Joe Millionaire fakes it for GSN

By Scott D. Pierce

Deseret Morning News

HOLLYWOOD TV can be the ultimate example of the American Dream a medium where people can rise to fame and fortune... whether they have any actual talent or much in the way of smarts.

The latest example: Evan Marriott, the infamous "Joe Millionaire" of Fox fame who begins hosting a dating/game show tonight on GSN (formerly the Game Show Network).

Of course, talent and brains are not the point of "Fake-a-Date," which premieres at 8 p.m. A variation on shows like "Elimidate," "The 5th Wheel" and "Playing It Straight," the show matches a single woman with two supposedly single men. One of the men is also single; the other is in a relationship and, thus, has to "Fake-a-Date."

If the woman picks the single guy, the two of them go off on a fabulous vacation together; if she picks the wrong guy, he goes off on the fabulous vacation with his real-life girlfriend. (Or it plays out in reverse, with a single guy and two women.)

Marriott is along for the ride because the people at GSN think he's famous enough to draw some viewers, I guess. Editing certainly helps, because he doesn't exactly think quickly on his feet like when he was asked how he felt about hosting a show based on the premise of lying when he professed to have so much trouble lying to the women on "Joe Millionaire." (The premise of that show had Marriott, a poor guy, pretending to be a millionaire while a gaggle of gorgeous gals competed for his affections.)

"Well, it's... you know... your observation is interesting because... yes, it's... uh... it's a lot easier being on this side of the camera as opposed to that side of the camera," Marriott stammered, doing his best to avoid the question while trying to appear like he was answering it. "They confide in me and I talk to the contestants. I kinda, you know, try to figure out what they're thinking and how they're feeling and, you know, which decision they want to make, you know. And, so, yeah, I mean, like, I feel like I can relate to these people."


It's not that Marriott is any worse than a lot of other people who host a lot of other TV shows. But it's also not like his fame and charisma are going to bring a lot of viewers to "Fake."

For one thing, he doesn't have any charisma to speak of. Sure, he's good looking and he lucked into something that gave him his 15 minutes of fame but those 15 minutes expired some time ago.

Just look at what happened when Fox tried to do a second edition of "Joe Millionaire" it bombed, big-time. But Marriott can't understand why.

"I thought it was a great show... Why the rest of America didn't open their arms up and welcome David Smith is beyond me, because it was the same damn show," he said.

Well, Evan, maybe that was it. Maybe it bombed because it was exactly the same show.

"I just don't think you can duplicate things twice," he did redundantly acknowledge.

And, he hinted, maybe Smith, the second "Joe Millionaire," just couldn't live up to the first.

"One of the reasons I've had such a good time is America has embraced me and accepted me," he said. "And they've kind of named me the original Joe Millionaire, and I don't think anybody else wanted to see anybody take that title."

And he's smart enough to ride this gravy train as far as it will take him.

Ah, well. Marriott knows he'll go down as at least a footnote in television history.

"If there's anything... I think I'll die and that's what'll be on, you know, my stone, would be, 'He was the original Joe Millionaire,' " he said.

Say goodnight, Evan.

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