April 18, 2001: Class Notes


1991-2000 & Graduate School

Class Notes Features:

Stranded in paradise
Tom Ritchie '94 flirts with the babes on Temptation Island

Racing to the scene
In second career, Dawn Boyer Shapiro *82 searches, rescues, and heals

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Stranded in paradise
Tom Ritchie '94 flirts with the babes on Temptation Island

Tom Ritchie ’94 was hailed as the ideal boyfriend on Fox’s Temptation Island, the latest offspring of degenerative, “reality” television programs like The Real World and Survivor that use real people, not actors, in contrived situations. Known only as “Tom” on the show, Ritchie was enlisted to flirt with beautiful women and, ultimately, to boost ratings during sweep months last winter.

Critics condemned the show as televised prostitution because the 26 single men and women were paid to flirt with and potentially “score” with the eight cast members who were coupled, but not married, in real life. Ritchie, however, had no ethical qualms. These couples “were at a stage where I think that they should be testing what their feelings are,” he said in an interview.

Despite criticism, 16 million viewers tuned in to Temptation Island’s debut — one million more than for the Survivor premiere. Taped on an island near Belize over a two-week period last September, the show was broken up into seven episodes starting in January.

Ritchie joined this summer vacation in Hollywood’s version of Eden — where bartenders served cocktails at tiki lounges from dusk until dawn — all by chance. Fox recruited for the show last August when Ritchie was working on an Internet start-up in Los Angeles. One night, a scout approached him on Universal City Walk. Many interviews later, he landed a spot on the island.

“I wanted to be on the show to do something completely different,” said Ritchie, a history major, water polo captain, and member of Ivy Club while at Princeton. “Certainly the idea of having your life on camera 24 hours per day, turning your life into a soap opera, intrigued me as well.”

In one episode, the single men lined up poolside and the four attached women singled out their dates for that evening. Three of the four women chose Ritchie, who was then told to pick his date. He paired off with Ytossie — who became mired in controversy when the producers discovered she and her boyfriend, Taheed, had a child at home.

“The show is very real,” he said. “At no point did the producers give any direction to the singles to break someone up. We were told to live our lives as we would live them under these circumstances.”

Though Ritchie said he would use the show to leap onto the screen if given the opportunity, he said he is not counting on it. Following the show’s taping, Ritchie launched an online dating service called Luvv.com, and he’s currently pursuing an M.B.A. and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

In the second to last episode, the boyfriends and girlfriends each chose one single for their “dream” dates — Shannon chose Ritchie — and all other singles were expelled from the island. In the finale, the coupled cast members confessed their transgressions to their partners; and Shannon told her boyfriend that spending time with Ritchie just “made me want you.” None of the tempters won the prize. And for now, Ritchie is back at school, hitting the books instead of on the babes.

By Michael Grabell ’03

This story was adapted from one that originally appeared in the Daily Princetonian.

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Racing to the scene
In second career, Dawn Boyer Shapiro *82 searches, rescues, and heals

I’ve always been someone who when I hear an alarm, has to go see the fire engine,” says Dawn Boyer Shapiro *82, who is training as a paramedic in disaster medicine so she can go to places like Kosovo. Four years ago Shapiro left the more mundane world of university administration to search for disasters and help save lives. Today, while she’s working toward her paramedic’s license, she’s also a sergeant on a search-and-rescue team, a California disaster medical assistant, a commissioner for emergency preparedness for her city of Lafayette, California, and a volunteer firefighter in training.

As a member of a search-and-rescue team, one of her “coolest searches was hunting for a downed plane by homing in on the beeping of its emergency locator device and triangulating. I helped carry the pilot’s body out.” She has also looked for homicide victims, lost Alzheimer’s patients, and kidnapped children.

“All my life I wanted to be a doctor, but I got derailed in college (at Wellesley) and ended up in urban studies,” says Shapiro, who came to Princeton when her husband was appointed an instructor in the economics department. After earning a master’s in urban studies from the Woodrow Wilson School, she worked for the Alumni Council for six years.

In 1990, with two small children, Shapiro followed her husband west to Berkeley, where she worked in university administration but felt herself in flux. Reconsidering her career path, she recalled the time in Princeton she heard an instructor’s beeper go off during class. “He was a volunteer fireman,” she says. “It was a defining moment. I realized I wanted something exciting, outside, and I liked the idea of a uniform.”

As part of her training, she must learn about many different medications. “I’m going to give this drug some day in a very frantic situation,” she says, describing one of the medications she’s studying. “Give the wrong drug and you can kill someone. I have to look up every word. . . . The medicine, the biology, the outdoors, the excitement. I love it, I love it, I love it.”

By Dan White ’65

Dan White is a freelance writer and consultant.

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