Sunday, July 6, 2003

Go ahead, kids: You pick dad's wife

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Don Mueller, center, with his children, (from left) Joe, Chris, Karla and Heidi.
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
Don Mueller trusts his kids. I mean, he really trusts his kids.

Mueller, 48, agreed to let his four children - ages 21-26 - pick his prospective spouse on NBC's new reality series, Who Wants to Marry My Dad? (premiering 10 p.m. July 14, Channels 5, 22).

"I trust them implicitly," says Mueller, who has been in only "three or four serious relationships" since divorcing 13 years ago.

"I believe that whatever they do, will be the right decision."

The Glendale family - Joey, 26, Karla, 25, Chris, 22, Heidi, 21, and dad - spent three weeks in May taping the five-episode reality series in a suburban Los Angeles mansion.

The four kids - all Landmark Christian School graduates - interviewed more than 50 women before selecting 12 finalists that stayed with the Muellers in the house. The women, in their 30s and 40s, included a nurse, model, full-time mom and 1986 Miss USA Christy Fichtner. (She beat out Halle Berry for the crown.)

Mueller, a 1973 Princeton High School graduate, was "discovered" by Hollywood producers through Heidi, a part-time model who attended an April 6 Cincinnati casting call for The Bachelorette, The Bachelor and an ABC dating series called Rich Guy, Poor Guy.

Heidi became friends with a casting director, who asked lots of questions about her family. Two weeks later, the casting director called Mueller and requested he e-mail a family photo. By May 3, the five Muellers were on a plane to Los Angeles for the taping.

"I haven't had a good night's sleep in five weeks. It's been unbelievable," says Mueller, owner and president of Mass Marketing Inc., a Fairfield company that makes and prints city and county maps.

Wednesday, a TV crew spent all day here shooting follow-up interviews at the Muellers' two-story Glendale home, where three of the four children still reside. Producers also filmed the family here playing golf, rock climbing and dining at the Waterfront.

According to NBC publicity, Mueller "will propose to the winner" in the fifth episode.

Mueller says he can't talk about the conclusion without paying a stiff financial penalty. Then he draws lots of imaginary zeroes with his index finger.

"They've scared me so much about saying anything about the ending," he says.

In a preview tape sent to TV to critics, the women describe the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Mueller as "stunning looking," "very handsome," "charismatic" and "very genuine."

Is he prepared to become America's newest sex symbol?

"No, I'm not, and I'm not going to be, either," he says. "Absolutely not! They were just trying to be nice."


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