With a little work, she can look real bad

November 07, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA | LAURA VOZZELLA,laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

Molly Shattuck left the hubby, kids and credit cards in Roland Park to spend a week waiting tables and ringing up groceries in a poor Pennsylvania coal mining town. For the new reality TV show Secret Millionaire, the wife of Constellation Energy Group CEO Mayo Shattuck lived incognito and on minimum wage as she looked for someone who could best use a bit of her wealth.

She mopped floors and stocked shelves. Took out the supermarket trash. Went hungry. And eventually gave away at least $100,000 of her own money to someone she barely knew.

No sweat, said Shattuck, a philanthropist who gives away money all the time, an ex-waitress who started in a relative's restaurant at 13, a mom who has household staff but still is a mom.

"I know people think I lead this, quote, unquote, glamorous life, but I'm wiping up dirty bums every day," Shattuck said. "I'm wiping up spills. I'm still doing the normal things you do as a mom and a wife."

That said, Shattuck did face a daunting challenge: Not looking like a million bucks.

Shattuck was told to dress down for the show, which debuts Dec. 3 on Fox. The former Ravens cheerleader still looked too good.

Try wearing a T-shirt from Target, they told her.

She was.

They gave her a T-shirt from Wal-Mart.

Still too good.

They bought her T-shirts that were really big so she looked, well, not really big, but several sizes bigger. Like, maybe a 4. She also messed up her hair.

(Not that Shattuck really let herself go. Deprived of her gym, she ran and kept to her usual push-up routine - 220 of them, every other day.)

"She's a beautiful, beautiful woman," said executive producer Greg Goldman. "She uglified herself up. She really made herself into a mess."

And so, a woman whose husband earned about $14 million last year managed to pass herself off in Shenandoah, Pa., as someone very much in need of a job.

She told people she was from western Pennsylvania, which she was, originally, and that she was trying to make a new start.

And those cameras trailing her?

For a documentary on starting over, she told them.

Shattuck did the filming back in the spring, but Fox just went public.

Her high-profile noblesse oblige comes as Constellation has just escaped bankruptcy, its shareholders have lost their shirts and its customers are still steamed about huge rate hikes. Isn't the timing a little awkward?

"No, absolutely not," she said. "I did a good thing for other people. I did this because it's the right thing to do. Me going and helping has nothing to do with the fact that there's a crisis in the world, there's a financial crisis in the world.

"Constellation is not a bad company. They didn't do anything illegal or fraudulent. ... If people want to be judgmental about the way we help others, shame on them."

Based on a British show by the same name, the program is meant to offer more than Prize Patrol excitement.

It's also billed as a window on poor Americans - for the millionaires walking a mile in their Wal-Mart shoes, and for viewers, who might be inspired to help in more modest ways.

"If you open your eyes and you look around, there are so many opportunities to help people," Shattuck said.

"And you don't have to have a lot of money to do it."

Catch a movie, catch the bouquet

The Senator Theatre marquee will read Until Death Do Us Part. The crowd will be treated to a short movie and concessions. And when it's all over, they'll toss popcorn at the bride and groom.

Sarah Jarrell and Chris Contos tie the knot tomorrow at the Art Deco cinema, where they had their first movie date, back in 2004.

The film: John Waters' A Dirty Shame.

Jarrell, a surgical nurse, and Contos, a chemist, aren't film fanatics. But they enjoy movies and were looking for a non-church setting that still had an aisle.

"We're playing it up in subtle ways," Jarrell said of the movie theme.

"We're not going over the top with plastic Oscar statues."

But there will be movie posters featuring the bride and groom. A short film they made. And soda and popcorn (unbuttered, so Jarrell's "old-Hollywood-inspired" gown isn't stained), if anyone wants that at 11 a.m.

The Senator has played host to one or two weddings before, but this is the first in more than 15 years.

Owner Tom Kiefaber said patrons are always telling him how the theater played a role in their romantic lives. Sometimes more than he wants to know.

"First meeting with their beloved, first time holding hands, first date, first kiss and beyond" he said. "All the bases have been run at the Senator over the years in some fashion.

"Thankfully, the walls of our mezzanine skyboxes can't talk."

Connect the dots

David Kestenbaum, the NPR science reporter and Baltimorean, alerts me that the Web page for Baltimore City's Board of Elections misspells "summary." Twice. As in, "Non technical summery of Statewide question 2." Let's hope that slots money really does go to education. ... So there I am, in the Arbutus Giant the day after elections, and who's in line right in front of me? Bob Ehrlich Sr. The clerk was saying how sorry she was that she couldn't vote for Andy Harris. (She doesn't live in the 1st.) I asked Senior's take on the elections: "What'd you think?" His reply: "I've stopped thinking."

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