Friday, December 4, 2009

Reality TV Feuds

The best part of reality TV is watching the feuds. And the stars of Bravo's franchise "The Real Housewives of..." are queens in the cat-fight department, as witnessed in this season's grudge match between Kim and NeNe on the Atlanta version of the show. For 12 weeks, we watched them battle it out, culminating in the now famous choking incident in the season finale and NeNe's threat to Kim, "You touch me girl, I will wear that wig off your head. Trashbox." During the reunion, we learned that the two have set their differences aside to kiss and make up... at least until next season.

Also kissing and making up in the feud department are Tori and Candy Spelling, who have been battling since TV mogul Aaron's death several years ago. And so in honor of the Spelling girls' reconciliation, we present the best reality TV feuds through the years.

Tori Spelling vs. Candy Spelling on "Tori & Dean: Inn Love/Home Sweet Hollywood"
This real-life mother/daughter feud started off-camera but has played out on reality TV for all the world to see. Tori Spelling, daughter of legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling, and her mom, Candy, have not been getting along for quite some time. It apparently all started when Aaron and Candy spent millions on a lavish wedding for Tori and Charlie Shanian, whom she divorced a short time later to elope with Dean McDermott. Reports are that mom and dad were not happy about the wasted fortune or the new son-in-law. Shortly after that, Aaron took ill and passed away. Tori claims she heard about her dad's death in a text message after the news had hit the Internet; she then started accusing Candy of spending too much time with a close family friend while Aaron lay dying.

Then came the will. Seems Tori and her brother, Randy, each got $800,000 of the $500 million estate. Candy got the rest. So Tori, like the good, spoiled rich kid that she is, decided to air the family's dirty laundry on her own reality show "Tori & Dean: Inn Love." The show followed the "penniless" actress as she sold all of her personal belongings after the devastating blow.

After that Tori and Candy spent their time fighting on Twitter and talk shows and in trashy magazines. They have both released cleverly titled books, Candy's "Stories from Candyland" and Tori's "Mommywood" (the followup to "s-TORI Telling") in which they blame each other for all of the horror in their extravagant, entitled lives. But perhaps the best moment in the feud was Candy's recent open letter to "Middle-Aged Reality Show Stars (Like My Daughter)" that she sent to TMZ. In it she criticized Tori's use of her children as reality show props and explained why she did not appear on the show featuring her granddaughter Stella's birthday party. Sounds like an episode of "Dynasty," but even Aaron couldn't make this stuff up. News broke just this week, that the pair have finally set their differences aside... guess the PR machine wasn't able to keep selling the Spelling feud.

Pedro Zamora vs. Puck Rainey on "The Real World," Season 3
Puck and Pedro pretty much invented reality TV feuds. "The Real World" had been on for a few seasons by the time we met the bike messenger with the bad hygiene, David "Puck" Rainey, and the earnest and caring HIV-positive Pedro Zamora. In the infant stages of the genre, Puck set the bar low for all reality feuds to come. Late for the first day of the show because he'd been arrested, Puck was clearly just out for as much attention as possible. And Pedro's crime? Getting more airtime than Puck because he was simply more interesting. Puck lashed out at him whenever possible, and his rude, grotesque behavior finally drove poor Pedro to consider leaving the house (as the first openly gay person with AIDS on TV, the stress was taking a toll on him), but instead the housemates decided to evict Puck.

Omarosa vs. Janice Dickinson on "The Surreal Life," Season 5
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth had already become known as a reality TV villain on Donald Trump's "The Apprentice," and Janice Dickinson had already become known as crazy for her outbursts on "America's Next Top Model." So any producer worth his weight in gold knew exactly what to do: put the villain and the crazy together in one, big "Surreal Life" pot, and you got yourself some good TV. Omarosa and Janice did not disappoint. It started with some name calling: You're just a "a reality show loser"; well, you're "NOT a supermodel." Then the obligatory weave threats: "I'll yank your weave off, honey!" "No, I'll yank your weave off!" (Notice a reality feud pattern here?) But it all came to a head during the photo shoot with a prop kitchen knife. Janice waved it at Omarosa, who exclaimed, "You let a crackhead play with a knife!" and threatened to quit if Janice did not leave. Of course, they both stuck around and tormented each other for the rest of the season.

