The slurp that rocked TV two decades ago is making a comeback. Fox is dusting off the "Joe Millionaire" franchise to launch "Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer," a reboot of the franchise that will debut in January 2022.
Fox Alternative Entertainment and 495 Productions' SallyAnn Salsano ("Jersey Shore") are behind this new iteration, which will this time will feature two single men — one an actual millionaire, the other one dirt broke. Fox Entertainment's Rob Wade, president of alternative and specials, announced the project on Wednesday, and Fox revealed the show's first trailer on Wednesday night.
"This revival of 'Joe Millionaire' represents a potent combination: one of the most innovative and popular dating shows of all time with SallyAnn Salsano, who ranks among the most fearless producers in the business," said Wade. "I've long admired 'Joe Millionaire' for its daring premise, and since the moment I joined Fox, I've wanted to bring it back in the spotlight in a whole new way for both new viewers and fans of the original."
In this version, 20 women will date both single men, and they'll know that one is rich and one isn't — but have no idea who's the real "Joe Millionaire" and who's just the average Joe. (Presumably, the contestants won't have access to Google to figure it out, or more likely, the Joes will be using fake names.) Notes Fox in its pitch: "As love connections are made and each guy finds his perfect match, the women must ask themselves what is more important... love or money?"
The original "Joe Millionaire" debuted in January 2003 and starred Evan Marriott, a bachelor who pretended to be wealthy for a group of female suitors who vied for his attention. Paul Hogan (not the Crocodile Dundee) also starred as the butler, while Alex McLeod was host.
The show, produced then by Rocket Science Laboratories, was an instant smash, and was the highest-rated and most-watched debut season for an unscripted series of the past 20 years.
The two-hour finale of "Joe Millionaire" season one also delivered the best ratings for a night of entertainment programming in Fox's history at the time, averaging 35 million viewers. Its final half-hour climbed to a 21.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 40 million viewers in the second hour (when Evan asked Zora to go steady or something like that), and remains the highest-rated and most-watched unscripted entertainment series telecast of the past two decades (excluding post-NFL).
"Joe Millionaire" was created under the oversight of then-Fox alternative chief Mike Darnell. He shared the origin story with us when he departed the network in 2013: "My friend and colleague Mike Fleiss was having success with 'The Bachelor.' I'm very competitive and we decided to answer that. The original idea was, what if we got someone rich, told the girls he was poor, and then revealed it in the end? Then we decided it would be more aggressive and more fun to say he was rich, but in the end reveal he was poor. It was proving a point that a lot of women are in it for the money. It was still the best twist we ever did."
A second edition of "Joe Millionaire" fizzled later that year, however. "The Next Joe Millionaire" aired that October to a fraction of those ratings. A U.K. edition was also produced, but after that, "Joe Millionaire" was put on a shelf.
Salsano will executive produce "Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer" with Sarah Howell ("Jersey Shore Family Vacation," "Double Shot at Love with DJ Pauly D & Vinny").
The new "Joe Millionaire" will also run on Fox Entertainment's ad-supported streaming platform, Tubi, following its first run on the network. And the original first season of "Joe Millionaire" is also now available on Tubi.