The last time Hills alum and plastic surgery cover girl Heidi Montag was on a reality show, she quit. Several times. Now, she says, things are different.
On Sunday's premiere of VH1's Famous Food (10/9c), she will compete — this time, without husband Spencer Pratt — against six other celebrities to win a partnership in a brand new Hollywood restaurant. She talks to TVGuide.com about the lessons learned from I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! and why she wanted to call the new restaurant Fame.
Exclusive: Get your first taste of VH1's Famous Food
What have you been up to — besides eating pie and working out -- in the last year? You and Spencer have been curiously low-key.
Heidi Montag: Actually, what I've really been up to is Famous Food. That's kind of been my project and what I've been waiting to do after everything that's happened. I wanted to do a reality show about something I was really passionate about. I grew up in the restaurant industry since I was 2 years old. I've worked in restaurants since I was 13 up until I was 18. So I've been waiting all year to do this show, and it's been a really exciting adventure.
You were looking for a new reality TV project? Or were you doing other things as well?
Montag: No, actually I wasn't even planning on doing anything in reality TV unless it was a great opportunity. I heard about this show awhile ago and I was just really excited and passionate about the opportunity to be a potential owner of a restaurant and to compete with several other celebrities to win that partnership. It really just spoke to my heart because it's always been a dream of mine to own a restaurant. I jumped right in.
Was there ever any possibility that you and Spencer would compete in Famous Food as Team Speidi?
Montag: No, that was never an option.
What does Spencer have going on?
Montag: Ummm, not much!
It's weird not to see him pop up in headlines all the time. The most recent one I read was last month, when he auctioned his monster truck on eBay for $5,500. [In November, the couple told Life & Style that they had blown $10 million and had declared bankruptcy.]
Montag: Yeah, well, he just has various projects and when he's ready to announce them, I'm sure you will hear about it.
I watched the first episode of Famous Food on VH1.com. It seems to be even more intense — and actually, pretty violent! -- than I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, a show you quit more than once. What lessons did you learn from competing there about how to win this show?
Montag: Um, stay in the game! (laughs) That is the No. 1 lesson I learned. And also, to just deal with people. I'm not big into fighting and drama, so I just tried to stay away from these crazy celebrities when they get like that.
Did you have any physical altercations with anyone?
Montag: No, I stayed very clear from it. I'm not that kind of person at all. I never have been and hopefully I'll never have to be in a situation like that. Actually, there were several points where it was very scary to be in the room, and I would just leave the room because it was something I've never experienced before. There were some really crazy moments, and I'm thankful I had nothing to do with them. I didn't know if we'd even be able to keep filming for some of them.
None of the other competitors bring up your plentiful plastic surgeries in the first episode. Were you surprised not to have to talk about it? Or was that stuff just edited out?
Montag: Well, yeah, it has nothing to do with it. I'd really rather not talk about it because it has nothing to with this show or my life anymore.
You seem to bond quickly with Real Housewives of New Jersey's Danielle Staub in the premiere. You had a nice wine break. Why do you think you got along?
Montag: Actually, I kind of asked both her and [contestant Ashley Dupre, the former call girl at the center of the Eliot Spitzer scandal] to get some wine because it was just the girls and I'm married and I like to stay very far away from guys (laughs). I thought Danielle invited her down and I guess she never did. It wasn't me needing to just be friends with Danielle alone. I pretty much like everyone on the show. I wanted to get along with everyone from the beginning to the end. Obviously, people like to try and start stuff, but I tried to get along. I wanted alone time with everyone.
Did you and Danielle have a falling out? She just told US Magazine that you were "not the sharpest tool."
Montag: Well, the rest of the quote is "not the sharpest, but not the dullest," so from her, I think that's a compliment.
Is there anyone you didn't get along with?
Montag: No, actually. For the most part I tried to stay as neutral as I could. That wasn't what it was about for me. I didn't want to go there and make all this drama. I'm there to really open a restaurant and fulfill my dreams. Also, it's such a time limit — we only have 28 days to open this restaurant, so for me, I'm really focused on the end game, not all the preschool drama.
What was the hardest part of being on the show?
Montag: No one gets eliminated, and that made it harder because everyone wants it so much until the very end. It brings so much more chaos. But the hardest part was just agreeing. Everyone thinks it's their restaurant but we have to work individually to stand out as a potential owner. Everyone wants everything their own way.
Originally, you wanted to call the restaurant Fame. What is it about being a celebrity that both you and Spencer seem to be so obsessed with? You guys wrote a book about it and there was even a fake divorce...
Montag: Well, I wanted to call it Fame because I think everyone's famous, you know? Everyone in their own way is a reality star or could be a movie star. It's being in the right place at the right time that determines who becomes famous. So, I think the essence of Hollywood is fame — people come there to fulfill their dreams and be a movie star and famous. That's what it's about, so I wanted to do a kind of Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood-type of restaurant. It's not about our fame, it's about everyone's fame. That's how I came up with it.
Has it been difficult staying in the limelight?
Montag: It's not a focus. Nope, not at all.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
Montag: That is a tough one. Wolfgang Puck's Cut. I love Benihana, I think it's such a great restaurant. I love Katsuya.
What else is on the horizon? More music, more shows?
Montag: As of right now, it's just day by day. Famous Food is what I have been really waiting for and it's what I've been focused on. Once this show airs, then I'll start focusing on the next project and figuring out where we'll go from there.
Bonus: Danielle dropped by our studio. Find out what she had to say about her strategy and teaming up with Heidi:
Famous Food premieres Sunday at 10/9c on VH1.