For your viewing pleasure...
An average 'Joe'? Yes, and no
By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
So far, the marketing campaign is working like a charm. Meet Joe Millionaire, the ads say, a guy with a secret.
Fox publicist Todd Adair's phone has been ringing non-stop since Thanksgiving when commercials first starting teasing viewers with the new reality show Joe Millionaire.
Yes, it's the same old thing: A guy is looking for a date, narrowing a group of 20 women (eight are booted the first night) down to one. It starts tonight at 9 ET/PT and runs for seven weeks.
But this time there is a twist.
Our "Joe" is tall (6-foot-5), dark and handsome Evan Marriott, 28. He wines and dines the women, who include a banker and a doctor, at a French chateau.
Then comes the secret, which we all know by now: He's not really a millionaire!
He's a $19,000-a-year construction worker. Oops, sorry, gals. No dough. No college education.
At that point, we all sit back and watch as Ms. Right finds out that her prince is really a pauper.
Will she still love him — especially in this economy — if he doesn't have $50 million in his bank account?
Fox isn't telling. And Marriott's not giving anything away, either.
"Everybody had a good time. That was the goal. The girls, whether they were picked or not picked, had a good time," he insists.
Marriott, who has gone back to his construction job now that the show taping is over, was happy to get a shot at being on TV pretending to be a high roller.
He spent six weeks in France, taking beautiful young women on romance-novel dates. They ride horses. They fence. They smooch.
The difference here is that the audience gets to play along.
"It pushes parts of the whole reality-genre envelope," says co-executive producer Jean-Michel Michenaud, who last week was still finishing the editing of 24 days of footage. "The audience is privy to the secret. That allows us to be more playful."
The idea came out of brainstorming sessions with Fox execs, Michenaud says. Then, he and the folks at Rocket Science Laboratories (they did Temptation Island) spent three months trying to find the right guy to be Joe Millionaire.
After auditions yielded nothing, someone with the show remembered meeting Marriott at a party. They summoned Marriott, who lives in Dana Point, Calif., and he turned out to be just what they wanted.
"He's genuinely who he is," Michenaud says. "A down-to-earth construction worker."
Because the premise is that Joe has just received a $50 million inheritance from an uncle, it was easy for Marriott to act as if the money was all new to him.
The fairy-tale show was a long way from what Marriott calls his "Norman Rockwell upbringing" in Virginia Beach. His dad was a white-collar worker; his mom stayed home, he says. The only thing he didn't have: a dog.
But he wasn't perfect. In fact, he says, he wasn't a great student —- "I liked to look out the window instead of doing math" — so his parents sent him to Hargrave Military Academy, a military high school in Virginia.
After graduating, he didn't go to college but did some modeling locally and then headed west. He has never been married, he says, and he has never done drugs nor been in jail.
He has just been kicking around working construction, although he did have a small part on the soap opera Days of Our Lives three years ago.
So what does the future hold?
"I'm still living in poverty," he says good-naturedly. And if he were offered an acting job, sure, he'd try it.
"I've been a jokester and a cutup all my life. It'd be the opportunity of a lifetime."
But other than that, it could be that all he gets out of this is, well, a woman who loves him — or is really mad at him about the lies and the lack of money.
Still, he says, "I'll tell you this: it was a helluva good experience and a great trip."
Me? The Mole? Ya think? Well, I AM Evil.