Norris becomes the first gay contestant to appear on the reality dating show.
Charlotte Dawson is also in the show, whilst there’s also some added X Factor dust with contestant former, Frankie Cocozza, and former Xtra Factor host Sarah-Jane Crawford.
“One thing we really wanted to preserve was not being there on the date because what made the show so charming was the he-said-she-said,” Darnell explains of the format, which focuses largely on the daters chatting with Cohen on set about their date, rather than having footage of the actual date like other dating shows, including “The Bachelor.” However, each couple does take a selfie video during their date, which is shown to the live audience.
“I didn’t want actual producers out there with actual video because then the he-said-she-said doesn’t mean anything,” he says.
Though the environment is familiar to Cohen with a live audience and a cushy couch for conversation with guests, this is not “Watch What Happens Live.” Rather, the Bravo personality is taping an episode of “Love Connection,” the revival of the dating game show, which premieres Thursday night on Fox.
“Love Connection” shot over a period of about one week, bringing the New York-based Cohen to Los Angeles to do what he does best: prod into people’s personal lives.
“He really belongs with NBC because of Bravo,” Darnell shares, “but he wanted to do it so badly that he went all the way to the top to get permission.” Aside from Cohen’s flair, the show will feel a bit different to original viewers with the implementation of modern-day changes such as the splashy set, a 1-10 ratings scale, and a money prize where contestants choose love or money at the end of each episode.
Plus, in addition to having a gay host, the contestants are much more diverse than the flagship show with interracial couples, gay couples, straight couples, young couples, and elderly couples.
Despite all of the new additions, Fleiss and Darnell say the core of “Love Connection” is still there, especially due to the “he-said-she-said” element.
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“It’s just this incredible confluence of incredible talent and a great format and a concept that happens to be perfect for me,” Cohen says, admitting that hosting a shiny-floor game show has been a “fantasy” of his.
“He’s amazing, like a glove,” Darnell raves of Cohen. head of unscripted and alternative television echoes the host’s sentiment that everything fell into place at the right time.
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