The price of reality
Deleese Williams can only sit and wonder what life
would have been like if her extreme makeover
had gone through.
'Ugly' mom sues ABC for nixing makeover
Daily News Exclusive
By MICHELLE CARUSO
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.
"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 fact is that when you see these shows, you should realize that many of these people are very fragile and to do something like this is simply criminal. Shrinks hate Dr. Phil, but the people he deals with, for the most part, are sane, functioning people. They may be immature, but they aren't clinically ill. I think many of the people on Extreme Makeover need psychological help long before a surgeon sees them. They're lucky she didn't kill herself on the spot.
I always thought that show took advantage of ill people, truly ill people for ratings. I always thought there was an element of self-loathing and depression in this. Exploiting it is just cruel beyond words.
posted by Steve @ 1:01:00 AM