Skip to comments.Extreme' tragedy - Ugly Mom Sues ABC
Posted on 09/18/2005 3:54:53 PM PDT by Hildy
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.
Crap like this wasn't even dreamed of in "Network," way back in 1976, and as recently as fifteen years ago I thought "Network" was over the top.
You are naive to think that ABC's attorneys wrote a contract that would leave their clients exposed to a legitimate lawsuit if they dumped someone.
And how can you assume I am wrong, when we have no idea what the contract said?
Of course there are many attorneys who are honorable. My opinion is that the majority of lawsuits such as these are about money, and nothing else.
And again, I must point out that huge corporations have the best attorneys money can buy. I cannot believe that there would be a breach of contract, because no atty at that level of practice would be so negligent as to leave their client at the mercy of a single person.
Yes, I do most certainly believe this is a frivolous lawsuit.
In other words, they put her on TV, said "look at this poor ugly woman, we're going to help her" and then did nothing.
I doubt this woman signed a contract allowing ABC to promote her to America as an ugly duckling in exchange for absolutely nothing. Had ABC backed out earlier, it's a different story. But since they used her image and publicly defamed her, I say she's due something.
Given what is reported about the family, I doubt she is the type who would have had legal advice of her own prior to signing the contract, I doubt she read it herself, and I doubt she is smart enough to have understood it even if she did.
I am looking at this from a completely "legalese" standpoint.
Allow me to be a bit wordy.
ABC has high powered atty's write up a contract for this show. Desperate woman signs contract. After final consultation with the dentist, they find that her recovery time is too lengthy for their timeframe. One of two things would happen, regardless of the Jan 7th show.
1. Producers go to the attys, and ask if there is any legal ramification to letting her go. They look at the contract, say no, and the show lets her go.
2. Same scenario, only the attys say because of this or that, there would be some exposure in letting her go. They give her the surgery anyway, because it's cheaper than being sued, and just don't use her in the show.
If the contract left the show hanging over this, I'd imagine there are at least a couple of attys who will be fired.
If the producers did not seek counsel prior to sending her home, there will be some producers sent packing.
In my experience, prior to a lawsuit being filed, the Plaintiff's atty will send a letter to the Defendant's atty, giving them so many days to respond with a settlement offer, in an effort to avoid the expense of filing. Since this lawsuit was actually filed, I would imagine that ABC thinks they are protected from liability.
That does not mean that this woman will lose, however. As a matter of fact, she will probably win.
There are atty's whose entire practice is based around sniffing these cases out and approaching the individual. I would imagine that is what happened in this case.
Cases like this are worth the gamble. There is the chance that the big corporate will settle, just to make it go away. Plaintiff wins.
If it goes before a judge for summary judgment, the judge can rule based on the contract, he can rule based on intent (which is subjective), or he can rule based on "pain and suffering", which is also subjective. Odds are in the Plaintiffs favor.
If it goes to a jury, they can follow the contract only. Or they will feel badly for the woman, and award her a judgment anyway. Or they will want to stick it to big corporate, and award her a judgment anyway. Think tobacco settlements. Right? No. Fair? No. Yet they are routine.
Yes, I think what they did was crappy. But this woman was given an opportunity at the discretion of those who were paying for it. They changed their minds. I would bet the farm that the contract, written for them by their attys to represent their best interests, does not leave them exposed to breach of contract.
If it does, they are idiots.
Somehow I think there were likely pre-existing issues with the sister who committed suicide. I doubt seriously that this 'slight' was what caused her drug problems, then her suicide.
If a contract is ruled unconscionable, then it is not enforceable.
What in the world do disfigured war vets have to do with this story? Earth to LoudRepublicangirl, the war vets are just as free to apply to this tv program as this poor woman did.
I can't pity this woman too much just because she thinks bigger boobs are going to change her life for the better.
Evidently you didn't read the article very well, but are quick to criticize. She was to have surgery for a deformed jaw, crooked teeth, droopy eyes AND tiny boobs. I doubt very seriously that getting the boob job was as important to her, given the fact that her other three problems are visible to everyone. It's common knowledge, if you've ever watched this show, that the people selected get to have their cosmetic surgery wish list granted.
And for the life of me, I cannot understand the nasty tone of FReepers on this thread.
That's what I thought, too. She's not pretty, but not incredibly hideous either.
Speaking of the topic of physical beauty ... I knew a man who was so attractive and charming that he could really get just about any girl he wanted at any time. You know what happened? His marriage fell apart. He stopped going to work because he was looking for women to spend the night with. He spent every night at the bars, spending way too much money. He started taking drugs to compensate for his lack of sleep. Now he is a drug-addicted, poverty-stricken, lonely, physically unattractive man. I'm not saying all very attractive people fall like this, but when our society puts such value on sex, sexual freedom, and beauty, even the pretty ones are harmed.
