Prince and Pauper in ABC Hopper
Thu Mar 13, 3:08 AM ET
By Josef Adalian
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Think "The Bachelor" times two meets "Joe Millionaire," and you've got the idea behind producer Mike Fleiss' next reality show for ABC.
The Disney-owned network has given the go-ahead for production on seven episodes of "Rich Guy, Poor Guy," a one-hour unscripted relationship series in which two single men will try to find love from a pool of women, not unlike "The Bachelor."
The twist: One of the men will be filthy rich, the other dirt poor. Neither the women involved in the show nor the audience will know who's the prince and who's the pauper.
ABC is fast-tracking production on the Next Entertainment/Telepictures series in order to launch it this summer. The network is no doubt hoping to try to trump the expected fall arrival of "Joe Millionaire 2" (even though Fox has not yet revealed specifics about the sequel.)
Despite the involvement of "Bachelor" creator Fleiss, "Rich Guy, Poor Guy" is not expected to be presented under the "Bachelor" umbrella and will instead be marketed as an entirely new concept.
Lisa Levenson, who has an overall deal with Next, will serve as showrunner of the project.
Fleiss said he and his team at Next Entertainment considered the idea of a dual bachelor show when they were pitching the original "Bachelor" series to networks.
"Based on the success of 'Joe Millionaire' and the whole is-it-for-love-or-money vibe, we decided to go forward with this project," the producer said.
ABC senior vice president of alternative Andrea Wong said "Rich Guy, Poor Guy" will "be a terrific, fun show with a twist. Mike is going bring his great creative mind to the idea. It's going to be fantastic."
Wong said it "will be interesting to see if the women care who's rich and who's not and whether they try to figure it out."
To make things more interesting, the women will divide their time on the show between living in an opulent mansion and a much more downscale locale -- most likely a trailer park.
Fleiss wouldn't say how the two bachelors will eliminate women from the competition, or what will happen when the two men pick the same women.
"It's unlikely there'll be any roses involved, though," he quipped.
What's more, when each of the men finally selects his mate, producers will have a justice of the peace standing by to marry the couple, if they want to get hitched.
"They'll be able to prove to each other whether they're really in love," Fleiss said.
Fleiss is good friends with Fox alternative programming chief Mike Darnell, and when "Joe Millionaire" launched, industry observers couldn't help noting the surface similarities between "The Bachelor" and Fox's eventual megahit.
Some observers will no doubt interpret "Rich Guy, Poor Guy" as Fleiss' attempt to one-up Darnell. Responds Fleiss: "When 'Joe Millionaire' came out, Mike said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I had to repay the compliment."
"Rich Guy, Poor Guy" joins a slew of projects in the hopper for Fleiss. In addition to the next "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette," the WB has ordered another season of "High School Reunion," while ABC is currently airing "Are You Hot?" on Thursday nights and has ordered Fleiss' "The Will."