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"Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

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AndreaLMT
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"Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

'Makeover' now family feud
Five orphaned children file suit against 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.'

By Scott Collins
Times Staff Writer

August 11, 2005

A Downey family has sued ABC and the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," claiming that there is a tale of greed and deception behind the scenes of the heartstring-tugging reality hit.

In a suit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Charles Higgins II, 22, and his four younger siblings say that the producers took advantage of the family's hard-luck story and promised them new cars and other prizes to persuade them to participate in the program, first broadcast on Easter Sunday, March 27.

The Higgins children say that after both parents died within weeks of one another in 2004, they were taken in by Firipeli and Lokilani Leomiti of Santa Fe Springs. The suit claims that the Leomitis used the children to increase their chances of being selected for the program. In February, a construction team working on behalf of the producers tore down the Leomitis' existing 1,300-square-foot home and erected a new nine-bedroom residence in its place. The project was then featured on "Home Edition."

The suit claims that shortly after production wrapped, the Leomitis began working to evict the Higgins children — who are black and at the time ranged in age from 14 to 21 — through physical abuse and name-calling, including repeatedly using a racial epithet. None of the Higgins children lives in the house any longer, the suit says.

The Leomitis, who are also named in the suit, allegedly appropriated the children's cars and other prizes.

ABC and producers Endemol USA and Lock and Key Productions "knew that an episode of 'Extreme Makeover' based on the story of five children who struggled to stay together after losing both parents within three months of one another would appeal to the hearts of their television viewers and consequently generate higher ratings," the court papers say. The suit seeks unspecified damages for fraud, breach of contract and other claims.

A statement from ABC suggested that the heart of the dispute lies in soured relations between the two families: "While we don't comment on litigation it is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomiti family's existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents."

The network referred other questions to Endemol and Lock and Key, which did not immediately comment. The Leomitis could not be reached.

The lawsuit also names Pardee Homes, the Los Angeles-based residential builder who performed the construction work. The Higgins children say that Pardee used their photographs and story on the firm's website without their permission.

"Pardee Homes built the house that ABC and the show's producers asked us to build, and it was a positive experience for us as a team," Pardee President and CEO Mike McGee said in a statement. "We are very sorry to hear of the current difficulties between the families."

Midday Wednesday, the Pardee website still featured a prominent link about the "Home Edition" project, including quotes from members of both families. Lokilani Leomiti was quoted as saying before the program taped, "It's not about the material things. Even if we don't get chosen [for the program], it doesn't matter because [the Higgins children] have a home, and they'll always have us."

From: http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/cl-wk-makeover11aug11,0,3302303.story?coll=ny-entertainment-headlines

Posted 8/11/05 3:27 PM
 
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Kate
*****

Member since 5/05

7470 total posts

Name:
Kate

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Chat Icon Wow, how sad.

Posted 8/11/05 3:42 PM
 

Jenn1621
<3

Member since 5/05

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Name:
Jenn

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Chat Icon Wow that is really sad!

Posted 8/11/05 3:46 PM
 

Leeners
:)

Member since 5/05

4898 total posts

Name:
Eileen

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

That's terrible! I remember that episode - only 1 of the kids didn't get a new car and it was because he (she?) wasn't old enough to drive yet.

But I don't get why they're suing ABC Chat Icon It seems like it's the adults that they have a problem with - maybe because they'd get more from ABC?

Posted 8/11/05 3:46 PM
 

AndreaLMT
:)

Member since 5/05

6856 total posts

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Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Posted by Leeners

That's terrible! I remember that episode - only 1 of the kids didn't get a new car and it was because he (she?) wasn't old enough to drive yet.

But I don't get why they're suing ABC Chat Icon It seems like it's the adults that they have a problem with - maybe because they'd get more from ABC?



Exactly what I was wondering.Chat Icon

Posted 8/11/05 3:51 PM
 

dpli
Daylight savings :)

Member since 5/05

13973 total posts

Name:
D

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Posted by Leeners

That's terrible! I remember that episode - only 1 of the kids didn't get a new car and it was because he (she?) wasn't old enough to drive yet.

But I don't get why they're suing ABC Chat Icon It seems like it's the adults that they have a problem with - maybe because they'd get more from ABC?



Or it may be one of those cases where they start our suing everyone and then as the lawyers learn about more who is responsible for what, they drop people from the suit.

More likely, it is that ABC has deep pockets

Posted 8/11/05 4:07 PM
 

nov04libride
big brother <3

Member since 5/05

14672 total posts

Name:
Me

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

I don't understand even where their claims are coming from.

"ABC and producers Endemol USA and Lock and Key Productions "knew that an episode of 'Extreme Makeover' based on the story of five children who struggled to stay together after losing both parents within three months of one another would appeal to the hearts of their television viewers and consequently generate higher ratings," the court papers say. The suit seeks unspecified damages for fraud, breach of contract and other claims."

Well, yeah, each family on there has a pretty sad story, which makes rewarding them all the more worthwhile. It would be nice for DH and I to get a huge new home, but there's no way we have been through even half as much as any of those families. How is that fraud, when they signed contracts to be used in the show?

My best friend works for KitchenAid and Whirlpool, who supply the appliances for the show, and I know they are allowed to use any of the home pictures or families in their ads because the families I guess sign contracts signing away their right to keep it all private (since, obviously, it is getting all over TV). Chat Icon

Posted 8/11/05 4:10 PM
 

MsMBV
:P

Member since 5/05

28602 total posts

Name:
Me

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

I would think theuse of the prodecuts being donated would have to be articulated in the contracts. They do *donate* them, after all, with the marketing of their product in mind (and the goodwill points too).

Just sad. I hope this does not do anything to hurt the image of the show and those that have appreciated the help given to themChat Icon

Posted 8/11/05 4:26 PM
 

IrishTracy
Believe!!

Member since 5/05

15167 total posts

Name:
Tracy

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Posted by AndreaLMT

Posted by Leeners

That's terrible! I remember that episode - only 1 of the kids didn't get a new car and it was because he (she?) wasn't old enough to drive yet.

But I don't get why they're suing ABC Chat Icon It seems like it's the adults that they have a problem with - maybe because they'd get more from ABC?



Exactly what I was wondering.Chat Icon


That's my thought!!

Posted 8/11/05 4:39 PM
 

sunny
Life is good!

Member since 5/05

8369 total posts

Name:
Stephanie

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

That is awful.

Posted 8/11/05 4:46 PM
 

MrsJ
I love my Katie Bug

Member since 5/05

11357 total posts

Name:
Kathy

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

If it's true, that is sick and wrong. Poor kids!

Posted 8/11/05 4:48 PM
 

Crismicka
How did I get so lucky

Member since 5/05

3725 total posts

Name:

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Disgusting! But I have to sadly say, I'm not shocked. I use to teach in an area where there were a large amount of foster children. The parents benefited, the kids didn't. The parents had nice cars, high end clothes, manicures, jewelry, etc. We hardly saw these parents at Open House or PT Conferences. Many kids were unkempt, with ratty clothes...coming to school without supplies, breakfast, lunch, homework, shoes...yes I said shoes! It just seemed as if the parents took kids in to receive aid from the state, but could care less about them. Same idea here!
DISGUSTING!!!

Posted 8/12/05 2:17 AM
 

DebG
Pick a cause & stand up for it

Member since 5/05

18602 total posts

Name:
The cure IS worse!

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

Posted by Crismicka

Disgusting! But I have to sadly say, I'm not shocked. I use to teach in an area where there were a large amount of foster children. The parents benefited, the kids didn't. The parents had nice cars, high end clothes, manicures, jewelry, etc. We hardly saw these parents at Open House or PT Conferences. Many kids were unkempt, with ratty clothes...coming to school without supplies, breakfast, lunch, homework, shoes...yes I said shoes! It just seemed as if the parents took kids in to receive aid from the state, but could care less about them. Same idea here!
DISGUSTING!!!


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Posted 8/12/05 7:08 AM
 

GenLCSW
Baby # 3 is here!!!

Member since 7/05

21138 total posts

Name:
Genna

Re: "Extreme Makeover" family feud (Leomitis/Higgins family)

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Posted 8/12/05 8:50 AM
 
 

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