On 'Mr. Personality,' Lewinsky is the one who's listening in
By LYNN ELBER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES -- Monica Lewinsky, who knows about the risks of sharing romantic confidences, sticks to listening in the new reality TV dating show "Mr. Personality."
She gets high marks from Hayley, the 26-year-old Atlanta woman who searches for true love among 20 masked men with Lewinsky by her side for support. The Fox series debuts tonight.
"She's exactly what I needed to get through the whole thing," said Hayley, whose last name was withheld by Fox. "More than a host, she was like my buddy, my best friend, my confidant, the big sister I never had."
Lewinsky didn't talk about her personal life and Hayley didn't ask.
"I didn't even go there with her. She probably wouldn't feel comfortable rehashing it," Hayley said.
Lewinsky, who declined a request to be interviewed, was a White House intern who had a sexual relationship with President Clinton. She discussed it with her friend Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded the talks and handed the tapes over to investigators.
Hayley, of course, knew her chats with Lewinsky were on the TV record as they assessed potential dates -- all with their faces hidden so Hayley would have to judge them on character, not appearance.
"She was someone who was a listener. She played the role so wonderfully," Hayley said of Lewinsky.
Is the unlucky-in-presidential-love Lewinsky a good counselor?
"I wouldn't exactly call her a dating guru," Hayley said, adding that she was more a sounding board than an adviser. "When I had someone there to talk to, it made my decisions easier."
Lewinsky, a TV novice who has been designing handbags, was picked as host for two reasons, executive producer Brian Gadinsky said.
"First, tune-in, curiosity. We thought she'd be a great choice to garner interest in the show," Gadinsky said. "It's worked. Everybody's talking about it."
Lewinsky also was right for the job, he said: "We wanted to find someone who had the attributes of a great personality, who was very friendly. Someone who was not a cutout, not polished, but accessible."
Gadinsky called the job a "whim" for Lewinsky, who had been in general discussions with Fox when the show emerged as an opportunity.
Lewinsky told Newsweek magazine she's unsure whether she'll continue in television and is considering law school or graduate school in psychology.
"I'm trying to see what is going to work best for me and what is my career," she said. "I'm trying to figure out my life."