- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2002

LOS ANGELES — At their wedding rehearsal dinner this month, Brad Gilbert and Wendy Czaikoski won't need to tell
the story of how they met. They can just pop in a videotape.
There, in excruciating detail, is the beginning of their courtship, seen on the nationally televised show "Blind Date." As "Blind Date" couples go, they were demure; the hot tub stayed empty.
In its third year, the racy relationship show is a hit, particularly among young people.
"Blind Date" sets up a rendezvous, and sends cameras along with the couple. Producers insert graphics on the screen that keep a running commentary on fashion faux pas, dating blunders and what people really are thinking when they say something else.
"It's certainly a relationship show because we're putting two people together, but we look at it as a comedy," said David Garfinkle, co-executive producer. "That's why it does so well."
It succeeded, and spawned imitators, because there was nothing else like it when it started, said Garnett Losak, an analyst on syndicated programming for Petry Media Corp.
The "Blind Date" ratings are fairly typical for a syndicated show, but it has unusually strong appeal among 18- to 34-year-olds, particularly men, she said. Advertisers pay a premium because this audience is usually hard to reach.
The televised blind dates last about 10 minutes. In real life, the couples are together for as long as 12 hours, usually enough time for their true personalities to emerge.
"It's a really long date," said Kim Ketterman, a 26-year-old actress and substitute teacher who appeared last year. "By the time you're done, it's like your fifth or sixth date."
The show is about as close to pornography as a mainstream TV network will allow, said Neil Clark Warren, a Pasadena psychologist who has written 10 books, including "Date or Soul Mate." Rarely are a person's character or education examined, he said. It's all physical.
"It pulls the whole culture down," Mr. Warren said. "All of us are titillated by that stuff, but I think the program is interesting to people who are not working very hard at making their lives good."

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