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  • Paul Davidson

<i>The Benefactor</i> Lost Scenes

You saw the show. Now it’s time to see what you didn’t see whilest seeing it. Yeah. Oh yeah.

Last night’s finale of The Benefactor which continued its tradition of coming in fourth place in the ratings, was in fact a combination of the original final three episodes. There was a lot missing, and here’s what you would have seen if it had been divided up into a sixth, seventh and eighth episode:

Episode Six Mark visits each of the remaining three player’s hometowns. First, he goes to Boston where he meets Linda’s finacee and her mother. Linda takes Mark to the gym where she works out and the two of them have a sweaty old good time. What follows is a dinner at a nice restaurant with Linda and her family and friends. Then, Mark goes to her house (which you saw) and is amazed at her luxurious digs. More of the same there.

But then, Mark visits Femia’s house in Las Vegas where Femia takes him to her work (she works at a health organization), her college (UNLV) where they meet up with her mother who works there, and then to her high school track & field area where she teaches Mark how to triple-jump (something she was well known for in high school). Then, they go to her house where the whole extended family is waiting to have dinner with Mark. There, Mark meets Femia’s brother and boyfriend (who plays Arena football), her father and mother, and her brother’s girlfriend. Throughout the night, Mark has one-on-one interviews with her brother and boyfriend to see why they think she should win. During dinner, Femia breaks out her violin and tries to play it after being ribbed about it. Mark sleeps over in their guest room and leaves the next morning.

The next morning, after saying goodbye, Mark goes across town where he meets up with Dominic. The Dominic story gets weird here. When Mark meets Dom’s family and (gold digging) girlfriend, he notices that Dom’s family refers to him as “David.” David, in fact, was an honor student in high school and a highly intelligent kid. Suddenly after high school, and his parents can’t figure out why, their smart straight-laced son turned into “this dude.” Mark wonders just who Dom really is. Dominic takes Mark to get his hair colored, then out to dinner and a club, where they all drink endlessly. Eventually, Mark and Dom pass out at a hotel room in The Palms.

At the end of the episode, what you saw last night is what happened. Back in Dallas, Mark gets rid of Linda because she lied.

Episode Seven Now, Mark introduces Femia and Dom to their next challenge. He wants to see how they’d spend the million bucks. He tells them that they have 24 hours in which to do all the research and collect all the receipts for how they’d spend a million. He tells them that they cannot spend more than $100,000 on any item, and not more than $100,000 on their family. They must go out, research, get the numbers and reveal how they’d spend it in a presentation to Mark the next day. Mark also tells them that if they win, he may hold them to one of these choices. He gives them $1000 to help them in their presentation.

Femia and Dominic spend a day doing their research. Femia goes to a Grand Piano store and (figuratively) buys her piano. She goes to a motorcycle place, and uses part of her $1000 to buy a motorcycle outfit and helmet — she always dreamed of having her own bike. Femia goes to a Lexus dealership and convinces them to let her “borrow” a 75 thousand dollar car for her presentation. She then goes to Kinko’s and starts getting her boards for the presentation ready.

Dominic goes out and researches buying a boat. He test drives a Porsche. He looks online to see how much a prosthetic leg would cost because he wants to buy Linda’s mother what she needs. He also, starts to change. Since being in Vegas with Mark, Dominic has felt that Mark was upset that he was being someone other than “David” from high school. Dominic decides he’s going to stop with the act and be himself for the presentation.

When the presentation night begins, Femia is set up bigtime. Presentation boards with pictures of houses she would buy, the outfits, she even drives the car up the main driveway to show Mark the car she’d buy. She breaks down when she talks about writing checks to her family — she’ll be able to pay for her brother’s college, help her parents, and start her own business. Dominic shows up with his hair slicked back and wearing a suit — he stands up and in the most amazing moment he eloquently talks about what he’d do with the money. He is articulate, intelligent and at this moment you realize that Dom has been pretending to be Dom ever since high school because he was insecure about being that smart guy David who never got the girl.

In the end, however, Mark feels that the two are equal. Impressed by Femia’s thoroughness and stunned by “David” instead of “Dominic” — he tells the two that he will need time to decide. He wants them to show up the next morning at the American Airlines arena, where he will give them one minute to tell him why they deserve the money.

And that brings us to the final episode.

Episode 8 – The Finale What you saw last night (or didn’t see) was mostly intact.

While shooting the show, I got the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with Femia over those last few days. I was paired up as a Producer with her on Mark’s visit to her house. Her family, friends and boyfriend were an awesome group of people…and Femia was, indeed a great girl.

I remember sitting in the Las Vegas Airport on our way back to LAX after Mark had visited her, and it was just me, my Associate Producer and Femia. I said to her, “You know, about six months from now you’ll be sitting somewhere like this airport…and people will probably be coming up and talking to you. This is probably one of the last times you’ll be so anonymous…” She smiled and said that she couldn’t even imagine that it would get to that point. That would be unreal, she said.

The funny thing is — based on the show’s lackluster ratings (even though fourth place garners a few million viewers) she probably won’t get the notoriety I mentioned. But in the end, I don’t think that was her goal, and…well, she’s a million bucks richer.

Who cares about notoriety when you have that much cash?

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