Reality Check: Former Steeler tries out on 'Matchmaker'

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In his l6-year career as an NFL punter, Mitch Berger played for 11 different teams. He won a Super Bowl XLIII ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He became a successful businessman, owning restaurants and clubs in his native Canada, and a football analyst on television. A lifelong Steelers fan -- his father's family is originally from near Homestead -- he said he was thrilled to be able to celebrate a championship with the team, with his family at the game.

Yet something was missing.

As he says in next Tuesday's episode of "Millionaire Matchmaker:" "I feel like I've been 25 for the last 15 years."

That's a lot of flying around, said Patti Stanger, star of Bravo's hit reality show, adding that Mr. Berger needed a Wendy for his Peter Pan.

But she said she considered him a tough sell at first. Sincerity is not generally the hallmark of reality television, and she wasn't expecting to find it in Mr. Berger.

"I thought he was doing it to promote his brand, but he really did come to me to find love. That was my favorite part," said Ms. Stanger, whose "Millionaires Club" matchmaking service is featured on the website

After all this time, Ms. Stanger said she still gets a "glowy" feeling from a successful match. However, her job is to introduce.

"I can't make anybody fall in love, and any matchmaker who says that, you need to fire them right now," she said.

Mr. Berger, 40, said in a recent interview that he'd been approached to do dating shows before, but he agreed to do "Millionaire Matchmaker" because a friend of his was casting for it.

He said the "millionaire" part is kind of stretching it, at least in his case: "I had to get a couple of bags of pop bottles to get over the mark, but I made it," he added, laughing.

"I really don't have a hard time getting a date, but my whole career, I was in so many cities, moving around, and I never got the opportunity to meet the kind of girl I wanted to have kids and a family with.

"I actually thought that would happen when I moved back to Vancouver."

After watching a few episodes "I thought I could handle Patti, so I thought, 'What the hell?' I just wanted to be myself, but I also knew that this was going to be a national television show, so don't act like an idiot."

"Millionaire Matchmaker" brings together clients and prospective love interests in a cocktail party setting. The clients eventually go on the kind of dates that no one in the real world would consider for a first date, but hey, it makes for good television.

Besides Mr. Berger, another client, Joe Moller, is shown meeting a variety of beauties with names like Dallas and Savannah.

Among them is Bambi Lashell, who describes herself as an international swimsuit model and radio host. She's also a former softball player, and she and Mr. Berger hit if off talking sports.

Bambi? Mr. Berger said it took some doing to get past that name.

"I have to tell you, as soon as I heard [her name] was 'Bambi,' I thought, 'Hey, they put her on there to sucker me.' "

"There was a connection from him the minute he walked in," Ms. Stanger said. "He knew right away, but he thought she was too much to handle ... How many women look like that and have their own business and make money?"

Tune in to see how it turns out.

Also from the reality world

• Just when it looked like the Fans on "Survivor" (CBS, Tuesday) were going to give Sharmar Thomas the boot for being a whining layabout, he left the game with an eye injury. This put someone else on the chopping block when the tribe lost yet another immunity challenge, and that someone turned out to be Hopewell native Laura Alexander.

• It was a very "We Are the World" episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race" (Logo, Monday), with the queens getting together for a charity singalong. On the runway, Pittsburgh's Alaska was praised for looks and her part in the recording, but the judges warned they want to see more vulnerability.

• No more dumping the contents of your closet into the trash bin: TLC's longest-running prime-time series, "What Not to Wear," is ending after 10 seasons. Let's hope Stacy London and Clinton Kelly quickly find new people to boss around.

The final episodes begin airing on Friday nights in July.


Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478.


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