And You Thought It Couldn't Get Worse

By Steve Johnson

Tribune television critic

Some predictions for the TV series the very people who are making it once promised they wouldn't make, "The Next Joe Millionaire" (debuting at 7 p.m. Monday, WFLD-Ch. 32):

- The premise, plucking Eurotrash beauties from their pop-culture vacuum to compete for a cowboy's love and fake fortune, will go over big with American audiences. We love to see foreigners get paid back for all the times they've made us feel uncomfortable by speaking other languages, having better educations, being right about Iraq and such.

- There will be "revelations" about some of these women, be it a past in a porn film or as a biological man, revelations that will give the show a publicity boost just when it most needs it.

- One of the women will figure out that cowboy David Smith cannot actually be worth $80 million because nobody that rich would work that hard on his upper body.

- Someone in the Fox promo department, as clever and effective as they have once again been at pushing this thing, will get duped by another reality show, when someone purporting to be from NBC calls and offers him or her a "job" at the bigger network. How do you say "sucker" in Hollywood-speak?

- Alex McLeod, although an international woman seeking fortune herself, will not be on hand, having lost her hosting role to the butler chappie. She will continue to beg "Trading Spaces" for her old job back, or at least a chance to redo a neighbor's room on an upcoming show.

- Fox will manage to get its Web site for "The Next Joe Millionaire" up and running sometime this week, something it had pathetically not managed to do as of Friday. Memo to Fox: There is a promotional value to this wacky new thing called the Internet. In fact, folks say it is quite popular with your target audience of teens and younger adults.

- For publicly pledging not to do the second "Joe," then doing it anyway, Fox programmers Gail Berman and Sandy Grushow will get an extra big hug from Lucifer, when their time comes. Just when they're relaxing, thinking they can handle this place to which their life's work has consigned them, he'll turn out not to be Lucifer at all, but Lucifer's much less brutal cousin.

- There will be a third "Joe Millionaire," but because it's getting harder to find truly ignorant people, it will be forced to limit its pool of dupes to gay men from repressive regimes or the home-schooled.

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