- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

Local ‘Schmo’ knows

There’s no pulling the wool over the eyes of this “Schmo.”

Dupont Circle resident Ingrid Wiese thought she was signing up for a new reality dating show called “Last Chance for Love” but soon realized the fix was in.

That fix is “Joe Schmo 2,” Spike TV’s reality show spoof that tricks contestants into thinking they’re a part of a reality program. In fact, it’s all an act. The fellow contestants are all actors and the premise is rigged right from the start.

Viewers can watch Miss Wiese wise up to the scenario at 10 tonight on Spike TV.

Last year’s “Schmo” didn’t know he was being duped. Miss Wiese, on the other hand, realized right away that something was wrong.

“That very first [necklace] ceremony I knew those girls were actresses,” says Miss Wiese, who has a master’s degree in international relations and previously worked in Rome for the United Nations.

She says she and fellow Schmo Tim Walsh (a fellow District resident who hadn’t caught on yet) underwent rigorous psychological screenings before being accepted for the show. But contestants were routinely added to the mix on short notice, which gave her pause — as did their behavior.

“Once these women were eliminated, they sort of stood around,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’d be pretty upset right now, and they’re not.’”

Other clues followed, including how her fellow “players” would try to sell her on the “reality” of the show.

“They were always ready with a response… they have these contingencies built in,” she says. “If I’d say, ‘this is weird,’ then an actor would respond to that exact fear I mentioned an hour ago.”

Yet she never felt burned by being the butt of a joke played out for millions to see.

“I think that I was able to see immediately the humor in it,” Miss Wiese says. “Overall, I think I felt like they took care of me and Tim.”

Plenty of reality show contestants have tried milking their quasi-fame, some with surprising success; take, for instance, “The View” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a “Survivor” contestant from 2001’s excursion to the Australian Outback.

Miss Wiese, however, promises this is her first and last dip into the waters of fame.

“It’s a one time thing,” she says.

BET’s best

Janet Jackson continues her post-Super Bowl recovery tour as the headliner for this year’s BET Awards.

The singer is the main attraction for the annual event, airing at 8 tonight. Mo’Nique returns to host the gala, which will honor the Isley Brothers with a lifetime achievement award and actor Danny Glover for his humanitarian efforts.

OutKast leads the pack with six BET Award nominations.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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