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"Extreme Makeover" makes an extreme mess


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This is pretty depressing. More anti-reality TV fuel:
New York Daily News -
'Extreme' tragedy
Sunday, September 18th, 2005

LOS ANGELES - The producers of "Extreme Makeover" promised Deleese Williams "a Cinderella-like" fix for a deformed jaw, crooked teeth, droopy eyes and tiny boobs that would "transform her life and destiny."
But when the ABC reality show dumped the Texas mom the night before the life-changing plastic surgeries, it shattered her family's dream and triggered her sister Kellie McGee's suicide, says a bombshell lawsuit filed in L.A. Superior Court.

As part of the premakeover hype, producers coaxed McGee and other family members to trash Williams' looks on videotape, the suit alleges. When they suddenly pulled the plug on the project, and the promised "Hollywood smile like Cindy Crawford," a guilt-ridden McGee fell apart.

"Kellie could not live with the fact that she had said horrible things that hurt her sister. She fell to pieces. Four months later, she ended her life with an overdose of pills, alcohol and cocaine," said Wesley Cordova, a lawyer for Williams.

"This family is shredded. There is a human cost to this," Cordova said.

Williams, 30, and her husband, Mike, are raising McGee's two children, along with two kids of their own. The suit seeks unspecified money damages for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other offenses.

"Deleese is so hurt and humiliated, she won't leave the house now. She grocery shops at midnight," Cordova says.

ABC declined to comment on the allegations.

The show announcing Williams' selection for a mega makeover had already aired on Jan. 7, 2004, when the producers abruptly dropped her because the dental surgeon told them her recovery time would be longer than expected, Cordova said.

Williams was alone in a Los Angeles hotel room reading her pre-op instructions when a producer showed up and dashed her dream of a new life with a "pretty" face, the suit alleges.

"You will not be getting an extreme makeover after all. . . . Nothing. It doesn't fit in our time frame. You will have to go back to Texas tomorrow," the suit alleges she was coldly told.

Williams broke down sobbing: "How can I go back as ugly as I left? I was supposed to come home pretty," the suit says.

The 31-page complaint begins with the line "Deleese Williams is considered ugly."

It details a horrendous tale of pain and humiliation that began when she applied for the reality show in December 2003 and had to submit a "full body shot" video showing "all of the body parts that need help."

For years, Williams' friends and family "didn't notice or pretended not to notice" her homely looks, but once she got picked for the show, they were coached to focus on nothing but her physical flaws, the suit says.

In McGee's taped interview, she tried to play up her sister's good points. But the hard-nosed producers "peppered Kellie with questions about her childhood with the ugly Deleese . . . and repeatedly put words in her mouth," the suit says.

To please the producers, Williams' mother-in-law also laid it on thick. "She said things like 'I never believed my son would marry such an ugly woman.' " Cordova says.

The family's comments never aired on TV, but Williams, who was in an adjoining room, heard them all.

The experience ruined her family life.

"Now that she returned in the same condition in which she left, there were no secrets, no hidden feelings, no reward," the suit says.

McGee's "guilt was overwhelming." She OD'd on May 25, 2004, four months after the show's producers sent her sister packing.

"These programs are cheap to produce - there are no actors or screenwriters to pay. But there is a very high human cost," Cordova said.

The dark side of reality

LOS ANGELES - Warning: Reality TV may be hazardous to your health.

The suicide of a jilted "Extreme Makeover" contestant's sister isn't the first tragedy to strike the popular TV genre.

In February, a contestant for NBC's boxing reality show "The Contender" took his own life less than a month before the show's broadcast debut.

Najai Turpin, 23, sat in a parked car outside the West Philadelphia gym where he trained and shot himself in the head.

It was later revealed that Turpin had lost his make-or-break bout in Week 5 of the series and was disqualified.

Fight trainer Percy (Buster) Custus, who had known Turpin since he was 12, said the boxer enjoyed taping the show but seemed "troubled" afterward.

In 1995, the Chicago-based "Jenny Jones Show" turned deadly when one guest murdered another who had made a homosexual pass at him on the air.

Jon Schmitz, 24, went berserk after the stunt in which Scott Amedure, 32, revealed he had a "secret crush" on Schmitz and fantasized about tying him up for a "whipped cream and champagne" adventure. A shocked and humiliated Schmitz insisted "I'm 100% heterosexual" as the studio audience howled.

Three days later, Schmitz drove to Amedure's Pontiac, Mich., home and shot him twice in the chest with a shotgun.

Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder in 1996, but the case was overturned.

At a 1999 retrial, Schmitz again was convicted and sentenced to serve at least 20 years in prison before parole eligibility.
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