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October 10, 2000 07:07pm
Who Wants to Divorce a Multimillionaire?
Source: Reuters
by: Jill Serjeant

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- The television network that turned marriage into a game show disaster now wants to make divorce into mass entertainment - with marital assets as prizes.

The Fox television network on Tuesday announced it was seeking six couples who have recently filed for divorce for a ''no-holds-barred'' game show offering both cash and the division of joint possessions.

``I think there will be a great deal of voyeuristic fun because divorce is such a national phenomenon and people maybe don't take marriage as seriously as they used to,'' said Peter Isacksen, an executive producer for the show's creators, Future Mainstream Productions.

``I want a Divorce,'' a two-hour special expected to air in February, is the latest in a spate of real-life U.S. television shows that have won both big ratings and huge roastings from critics.

Participants will be quizzed on how much they know about the other person's life and have a chance to tell their side of the divorce story.

Nine months ago, Fox was the most criticized network in America as it grappled with the fallout from its foray into reality game shows -- a beauty pageant-style special ``Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire.''

The network canceled a rebroadcast of the show and gave up plans for future installments following revelations that the rich bachelor who chose his TV bride from a lineup of women paraded before him in swimsuits and wedding gowns had been the subject of a restraining order for allegedly threatening his former fiancee. Groom Rick Rockwell denied allegations that he physically abused his ex-girlfriend.

The couple's quickie marriage ended in an even quicker divorce and a national outcry. The bride, Darva Conger, lost her job as a nurse and later posed nude for Playboy magazine for a six-figure sum as she declared all she wanted was her good name back.

Only last month, Court TV ditched a series made up of graphic videotaped confessions of murderers after only two episodes following complaints by distraught victims of crime and cries of exploitation by the media. The first show featured a man who murdered his female roommate, dismembered her body then boiled it.

Isacksen, however, said that the tone of ``I Want a Divorce'' would be light-hearted and without rancor. ``It is not going to be Jerry Springer. I don't want to see people throwing chairs at each other. The tone of the show is not going to be anything that anyone is embarrassed about,'' he told Reuters.

Isacksen, whose past productions include documentary-style features about the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, said there had been no trouble selling the concept of ``I Want A Divorce'' to Fox.

``Fox is in the business of having people watch their network,'' he said.

The producers have a few key provisos -- the divorce must not be final, and competing couples must not have children under the age of 18.

Other than that, most anything is up for grabs -- including the joint CD collection, the family silver and a grand prize of $100,000.

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