03/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
After six years of prowling the bars on weekends, single guy Matt Arden is fed up with what he calls "the horribly painful, long process of dating"—and so is his mother. "She's tired of seeing me bounce around from girl to girl," says the Atlanta television executive. Ah, but what if Mom and other relatives had the chance to pick Ms. Right? Enter Married by America, the latest link from FOX's reality-TV sausage factory, which will regularly air Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET in Joe Millionaire's old time slot. On the March 3 debut, five singles—Matt, one other bachelor and three bachelorettes—are each assigned five potential mates chosen by a panel of relationship experts. The contestants' family and friends—and then TV viewers—will winnow the field down to one fiancé or fiancée. Over the next six weeks the five engaged couples will live together in homes provided by the network—with the option of sleeping in separate bedrooms. Finally, on April 14, brides and grooms will march down the aisle. At least, "I hope there will be a wedding," says executive producer Ted Haimes, "but you never know. They all have to show up on the last show, and they will be ready to say either 'I do' or 'I don't.' " And if the marriages fall apart, there's always Divorced by America.
Stephen Savona, 35
His Ideal Mate: "Someone a little above average in height," says the New Yorker. "I'm almost 6'4". Someone who wants to have a family, who's ambitious, who knows what her muse is."
No. "It's hard for us to understand the concept of an arranged marriage, but it's what's going on in most of the world. I'm ready to try it."
Jennifer Jaynes, 28
Occupation: Real estate agent
Why Is She Still Single?
"It's difficult to find a normal, nice guy to go out with, especially guys I meet at bars. You go on a few dates and you're like, 'Sure, you're really cute, but you're an ax murderer!' "
How She Got Picked: "I was kidding around at a bar saying I was going to be the next Bachelorette, and this casting agent asks if I want to be on reality TV."
Billie Jeanne Houle, 28
Occupation: Bartender and artist
Her Ideal Mate: "Doesn't even have to have an education," says the Manhattanite. "Obviously I don't want a dummy but life experience also counts."
Why Do the Show?
"This is something spontaneous and wild, and it fits my personality perfectly."
Will She Wed on TV? If I didn't think it was a possibility, I wouldn't be here."
Matt Arden, 27
Occupation: TV producer
Nope. All the potential brides, he says, "have been background-checked, they'll meet my mom ahead of time, and I know their blood is clean. It's a match made in heaven."
His Ideal Mate: "Should have a sense of humor and intelligence. We don't have to share similar interests. If you have too many, you just become buddies."
Jill Nicolini, 25
Occupation: N.Y. Islanders hostess/ announcer at Nassau Coliseum
Length of Last Relationship: Three years. "It was hard for my ex-boyfriend to accept my job. Also, I have a lot of guy friends, and that bothered him."
Her Panel of Judges Includes: "My dad. He's like Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents. He's excited, because he will grill my men and put them in their place."