On tonight's season premiere of "The Bachelor" (search) it's ladies' choice — at least for the first hour.
Hoping to add life to the aging ABC hit, producers have added a new twist this season. Before the man on the make starts handing out roses in search of his television soulmate, he has to battle it out with another guy and be voted best catch by the female cast in the first episode.
The two men vying for the job and their 15 minutes of fame — Byron Velvick (search), 40, a pro bass fisherman from Boulder City, Nev., and Jay Overbye (search), 40, a Manhattan real estate broker — couldn't be more different.
Velvick, who ended his four-year marriage in 2002 and spends most of his time on the water, says he hadn't even heard of the reality romance show when friends "talked me into" auditioning. "The producers kept asking, 'Why do you want to be 'The Bachelor?' and I said, 'Wait a minute — you guys picked me.' "
Part-time model Overbye, who has "come close" but never been married, happily endured multiple auditions to make it to the final two after his mother suggested he do the show. "I just surrendered to the process," he says.
While both guys are contractually bound to stay tight-lipped on who made the final cut with the girls until tonight's episode, both insist they're looking for love.
"I'm on the show for one reason — the chance to meet my wife," says Overbye. For his part Velvick says, "I was looking to settle down and didn't want to go back to the singles scene. I miss being married."
Both bachelor wannabes agree the more "mature cast" — the women reportedly range in age 27 to 39 — pretty much guarantees a different outcome from seasons past where romances have barely lasted beyond the show's closing credits.
"This isn't going to be like the Jesse Palmer (search) fiasco. [Last season, Palmer's romance with 22 year-old law student Jessica Bowlin lasted a few months.] You need women with a little life experience. I think it's ridiculous when a 21-year-old says she's in love," says Velvick. "I think, give it 10 years and then come talk to me."