It started with what should have been an innocent discussion of a reality show and turned into another reality show that could be called “You Call Them Celebrities? Get Them Out of Here!”
In the middle of it all is TODAY’s co-host Al Roker, who fired back Tuesday after being attacked by Heidi and Spencer Pratt, better known to celebrityphiles as “Speidi.”
Roker never said he’s madder than hell, but on Tuesday he made it clear that he isn’t taking any more of it. He seemed particularly amazed that Heidi would accuse him of being hostile to women.
“C’mon. I’ve interviewed hundreds of woman on this program, never had a complaint … They are so unused to people actually asking them a real question that they didn’t know how to handle it,” Roker told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira.
Speidi on TODAY
It all goes back to the Pratts’ short-lived but action-packed tenure on NBC’s reality show “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!” They quit the show, briefly came back, accused the producers of torturing them, and ultimately left the Costa Rican jungle again — in Heidi’s case, after spending time in a hospital for what turned out to be ulcers.
During their brief stay, Spencer struck another contestant, was baptized by Stephen Baldwin, squabbled with everybody and acted as if he was astonished that anyone would make him the least bit uncomfortable on a reality show whose operating principal is to make people uncomfortable.
After returning to the luxuries of home and recovering, Speidi visited TODAY on Monday to talk about their Costa Rican misadventures with Roker. During the interview, Roker asked Heidi, “Are you proud of all of this?”
“It was a very hard situation,” she said.
Since she didn’t answer the question, Roker repeated it: “Are you proud of this — of the way you guys behaved in this program?”
“I’m not ashamed. I don’t think anything was wrong,” she said.
“Are you proud of it?” Roker tried one more time.
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“Uh, sure,” she said.Video: Heidi, Spencer on ‘I’m a Celebrity’
‘He definitely came and attacked me’
After TODAY, the Pratts went on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show to talk about the abuse they said they endured from Roker.
“To be honest, I would never be interviewed by that man again ... I really would advise women especially to be careful around him, because I feel like he definitely came and attacked me, and I did not appreciate that at all,” Heidi said.
“I’m still trying to figure out: Was the weatherman asking us questions? I thought we were getting interviewed by Matt Lauer or something,” Spencer added.
He then told TMZ on camera that he wanted to physically attack Roker.
“It’s lucky I was saved by Jesus, ’cause couple of weeks ago, I probably would have ripped his head off for talking to my wife like that,” he said.
Roker responded to that quote on Tuesday with a characteristic laugh and the line: “And if he had tried to come across, I would have dumped him like a bag of dirt.” The TODAY studio erupted in guffaws.
“There are a lot of celebrities who come on — real celebrities who have actually done something — and act civil,” Roker told Vieira Tuesday.
Roker: ‘I asked what people wanted to know’
Roker has not tried to hide his opinion of the celebrity couple, posting several times on Twitter about them after the segment yesterday. “Heidi and Spencer are an interesting couple. famous for... being infamous. Bad and vacuous behavior. I think we’re at minute 11 of their 15,” he Tweeted.
The TODAY anchors were joined Tuesday morning by pop culture expert and Bravo reality-show impresario Andy Cohen and People magazine senior editor Kate Coyne, who agreed that the very concept of celebrity has become all but meaningless.
“There’s so many outlets for people to be celebrities, from YouTube to a million cable channels, that it’s lost some of its punch,” Cohen said.
Heidi Pratt began her 15 minutes in 2005 at the age of 18 with a spot on “Laguna Beach” that led to a run on “The Hills.” She’s also set to appear on the cover of Playboy. Spencer Pratt, 25, met his wife while he was also on “The Hills.”
“I think you can be better prepared than Heidi or Spencer was,” Coyne added. “What’s particularly egregious about them — OK, they’re famous for being famous — you can do that and still be able to handle yourself in an interview, to still be able to have something intelligent to say.”
But, Vieira asked Roker about his Monday interview with Speidi, “Are you proud?”
“I am,” Roker said. “I believe I asked what a lot of people wanted to know.”
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