Sue Hawk vs. Kelly Wiglesworth on "Survivor," Season 1
The reality world didn't know what hit it when Mark Burnett came on the scene with "Survivor." Throw a group of people on a deserted island for a month, deprive them of food and water, and have them fight for $1 million. Brilliant. And in Season 1, there were no preconceived notions of how these people should act. No one had forged the way. There was no advanced planning about alliances or flying under the radar versus taking a leading role. These competitors invented outwitting, outlasting, and outplaying until it was down to the final four: Sue Hawk (the Midwestern truck driver), Richard Hatch (the openly gay contestant who walked around camp naked), Kelly Wiglesworth (the tough, whitewater rafting guide), and Rudy Boesch (the crusty old dude). The four had a secret alliance from the start, but Kelly had voted against her group a few episodes earlier and had only remained in the finals by winning the last few immunity challenges — taking Richard with her to the final two. And so, in the last Tribal Council, when the jury had the opportunity to air their opinions, Sue gave the now infamous Rats and Snakes speech. She called Richard a snake and Kelly a rat and went on to tell Kelly, "If you were laying there dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you." A true "Survivor" gem.

Joan Rivers vs. Annie Duke on "Celebrity Apprentice," Season 8
We can always count on the "Apprentice" to give us a good celebrity feud, but no one saw it coming when comedian Joan Rivers and poker player Annie Duke began to battle it out in Season 8. Annie made the supreme mistake of attacking Joan's daughter and fellow competitor, Melissa. Insults were hurled, while video diaries revealed an even deeper contempt the two felt for each other. But when Joan compared Annie to Hitler in the boardroom, the gloves came off. Then Annie and Playmate Brande Roderick ganged up against Melissa, and Joan declared that "poker players are trash," as she threatened to walk off the show. But always the professional, Rivers returned, looking down what's left of her real nose on Annie to finish what she started. In a stroke of reality TV magic, the rivals ended up head-to-head in the finals, a match that Joan dubbed the battle of "good versus evil." Annie called all her "white trash" poker player friends and raised more money than Joan, but Rivers prevailed, winning the other components of the challenge to take the spot as Celebrity Apprentice.

Omarosa vs. Piers Morgan on "Celebrity Apprentice," Season 7
The reality world had not gotten enough of Omarosa, and Donald Trump was willing to oblige. So when it came time to cast his first "Celebrity Apprentice," along with a bunch of other people who actually were stars at some point, like Marilu Henner and Gene Simmons, he added the reality personality everyone loves to hate, Omarosa. And in a move we only can assume was calculated, he also cast one of the best competition show reality villains of the time, "America's Got Talent's" Piers Morgan. The two clashed immediately with Piers mispronouncing her name accidentally on purpose and Omarosa reminding Piers how hated he is by "AGT" viewers. At one point, the two ended up on the same team, but when the insults got personal (she began talking trash about his family), Piers insisted on being separated from her. Trump obliged. In Episode 10, the two went head-to-head as project managers in an art gallery challenge. According to the Donald, Omarosa suffered "the biggest slaughter in the history of 'The Apprentice,'" and she was fired. And just to rub a little salt in the wound, Piers went on to win the whole shebang. But Omarosa will always try to get the last word as she reunites with Trump once again next spring. The recent divorcee will have her own dating show and get tips from Donald. No word on if Piers will be a contender.

