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Sunday, September 24, 2017 by Alesa
Mr. Darnell said the network had decided not to go forward with any other specials in that format because ''it's just not worth the risk.'' He added: ''This is the end for this show. We are not doing another one.''
In the program broadcast a week ago, Mr. Rockwell, who presented himself as a real estate developer and motivational speaker, chose among 50 prospective brides in a contest that resembled a beauty pageant. He picked Darva Conger, an emergency-room nurse.
In the following days, however, information emerged showing that Mr. Rockwell was a longtime comedian with a history of engaging in stunts like telling jokes for 30 straight hours to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. While Fox, a unit of the News Corporation, and Next Entertainment, the company that produced the special, continued to vouch for assertions that he had assets exceeding $2 million, numerous questions arose about the truthfulness of some of his statements.
And though Fox said that it had conducted a thorough check of Mr. Rockwell, it became clear that the research was less than exhaustive. Among Mr. Rockwell's statements called into question were that he had not performed as a comedian in about 10 years, (A comedy-club owner said he had hired him two years ago) and that he had opened for the ''Tonight'' show star, Jay Leno, in Lake Tahoe. (A representative for Mr. Leno said Mr. Rockwell never opened anywhere for him.)
Several companies for whom he said he worked as a motivational speaker said they had never hired him. Nancy Buchholz, a spokeswoman for Maritz Travel, a national agency based in St. Louis, said that Mr. Rockwell had never performed for her organization. Mary Elizabeth Gifford, a spokeswoman for The Golden Door, an expensive Southern California health spa, said that Mr. Rockwell had never been a guest speaker there. Don Stanziano, the spokesman for the Scripps Hospital system in San Diego, which includes six hospitals, said that the company had no record of Mr. Rockwell having performed at any of the hospitals or corporate retreats.
Mr. Rockwell, who returned to his San Diego-area home on Sunday from a Caribbean honeymoon with Ms. Conger, told a local television station, KFMB: ''As you know, this journey began with my desire to find love on a television show. I had no idea there would be so much interest and so much scrutiny.''
About the restraining order, he said: ''Nearly 10 years ago, I was involved in a relationship that ended poorly. But I am here to tell you tonight that at no time have I ever struck any of my girlfriends for any reason.'' Mr. Rockwell went on to say that he did not tell Fox about the allegation and that he ''never informed the producers of the show about this issue because I considered it a closed chapter in my life and any contentious feelings that existed 10 years ago are long gone.''
Mr. Darnell said: ''The latest information came as a shock to me and the production company. I don't know why he didn't say anything to us about it.''
Mr. Rockwell had been extensively questioned about his background, Mr. Darnell said, adding: ''The production company did a security check and he came up clean. It was a criminal check, a civil check and a credit check. He was actually specifically asked if there was anything else we should know about his past. He signed an affidavit that everything he told us was true.''
All of this began in the fall, when Mr. Darnell came up with the idea to marry off a millionaire on a show, in an effort to exploit the mania surrounding the hit ABC game show ''Who Wants To be A Millionaire.''
Mr. Darnell has gained a reputation in television for creating some of the most outrageous, and highly rated, specials of recent years, including ''When Animals Attack,'' ''When Good Pets Go Bad'' and ''Alien Autopsy.''
The specials have been extremely effective during the prime ratings periods known as sweeps months, when advertising rates are determined, helping Fox post impressive overall ratings by replacing many of the network's least-popular programs.
By coincidence, the storm over ''Multimillionaire'' came as Fox was beginning to distance itself from violent specials.
Mr. Grushow, who recently took over the job of running Fox's entertainment division, called them ''ratings crack,'' and said that the network needed to break its addiction to them. He argued that Fox got only a short-term benefit from such programs, that they did not provide any ancillary profits -- like those from syndication -- and that they occupied time periods in which the network needed to develop comedies and dramas that could be long-term assets.
Mr. Darnell also developed other entertainment-oriented specials like ''Secrets of Magic Revealed,'' which showed how famous magic tricks are done. That program, which outraged many magicians, was the highest-rated special ever on Fox.
Despite the recent debacle, Mr. Darnell said he would continue to develop specials ''that get under people's skin and are fascinating.'' But he added that ''there will be a level of responsibility that goes with them.'' He called the magic special ''a perfect example of the kind of show we want to keep doing.''
''I'll be back in May with something interesting,'' he said.
Other networks are expected to continue their plans to broadcast reality-based programs, he said, because the audience response to them has been so strong. CBS will have two such programs this summer. One, ''Survivor,'' will take a group of people to an island off Borneo and put them through various tests, with the ultimate winner taking home $1 million. The other CBS show is ''Big Brother,'' which has a similar format, set in a house with cameras.
A company called Infinity Productions has plans for a weekly syndicated program called ''Wed at First Sight,'' a ''Dating Game''-type program except that the couple, who are strangers at the start of the show, will be married at the end.Continue reading the main story