It was a Hollywood ending on screen for these couples. Here's what happened after the final ceremonies. Who: Andrew Firestone & Jennifer Schefft, The Bachelor 3
The Way They Were: Mr. Firestone, heir to grandpappy's tire industry and the family's wine biz, says he knew at first sight -- despite a view obstructed by 24 other foxy contenders clamoring for his eye (and wallet) -- that Jen was the One. A Chicago account executive, Jen hailed from more modest beginnings. Aside from a sweet disposition -- she was put to the test and faced with fearsome vineyard wildlife, like ponies (she also had natural beauty and a way with the 'rents and siblings). After sending hottie runner-up Kirsten packing, Andrew told Jen he loved her, knelt down and proposed. A breathless Mrs. Firestone to-be accepted, exclaiming that it had all gone too fast.
Reality Bites: Their post-show romance lasted for about 10 months before combusting. For a while the two were inseparable, hawking their smooching, grinning mugs around town at public appearances and as tabloid centerfolds. They reassured inquiring minds everywhere of their romance and, even, Oprah; but it was just a few days after kissing up to the Queen of Talk that Jen and Andrew bid adieu in mid-December. Shocked? Sorry, sucker, but we saw red flags from the start. For one: Andrew's old roommate never moved out. It also seemed like Jen left her heart in the Midwest, and never quite took to Andrew's Richie Rich lifestyle. But the two insist their problems were plain. "Our love for each other was genuine," said Jen, "but we confronted the same challenges as any other couple trying to make a relationship work day to day."
Who: Bob Guiney & Estella Gardinier, The Bachelor 4
The Way They Were: Pre-show, producers asked Estella, "Why would you want to try to find your husband on a TV show?" And Estella -- ever witty -- replied, "I wouldn't! However, have you seen Bob?" Indeed, she had Guiney in her sights from the get-go. And this San Diego girl, like her future ambitious mortgage broker boyfriend, doesn't much like to lose. Some were shocked when she elbowed out her perky competitor Kelly Jo in the finale -- most of all a tearful Kelly Jo -- but the show took a more titillating turn when Bob offered the Harry Winston bauble as a "promise ring" rather than part of a formal proposal. A tearful Estella shrugged off the slight and wholeheartedly signed on for a continued courtship, telling 18.5 million viewers, "I just want everyone to know how in love I am!"
Reality Bites: Curse you, fickle reality-TV love! Though they haven't filed the official word, mounting reports say these two have also split. Could be the airing of the episodes cast a pall: watching Bob lock lips with so many ex-rivals might have been more than Estella could comfortably stomach. All we virtual attendees at Trista and Ryan's (The Bachelorette) Pepto-Bismol nuptials can attest that Bob and Estella phoned in their requisite appearance, stiff as they faced the cameras arm-in-arm. Damaging reception photos turned up in tabloids; Bob was partying it up with a lot of girls -- none of them Estella. He's got to get his jollies somewhere; sales for his solo 3 Sides CD have been pretty dismal. We've also heard that Guiney is broadening his Bachelor dating pool to include other seasons, wooing castaway Gwen from Season 2. But he's denied that, adding that he and Estella are "making efforts to develop our relationship."
Who: Aaron Buerge & Helene Eksterowicz, The Bachelor 2
The Way They Were: Missouri boy banker Aaron, self-described as "genuine" and touted by show producers as a "renaissance man" (he can tickle the ivories, is opening a restaurant and has a pilot's license) happily hopped into the Bachelor throne, announcing he had "a big heart and a lot to give." Helene, a New Jersey school psychologist, wasn't the obvious choice: Most finale watchers were betting on runner-up bust-y Brooke, the perky blonde college student from Alabama. But Helene, whose final victory was nailed by cozying up to Buerge kin (as Brooke flashed her tattoo for Gramma), nabbed the Aaron trophy. When he bent down on one knee for the finale's big proposal, Helene -- after oohing over the ring -- insisted she would marry him, "without a doubt."
Reality Bites: Aaron, apparently, had enough doubts for the both of them. As the two struggled with long-distance love, reports leaked that Aaron was playing the field as his fiance stayed faithful in the far distant Garden State. And then just five weeks after the world watched their televised engagement came the horrid headlines: "Helene Dumped in a Starbucks." Indeed, her ex-beloved dropped his bombshell amid overpriced lattes. Gone, the blissful days of roses and romantic dates. "I felt deceived," Helene said. But karma's a bitch: Aaron's faced the heat in the press, raising ABC's ire for using The Bachelor title in unauthorized ads and garnering sneers as he struggles to sustain his minimal celebrity. Helene, meanwhile, is hanging her hat on a more wholesome accomplishment: Her New Jersey high school honored the "winner" for "bringing honor to her hometown."