Marcel Vigneron vs. Ilan Hall on "Top Chef," Season 2
Of the six seasons of "Top Chef" to date, Season 2 has gone down in history as the most soap-operatic. The often annoying, ever arrogant molecular gastronomist Marcel Vigneron (the dude with the hair that looked like the Heat Miser) got on everyone's nerves. Throughout the season, each of the other chefs lashed out at their brash competitor. But it was Ilan Hall who would end up in the biggest feud with Marcel and, maybe not so ironically, against him in the final competition to become "Top Chef."

Ilan almost incessantly mocked and ridiculed Marcel to his face and to the cameras. He and his fellow cooks bullied Marcel, culminating in an attempted hazing one drunken night with a buzzer. They decided to shave their heads and Marcel's, too, even though he was sleeping at the time. As Ilan and Elia looked on, Cliff held Marcel in a headlock and tried to shave his Heat Miser-do, driving Vigneron to go off and sleep in the bathroom. Cliff was let go the next elimination, partly due to this behavior, although Tom Colicchio has said that he wanted to let them all go. Fortunately for cooking fans, the finale ended up focusing more on the food and less on the drama. And to the disappointment of many, Ilan won the title of "Top Chef."

Jake Pavelka vs. Wes Hayden on "The Bachelorette," Season 5
Everyone wanted to see Jillian Harris find the man of her dreams after being rejected by the previous season's bachelor, Jason Mesnick. Even the guys competing for her hand seemed to desire nothing but her happiness. All but one, anyway. As the season progressed, it became more and more apparent that country singer Wes was out for one thing — to promote his new CD. It was his plan from the beginning to string her along, play his really bad song over and over, then skyrocket to superstardom. But Jake, the always chivalrous airline pilot with the square jaw and big heart, couldn't let him get away with it. And so, after getting kicked off himself, he went back to find Jillian before she went on her hometown date with Wes. He warned her of Wes' evil plot. But alas, the fair maiden did not believe him. Oh well, he tried. Jillian did finally figure it out for herself, and she wound up with Ed Swiderski. Jake is going to be the next "Bachelor" starting in January. And Wes? We're guessing those CDs are not rolling off the shelves since he's the biggest Bachelor villain in the franchise's history.

Heidi Montag vs. Lauren Conrad on "The Hills"
On MTV's "unscripted" reality show "The Hills" Lauren Conrad (who started out on "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County") and Heidi Montag were BFF's who got an apartment together when Lauren moved to Los Angeles. All was going well for a while until Heidi started dating the all-time biggest reality TV villain ever, Spencer Pratt, in Season 2. Lauren didn't like Spencer from the get go. Was it that oddly colored facial hair, the squinty, untrustworthy look in eyes, or the fact that he spread rumors about her having a sex tape (with her ex-boyfriend Jason Wahler). Whatever the reason, Heidi chose bros over hos and sided with her new boyfriend. Speidi moved in together and Lauren was on her own. Even though LC sucked it up and made an appearance at Heidi and Spencer's third (and allegedly real) wedding, the two girls are no longer BFF's.

Jeffrey Sebelia vs. Laura Bennett on "Project Runway," Season 3
"Project Runway" is known more for its catwalks than its cat fights, but there's usually enough drama thrown in the mix to keep it interesting. And Season 3's Jeffrey Sebelia (the one with the tattooed neck) was just the right character to add the unrest that year. He claimed his villainous behavior was premeditated, knowing it would get him more airtime. At the height of his evilness, he brought Angela's mother to tears during the challenge where each designer made an outfit for another competitor's mom. But the biggest feud that season was between Jeffrey and architect-turned-fashion designer and mother of six Laura Bennett. The high-octane, edgy Sebelia and the uptight, conservative Bennett clashed during the entire series but made it all the way through to face off at Bryant Park during Olympus Fashion Week. Just days before the show, she accused him of getting help completing his clothing line. After a formal investigation, Jeffrey was cleared of any wrongdoing and went on to win the season, proving that not-so-nice guys sometimes finish first.

Written byy Amy & Nancy Harrington
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