ZORA FEVER!

01/28/2003

In a span of just four weeks Lambertville’s Zora Andrich has transformed into a national phenomenon and the buzz about her and "Joe Millionaire" has reached deafening levels.

People all over the country are talking about her -- fans on the Internet are pulling for Andrich to win and celebrities like Kelly Ripa say she’s the best contestant.

This week the supermarket tabloid The Globe claims she not only wins the show but that she and "Joe Millionaire" are married. Included in The Globe report are digitally-altered photos of Andrich, 29, and Evan Marriott, 28, who plays "Joe Millionaire." Though the tabloid admits the photos are "computer magic" it says her marriage is real.

She and Marriott were allegedly married in a secret ceremony in the French chateau where the TV series was filmed, and The Globe reports part of the ceremony will air on Feb. 17, during "Joe Millionaire’s" last episode. But people close to Andrich refute the tabloid story.

"I refuse to buy that stuff," her longtime best friend Marcy Willard told The Trentonian yesterday during a phone interview. "I would be outrageously surprised if any of this is true." Willard, who currently lives in Orange County, California, and Andrich have been friends for years. They went to the same elementary, junior high and high school and talk constantly. For someone who knows Andrich so well, Willard said she does not think her friend and "Joe Millionaire" are a good match or that they share a significant connection.

Marriott seems to disagree, though. On the show he repeatedly calls Andrich intriguing and consistently selects her over other women. In the beginning the Rutgers graduate was one of 20 women competing for his heart, now she’s one of three.

"I could see it either way," Willard said. "I can see her going pretty far in the show and I could see him liking her. But I’d be surprised if they have a total love connection." However, Willard added she thinks it could happen and that she has no idea how the show will end. Despite being close friends, Willard said she has not prodded Andrich for details about the show’s outcome. Andrich is under a tight contract with Fox, "Joe Millionaire’s" producer, and if she talks she could face a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

"She’s very honest like he is," Willard said. "I think she seems like she is giving (Marriott) a very honest opinion and I think that probably appeals to him. Also, I think it’s crystal clear that she’s not after him for his money and I think that probably appeals to him." Fans across America have also picked up on Andrich’s realness. On Internet message boards they hail her beauty, call her classy and say they love her personality.

"I think this may end up being the classic Cinderella tale," one fan wrote. Another said he would probably stop watching "Joe Millionaire" if Andrich is kicked off because the show would lose all appeal.

A lot of web fans say they think Andrich is smarter than the other women and that she knows Marriott is not really worth millions. The Globe also eludes to this in its report. The Globe story quotes Andrich’s mother, who says her daughter is "psychically gifted" and knew from the start that "Joe Millionaire" was a fake. Willard declined to comment on that topic, but she said she and Andrich do talk regularly about the show.

"After each show I’ll tell her what I think of the show, give her my take on things," Willard said. "I think that it’s fun to watch and I like that she’s getting a lot of notoriety from it. "I think she’s stayed true to herself and I like the way she’s being portrayed." Willard described Andrich, a Colorado native, as altruistic. She said her friend is extremely caring and will drop everything for a person in need. Unlike the show’s remaining contestants, Andrich is real and true to herself, Willard said. But the former homecoming queen and part-time model does like to let loose too.

"She’s really fun," Willard said. "She likes to listen to music, she likes to dance. She totally enjoys being alive, she is someone that is good to have around."


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