Lisa de Moraes TV Column: VH1 Abandons Series After Contestant's Death

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

VH1 finally waved the white flag on the other reality series that featured "Megan Wants a Millionaire" competitor Ryan Jenkins, accused killer of his onetime wife, who was found dead over the weekend in an apparent suicide.

"Just in case you missed it, we're sad to announce that the fate of both 'Megan Wants a Millionaire' and 'I Love Money 3' have been determined: both have been canceled and will not make it to air," VH1 blogged around noon ET Monday.

The international hunt for Jenkins ended Sunday when it was discovered that he apparently used a belt to hang himself in a room at the Thunderbird Motel in Hope, B.C.

Jenkins's death came little more than a week after a guy searching a dumpster in Buena Park, Calif., for recyclables discovered the naked, mutilated body of Jenkins's onetime wife, Jasmine Fiore, which had been stuffed in a suitcase and tossed in the trash bin. As soon as Jenkins was identified as a "person of interest" in the murder case, VH1 announced it was suspending its telecast of "Megan Wants a Millionaire," which had already aired three episodes.

On Thursday, Buena Park Police Chief Tom Monsoon announced there was a warrant out for Jenkins in Fiore's murder. The next day, VH1 finally threw in the towel on "Megan" but held out hope for "I Love Money 3," a slated 2010 series in which Jenkins also competed.

Sunday, Viacom-owned VH1 blogged that Jenkins had been found dead, citing as its source. VH1 added:

"There's not really much to add to that by way of commentary. Tragedy begets tragedy. Of course, our sympathy goes out to the friends and families of Jasmine Fiore and Ryan Jenkins, as it has for the past several days."

Setting aside the biblical use of "begets" on VH1's Web site, let's instead focus on how wrong VH1 got it. Why, we can think of at least two priceless bits of commentary right off the top of our head.

Let's start with this:

If VH1 is going to stick with its "celebreality" business model, maybe it should impose some vetting standards on the company that produces these shows. Scruples aside, that makes good business sense. We're not sure how much it cost VH1 to scrub most of "Megan Wants a Millionaire" and all of "I Love Money 3" -- a network rep did not answer our e-mail asking -- but we're guessing that scrapping them altogether costs way more.

And, how about this:

Does VH1 bear more responsibility for putting Jenkins on the air than, say, Warner Bros. when it cast O.J. Simpson in the NBC pilot "Frogmen" shortly before the Juice took off on a slo-mo car chase after his ex-wife and her friend were found dead?

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company