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Looking for TV's 'Bachelor'

Local actress takes shot at love via reality television.

Kristine Kelly wasn't exactly looking for love, but she found herself on national television in the arms of the one and only "Bachelor."

Kelly, 23, is an actress and model from Fairfax Station who was one of 25 women vying for the hand of Charlie O'Connell, who is serving as "The Bachelor" on the current season of the popular ABC reality television show.

While the show is far from over, Kelly's stint didn't last long — she didn't receive a rose from O'Connell, and left the show on its season premiere, which aired Monday, March 28.

"I didn't feel any chemistry with him, so it wouldn't be worthwhile to stick around, if he was really looking for love," she said.

Kelly auditioned for the show in August 2004, on the urging of a friend, who didn't tell her which show it was until they were already on the way to the audition. After the first audition, which took place in Washington, D.C., Kelly was called back to meet again with producers and record a videotape, which was sent to California for further review.

"It was just something I would be doing for fun, and I thought, 'Hey, if they select me, great, it will be based on my true self,'" she said.

Along with 49 other women, Kelly spent a week in California for one final audition, then found out a month before the show started shooting (under terms of her agreement with ABC, Kelly could not disclose when the show started shooting) that she had gotten in.

Through her experience with another reality dating show, "Elimidate," Kelly formulated a strategy before she even arrived in New York City, where the show was filmed.

"I knew that if I did get on the show, I would definitely have to play a character. I know they do a lot of twists on your real self."

Before Kelly left, she quit her job at Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, since following "The Bachelor," she had a pair of feature film roles lined up. "Morning Prayer over the Chesapeake," a local film, started shooting last week, and this summer she will shoot a film in New York City called "The Mentor," with comedian Pete DeLorenzo. Kelly has also landed small roles in NBC's show "The West Wing," and feature films "Spider-Man" and "The Recruit."

BACK HOME in Fairfax Station, Kelly's parents watched their daughter's next big break with interest.

"Her goal is her career, and from what I understand from the other 'Bachelor' shows, they don't (usually) marry. I figured if she met someone and they hit it off, then it was meant to be, and it wasn't, it wasn't," said Sandra Kelly, who figured that win or lose, her daughter's face on national television would be good for her career and for her hometown.

"A lot of people are saying this puts Fairfax Station on the map. Being a small town, someone being pulled to 'The 'Bachelor,' that's a biggie," said Sandra Kelly.

Rebecca Wilburn, theater teacher at Hayfield Secondary School, taught Kristine Kelly from grades 7-12. While she doesn't watch reality shows like "The Bachelor," Wilburn said she was happy her former student was working. She said Kelly played in "Fiddler on the Roof," "Once Upon a Mattress" and many other productions during her time at Hayfield. One performance stood out, according to Wilburn, a production of "Our Town" which was Hayfield's first Cappies production, in 1999. That experience, said Wilburn, may have helped her in "The Bachelor."

"She's really good at creating characters," said Wilburn, who admitted that while she wished Kelly well, she was biased toward the theater.

"I kind of wish Krissy would go back to her roots a little bit, back to theater. Television and movies, you don't see the audience, you don't get the feedback."

Part of Kristine Kelly's planned character on the show included her writing a poem for O'Connell, which she read to him during their five-minute first impression interview on air. Of course, since the producers insisted she list her occupation as "bikini model," Kristine Kelly decided her character, a more vamp-ish version of herself, should strip down to a bikini while she read the poem. The move made quite an impression on viewers, and the incident was discussed on "The Bachelor" message boards across the Internet. The funny thing, said Kristine Kelly, was that the bikini shtick wasn't her idea.

"They wanted me to share the swimsuit. That was part of the character," she said.

The only person the move didn't impress, however, was O'Connell, who trimmed the field, and left Kristine Kelly out in the cold.

MANY WEEKS after the show finished filming, Kristine Kelly and several close friends gathered to watch the end product, which as it turned out was anything but "reality television."

"I thought it was entertaining. Everyone who watched it said they couldn't leave the TV screen," said Kristine Kelly.

One particular editing move left her a little upset, however. Kristine Kelly said she was asked by producers to share about her "ideal man," and responded with a passionate, tearful speech. On the episode that aired on television, however, that speech came off like a heartfelt plea to O'Connell.

"I was talking about somebody else. I was talking about the ideal guy, who's a man of honesty and integrity, someone who's very open and not afraid to say that he loves me, and that's the line they took from that," said Kristine Kelly.

Nonetheless, she said she's not too upset about missing out on O'Connell, whose brother Jerry O'Connell is a professional actor. She said he came off a bit "arrogant," and seemed to be looking for "a party girl."

"I wanted him to start pursuing me. I was tired of pursuing him. Typically, when I meet a guy, I'm not competing for his attention. I'm not used to that," she said.