› “First Dates” will air tonight at 8 on NBC (Comcast channel 4, EPBFI channel 3 in Chattanooga).
› See contestant Katheryn Golden on “The Steve Harvey Show” today at 3 on ABC (Comcast channel 10, EPBFI channel 9) in Chattanooga.
Tune in to the premiere of "First Dates" tonight, and you'll find two Chattanooga contestants among the men and women looking for love on the new NBC reality series.
How will you know them?
"I'm the fuzzy one," says Richard Dubé, referencing the bushy hair and beard he had at the time.
"I'm the blond in the blue dress who probably embarrasses herself a little bit," says Katheryn Golden, acknowledging a couple of wisecracks that flustered, maybe even frightened, her date.
Based on the hit UK show of the same name, "First Dates" follows real-life couples on actual blind dates happening on the same night at the same restaurant, MK, in Chicago.
Dubé, 66, and Golden, 29, weren't paired with each other. It was only in the last few days that each learned a fellow Chattanoogan was also in the crowd that night. The restaurant was filled with daters, as well as hidden cameras that captured their every word and facial expression.
Both of their experiences are foreshadowed in promos for the show, but for entirely different reasons.
With Dubé, it's a touching exchange between him and his dinner date, Jeannette, about the loss of their respective spouses.
A cutaway to Golden shows her date, Woody, proposing a toast: "To being ourselves, to having fun "
"To getting married," she finishes, as his eyes widen.
Scheduled for eight episodes, "First Dates" gathers daters of all ages and backgrounds from across the U.S., though both Jeannette and Woody are as close as Nashville. For the audience at home, the show is meant to be "a refreshingly authentic viewing experience that plays like a real-life romantic comedy," according to publicity material.
Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres is executive producer.
"It's a show that I wanted to watch," she says in a promo. "It's people that are looking for love. In a world that's filled with dating apps, just a good old-fashioned blind date is sometimes just the best way."
As viewers will learn on the show, Dubé hadn't been on a date in more than 40 years. His wife, Mary, died in December 2014.
They met when she was 17 and he was 22, both living in Ohio at the time. It was love at first sight, he says. "As soon as I saw her, it was like "Ahhh. I do! I do!" She felt the same attraction, he says. They married two years later.
Eventually, they would move to Chattanooga, where Richard would take a job directing the old NewsChannel 9 Science Theater. He would later serve as director of the Chattanooga Audubon Society for about a year, then teach seventh- and eighth-grade science at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts until his retirement, which has given him time to write novels and poetry.
Mary worked as director of purchasing and outsource management for Unum before her retirement and was a board member of McKamey Animal Center. Her death from ovarian cancer was devastating, he says, and a decision he made in mourning — to not trim his hair or beard for a year — led to his shaggy look on the show.
"I was still in that first year of her passing when they filmed it, and I basically wanted to keep my wife in my memory, to hold on to that," he says. "I wanted to do something singular to keep her life fresh in my mind for one year."
Blind date Jeannette didn't have a problem with his woolly appearance. "She kind of liked it," he says. And the promo shows them bonding over their shared experience of losing a spouse.
"I haven't had a date since my husband died," Jeannette tells him.
"This is my first one since my wife passed," he says, as she reaches across the table for his hand.
That would not be the only time that evening they would hold hands.
Things would not go as smoothly for Golden.
Unlike Dubé, who was matched with a woman with similar life experiences, Golden's evening played more like an experiment by producers in whether opposites attract.
Golden says she had nothing in common with Woody: "We didn't really agree on much of anything."
Golden says she was nominated for the show by a sister and agreed to participate just to see what would come of it. The Hixson High School graduate says she has a dream job as a medical aesthetician, a sideline career as a professional makeup artist, a new condo and a new car, so she doesn't feel as if her life is off-track. "But it would be nice to have someone to share it with," she says.
But Woody, from all indications, is not destined to be the man of her dreams. The signs came early and often, beginning with their idea of what a perfect night on the town would be.
Golden says she described being whisked away for a romantic evening in a fancy restaurant in a beautiful city.
"His ideal date was going somewhere and not having to spend any money," she says. "I almost fell out of my chair."
His aversion to spending money would come up again later when it came time to pay the tab.
Golden says she was nervous when she arrived at the restaurant, so the bartender suggested having a glass of wine. One drink led to several as she waited on her overdue date.
Eventually she would tell Woody: "Wine makes me crazy, champagne makes me psycho, and I had both."
Golden says she's known for her joyful personality and saying things just to be funny or to provoke a reaction.
"People need to understand I'm incredibly goofy. I was very goofy [that night]. I said silly things. I like to get a reaction out of people."
She expects it will make for great TV but wonders if she should have been "more aware" that the experience would eventually be shared with millions of viewers. It's one thing to share the details of a disastrous blind date with your friends. It's another to have it go so badly that you appear on "The Steve Harvey Show" as a cautionary tale.
Golden says meeting Steve Harvey has actually been the highlight of her "First Dates" experience.
"That was probably the best experience of my life," she says.
Producers booked her and another participant, Anip, for a taping that will air today (3 p.m. on ABC). Anip's evening flopped when he told his potential paramour that he still lives with his parents.
Golden says the comedian/talk-show host quizzed her and Anip about their dates and was "hilarious" in his advice.
"The audience pretty much laughed at everything" in their segment, she says.
Dubé and Golden agree that the cameras were so well concealed that daters weren't even aware of them as the evening unfolded. With no film crew hovering, each couple was able to focus on each other.
"The cameras are hidden so they kind of forget about that," DeGeneres explains in the promo. "Sometimes it works out very well. Sometimes it doesn't. It's just sweet to see people interact and genuinely looking for love."
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.