ABC may be entering new territory with its matchmaking reality show The Bachelor, but it’s old ground for the show’s exec producer, Mike Fleiss. The man behind ABC’s most-watched midseason series to date (it’s averaging 10 million viewers and continues to build weekly on its 18-49 performance) also gave Fox the PR nightmare known as Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? After America learned that the not-so-rich ”millionaire” in question, Rick Rockwell, was once accused of abusing a girlfriend (which Rockwell denied), did Fleiss really expect to play cupid in this town again? ”I got so many calls from network presidents saying how much they loved Multi-Millionaire, I wasn’t worried,” he says. In fact, Fleiss says two other nets were hot for The Bachelor before ABC snapped up the six-episode series, in which 25 gals vie for the chance to marry 31-year-old Alex Michel, a San Francisco management consultant. Thousands of women have already applied for Bachelor 2 (for now, ABC’s given Fleiss the green light only to begin casting). In light of what happened on Multi-Millionaire, Fleiss did a lot more background checking this time around — not that he thinks viewers would particularly care about the Bachelor’s past. ”When they found some little dings in the backgrounds of the [Multi-Millionaire] people, nobody dealt with it before and it was blown out of proportion,” says Fleiss. ”Every show had problems. Survivor had the Richard Hatch stuff, there was the Big Brother guy with the knife. That Temptation Island couple had a baby. Everybody got over that stuff.” Everybody except Darva Conger, maybe.
Let us review the typical duties of a trainee: faxing, photocopying, fetching. But Jared Poe — a 22-year-old UCLA grad paying his dues in the writers’ offices of The X-Files — added one other task to his list: kickin’ it on screen with Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Doggett (Robert Patrick). Owning no professional acting credits, Poe boldly asked Files exec producer Frank Spotnitz if he could audition for a meaty guest spot in the May 5 episode as a mysteriously brilliant FBI cadet with unusual insight into the unsolved murder of Doggett’s son. ”I honestly didn’t expect for a second that Jared was going to get the part,” says Spotnitz, ”because it’s a huge part and I’d never even seen him act.” Lo and behold, Poe went through the casting process and beat out about 30 others. ”He was the best,” adds Spotnitz. ”He won it fair and square. I mean, he was as surprised as we were that he got the part.” While he’s grateful for this big break, Poe says he’s also focusing on becoming a writer-director. ”Hopefully something will open up,” he notes. ”And if not, I could always just go back to filing.” — Dan Snierson
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