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Reality TV again touches Pittsburgh

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

So how does Matt Kennedy Gould feel about being duped on national TV for nine weeks? Spike TV obviously wants viewers to tune in to find out, so they're not making Gould available for interviews, with one spokeswoman saying he's angry at them and refusing to talk to the network.

That may be an exaggeration. If he were that upset, would his workplace, Bado's Pizza Grill and Ale House in Mt. Lebanon, be hosting a "Joe Schmo" premiere party tonight at 8?

Owner Sam Badolato said he's looked into getting search lights and a red carpet for the premiere, which will host Gould's friends and some family on the second floor and the general public on the main level.

"How often is there going to be a premiere for somebody whose been in our community?" Badolato said. "How often will this happen in Mt. Lebanon?"

Last week a server at Bado's said Gould had made himself scarce since filming of the show was completed earlier this summer. The waiter speculated that perhaps the amount of money he's being paid compensates for the sting of embarrassment the show will cause.

"He's flabbergasted," Badolato said. "He's totally excited we would want to be doing something like this for his family and friends."

Actor David Hornsby, a 1998 Carnegie Mellon University graduate, plays Hutch, the obnoxious contestant on "Joe Schmo." He said Gould talked about his love of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh places frequently, and Hornsby had to bite his tongue to keep from saying, "I've been there."

After the fact, Hornsby discovered one of his friends from college knew Gould in high school.

"It was a real six degrees of separation that couldn't be explored while shooting," said Hornsby, who stars in UPN's fall sitcom "The Mullets." "As the show goes along, there were definite feelings that this person is getting to know me as someone else, but you just can't be on 24/7. There's times people bond and it's genuine and not genuine. It's a weird mixture. The cool thing about 'Joe Schmo' is there's a ton of layers there."

A visit to the home Gould shares with his parents turned up no sign of the "Schmo" star, a 1994 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School.

"I know his mom and dad don't want to watch it in public because they don't know what to expect," Badolato said. "We have no idea what they're going to make him look like."

Gould's parents, Jim and Bonnie, could not discuss the show or their son's participation in it because they signed papers promising to stay mum about "Joe Schmo." Another relative at Gould's home professed no knowledge about the series, saying no one was talking about it due to Gould's contractual obligations.

And that's the rub. Spike TV and producers undoubtedly assured Gould has no legal leg to stand on if he wants to sue them or the production company, Stone Stanley Entertainment, which also produces "The Mole," "The Man Show" and "Fame."

Contestants on all "reality" shows sign lengthy waivers that absolve producers of responsibility and allow them to use participants' images any way they see fit.

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