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Bachelorette Party

Now it’s her turn: ABC makes a play for equal- opportunity exploitation with THE Bachelorette. You’ve come a long way, baby!

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It’s 9:30 on a ridiculously arctic-by-los angeles-standards night (48 degrees) at the trendoid Skybar. The throngs of Botoxed wannabes have yet to arrive at this Sunset Boulevard watering hole — which offers massive mattresses and lounge chairs as seats — but tourists and early birds are already doing laps around the limited hottie supply. u Sitting as close as humanly possible to a heat lamp, cuddling into her fuzzy black cardigan, demurely sipping Stoli Vanil, is 29-year-old Trista Rehn, otherwise known as the Bachelorette. And she’s taking the barflies down one by one.

Middle-aged prepster with a crewneck over his shoulder? ”I don’t think this is the right place for him. Maybe he’s from out of town.” A seemingly underage girl with surgically enhanced endowments? ”Well, she’s got the boobs for the outfit.” A dashingly handsome guy with bedroom blues ordering a drink? ”He should shave his head to bring out his eyes. Bald guys are sexy.” And, wait, is that a certain Mohawked Survivor: Thailand contestant? ”I’ve met so many reality-show people, and we’re like a little family.” She pauses and takes a long sip. ”What’s his name? Dan? Ben?” (Robb, actually.) More sipping. ”The hair would drive me a little bit crazy.”

Those snap-judgment skills have come in awfully handy lately: As the newest star of ABC’s highly successful husband-hunt franchise, Trista already sent 10 guys packing on the Jan. 8 season premiere, and she’ll continue to snub her way through 14 more men before she picks her potential mate.

The physical therapist and former Miami Heat dancer certainly knows what it’s like to be publicly rejected — last year she was blown off by the original Bachelor, smarmy Alex Michel, in front of 18 million ABC viewers. But Trista’s tears had hardly dried when ABC execs began plotting her romantic comeback. The network, clearly thrilled by the success of the first season — which averaged 12 million viewers, making it one of the few bright spots on their schedule last year — approached the producers with the idea of doing a Bachelorette. ”Once Trista was dissed on national TV,” says coexecutive producer Lisa Levenson, ”we got hundreds of letters, e-mails, phone calls [from viewers who wanted to date her] that we didn’t know what to do with. Trista specifically piqued something in men and women.”

When the Bachelor team called her in April, just days after the original’s finale, to ask if she’d be interested in doing her own show, Rehn figured she’d give the ol’ find-your-lifemate-on-prime-time-TV thing a second try. ”I knew the producers wanted the fairy tale at the end just as much as I did,” she explains.

Speaking of fairy tales, there’s not a chance in hell that Trista is spilling any juicy details about the man she chose. After all, her contract states she’ll be fined $5 million if she lets anything slip. But, as a nod to ABC’s other hit, she did offer eight simple rules for dating on national television.