‘I’m A Celebrity’ Debuts, Crashes, Burns…And Scores!

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On the same day GM for bankruptcy yesterday, I worried NBC might have declared creative bankruptcy with last night’s premiere of “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.” Thirty-five minutes into the two-hour broadcast, I quit thinking about that. Obviously, I quit thinking, period. After all, I was still watching the loathsome Spencer Bratt, er, Pratt, act out one of the most vile, uncomfortable temper tantrums I have ever witnessed on TV or off. I should have run for the hills. Except I was hooked.

Better yet, as I thought about changing the channel, I was saved when Heidi Montag, now Heidi Pratt, asked everyone to forgive Spencer for his outburst. “My husband is a very new Christian,” she said. It got even better. Janice Dickinson told Patti Blagojevich that her husband, former Illinois governor (he was impeached), was a “good guy,” and Spencer said he would have voted for him for President.

Watch the show’s best scenes.

Wait. Did Balgo run for President? Apparently I missed something last year.

In case you missed the show, let me recap the action.

In between trying to run out of the jungles of Costa Rica twice because they “were too rich and too famous to be there”, Heidi and her mug-shot-in-the-waiting-husband, Spencer, threw several near violent tantrums that would make Christian Bale proud. Joining the pair was Janice Dickinson, Sanjaya, John Salley, Lou Diamond Phillips, Patti Blagojevich, ex-wrestler Torrie Wilson and comedy team Frangela.

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Full disclosure: I was no different than Spencer, who had never heard of the wrestler and the comedy duo and had to “goggle” them to find out who they were. (I used Google to search for them.) At least he was right about that. (BTW, Spencer was not completely off. Even the NBC website writes “Remember Sanjaya? Refresh your memory by browsing through his photo history.”)

Oh, I forgot to mention that the part of Stephen Baldwin was played by Mr. Celebrity reality show himself, Stephen Baldwin.

OK, back to Speidi…

I’m sure the idea of three weeks filming in Costa Rica for primetime network television sounded very appealing to the media hungry basic cable MTV stars. I can only assume Speidi confused the word hammock with Ritz Carlton, because that’s the comfort level the pair expected and demanded. As he declared to the group, he was accustomed to a five-star lifestyle.

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There were so many incredible moments with The Hills’ residents, but a few really shine. Spencer flipping out on the cell phone (I thought they weren’t supposed to have any of these items?) to NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman to get him and Heidi out of there (isn’t that the concept of the show in the first place?) because the level of celebrity was no match for the heat brought by the pair. Watching Spencer in his jumpsuit with his name on the back and getting worked up into a crazed frenzy, it would seem an orange jumpsuit with the words “L.A. County” isn’t far off.

See photos of the cast.

After he and the missus walked off for the second time, the rest of the cast each took charge of their possessions. Sanjaya took their bed but the worst offense came when one of the Frangela’s took Heidi’s “dry shampoo” and upset her so much that she was crying in the confession booth about it. Seriously. Crying. Like with tears. However, not crying and turning into The Incredible Hulk, Spencer went ballistic on the Frangela (I don’t know her name and neither do you) lady so much as to smack the bottle out of her hand. Watching it unfold as NBC milked the moment for us in slow-mo, you knew if this happened at a 7-11 parking lot, Spence would be behind bars. Or at least been on TMZ.

What sent Spencer Brat into his self-proclaimed “revenge mode” was the fact that Frangela ripped off the label on Heidi’s bottle of dry shampoo that Spence “SPENT ALL DAY MAKING!!” Heidi cried yet again in the confession booth that her man has anger issues he’s working through and that he’s also “a new Christian.” Maybe he should have tried Kabbalah.

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For the first hour, ousted Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, was barely seen being overshadowed by Speidi. With everyone settled into a cozy group, Spencer dropped this bombshell on Patti. “Why is your husband facing jail time?” Boom, check please! Patti then went on a rant that she must have picked up from Mrs. Bernie Madoff, “they made a whole lot of hoopla out of something that wasn’t true.” Janice Dickinson, a big Blago supporter exclaimed “twice voted by the people” and of Patti’s plight, “you’re so brave.” Spencer also showed us that he’s into politics as well as 22 inch rims (he twitters about them), “When I met him (Ex. Gov Rod), I would have voted for him for President.” Oy vey.

Spencer compared him and Heidi to the Blago’s, “You’re the Heidi and Spencer of politics.” Then Heidi said a prayer for Patti because she “has a connection” and went on to ask (borderline tell) Jesus to forgive Rod. Interestingly, Stephen Baldwin was missing from this impromptu revival meeting.

The second hour brought as much fun as the first that I was clamoring for a third. The hosts (we’ll get to them tomorrow) announced that the groups would be split into the highly original concept of men vs. women. Speidi was again, not happy. Spencer cited, “it’s now the Pratt’s vs. everyone else” and went on to add that everyone on the show was his “servant.” I think that Heidi needs to explain the “new Christian” ground rules to him yet again. But nonetheless, after Spencer calmed down and apologized for his tirade, she jubilantly told us, “He never apologizes. Thank you, Jesus.” Yes, thank you.

The first challenge would give the winning team a chicken and fruit dinner and also gave us the first glimpse of a makeup-less Janice Dickinson. The challenge pitted the cast head to head eating tarantula’s, drinking cow intestine milkshakes and everything else left behind in NBC’s Fear Factor playbook. Heidi ate a scorpion, Spencer ate some giant green bug with the same fury he would have if he was in a prison movie scuffle, and the men’s team went on to victory. The show finished off with another vile challenge placing the celebs on the ground in a circle while creatures of the island crawled over their faces. It also brought along the last highlight courtesy of the Bratt’s. The host informed us that the Pratt’s were “sitting this challenge out.” Nice. The tarantula eating grin on Spencer’s face showed it all. He was a celebrity and if he couldn’t get out of there, he was going to wield that power elsewhere.

One frightening moment came towards the end of the show. With the whole cast sitting together and recapping their day ala Survivor, a sick and spent looking Stephen told us he was bitten by a bug and looked like he could have been a victim in the movie Snakes on a Plane. I hope they allow vaccines on the show. Hate to lose a Baldwin that way.

Can’t wait for tonight…

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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