A wild way to find love

No, all reality shows -- even all dating shows -- weren't created equal. Some have been awful, but "Love in the Wild" -- which starts its second season tonight (Tuesday, June 5) -- was quite good last summer. It's even better, now that Jenny McCarthy is the host; here's the story I sent to papers:


Sure, dating looks like fun when you
see it on soap operas and hair-product commercials.

Still, there's a flaw to it. Just ask
Jenny McCarthy, who speaks from what she calls “this wonderful
journey of dating hell I've been on.”

These days, McCarthy hosts NBC's “Love
in the Wild,” which moves romance to the jungles and beaches. In
some ways, she said, that works better than back home, where no one
seems real.

“It takes a long time to kind of
break that fake self,” McCarthy said. “I say you send out 'your
representative' when you first start dating, and that representative
is selling you.”

Such pretenses can vanish on the show
as people start “cliff diving, jumping ropes with snakes, having to
carry tarantulas …. It's like 'Fear Factor' and 'Survivor' all
combined in the same soup.”

Along the way, young singles choose and
un-choose partners. The top two couples from the first season are
still together, McCarthy said; the winners of the second (already
filmed) seem cozy.

McCarthy is sort of an expert on many
issues involving romance and/or sex appeal. She was a Playboy
centerfold at 20, a big stretch for someone from a blue-collar
Catholic family in Chicago. She went on to be Playmate of the Year ….
and has a new photo spread in the edition that comes out June 29,
four months before she turns 40.

She was married for five years to John
Asher, an actor (“Weird Science”) and director (“One Tree
Hill”), then was with Jim Carrey for five years. Lately, she's been
dating Brian Urlacher, the all-pro Chicago Bear linebacker.

During the four weeks of filming
“Love,” however, any romance was on hold. There were words to
memorize. “It's not like I can drag a Teleprompter to the jungle.”

The first season of the show had worked
quite well, but the second brought changes, including:

– Occasional twists. The first
episode, linking strangers, put each woman with two men; after that,
theshow reverts to couples.

– McCarthy taking over as host. “I
wanted to add a little bit more of what I did on 'Singled Out' (her
old MTV show). I kind of messed with them like a big sister would.”

– Prettier settings. The first year
was in the Costa Rican jungle; the second is in the Dominican
Republic, “which is still known for its jungles, but the beaches
there are just breathtaking.”

She lived there for a month with her
son Evan, who is 10 and has shown autism-type symptoms. “Evan fell
in love with the island, I fell in love with the culture and I had a

While watching others fall in and out
of love, she avoided romance. “Then I made out with somebody at the
wrap party,” she joked.

Besides, McCarthy said she wouldn't
literally make love in the wild. “I'm a traditional girl. If
there's not a bed there, you're probably not going to get it.”

– “Love
in the Wild,” NBC

p.m. Tuesdays, except for the two-hour season-opener at 9 p.m. June 5