The tribe has spoken. Sort of. Well, stay tuned.
Whether it's from the privileged enclaves of Southern California or the bug-infested jungles of Costa Rica, reality show superstars Heidi and Spencer Pratt continue to rattle pop culture's cage with their well-publicized on-again, off-again antics. On Wednesday, the Pratts pleaded on live television to be allowed to rejoin NBC's "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!," despite having abruptly quit the newly launched show Tuesday night.
But the fate of the recently married stars of MTV's "The Hills," commonly referred to as "Speidi," will be determined tonight by their former castmates, who Spencer had loudly complained on an earlier episode had "degraded" their fame. A preliminary vote Wednesday by the reality show's current participants, including Stephen Baldwin, Janice Dickinson and Patti Blagojevich, Illinois' former first lady, did not go in the Pratts' favor.
Still, given the couple's considerable skill at manipulating celebrity websites and the entertainment media, it is unlikely they will be prevented from returning to the program, which attracted a modest overall audience of just over 6.4 million viewers with its Monday-night debut.
The last-place network is airing the reality program four nights a week until June 24. The longer contestants survive Costa Rica, where they are deprived of basic comforts, the more money they raise for charities they have chosen. The Pratts signed up to support Feed the Children and the American Red Cross.
The trouble in the jungle -- whether real or scripted -- began almost from the start with the couple, who made no secret of their unhappiness with the harsh conditions. Heidi said the celebrity encampment, which has one toilet, was a place for the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
After abruptly leaving the show Tuesday, Spencer almost immediately began an overnight Twitter campaign to get his first broadcast TV job back. He sent tweets to pal Miley Cyrus and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, explaining his predicament: "The devil fooled Speidi in to making an awful decision and we are praying to Jesus to get NBC to give us another shot to redeem."
NBC's reality programming chief, Paul Telegdy, who flew to Costa Rica over the weekend when the couple began misbehaving, said trying to manage the Pratts is futile. Between the Pratts, the jungle and the logistics, Telegdy said, he was beginning to feel like "Colonel Kurtz."
"I've got no other way of coping with these mad people, to be quite honest," he said during an exclusive phone interview with The Times before the show aired Wednesday.
In the meantime, it was revealed on the show that in addition to being subject to a group vote, the Pratts will have to endure a "jungle-based purgatory challenge, in which they will have to spend the night in solitary confinement" -- in a completely dark room stocked with reptiles and insects.