Just curious, how do you KNOW all reality shows are very tacky if you NEVER watch?
This settles it - there needs to be registration and waiting periods for reality shows. And they need to keep a close eye on those reality show loop holes.
TV companies have descended to an all-time low in their choice of programming. Even programs like "Survivor" and other so-called "reality" shows appeal only to individuals who have no sense of purpose and no worthwhile pursuits of their own. The networks rely on viewers, many of whom have gone through what Americans call their "public education system," even the colleges and universities, and yet they are so devoid of understanding and purpose for living that they must be entertained by the embarrassment and/or misery of others, instead of going out and living productive, helpful lives.
How sad that it is not the owners, writers, producers, actors and assorted other purveyors of such meaningless drivel that suffer the consequences. Instead, they celebrate their own ignorance and decadence with awards ceremonies, piling insult on injury.
You sound like a wonderful person. I'm a black sheep also. We can't let the turkeys get us down. The hotels idea is a good one!
BTW, I am person #23 to visit your about page.
We have viewed a few of them when there has been nothing else on, tacky is the only nice thing I can come up with to describe our reaction.
We actually watch very little TV because of such shows and now that I think of it, the money we pay for our satellite connection is a 90% waste of money. If it wasn't for the fact that we have our elderly parents living with us and they do watch TV we would cancel it.
Congrats on that!
Thank you very much. I keep trying. I used to say quitting is easy, I've done it a thousand times. This is 1001, I guess, but I plan to stick with it.
So did ABC defraud her, or did she fail to read the contract? Your above statements contradict each other.
And for the life of me, I cannot understand the nasty tone of FReepers on this thread.
Just because you do not understand others does not mean they cannot voice their opinions as you obviously voice yours. By the way, the "earth to" has been over done. Try to be original next time.
Well, LoudRepublicangirl, you're 'loud', that's for sure. I understand "others" just fine, and thanks to your smart aleck reply, I understand you 'loud' and clear.
Its obvious that you are attempting to change the subject since I noticed you didn't answer my question (first sentence, btw). I'm sure you'll dodge it again if you reply. Been there, done that.... Oh wait, that's another cliche' you'll respond to instead of the original point.
You certainly can.... Keep on flashing. Instead of continuing to embarrass yourself, you should give it up since you cannot even argue your own point. AGAIN, (and for the third time) I'll ask you, What in the world do disfigured war vets have to do with this story?
Easily. Your original comment indicated that you were not aware that there was a contract in the first place.
That is absolutely retarded. My comment did not indicate any such thing.
I said she was not entitled to anything just because they changed their minds. I should have put more words in there for you, I suppose.
Read post #157.
Give me a break. You said that she is not entitled to anything because ABC changed its mind, and then you start talking contract? LOL
They can change their minds because they are protected by a contract that was written for them, by their attorneys.
I guess I figured that was understood. Like I am so stupid as to think that big corporations just run around willy nilly, doing whatever they want, never signing anything. Sure.
Get this. Whatever contract was signed, ABC breached. Constructive breach, maybe, that is for a court to decide. Of course, if you were a lawyer, you'd understand that ABC will settle out of court in order to avoid the hassle, and the "advice" of people such as you.
Good catch. I would assume both have culpability. ABC may have presented " implied intent". It seems like it could be a very complicated case.
My uneducated guess is that even if the conract is rock solid, This lady will be out lawyered and out matched.
I do feel for the emotional distess this caused her, But if you can't play with the big dogs...Stay on the porch.
I have 4 sisters, and, amazing as it seems, we get along great. Don't worry about it Cat. Raise them right, and they should be fine. :)
Wow, you are really a sad, sad person. I really feel sorry for you. I suggest lots and lots of therapy. Good bye.
I hope evereyone will read my prior posts to you to see for themselves that you cannot answer a simple question. Now, you're resorting to immature name calling (pathetic). You dodge, weave and change the subject time after time after distorting what the article said about the woman in the article. Why can't you answer my question?
Again, I'll post your nonsensical & insensitive remark that got my attention in the first place:
We have a lot of Iraq war Vets who have been permanently disfigured and who are much more deserving of help. I can't pity this woman too much just because she thinks bigger boobs are going to change her life for the better.
You should have left well enough alone and stayed down in your hole unless you can answer my simple question. Here it is for the FOURTH time: What in the world do disfigured war vets have to do with this story?
I'll not be holding my breath for your answer.
I hate this show. Very exploitative! I hope the lawyers stick it to ABC!