Who: David Smith & Linda, The Next Joe Millionaire
The Way They Were: There's the international language of love. And then there's the multicultural cacophony of blood-thirsty cat-fighting among chain-smoking scantily-clad gold diggers. Indeed, the European scenes -- though scenic -- for The Next Joe Millionaire, starring 24-year-old southern cowboy David as a pseudo tycoon, was far from a fairy tale. Linda, fragile flower among thorns, bowed out of the brat race but returned in the eleventh hour to attempt to unseat coy Cat, an easygoing German who was also, well, easy. Simpleton David, who especially likes girls who don't cuss, picked his lovely Linda but when his lie was revealed (not so articulately) -- "I kind of haven't told you the whole truth"-- Linda stepped away to reflect. And then never came back. Flash-forward a few weeks and the pair is reunited, stateside, deep in the heart of Texas. The cherry on top was a $250,000 check for Linda and the deed to a 90-acre ranch for David. They literally ride off into the sunset as David -- never whip-smart -- explains their madcap adventures to his horse.
Reality Bites: As their fellow made-for-TV couples bask in a waning limelight and prime time cameos, David and Linda have been kicked to the curb. Sad but true: They're just not bankable. Ratings for The Next Joe Millionaire went from dismal to worse; a Fox exec ultimately admitted the network "got greedy" by attempting to resuscitate Joe Millionaire, their one-time cash cow, for another go. It's a curse and blessing: as the Tristas and Ryans of reality TV distract us, David and Linda have been left to give togetherness a fair shake. By all accounts, they're still romping and courting on the Texas ranch. True, the odds aren't good. But Linda's beefed-up nest egg can certainly spare a few trips to Florence to rekindle the romance.
Who: Erin Brodie & Chad Viggiano, For Love or Money 2
The Way They Were: A classier act than most of reality TV's shameless broads, Erin, a software exec and daughter of 49ers football great John Brodie, really won us over when she turned down dud Rob Campos's bumbling come-on on the original For Love or Money. On her own installment, the FLOM sequel, she weeded her gaggle of suitors down to affable mop-topped Chad, VP for his family's foods company. Ever the prankster, he recovered from the stun and tried to fake her out by starting to pull off his ring, worn by suitors still in the game, just after finding out that Erin was making him choose between her and $1 million -- the show's big twist. His ladylove was horrified, but Chad couldn't keep a straight face for long -- he turned down the dough for a chance at happiness with Erin.
Reality Bites: Though history's made us cynical, we're still thinking this reality-TV romance could give Trista and Ryan a run for their money. Rather than show up side-by-side at odd events and on sitcoms, Chad and Erin did their time on the circuit and are playing this next round closer to the vest, though Chad did pronounce their true love live on Regis and Kelly. Both from the San Francisco Bay Area, Erin's reportedly moved south to seek out opportunities in entertainment -- like talk-show gigs. She's also popped up on game shows and as a stand-in boxing announcer at a casino. Chad came to L.A. right on her tail, relocating his position with the family biz to stay near his new flame. They're reportedly now bunking together in the area.
Who: Keith Cuda & Tara Gerard Paradise Hotel
The Way They Were: Dodging the pitfalls in the ever-revolving doors of Paradise Hotel -- sleazy hookups, downright deceit and one all-out brawl with catty cast-mate Amy -- Keith and Tara, along with Charla Philstrom and Dave Kerpen (the "Team Barbie" foursome), made it to the final round. Even more impressive was Keith and Tara's relatively under-the-radar romance. Viewers had their suspicions, as the twosome kept angling to share the same suite, but it wasn't until the finale that their real feelings were revealed. Keith, a model from Ohio, sweetly offered to split his $250,000 winnings with Tara, an aspiring California starlet. They spread their joy by offering the cast a trip to Las Vegas. Charla, meanwhile, looked the Scrooge when she kept all her dough to herself. Keith and Tara, always a cut above the rest of their crew, admitted they were "shocked" by Charla's greed.
Reality Bites: As "Paradise" came to a close on the airwaves, Keith and Tara were still tearing it up as a twosome. They jetted off to Vegas to celebrate Tara's friend's birthday; patching in from Sin City, Keith confessed that while watching Tara cozy up with Alex was "pretty hard," it wasn't enough to undo their good relationship. Keith is in Cali now, closer to Tara. As the two attempt to make a go of it in the entertainment biz, they stay in touch with the old gang. Except for Amy, of course. And Zack -- who put in a phone call to the couple to try and link up during his West Coast trip. They didn't offer the couch. "Yeah," Tara said, "we don't like him."