Just days after alleged real estate mogul Rick Rockwell selected emergency room nurse Darva Conger to be his bride on national television, some not-so-flattering truths are coming to light.
For one, he's not a real estate mogul. According to several reports, he's a stand-up comic and motivational speaker who was backed by his dad in a couple of paltry real estate deals.
The well-traveled Rockwell, who was born Richard Balkey in Pittsburgh, has spent time in Canada and California. The Vancouver Province quoted local real estate agents there who called him "a flake" and "a loser" whose only investment property is a "low-end condo that leaks," which is a far stretch from the lavish sites he was filmed at for the show.
Rockwell is also apparently somewhat of a publicity monger. The New York Times calls him "a longtime comic performer, known mainly for elaborate stunts, like chartering a plane and performing 10-minute stand-up routines in six cities in one night, telling jokes for 30 straight hours in an effort to set a Guinness world record and, most recently, riding from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a bicycle to promote a comedy club." The Times also reports that on his Website, Rockwell brags about opening for Jay Leno--a claim Leno's reps deny.
Aside from the odd real estate deal and stand-up gig, Rockwell's main source of income is corporate speaking, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He reportedly makes $7,500 per speech teaching execs how to use humor to communicate effectively.
The goofy-looking comic is also a wannabe ladies man, as well, which doesn't bode well for poor Darva. The Province interviewed one woman who met Rockwell through an Internet personals site who said, "That guy was trying to get into my pants less than three weeks ago. He's not for real."
An ex-girlfriend also told a San Diego TV station that Rockwell told her he was just doing the show to advance his career as a comedian and motivational speaker and planned to have the marriage annulled so he and the ex could reunite. (All contestants agreed to a prenup before the show.)
For their part, show producers say they did disclose his show business background and carefully chose Rockwell from a pool of nearly 100 millionaires. All contestants, Rockwell included, had at least $2 million in assets.
"The perception is basically true: Millionaires are not all good-looking men," Fox exec Mike Darnell tells the Times. "We genuinely opted for the better-looking man. He struck me as totally honest. I had no questions about his sincerity. If that was a performance, he should have a couple of Emmy Awards already."
Currently, the newlyweds are on their honeymoon and haven't been reached for comment.
The Valentine's Day show, meanwhile, was quite a ratings boon for Fox. At one point, the cheesy two-hour special pulled in more than 23 million viewers, second only to ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the show it drew inspiration from.
The popularity of Multi-Millionaire has prompted the network to create a trimmed-down, hour version and re-air it next Tuesday. The New York Post also says Fox is "in discussions" about creating a new edition for May sweeps.