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'Elimidate' picks area singles to film episodes for show's third season

| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003

"Elimidate" contestants such as Billy and Mequasah sometimes win "the greatest prize of all: love," says Alex Duda, the show's creator.

Billy and Mequasah, who recently married in Hawaii, will be featured on Monday night's episode.

"Elimidate," which airs at 11 p.m. weekdays on WB22 (WCWB Channel 22), gives you an up-close-and-personal view of the dynamics of dating as a group.

Alex Duda, creator, executive producer and part owner of the show, based the concept on a cheerleader in her high school who had her pick of boyfriends. "She had a weird power over boys," Duda says. "How did she get all the boyfriends• I am still trying to figure it out."

It airs in about 200 markets nationally and is seen by 10 million people every week, according to the show's publicist. Each half-hour episode features a "picker" -- male or female -- who gets the pick of the litter among a cluster of four members of the opposite sex.

At the end of each round, usually lasting an hour in real time, the picker eliminates one of the dates. And then everyone offers insights about how the contestants are playing the game. But they are not dating for dollars.

"We give the greatest prize of all: love," says Duda, who probably also loves the fact that she does not have to pay talent fees.

Thirty-five people from the region, ages 21 to 35, were picked three weeks ago to date in droves around here. The final "Goodnight. I'll call you tomorrow" will be taped next week. The Pittsburgh pods will air between September 2003 and May 2004. After two full seasons, the third starting in September, Duda is still trying to figure it out.

"I am often wrong," she admits about guessing the winners. "I still can't tell."

However, she can tell you why "Elimidate" made Pittsburgh one of its many stops as it travels from San Francisco to Boston and Cleveland to Tampa. "I am familiar with it. It is a pretty city. People are real." And that includes her mother, who grew up in East McKeesport and graduated from Duquesne University.

Even though she cannot unravel the mystery of why pickers pick, experience has taught Duda that female pickers can get wrapped up in bandannas.

"When a guy wears a bandanna, every time he goes on to win," she says incredulously. "Girls like a bad boy."

Woody was one who surprised Duda when she saw how effortlessly he lied. "Woody was a player kind of guy," she says. The contestants in that episode were sitting at a cafe when they were asked what the perfect date would be if the show ended at that moment.

Woody laid it on thick. He said he would take her for a walk in the park. He sounded very romantic -- rose petals, the works. But then the viewers saw his interview afterward about that evening, she says.

"I was just making it up," he said. What he really wanted, he said, was to pick her up, go home and "get freaky," says Duda. "She told me she wanted someone scholarly, but she goes off with Woody. It's always surprising."

And yes, he was wearing a bandanna.

She also has other tips for a bevy of babes or a gaggle of guys.

"Watch your liquor. A boozy is two drinks away from being a floozy. Do not sing. It never will come out right for you. Not a good tactic." There are better ways to make a splash.

Girls like funny guys, she says. Like the one who jumped into a water trap at the golf course to fetch a woman's ball from the bottom of the pond. And then dropped his drawers so she could see her name written on the back of his boxers. In golf terminology, that gave him a "gimme." At the end of round three, the woman essentially said "gimme him."

Women also like guys who try hard. "They like to know they (the potential boyfriends) are into you," she says. Her main rule is that the quietist of the quartet seldom makes it past round one. That also applies even to the most beautiful girls. Surprisingly, men cut beautiful girls who act as if they only are eye candy.

"I" was what Tracy from St. Louis was all about, in a roundabout way.

She was in the flock of four on Wednesday. Tracy referred to herself in third person -- always in third person. "Tracy sees nothing wrong with that," Tracy is likely to say.

In Tracy-speak, she would say things like, "Tracy thinks that you two are slurping spaghetti like 'Lady and the Tramp.' Tracy thinks that is gross." Or "Tracy says your augmentation surgery makes you look plastic." Or "Tracy will not behave like those other two dates sitting on each of his knees at the restaurant."

And at the end of the second round, she probably said something like, "Tracy is not pleased that she did not make the cut." However, she would have been the odds- on favorite if the picker would have been former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole. "Bob Dole says he likes it when Tracy speaks in third person." Or something.

Adam from Philadelphia wore crazy outfits and danced in a crazy manner, Duda says. Maybe something like a spastic cowboy being passed around a mosh pit. The picker said his behavior was appalling. Adam asked the picker if that meant she thought it was bad.

However, in the end, she said, "I kind of like you." She picked him. The other hunk was not much of a talker, but even if he had been, the odds were stacked against him. Duda noticed that tied around one of Adam's pant legs was a bandanna.

"It was touching," Duda says. "Adam was sweet. You were rooting for him. Anytime the underdog wins, I am happy."

Duda knows how it feels being on a dating show. She was a contestant on "Love Connection." She told the host about the time she and her date went to play bingo. The studio audience then tried to encourage her to go out with someone else. She decided not to pick up on that advice. She has a pretty good idea about what makes her dating show work.

Unlike other dating shows such as "Blind Date" that create couplings that usually lead to train wrecks, "Elimidate" tries to create an attraction between the picker and contestants. The conflict is among the four vying for the grand prize, like when one woman implies that another contestant is bizarre for referring to herself in third person.

"You just never know what they are going to say," Duda says. "You never know what you are going to get. It's a primer on dating."

Broadcast Spots


Head to head

An hourlong debate between Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey, a Republican from Squirrel Hill, and challenger Allegheny County Controller Dan Onorato, a Democrat from the North Side, airs live at 7:30 p.m. Monday on cable channel PCNC.

Head shop

"Barbershop: A Black Horizon Special" airs at 8 p.m. Thursday on WQED (Channel 13).

Heading up

The escalating cost of college tuition will be one the topics addressed by Judy Hample, chancellor of the state system of higher education, and Ed Nolan, vice chancellor for governmental relations, on "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" at 1:30 p.m. today on WBGN (Channel 59).

Heading home

"Bob Hope: The Road to Laughter," commemorating the life of the legendary comic, airs 8 p.m. today on WQED.

Head of the class

The Miss Pennsylvania Pageant airs live at 9 p.m. Friday, and will be rebroadcast at 2 p.m. Aug. 10, on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN).

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