When a television production tells a woman with painfully acute self-esteem issues that they're going to give her a smile like Cindy Crawford, then backs out of potentially life-changing surgery at the last minute because the "extreme makeover" wouldn't fit their schedule, what's the worst that can happen? For ABC, how about a tragic suicide and a million dollar lawsuit?
The suit starts with the blunt description: "Deleese Williams is considered ugly" and says one doctor promised her "a Hollywood smile like Cindy Crawford.
To prepare for the show, the producers sent a crew to Texas in January 2004 to interview Williams and her family.
The suit claims the "Extreme Makeover" crew manipulated Williams' sister, Kellie, into making cruel statements about Williams' looks.
The night before Williams was to begin her makeover, the show's producers told her it would take too long for work on her jaw to heal. They canceled her appearance and sent Williams home where Kellie, distraught over what she had said about her sister, eventually killed herself, according to the suit.
The suit's outcome will inevitably ripple through the entire exploitation-makeover genre, and may cause Fox to scrap its plans for a new installment of The Swan, in which the runners-up in the show's climactic beauty pageant are unexpectedly asked to pay the bill for their surgical procedures or returned to their pre-makeover state.