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Television Review

Have money, need mate

Those with everything but that special thing get help on the mildly

February 12, 2009|ROBERT LLOYD | TELEVISION CRITIC

By accident or design, Bravo has become a network concerned with the rich and the people who serve them. "Flipping Out," "Work Out," "Blow Out," "Million Dollar Listing," "Welcome to the Parker," "The Rachel Zoe Project" -- show after show highlights various facets of what might be called the luxury service industries, in which people become rich, or try to, catering to the very rich, while the popular "Real Housewives" franchise just looks at the moneyed straight on.

Given that we are in the middle of a financial meltdown/free-fall/apocalypse, one might think that the problems of people with too much money would have lost their entertainment value. But one would apparently be wrong.

And there is "The Millionaire Matchmaker," beginning its second season tonight. Following the adventures of a real-world modern Dolly Levi -- Patti Stanger of the Millionaire's Club -- it is in some ways the most disturbing of these shows, in that it traffics in humans, and in other ways the most obvious: The lonely millionaire -- the man who has everything except that one thing that would make all the other things worthwhile -- is a friendly, familiar trope, the stuff of old romantic comedies, the anchor of the Depression-era Cinderella story. And there is "Hello, Dolly!"

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, February 13, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
'Millionaire Matchmaker': A review in Thursday's Calendar section of the Bravo television show "Millionaire Matchmaker" referred to Jackie Warner appearing on the show "Blow Out." The title of the Bravo show is "Work Out."

A dating service for rich people too busy or too immature or just too used to paying other people to get their business done, the Millionaire's Club is described on its website as a place where wealthy men can "be introduced to exceptionally beautiful women in a relaxing, discreet and confidential manner," and if that sounds like high-class prostitution to you, Patti begs to differ. She may advise her girls to wear stiletto heels and show a lot of leg and a modicum of pushed-up cleavage, but she is fundamentally an old-fashioned sort of yenta, with a lot of rules about sex and commitment, and sees her job as improving the men as much as providing the women. "They need to be tweaked. I'm the tweaker." (Your $25,000 starter package -- Patti's personal help costs more -- includes an hour of hypnotherapy: When I snap my fingers you will no longer be a jerk.)

Stanger, whose job it is to see the good in people, is a less difficult boss than, say, Jeff Lewis on "Flipping Out," and, unlike Jackie Warner on "Blow Out" or Rachel Zoe, her private life is an off-camera affair. She flies off the handle at clients who break her rules and overstates for dramatic purposes the problems with featured millionaires, but overall she doesn't seem to be as much of a handful as some of her brothers and sisters in Bravo-dom. Which from a certain angle might be seen as a mark against her show.

The opening episode features two contrasting young millionaires -- Bret, who makes a pink energy drink for women, and David, who runs a fashion catalog. Bret seems to be the evening's catch, while David is so full of himself that it slops out onto the floor. The ending, as they say, will surprise you.

Next week brings a female millionaire, Heidi -- 41, a single mother and the head of a clothing line -- which lets Patti (who is older than 40 herself) rant against ageism.

If never especially compelling, the series is mildly diverting and only occasionally revolting. And it's nice to be reminded, at least, that money doesn't buy happiness, only expensive advice. I can live with that.

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robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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'The Millionaire Matchmaker'

Where: Bravo

When: 10 tonight

Rating: Not rated

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