A Chicago-based Private Investigator who owns a vacation home in Broward, Chris Bauer says he spends his leisure time when he comes to Florida "people watching" on Las Olas or at downtown art shows. In other words, Bauer's always at least halfway on the job. He has said he can tell a person's line of work by details like the softness of a handshake or the scuffs on a pair of boots. And in tomorrow night's one-hour TLC reality show "The Message," which airs at 10 p.m., Bauer has to use his powers of perception along with some heavy duty people skills, since he doesn't get much in the way of clues. He has to find people who in some cases have been lost for years.
Bauer's mission is to help three families deliver a message to someone they've long been searching for. Two mothers, Debbie and Louise, have spent decades trying to track down the children they gave up for adoption as teenagers. A third mother, Joi, has a two-year-old daughter with liver failure: the girl was saved by a transplant donated by the Ivy family after their own 14-year-old daughter was killed in a tragic accident. Bauer finds the intended recipient, and plays them an emotional DVD. Then they decide whether they want to meet the sender. We previewed the show last night, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
"These people had tried everything, and they'd run out of avenues," he told the Juice by phone. "It's important to show what a qualified person can do for people in need."
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Bauer, a hunky guy who looks like a cross between Reality TV celeb chef Tom Colicchio and a young Bruce Willis, inherited his detective gene: his dad was a PI too, although the son didn't find out until he was in high school. In his own work Bauer says he's had to develop a high degree of emotional intelligence, a skill he drew on for the filming.
"Everything you see in this show is me, it's how I really am," Bauer says. "I've had to deal with so many emotional issues on the street in my line of work -- talking to people after their loved ones have just passed away, or to people who have been violated, like rape victims. You let them know you need to talk to them because you can potentially help."
So if you see this guy checking you out on Las Olas, be sure he already knows more about you than you probably want him to. Here he is in the TLC preview: