There have been thousands of people to appear on reality shows (although, oddly, I don’t know anyone who has), so it’s understandable that at least a few of them are going to be crazy. The nine individuals and one band listed below (none of whom were famous before appearing on a reality show, otherwise Anna Nicole Smith would have this thing WON) are not only insane, but their lives have been in disastrous disarray since appearing on TV.
#10. The Dude from “Punk’d” Who Was Married to Shannon Elizabeth
I think we can all agree that we learned a lot about ourselves from Shannon Elizabeth’s character in American Pie, Nadia (also the name of my girlfriend—coincidence, I think not). It gave all of us 12-year-old males (and females?) hope that if a beautiful woman like Elizabeth could fall for Jason Biggs, there’s a chance for us unattractive pie fu*kers out, too—and one of us unattractive pie fu*kers did get her: Joseph Rietman, who looks like the curly-haired baby of Joey Fatone and Mickey Rourke. Rietman and Ashton Kutcher teamed together to prank Elizabeth on “Punk’d” by making her believe a sex tape of Elizabeth and Rietman had been publicly released. She didn’t take it very well, and partially because of the joke, the couple split up after three years of marriage. You blew it, dude.
#9. Richard Hatch from “Survivor”
Over 50 million people watched Susan Hawk give her famous “Rat and Snake” speech before Richard “The Snake” Hatch won the first season of “Survivor” by a single vote. He took home $1 million (and arguably launched the reality show craze that continues to this day), but “forgot” to pay taxes for his winnings (plus subsequent wages he earned for co-hosting a radio show), so he was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion before being released in 2009. But a few days ago, he was sent back to the pokey for nine more months for still not paying taxes. His reasoning for why the government’s continues to bug him: “I don’t think you or anyone else could deny that we as homosexuals face discrimination.” If being gay means you don’t have to pay taxes, hellllllooooo Matt Smith.
#8. Trishelle Cannatella from “The Real World: Las Vegas”
This list could have been made up of nothing but former-“Real World”’ers, but Cannatella wins the challenge, so to speak, for the company she kept after leaving Sin City in 2002. Namely, Steve-O (appearing in his short-lived show “Doctor Steve-O”), Hulk Hogan (she wrestled as the Red Hot Redneck on Hogan’s “Celebrity Championship Wrestling”), and William Hung, shaking her bon-bon in the music video for “She Bangs.” A funny sidenote: she was born in Cut Off, Louisiana.
#7. Colin Leahy from “American Idol”
“American Idol” has received a lot of criticism for its texting policies, from AT&T giving phones away to manipulate the votes for a particular contestant to sending out spam messages, but the biggest controversy occurred in 2008, when Clay Aiken-wannabe Colin Leahy was arrested for sending sexually provocative texts to two underage students at PS 236 in Brooklyn, where he worked as a substitute and later a volunteer. The 23-year-old sent nearly 30 messages to a 12-year-old boy, asking him whether he was gay, and discussed oral sex with two 10 year olds. During his “Idol” tryout, Simon Cowell said of his performance, “This is just about as bad as it can possibly get. I can’t think of anything I’ve actually hated more.” For once, Simon was on to something.
#6. Flickerstick from “Bands on the Run”
After Flickerstick beat, ugh, Soulcracker in VH1’s one and only season of “Bands on the Run” (a controversy which “continues to this day,” according to Wikipedia) the Ft. Worth rock group, influenced by everyone from the Velvet Underground to Supergrass, was signed to Epic Records, released Welcoming Home the Astronauts (the most rape-tastic album of all time if song titles “Chloroform the One You Love” and “Hey, or When the Drugs Wear Off” are to be believed), and dropped from the label a year later. On the bright side, also according to Wikipedia: “After a hiatus of more than a year, the band resurfaced [in 2009] to perform three shows to mild crowd numbers.” I bet the person who included the word “mild” is a member of Soulcracker.
#5. Charles Ingram from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
Ingram, a British Army major, appeared on the U.K. version of “Millionaire” in September 2001 (you don’t think…?), and became only the fourth person to win a million pounds when he answered the final question correctly: “A number one followed by one hundred zeros is known by what name?” His payout was denied, though, when producers accused him of cheating by having his wife and a friend, both of whom were in the audience, cough when he read the correct answer. Ingram was found guilty of two charges of deception, asked to resign from the Army, and declared bankruptcy in 2004. He now owns a computer business, but returned to the British tabloids last year when he sliced off three of his toes in a lawnmower accident. James Franco is set to star in a movie based on his life story: Is That Your Final Answer? The Story of Charles InSHAM.
#4. Sinbad from “Star Search”
Before becoming That Guy from Jingle All the Way and First Kid, Sinbad came into the celebrity spotlight on “Star Search,” where he competed and won against the equally annoying Dennis Miller. Life hasn’t been kind to the Favorite Supporting Actor—Family at the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards since the end of the 1990s, though; his highest profile gig in the past decade was voicing a house-cat in “Slacker Cats,” and in 2009, Sinbad filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy due to him owing the state of California over $2 million in back taxes. Luckily, he has a sense of humor about the whole thing, and spoofed his image on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” terrorizing Dennis alongside matchbox twenty’s Rob Thomas.
[Editor’s note: The story comes full circle, as Sinbad is coming back to TV as the star of his own reality show.]
#3. Kendra Todd from “The Apprentice”
In 2006, Todd, who won the third season of “The Apprentice,” wrote an article for Yahoo! called “Is the Real Estate Market in Bubble Trouble?” The cute headline was the best thing about it. Todd said, “You can’t go anywhere without hearing people talk about ‘the real estate bubble.’ Such talk drives me to distraction, and I’ll tell you why. It’s because there is no real estate bubble. Bubbles are for bathtubs.” Oops. In her book, Risk & Grow Rich: How to Make Millions in Real Estate, she suggested buying property in so-called bubble-proof locations like Las Vegas. Double oops. If anyone took her advice, they likely lost thousands, if not millions of dollars. But don’t worry, she’s found God (“I want to empower people to create a real positive relationship with and perspective on money, and realize it’s all God”).
#2. Jamal Rashead Trulove from “I Love New York 2”
So far, we’ve covered bankruptcy, tax evasion, crappy bands, and messing up the chance to have sex with Shannon Elizabeth on a nightly basis. Only one thing trumps all, in terms of post-“fame” disaster: MURDER. The ironically-named Trulove was a contestant named “Milliown” on 2007’s “I Love New York 2,” and he lasted all of a single episode due to fighting with another housemate. Surprising literally no one, three weeks after that episode aired on VH1, Trulove shot and killed 28-year-old Seu Kuka in a California housing project. He’s been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
#1. Ryan Jenkins from “Megan Wants a Millionaire”
But that’s nothing compared to Mr. Jenkins, who’s a lowercase monster for appearing on “Megan Wants a Millionaire” and an uppercase, all-caps MONSTER for killing his wife, bikini model Jasmine Fiore, stuffing her body into a suitcase, and removing her teeth and fingers to prevent identification (the way prosecutors found out who she was: serial numbers from her breast implants). Jenkins, who also appeared on (and supposedly won) the un-aired third season of “I Love Money,” fled to his native Canada and killed himself at the Thunderbird Motel. The moral here is either: don’t trust anyone from Canada, or reality shows give an inflated sense of self to already-unstable people, often leading to disaster and occasionally death. But probably the Canada thing.