Tampa's Joel Rush earns second placein ABC's buzz-less True Beauty
That's what happened to Tampa salesman Joel Rush, whom viewers on Monday night saw come close to taking the crown in ABC's buzz-less beauty competition, True Beauty.
The show, ostensibly convened to pick America's most beautiful person -- with the Big Twist being that the model-pretty competitors weren't told they would be judged on their inner beauty as well -- never really caught fire with viewers, landing around 70th place in the ratings.
Unfortunately, Rush's aggressive confidence too often made the 27-year-old look a little insensitive -- telling People magazine's Jess Cagle that, for someone as good-looking as him to spend time befriending ugly people would be like catching fleas from a dog. So the judges instead turned to 23-year-old pageant queen and magician's assistant Julia Anderson as the most beautiful, inside and out.
For me, a red flag popped up when co-producers Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks were so scarce; as a result, the show lacked the watch-a-celebrity-humiliate-the-little-people vibe that can make Banks' America's Next Top Model such twisted viewing.
It didn't take long to realize True Beauty was mostly about finding the least offensive person among a group of attractive, mostly self-centered, surprisingly unsophisticated competitors. The real game seemed mostly about making us schlubs in the audience feel better about ourselves -- we might not have a contestant's piercing blue eyes or perfect body, but we don't spend hours thinking about our eyelashes or pecs, either.
Rush competed against nine other beautiful people over six weeks in LA., evaluated by host/judge Vanessa Minnillo (TRL, Entertainment Tonight), 60-something supermodel and judge Cheryl Tiegs and judge/fashion consultant Nole Marin (America's Next Top Model). Only after a contestant was eliminated was the truth of the competition revealed to them.
Anderson eventually walked home with three great prizes: $100,000, a spot in People magazine's "100 Most Beautiful People" issue and the sense that she got something for six weeks of humiliation.