Crime Time: Why do so many reality TV stars end up in jail? It's an addictionFri Apr 02, 2010 @ 01:16PM PST
Our weekly criminal courts columnist is looking to end his addiction to reality stars gone bad...
By Russell Wetanson
I often feel like I’m missing out on something. This week, it’s rehab. Jesse James, Tiger Woods and -- as much as I hate to admit it -- Michael Lohan, got me thinking:
Maybe it’s my turn. Maybe I can disappear for 30 days and return re-charged and re-invented. Maybe Promises has a bed for me.
But for what affliction?
Reality TV addiction. Why not? This week alone, I’ve watched “American Idol” (even though it's the worst season yet), “America’s Next Top Model,” “Project Runway,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (check it out), “Amazing Race,” “Dancing With the Stars” (Team Brenda) and “The Real World.” I’m concerned that this habit poses a threat both to my own health and to society at large, and the following three names explain why: Chikezie Ezie, Stephanie Edwards and Jason Wahler (above).
Eze (right) was a contestant on the seventh season of “Idol,” and this week the L.A. County district attorney charged him with attempted misdemeanor grand theft and misdemeanor identity theft. He was arrested in February after allegedly trying to buy two bottles of cologne with a fraudulent credit card. California Penal Code section 487 states that grand theft is committed “when the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a value exceeding four hundred dollars ($400).” Eze was shopping at Nieman Marcus. Enough said.
While Eze was hoping to get a splash and dash, Jason Wahler might have dipped too much into his stash. Wahler, best known as Lauren Conrad’s on-and-off-again boyfriend on MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills,” was charged this week with two counts of misdemeanor DUI. Newport Beach police stopped him on March 19 and he allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .19%, well above California's .08% limit. Wahler faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, if convicted. This marks his sixth arrest since his first appearance on “Laguna” in 2005.
Stephanie Edwards (left), meanwhile, finished in 11th place behind winner Jordan Sparks on season six of “Idol.” This week, she was arrested in Savannah, Georgia. According to the Chatham County Sheriff's Department, cops busted her after she and another woman allegedly were fighting in the middle of the street. Seriously. Cops say she went to the other woman’s home to confront her about harassing phone calls, and the confrontation escalated into a physical fight. No word yet on what, if any, charges Edwards or the other woman will face.
Sadly, this week is not unlike other all weeks. (Yes, that’s a Passover pun.) Reality TV wannabe Richard Heene is currently finishing his 90-day jail sentence at his Colorado home while his wife, Mayumi Heene, awaits the start of her 20-day sentence for their concoction of the “Balloon Boy” hoax. In February 2009, rapper T.I. starred in his own MTV reality show, “T.I.’s Road to Redemption,” chronicling his last days before beginning a one-year-plus-one-day prison sentence for weapons charges related to purchasing machine guns and silencers. In July 2008, Khloe Kardashian, the youngest daughter of O.J. Simpson lawyer Robert Kardashian and co-star of E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” spent 173 days in jail after violating probation stemming from a prior DUI. And let’s not forget about Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, patron saints of reality TV for their roles on “The Simple Life.” Each spent time behind bars after hitting the bars.
The list goes on and on. Sadly, so does my knowledge about these people and their (in some cases, alleged) crimes. And that’s why rehab may be in order. Maybe if I stop watching these shows, television networks will stop working with criminals.
Or maybe we should just pick seven of them to live together in a jail cell and see what happens when they stop being polite and start getting real.
Got a Crime Time question or comment? Reach Russell Wetanson at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/popsquire and watch him on TV Guide Network and HLN.