This is rich: Reality TV hits Palm Beach
Published February 25, 2003
Palm Beach is known as a haven for millionaires. The Family, a new ABC reality show filmed in Palm Beach County, will create another one.
The nine-episode series, which premieres March 4, gives a group of middle-class New Yorkers, and by extension millions of viewers, a taste of what Palm Beach living is like.
Created by the producers of Big Brother, The Family isolated an extended clan -- a mother, father, grown son and cousins on both sides -- in a mansion on a 49-acre estate in Wellington. The owner of the home asked that it not be specifically identified, but Verna Shore of Palm Beach-based Locations Extrordinaire, which set up the shoot, said it is in the heart of polo country. Indeed, the grounds have facilities for 25 horses.
The contestants spent 28 days there, competing for luxury prizes, including shopping sprees, cruises aboard yachts and rides on private jets. Ultimately, one of them actually gets a check for $1 million, the grand prize in the competition, which began shooting in January and wrapped on Feb. 17.
Footage of Palm Beach high spots -- Millionaire's Row along the ocean, Worth Avenue, etc. -- will be extensively highlighted during the run of the program.
Palm Beach County also received an economic boost. The production company booked 90 to 100 hotel rooms for 45 days, Shore said. Also, the army of technicians and craft people ate in Palm Beach restaurants and shopped in Palm Beach stores.
George Hamilton, whose suave, moneyed persona fits the Palm Beach image, hosts the program. It is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Tuesdays -- the slot normally filled by NYPD Blue, which is going on a brief hiatus.
There are several twists to this game. Each week, a competition of some sort will result in two players being designated for elimination. Only one will have to go, however. A secret "Board of Trustees" will decide which of the two is out.
What the contestants won't know -- but viewers at home will -- is that the board consists of the people disguised as the butlers, maids, cooks, masseurs and tennis pros. They will be at the family's disposal around the clock. The way these quasi-nouveau riche treat the help will determine their fate.
Also, the family member voted out will remain in the house, where he or she can cause mischief to the others still in the running.
The possibility that the big money might remain all in the family through a sharing arrangement has been dealt with, according to a representative of the show, by selecting a family where there is "friction and fractiousness" among various members.