By Judy Frankel
Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller's match does not seem to be made in heaven.
I have a big problem with the current season of "The Amazing Race." The players are, for the most part, just downright obnoxious and give new clarity to the term "Ugly American." But lately on my beloved favorite show, and two-time Emmy winner, things have gotten out of hand. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself here.
Often people ask how I can stand to watch so much reality television. Well, for me, the answer is simple. I love it! But on the other end of the couch, my husband Dan -- not so much. So, a few years ago, when the genre was still relatively new, we started a little game that helps keep him interested in the program and allows me complete control over the remote.
While this game doesn't really have a name, its premise is pretty simple. When a new unscripted show debuts, take "The Amazing Race" for example, it typically introduces the contestants in the first few minutes. And that is where the fun begins. With just a 10-second intro, you have to pick the winner.
That's right. With just the opening montage and maybe a hometown and occupation to guide you, the object is to pick the winner, from the onset. And if your pick is tossed in the first episode, too bad! No second choices. It's winner take all.
For the most part, this little gaming addition to our television viewing has been really fun. And, not to toot my own horn, but I've been moderately successful at it. Last season, I selected "The Amazing Race 5" winners Chip and Kim immediately. I've also won "The Mansion," "Last Comic Standing" and countless episodes of "Fear Factor."
Dan has done well, too. A while back, he picked Zora to catch the eye of fake millionaire Evan Marriott on the original "Joe Millionaire" and he also was sharp enough to pick Bill Ranic in seconds to become the first apprentice in the show of the same name.
But here's the rub. When "The Amazing Race 6" premiered, arrogant after my recent win, I made a fatal error. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention but I picked married entrepreneurs Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller to take it all the way.
Not that I'm way off, but what a mistake. With just seven episodes remaining, Jonathan and Victoria are in third place and have consistently landed in the top few spots. But the problem here (in case you haven't watched the show) is that Jonathan is the most wretched human being ever to appear on reality television.
He is an obnoxious control freak and wife-beater and I, in good conscience, have forfeited on my pick. I want nothing to do with him, regardless of how well the team actually does. I just can't support someone who hits his wife, on national television no less.
And it's not just the physical abuse, although that in and of itself is just so nasty to watch, but the constant verbal abuse that he unleashes on his blond bombshell wife, who just so happens to be a former Playboy playmate.
Jonathan, 42, is also a fledging filmmaker but in real life he is the owner of a popular Los Angeles day spa. Victoria calls herself a pop artist, which I guess is L.A.-speak for co-dependent.
Jonathan has taken a lot of heat, and received a considerable amount of press for his actions on the show. Apparently, executive producer Bertram van Munster even took Jonathan aside, asking him to tone things down. On their Web site, (jonathanbakerandvictoriafulle r.com) the couple details the reason for Jonathan's completely inappropriate behavior.
"The version of what you see is a heightened stress and obsession mixed with medication for a sickness called sarcoidosis" and goes on to say that essentially his over-the-top behavior was just a publicity stunt. For what? Wife Beaters Anonymous?
Victoria doesn't do the couple any help with her "I'm fine" responses. But they don't seem to mind all the attention. These L.A.-based wannabes were last seen at the West Coast premiere of "Meet the Fockers," which stars A-listers like Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro.
So, tonight, when the next episode of "The Amazing Race" airs, I will be rooting for anyone but Jonathan and Victoria. Poor Dan, he picked best friends Avi and Joe, who didn't make it through the first episode.
So I urge you to please join me and root against the megalomaniac ways of Jonathan Baker. I have not stopped wishing for the producers of "The Amazing Race" to step in and disqualify Jonathan for his actions. But if, for some reason, they actually win and he doesn't beat his wife to death first, I will donate the proceeds of my column to a charitable organization that supports abused women like Victoria.
And I would hope that CBS executives match my offer and donate something from their deep pockets. The show is a ratings powerhouse and is extremely lucrative. And if Jonathan and Victoria take home the big prize, they will have sent a terrible message to the viewing public.