The couple, who became famous after starring in the MTV hit reality show "The Hills," have a reputation for publicity-driven stunts that are more "show" than "reality." They scored an Us Weekly cover story for their supposed Mexican elopment and then basked in even more headline speculation over whether they were really married or not. It turned out they were not, and they generated another round of coverage when they made it legal in California months later.
This latest Speidi development begs the question whether the Pratts and the "I'm a Celebrity" producers are working together to pull one over on the audience.
"Who's in on this? It's not clear," Malkin said. "Are Heidi and Spencer in bed with the producers?"
Longtime Hollywood publicist Michael Levine hated to think the shows' producer would be so devious.
"God, I hope not," he said. "But I'm afraid to say I think not. In today's media world, I'm reluctant to say it's impossible.
"If it were true, it would be pretty contemptible," Levine added. "Playing on viewers' sympathy over someone's health is just contemptible. It opens the door to what do we do next? Threaten to shoot a dog? It's a contemptible slippery slope."
If Heidi is feigning illness to win viewers' sympathy and generate publicity, is that wrong in the context of the show's rules, which allow viewers to vote on who should remain in the Costa Rican jungle where the show is filmed? If that's the case, the underhanded tactics would at least be for a good cause. All the celebrities on the show are competing for charity, and any winnings the couple collects will go to Feed The Children.
Malkin is also not sure who or what to believe. He spoke to Stephanie Pratt Sunday after she posted a message on her Twitter account saying her sister was "rushed to the hospital and has an IV in her arm after being locked in a dark room for 3 days w no food or water. Pls pray she will be ok."
Stephanie Pratt also accused NBC of taking the show "too far." "Im really saddened to hear that nbc felt it was ok to punish speidi so harshly-and torture them as if they were criminals," she wrote on Twitter.
Malkin said Stephanie was "dead serious" when she told E! Online that her sister "was throwing up 30 times with nothing in her stomach. She was really sick. She thought she was dying ... It's insane!"
But Malkin also spoke to a source from the show who contradicted Stephanie Pratt's account. The source told Malkin that the Pratts were in the isolation chamber for about 14 hours, were given food rations and slept and prayed the time away. The insider said not only was Heidi not vomiting, but they were "in happy spirits when they came out of the chamber."
Regardless of the latest twist in the Speidi experience, Levine believes we will look back at Heidi and Spencer 50 years from now and wonder what the big deal was.
"They are a goofy pair in a goofy age," he said. "It's easy to condemn them. But the audience is also ridiculous for partnering in their absurdity."