The Spike is always happy to be the first to tattle on people -- especially high-powered people -- who fib.
Case in point this week is actually from the weird world of reality TV (and The Spike is using that phrase loosely), where local twins Matt and Michael Schlepp have become stars. Online chat rooms and weekly entertainment magazines are buzzing about the centerpieces of MTV's new show "I Want a Famous Face" -- the boys who wanted nothing more than to look like Brad Pitt.
Or did they? Matt and Michael, graduates of North Canyon High School who now attend Paradise Valley Community College and the Art Institute of Phoenix, respectively, tell New Times contributor Jessica White that MTV producers grossly exaggerated the Pitt connection to push the show's premise -- including scripting the "reality" show and asking the boys to pose in a video store with Pitt DVDs.
By the time the producers handed the boys photographs of Pitt to show the plastic surgeon, "I was tired of the name Brad Pitt," Matt says. "We knew we just wanted a better version of ourselves."
The Schlepps also say MTV originally offered to pay for their surgery -- the bills came to more than $20,000 -- but reneged. (The dentist and the doctor ultimately donated their services.)
Dave Sirvulnick, executive producer of "I Want a Famous Face" (as the name implies, the show, which premièred last month, features young people who undergo extensive plastic surgery to look like famous people), tells White MTV never offered to pay for the surgery. A disclaimer at the beginning of each episode explains that the subject had already decided to get plastic surgery before MTV began producing the show.
Sirvulnick denies there was any "scripting," and says the boys were simply asked to repeat lines that were hard to hear on tape.
"We were following what was going on in their lives; these were two young men who were fascinated with Brad Pitt and were already on the way down the road to getting plastic surgery, and we asked if we could document the surgery while they were going through it," Sirvulnick says.
But Kristin Schumacher, 17, a friend of the 21-year-old twins, says she was instructed as to just what to say on one occasion when she and Matt went out to eat, during the taping. And she says the twins never wanted to look like Brad Pitt.
"They never mentioned Brad Pitt until MTV came into the whole picture, and it was blown way out of proportion because they never talked about Brad Pitt before that; all they talked about was plastic surgery."
So how, then, The Spike wondered, did the whole Brad Pitt look-alike thing get started? Actually, sounds like it was Matt Schlepp himself -- according to an e-mail dated May 1, 2003, addressed to "MTV Plastic" and given to New Times by MTV.
Matt answered an ad on the MTV Web site soliciting kids who wanted to look like stars.
"Dear MTV Staff," Matt wrote, "I am a 20 year old male ready to go under the knife to look like my favorite celeb. Who you ask? The celeb who I am content on looking like is the infamous Brad Pitt. The name itself explains it all."
The lengthy e-mail goes on to describe that Matt wants to be an actor and singer, and that, "If I look like Brad Pitt, I believe I will be more marketable."
He also mentions that he'd like his eyes to look like Pitt's.
"If anyone is as content on getting full reconstructive surgery to look like their favorite celeb and also a very drastic difference from before and after, I definitely won't let you down," Matt Schlepp concludes.
(Somewhere along the way, Michael apparently decided he wanted to look like Brad Pitt, too.)
The Spike figures MTV producers must have been delighted to get that e-mail, because so far most of the episodes of "I Want a Famous Face" have focused on other body parts -- a girl who wanted breasts like Pamela Anderson, a plus-size model hoping for Kate Winslet's stomach, a female impersonator looking for, among other things, J.Lo's butt.
In contrast, the Schlepps only had work done from the neck up.
Michael had a nose job and got cheek, jaw and chin implants. Matt had a nose job and a chin implant. Between the brothers, a cosmetic dentist fixed a total of 41 teeth with porcelain veneers; both boys went on the acne-killing drug Accutane.
The Spike hates to say this, but although the boys look different, they look nothing like Brad Pitt. In fact, they look so little like Brad Pitt that a debate is raging in entertainment magazines and online chat rooms over just who they do resemble. US Weekly recently reported only 8 percent of those surveyed think the boys look like Pitt. A whopping 61 percent said they better resemble Steven Cojocaru, the Entertainment Tonight correspondent.