Kormanik gets booted from show

`Bachelorette' contestant not pleased with portrayal

January 16, 2004|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Keith Kormanik, dumped by Meredith Phillips Wednesday night on the premiere of ABC's new season of The Bachelorette, is disappointed and a little bit angry. Not about his quick exit, but by how he was portrayed on the show.

"They made me look like a jerk. I'm really disappointed with ABC," said Kormanik, who watched the hour-long program Wednesday night for the first time at Roy's restaurant in downtown Baltimore with friends. Kormanik charged that his words were twisted by the producers of the show to make him look unappealing.

"How could [ABC] put that together and not know how I'd come off looking bad? Why would they do that?" he asked. A spokeswoman from ABC declined to comment.

Kormanik, 31, a Baltimore native, competed with 24 other young men for Phillips' affection. He was also among the 10 men eliminated from the program in the first round. One or more contestants will be thrown off the show each week until Phillips finally chooses a man who will have the opportunity to get to know her better - and perhaps even marry her.

Kormanik's friends agreed it was not his best performance. "He wasn't relaxed. I thought he was a little cocky. I guess he was just nervous with all the cameras around," said Mo Manocheh, owner of Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, who has known the still-eligible bachelor since he was a teen-ager.

But others watching the program were just happy to see a local man on the show. "I don't know him, but I was excited because everyone else knew him," said Jennifer White, a waitress at Mo's, who caught the end of the program between filling orders. "I was hoping all the way to the end - to the white rose - that he would get picked," she said.

Still, Kormanik was not pleased with it. At one point on the show - particularly damning from Kormanik's point of view - several men presented Phillips with small gifts. One gave her a hockey jersey with "Bachelorette" printed across the back. Another gave her two small wind-up toys. After these two scenes, ABC showed Kormanik - who didn't bring anything - saying, "I'm the gift."

Kormanik, a stock analyst, said this made him look arrogant and was taken out of context. Still, should he have presented a small trinket?

"The thing about giving a gift is it gives you something to break the ice with," said Peter Post, an etiquette expert and author of Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why. "We don't tell people that they must bring a gift, but in terms of making a good impression, it is a good idea."

Post suggested a bouquet of flowers as an appropriate gesture on a first date. "This is particularly true if you are going on a blind date - simply as something to kick it off with."

Post - who has never seen the show - admitted that a gift might not have guaranteed success for Kormanik. "It is an unreal situation to begin with. It is totally subjective and could be that in reality [the bachelorette] made a mistake," he said.

Kormanik will have a chance to redeem himself. He'll fly to Los Angeles again in February to tape a reunion show that ABC will air at a later date. Kormanik said he's unsure if he will use that opportunity to give Phillips a gift. But Post believes it would be a good idea.

"It certainly wouldn't hurt him," Post said. "Maybe he would get across the message that she made a mistake in not picking him."

By then, of course, the winning bachelor might have something to say about that.

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