Some Brian News
It made me smile http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2004/03/03/his_heartache_healed_boston_joe_bounces_back/
His heartache healed, Boston 'Joe' bounces back
By Joseph P. Kahn, Globe Staff, 3/3/2004
The cozy, candlelit dinner at the Boston Harbor Hotel didn't seal the deal. Neither did the romantic trip to Fenway Park, complete with a "surprise" visit from Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield. In the end, which arrived Monday night packed inside a whole soap dish of plot twists, "Average Joe: Hawaii" contestant Brian Worth of East Boston failed to capture the heart of beauty queen Larissa Meek. Worth was kissed goodbye, while actor wannabe Gil Hyatt, he of the rippling pecs, won the damsel's hand. So what else is new? Wakefield may throw a wicked knuckleball, but NBC producers -- and Meek -- opted for a softball straight down the middle. In their version of reality-show reality, the Meek shall inherit the oaf.
Weep not for Worth, though, who, being a lifelong Red Sox fan, has suffered far worse, heaven knows. His guileless, good-hearted nature and genuine infatuation with Meek, not to mention his "auww-some" Boston accent, made him a heavy viewer favorite, all but guaranteeing him a measure of fame no one could have scripted at the show's outset.
"It never really crossed my mind that I'd become a celebrity from this," Worth said yesterday by phone from Southern California, where he's been doing a round of publicity appearances that included "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Friday. "It's fun right now, and my life does feel different. But it's not at the Tom Cruise level."
Worth watched the finale -- taped six months ago -- in Palm Springs, at the invitation of an NBC producer. More than anything, he says, he's relieved he can finally discuss what happened on the show and why viewers have identified with his falling in love -- and losing -- so hard and so publicly. For months, Worth says, he was sworn to secrecy, even passing up dates (yes, there have been inquiries) lest he spill the beans by baring his soul.
"Was I genuinely hurt? Yeah, for two to three weeks," said Worth, who was joined by Meek and Hyatt on the Leno show. "It's hard to not only be heartbroken but not be able to get any help, too. Even my mother called me after the show, half in tears. But this was top-secret stuff."
The appeal of "Average Joe," and why viewers rooted for him, according to Worth, is that while almost everyone has known unrequited love, it was a first for him. "I'm 31, so I needed to experience it," he said. "But people who were emotionally invested in the program actually felt as hurt as I did. I gave them something to identify with, I guess."
Earlier yesterday, Worth logged on to a boston.com chat room for an hour, joined by nearly 500 visitors. Asked how he felt watching the final episode, Worth replied, "It was very difficult. . . . I had to fight off a few tears. I became sniffley."
Nevertheless, he wrote, he and Meek remain "very good friends." Also, Worth claimed to be unremorseful that, if only briefly, he'd found himself "living in a fantasy world with [Meek]" that "allowed my barriers to come down." Worth's only complaint about the show's editing concerned an episode with boxer Roy Jones Jr. that had been cut short. "The show could have been funnier than `Seinfeld'," Worth said.
An auditor with the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Inspector General, Worth was picked from a pool of more than 2,000 potential Joes from around the country. Eight of the original 18 contestants came from the Boston area, and many of the local contestants gathered at the Rack Monday to watch the finale. Among them was Charlestown stock trader Brian Glazer, who made it to Round 6 of "Joe" before the ax fell. "I think he wins by losing," Glazer said of Worth yesterday. "People feel sympathy for someone like Brian, who's a great guy. I'm sure plenty of other girls will be knocking down his door."
Like many other viewers, Glazer professed to be mystified by the Fabio factor. In the finale, Meek, after choosing Hyatt, confessed she had once dated the famous model, whose face adorns many a romance-novel cover. Hyatt reacted to the admission by getting upset and inexplicably turning his back on Meek, a former Miss Missouri USA title holder, before leaving. Contrived? It seemed so, especially when Meek and Hyatt turned up on the "Today" show yesterday holding hands. Meek at least acknowledged how much she might have hurt Worth, saying she hoped in time he'd find someone who would reciprocate his feelings.
Two other local Joes, Donato Ventresca of Melrose and Justin Walsh of Somerville, said yesterday they'd been cheering for Worth to pull off what in hindsight seems a quixotic feat.
"I think he really had feelings for her, and it was unfortunate to see him let down like that," Ventresca said. "As far as that kid [Hyatt] blowing his stack over her dating Fabio, though, that was ridiculous."
Walsh said that he liked how the show built toward its ending but that the ending itself left something to be desired. As for Worth, he said, "Brian's a very witty person, very fun to be with. He'll do fine." Indeed, the healing process seems to be coming along nicely. "Part of me was glad [Meek] got a taste of what I felt," Worth admitted yesterday.
All four Joes hinted their social lives were anything but "average" these days. "As of today," Worth posted on the website chat room, "I am officially on the market."
Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at email@example.com
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.