After 10 episodes, a llama and a Lamas, as well as countless absurdities, Spike TV's "The Joe Schmo Show" finally let Chase Rogan in on the joke.
But, as producer John Stevens gleefully announced on Tuesday night's finale, "We can't end this without messing with his head one more time."
And so it was that Lawrenceville's Rogan, who has a masters degree in agronomy from Penn State University, was told he would not be "America's Next Bounty Hunter."
That distinction went to actor Lorenzo Lamas, who whooped it up after a vote of the "losers" jury sealed the deal. Rogan was stone-faced as confetti flew and Lamas was presented an oversized check for $100,000. It was all fake, but Rogan's disappointment was clearly genuine.
"I thought 'I did everything right. There is no way I'm going to lose to Lorenzo,' so when he wins, there was this split second where I was going to say 'Are you guys kidding me right now?' " Rogan said the day after the finale aired.
And then it was time. Viewers heard someone in the production room tell host Ralph Garman -- playing "bounty hunter Jake Montrose" -- to "bring it home."
Deep breaths, everyone.
One by one, the cast revealed they were all actors. Stunned, Rogan first appeared angry, but as Garman explained "the good news is, you don't have to work for me," and a new check was produced, there were tears.
"You guys did a freakin' good job," Rogan said, still stunned.
"I'll tell you something: we couldn't have picked a more deserving guy. Every step of the way you showed honor, you showed courage, you showed honesty," Garman said. "You're a hell of a guy and you earned this."
Still, there was one last surprise. "Lady Liberty," an actress painted gold who stood atop the voting booth at each "Hunted to Hunter" eviction ceremony, turned to Rogan and revealed she was his wife, Taylor. The producers said they flew her out to California to make it easier on Chase in the event he didn't react well to the big reveal.
"Are you really Taylor Rogan?" he said, laughing.
Between winning $100,000 and seeing Taylor, Rogan was now all smiles. He ducked into the production headquarters, where the Spike TV staff gave him a standing ovation and chanted "Chase! Chase! Chase!" The actors introduced themselves to him in the television room of the mansion, where Rob Belushi -- who played best buddy, "Allen" -- shook Rogan's hand and said "Easiest job I ever had, being your friend."
(It was Belushi who, when eliminated in the finale, said with a straight face "I may be second banana, but I'm full of potassium.")
How long will it take to forget such a circus, and begin anew? Look for the next season of "The Joe Schmo Show," probably around 2024.
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