Will teacher's job, TV show collide?
Sean L. McCarthy
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 16, 2004 12:00 AM
SCOTTSDALE - Will Randi Coy marry a Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance for a million dollars?
Or will her stunt, televised nationwide on Fox beginning Monday, backfire along with her hopes of returning to work as a first-grade Catholic teacher at Pope John XXIII Catholic School Community?
Pope John XXIII Principal Bill Langley has a much simpler question for Coy. Does Coy want to be a TV star or a schoolteacher?
"She has obligations there and she has obligations here," Langley said Thursday. "She has to let us know which obligations come first."
Coy - a 23-year-old Scottsdale resident, Arizona State University graduate and former yoga instructor - interrupted her first year of teaching at the northeast Phoenix school at Thanksgiving break to begin taping My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. She remains on leave but under contract.
The show's producers led Coy to believe she was one of several contestants for a million-dollar prize. Producers picked Coy and a man named "Steve" as finalists.
For Coy to win, she needed to convince her family that she met, fell in love with and planned to marry "Steve" without revealing that their pairing is a farce. She thought "Steve" was competing for the same prize. Except the true farce was played on Coy. "Steve," his friends and family were actors, paid to sabotage the staged wedding.
After the show taped, Coy returned to Scottsdale and met once again with Langley.
"But she hasn't actually said anything about the show," Langley said. "All I was told when she left was that she was auditioning for a reality show."
He learned more from seeing Coy in a TV ad, then checked out Fox's Internet site.
Racy ads and story line
Network ads running since Christmas have shown "Steve" live up to his title character. Clips show the supposed groom tell Coy's father about his eagerness to see Coy naked, the groom dancing around in his underwear, and tearful scenes with her family in an outdoor wedding ceremony.
Langley did not sound eager to watch his first-year teacher on television.
"I see commercials like that, then I don't watch shows like that," Langley said. "I'll probably look in on it, though, precisely because I am the principal of the school where she teaches."
He said he has dealt with many personnel scenarios in his 35 years as a school administrator, "but nothing like this."
Pope John XXIII School serves the Northeast Valley parishes of St. Bernadette, St. Joan of Arc, Our Lady of Joy and Blessed Sacrament. Langley sent a letter to parents, alerting them to Coy's leave and her upcoming TV appearance.
Langley understands if some parents have concerns.
The school's mission statements vow to teach students to become Christian leaders and responsible citizens. Its faculty signs off on a vision statement with goals such as teaching "Gospel values and self-discipline," which might come into conflict with marrying a stranger on television for money.
"You can't be teaching and do a show like that," Langley said.
"There's a certain set of values at a Catholic school. Certainly we have a moral obligation under our faith to make a judgment call, not to pre-judge, but to make a call on that," he said.
For Langley, the more pressing concern was having a teacher for his first-grade classes.
"I've got 35 first-grade children who had their teacher leave them," he said. "They don't conceptually know what's going on."
The school hired a substitute teacher to cover the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, thinking Coy would return. When she didn't, Langley persuaded the teacher who Coy had replaced to return instead.
Before Coy taught first-graders, she taught yoga for three years at ASU's Student Recreation Complex, leading fitness yoga classes and wellness programs.
'Rands' a bit quirky
In her online bio, Coy said her hobbies and interests included "traveling, going to movies, reading and lately any crossword puzzles." She described herself as "fun yet a bit quirky."
Friends called her "Rands."
Kelley Lafer, assistant director of fitness and wellness at the ASU complex, said Coy drew "a lot of participants in her classes" due to her warm personality and eagerness to participate in anything and everything.
"She communicated well with people," Lafer said of Coy. "She was confident."
The six-episode series debuts at 8 p.m. Monday on Fox (Channel 10). Former Channel 3 entertainment reporter Claudia DiFolco hosts. The show is a product of Rocket Science Laboratories, which previously put together Joe Millionaire, Married by America and Temptation Island.