HARD-bodied Winnipegger Craig Franczyk, who billed himself as a better-looking version of Brad Pitt, has no regrets about his selfishness and dishonesty being exposed on the ABC reality series True Beauty.
In fact, the 30-year-old North Ender, now back at home working as an auto broker, says the "humbling experience" has made him determined to be more caring.
"It was hard to watch," he admits. "I was so engulfed in competing . . . I kind of lost sight of what was really important. It helped me to think, maybe I should open my eyes . . . and just be a little more aware of who may need help around me."
The eight-week, character-testing series was taped last fall in Las Vegas. Franczyk, the only non-American, finished third in the finale that aired Monday. The $100,000 prize went to Taylor Bills, a former pro baseball player from California.
Franczyk got involved when, on an earlier trip to Vegas, a casting agent for the show approached him at a pool party and asked him to audition.
The 10 contestants were tricked into believing they were competing to be the "Face of Vegas," but were secretly being judged on qualities such as honesty, kindness, compassion and empathy. Franczyk says he never suspected he was being duped and isn't angry about it, though some contestants were.
In the finale, the stubble-faced hottie had to watch hidden-camera footage of himself ignoring people who needed help (planted by the show's producers) and failing to stick up for a blackjack dealer who was being berated. He also failed a "stealing challenge" by accepting a vest slipped to him by a planted stylist. He remorsefully returned the vest in the finale.
"At the time, I thought of it more like, 'Here, take it. It makes your outfit' (as opposed to outright theft). Looking back, I knew it was the wrong choice."
Franczyk, who has two children, says his mother was upset by his insensitive behaviour on the show and called him repeatedly during episodes, saying, "How could you do this? It's not how you were raised!"
On the other hand, he passed five of the 10 "inner beauty" challenges and earned respect from the judges for not "talking smack" about other contestants. Franczyk will also be remembered for strutting around naked -- even ironing in the buff -- in the contestants' shared hotel suite.
"I just let loose and was myself," he says, chuckling. "Whatever I do at home, I did there. . . .
"I thought the editing was very humorous. I didn't feel like they portrayed me poorly."
Franczyk is looking for a Los Angeles agent. "Film, TV, modelling, fitness modelling -- I just hope to continue," he says. "I love being on camera."
-- Alison Mayes