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The Cameras Turn Off, and 'Bachelor's' Hometown Girl Opens Up

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Monday, November 12, 2007

Why did local gal Bettina Bell risk heartbreak and humiliation on "The Bachelor"? In part because the '98 Wilson High grad was childhood pals with Tessa Horst, the Georgetown Day alum who won the heart of last season's "Bachelor," Andy Baldwin, on the reality dating series.

"I don't know if I would have done it if it weren't for her," Bell, 27, now a real estate agent in Hermosa Beach, Calif., told us.

The tall, cool blonde was among the final three women competing for a proposal from Texan Brad Womack (he started with 25) until he eliminated her last week; her exit was one of the most dignified ever on a show relished for its weepy hysterics. ("What I was feeling was so good," she told Womack, but ". . . you aren't right for me and obviously vice versa.")

Seems that -- brace yourself -- there's not a lot of reality in reality TV. "You see us on a date, but we have five producers standing around," nudging them on what to talk about, Bell told us. The intimacy-on-camera? As yucky as you'd expect. "The producers say, 'If you give us a kiss on camera, then we'll leave.' " (Though sometimes "you get lost in the moment.")

And now Bell wonders how real the emotions were. On air, she claimed to be "completely falling in love." But she told us "it was more of a crush, magnified by the fact that there are 24 other women who are digging the guy you dig. So it's blown out of proportion. . . . You're in this dreamland, and all of a sudden you come to reality again." Indeed, few "Bachelor" couples endure: Horst and Baldwin's televised engagement is currently on hold.

Bell's only regret: bringing a TV crew into her parents' home, where her skeptical dad (Georgetown architect Robert Bell) was cast as a killjoy. But the gig got her name out to a lot of folks looking to buy in Hermosa Beach. "Business has never been busier," she says.

At Anti-Abuse Gala, a One-Two Punch of Star Power

A buzz went through the room when the band took the stage Thursday night at the Foggy Bottom Ritz-Carlton. "Is that really . . . ?" "I told you! It's Lenny Kravitz!"

The Grammy-winning retro-rocker was the surprise after-party entertainer at Knock Out Abuse, the annual girls'-night gala that raised $650K for anti-domestic-violence causes. Whoa, how much did that add to overhead? Nothing, it seems: Sources tell us chairwoman Debra Lee persuaded Kravitz to do the gig gratis. (The BET prez planned to pay for Kravitz's private jet to L.A. out of her own pocket, but then the flight-phobic star got booked in New Orleans and took his tour bus instead.)

Also on hand to delight the ladies: Isaiah Washington, who jetted in on his own dime from the "Bionic Woman" set, eager to talk up his Gondobay Manga Foundation, which aids his ancestral homeland of Sierra Leone. He posed for a zillion photos with "Grey's Anatomy" groupies. ("I miss his character so much!" one young woman moaned.)

Not everyone approached as a fan: Saks publicist Andrew Blecher sidled up to the actor for a photo, then snarked: "Can you introduce me to T.R.?" ( T.R. Knight, the co-star Washington allegedly tagged with a gay slur, leading to Washington's ouster from the show.) Ouch! But Washington flashed a broad, wicked grin and replied: "I knew that was coming from you!" Then he joked back: "Sorry, he's not into short men." Zing! Meow! The kindred smart-alecks posed for another photo -- hugging.

SORRY, YOU'RE NOT ON THE LIST

One in an occasional series of dispatches from parties you should have crashed.

Occasion: Friday's black-tie gala for Washington National Cathedral's 100th birthday.

Setting: The soaring nave of the Gothic-style cathedral, pews replaced by sumptuous tables, giant plasma screens, a light show.

Is that allowed?: "Having a formal dinner [here] has caused a few raised eyebrows," Dean Samuel Lloyd told the 1,000 guests. "There's a touch of scandal in the evening."

Cost: $1,000 a person.

VIPs: Colin Powell, Bob Schieffer, John Grisham, Joe Allbritton, Catherine Reynolds, Patrick Leahy.

Menu: Heavenly -- pumpkin soup, pork tenderloin, corn pudding, a dark chocolate marquise.

Bar: Open!

Entertainment: Aaron Neville (black jacket, jeans, gold cross earring) singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "I Saw the Light" with gospel choir Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music.

Benediction: "Wow! This is what Heaven is going to be like," said honoree Desmond Tutu.

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