottawa in the '70s), the 53-year-old says he has been butlering in America the past four years.
He told me on the phone last week that viewers will be rewarded when they tune in tonight. "They are very clever people who put this together," he says. "I don't think anybody is going to be disappointed."
There have been rumours for months that there is another major surprise on tonight's finale. Is Marriott a millionaire after all? Does he marry his chosen one? Is he Batman?
For his part, Hogan insists he didn't even know that Marriott wasn't a millionaire until the final day of shooting back at that chateau in France. "I'm glad they didn't tell me because that would have affected the way I performed my function as a butler," he says. "When I found out, I smiled to myself and thought that was a very, very clever twist."
And, yes, there is another doozie tonight, he confirms. "Not just a big twist but a very, very big twist," he says.
Hogan's life has been turned inside out by the show. His butler days behind him, he's landed an agent and a manager and is fielding other TV offers.
That is real cognac he is swishing when he lifts a glass at the end of each episode, but Hogan doesn't get to drink it. "Those scenes can take two or three hours," he says. "I've got to drive in L.A. traffic after that."
He'd spent the day on the phone with the Aussie press when I spoke with him last Friday. Some of them wanted to know if Marriott was really as dumb as he looked.
"I've met many Evan Marriotts in my life," says Hogan. "He's a construction worker, he's good-hearted, he's warm, he's generous, he's got a good sense of humour, enjoys a beer, likes fast food. He's a good bloke."
He was also very easy to work for, says Hogan. "He wasn't demanding in any way. In fact, he was prepared to carry my suitcase!"
Hogan wouldn't say who Marriott chooses tonight but did say he guessed correctly. He plans to watch tonight's show with the cast and crew at a wrap party tonight.
'FEW MILES ON ME'
How would things have been different if Hogan had been the phony millionaire and Marriott the butler? Hogan laughs and says he's never thought about that one (although Hogan being revealed as the real Joe Millionaire is just one of tonight's rumours).
"It's not the way I would go about trying to catch a woman," he explains. "I've got a few miles on me now."