Familiar face on reality TV

By: HALLIE ARNOLD
Daily Freeman staff
March 04, 2003

KINGSTON - You cheered along with Justin and Kelly on "American Idol."

You cringed watching regular folks eat all manner of exotic insects and disgusting animal parts on "Fear Factor." Perhaps you even rooted for Zora to catch Evan's eye on "Joe Millionaire."
Now reality show fans will be able to play matchmaker on FOX's latest contribution to the reality genre, "Married by America," which premiered Monday night. While the show seems certain to garner the same ratings-busting viewership as its reality counterparts of late, it holds an added attraction for local residents, many of whom may recognize one contestant from a local eatery.

Stephen Savona, 35, is one of five men and women who have agreed to let the American public make one of life's most personal choices, that of the ultimate mate.

A graduate of John A. Coleman Catholic High School in the town of Ulster, Savona's face is a familiar one to patrons of Savona's Plaza Pizza's shops on Morton Boulevard and the Kingston Plaza, both owned by the Savona family.

Described on the "Married By America" Web site as "the sweet, shy one of the bunch," Savona moved to New York City about two years ago, where, according to the reality show's Web site, he became a successful restaurateur.

Savona's sister, Cecilia Madden of Kingston, would love to talk about her brother and his latest adventure, but she and the family members of all the contestants have been told they cannot talk to the press until after the show's premiere.

"Tomorrow after the first show it will be OK to talk to you," Madden said Monday.

During the show's two-part premiere, five potential mates will be chosen for each of the show's five contestants. Over the course of the premiere, friends and family members will winnow down the selection of mates, with the final selection made via telephone by the viewers.

The show was created by the same folks who devised FOX's enormously popular show "Joe Millionaire".

When the show begins in earnest on Monday, March 10, each of the five singles will get engaged to, and set up house with, the fiancé or fiancée the public has chosen for them. At the end of six weeks ... a wedding ?

Even if Savona's betrothed doesn't end up being his life partner, he could perhaps find true love on the set at FOX. According to the FOX Web site, he made quite an impression on FOX staffers early on in the game. "When we brought him in to shoot the promos, the women from FOX were swooning," reads the Web site. "They all thought he was dreamy."