We Saw Him First

Women in Kentucky have it good if People magazine's "Most Eligible Bachelor's List" is any indication.

We can claim hunk of the moment George Clooney, whose move from perennial TV hit ER to full-time film work has been quite successful; his current film The Perfect Storm has been raking in the bucks at the box office.

And a little closer to home, we have "news hunk" Marvin Bartlett.

Bartlett has had quite a year. The Fox56 news anchor scored six regional Emmy nominations in this year's competition. And on July 10, People magazine named Bartlett one of its "100 Most Eligible Bachelors."

So, what's it like, being on display for the entire United States population of desperate single women to see, and even e-mail? (People web site <> will forward reader e-mails to all of the bachelors, provided the content isn't too lewd or lascivious.)

On the whole, talking to other journalists from around the country about the magazine article has been an enjoyable experience for Bartlett, though he rejects the characterization of "news hunk:" "To me, a hunk is an athlete or body builder. I'm neither."

Bartlett reports: "I had a very busy week once the article came out. This interview with ACE makes the 12th media contact. It's been fun. I'm used to asking the questions so it's been a good experience to be the one in the hot seat."

The national exposure has also given Bartlett a chance to reconnect with some long lost friends.

"The most fun has been hearing from old high school and college friends. Some of them tell of standing in supermarket checkout lines and thumbing through the magazine. Apparently, when they came across my page it was quite a shock. They remember when I was a skinny, pimply-faced kid. Now, I'm a not-as-skinny, pimply-faced adult!"

Bartlett, who did receive several shouted marriage proposals during the Fourth of July parade this year, does have a special someone in his life. (Though People disqualified men who were engaged, living with someone, or had been involved for more than a year.) So how is she taking his new celebrity status?

"She encouraged me to cooperate with People and I appreciate that. She is pleased with the way the issue turned out although I think she may linger too long on the picture of the shirtless firefighter."

Bartlett is a little concerned about protecting his image as a serious journalist. "I don't have complete control over how my station promotes our product, but I have expressed my desire to be portrayed as a serious journalist at least most of the time. Some lighthearted promos are OK, and you'll see more of them as the summer goes along, but I am proud of the Emmys and my 15 years experience and I wouldn't want that to take a back seat to the other recognition."

One of the ways that Bartlett came to the attention of People was his win last year in the most eligible bachelor category in Ace's annual Best of Lexington list. While Bartlett was flattered, he didn't take that accolade too seriously, either: "Of course, Anita Madden, who is married, was named the most eligible bachelorette, so I questioned the thought process of the voters."

It's not hard to see Bartlett's appeal. This town is chock full of news anchors with phony smiles, forced laughter and helmet-head hairdos. He comes across as sincere, relaxed, and very professional about his work.

And now, Lexington waits with breathless anticipation who will be selected the most eligible bachelors in this year's Readers' Poll.

The nomination form for ACE's Bluegrass Bachelors 'competition' is available in this issue.