May 12, 2008

Rolling Stone Current Issue: Why MTV's 'The Hills' is the Show You Love to Hate

It's a chilly spring night in Los Angeles when I arrive at Don Antonio's Mexican restaurant to join the End of Western Civilization for nachos and chicken enchiladas. The EOWC, of course, is Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, a.k.a. Speidi, the fabulously toxic power couple of The Hills — the real-ish MTV reality drama about L.A. twentysomethings praised as "the most influential show we've ever had" by MTV president of entertainment Brian Graden — and watching the fair-haired lovers stroll through their beloved Don Antonio's feels like seeing Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe walk into the Stork Club back in the day. That is, if Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were, instead of a sports hero and a legendary sex symbol, the irresistible villains of a maddeningly addictive TV show in which nothing ever really happens.

We take seats at a dimly lit corner booth, and you can almost hear the text messages being tapped underneath nearby tables — omfg spencer n heidi r here!!! Spencer, 24, who's wearing a black Don Antonio's polo and a wispy blond goatee, rattles off a grande order without consulting the menu. Heidi, a 21-year-old mane of blond highlights dressed in a blue sweater and white sweatpants, tucks her tiny head into his shoulder.

"I wish I got to see what you saw today," Spencer says.

He's referring to this afternoon's cover photo shoot attended by Heidi and her three Hills castmates: Audrina Patridge, 22, Whitney Port, 23, and the show's protagonist, Lauren Conrad, 22, with whom Heidi has been engaged in an ugly feud. Once best friends and roommates, the two women have spent the past year and a half bickering back and forth in celebrity weeklies — a rift that, depending on whom you talk to, stems from either a Lauren sex-tape story that Spencer and Heidi leaked to the press (Lauren's version; they deny it), or Lauren's jealousy of Spencer and Heidi (their version; Lauren denies it), or Spencer's overall control-freakiness, or a cabal of genius MTV executives secretly pulling ratings/goosing strings behind a curtain. Whatever the case, the shoot was the first time Heidi and Lauren had been photographed, and not Photoshopped (as MTV has been forced to do), together in more than a year.


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