Television special airing tonight (February 15) in which a bevy of golddiggers compete in order to marry a multi-millionaire whom they have never met. While this may seem to be the most cynical programming move Fox Television has ever made, I think it could be vastly improved by having the contestants crash into each other in cars and fight off enraged pets.

Quite possibly the most realistic "reality show" ever, because it proved that that there are people out there who are really weird.

The show was a beauty pageant with a twist. Instead of a panel of judges, one man chose who would win the pageant — an unknown "multi-millionaire." He would whittle down the field from 50 down to one, and at that time he would immediately marry the "winner." The somewhat-skanky Fox television network aired it on February 15, 2000.

The show went off without a hitch — meaning, both the winner and the millionaire said "I do." The bride was a nurse named Darva Conger; the groom, a comedian and property owner named Rick Rockwell, and they immediately went on a honeymoon in Barbados.

However, in the weeks after its airing, the show became rather embarrassing for Fox:

  • The other 49 contestants were grateful that they weren't chosen; they simply wanted the free trip to Las Vegas, where the show was taped. After all, what are the chances you'd get picked?

  • Rick Rockwell is barely a multi-millionaire, if at all. During the show, Fox alleged that he was a real-estate mogul in Vancouver. However, the Vancouver Province quoted local real-estate agents saying that Rockwell was a "flake," a "loser," and only owned a "low-end condo that leaks." As a comedian, Rockwell wasn't really famous either; he claimed to have opened for Jay Leno, but Leno denies this.

  • Even worse, Rockwell had a criminal record. In 1991, his former fiancee filed a restraining order against him for allegedly assaulting her.

    (Note: IMHO, this makes the show better! Now, it's, "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire Criminal?" Like, you can marry a mult-millioniare — but he's prone to assault! Are bruises worth dollars? Will she say yes? Find out tonight on Fox!)

  • Two months after the show, a Las Vegas judge annulled the marriage. Conger testified that she had not known about Rockwell's background before the wedding, a statement that does not make logical sense. How she could have ever expected to know his background — after all, his identity was a secret!

  • That summer, Conger posed nude for the August issue of Playboy. She had lost her nursing job because of the show, and she needed cash. Conger explained her decision on the NBC Today show: "What was I expected to do, stay at home and watch as they foreclosed on my house?"

    In February of 2001, Conger launched her new Web site, www.darvashouse.com. There's nothing interesting on it other than the lengthy bio. Her position on Rockwell is that he's a horny asshole.

    Rockwell, meanwhile, has managed to stay out of the public limelight. He and Conger did "re-unite" on an episode of Larry King Live in February of 2001, but Conger still hated Rockwell, and Rockwell still couldn't believe that Conger didn't want to marry him.

    Addendum: On May 22, 2002, Conger took part in Fox's Celebrity Boxing II, where she beat the crap out of former Olympian Olga Korbut. Conger had a height, weight, reach and age advantage, and her boxing skills were much better than Korbut's in the three-round fight. Conger also had a boyfriend in her corner — not Rockwell — whom she kissed twice as she was entering the ring. The television announcers noted that she had returned to being a nurse, and while it's nice to hear that Conger has a real job now, it's troubling that she can't seem to avoid the limelight.

    Post-script: I used to work at another division of News Corporation, the parent company of Fox. Through a rather long story that I shan't get into, I was able to obtain a tape of the show with a green sticker on it that says "Air Master." The tape isn't a normal format. (It's physically about twice the size of a VHS tape. According to Nordicfrost, that would make it most likely a U-Matic type.) In any case, it looks real official-like. I can't watch it, because I don't have the proper machine. But in a few years, I'll sell it on Ebay, and perhaps with the proceeds I can be a multi-millioniare! I think that would be irony.

    Thanks to Simpleton for error fixes.

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