NBC is calling its new reality series "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!" the ultimate "Swiss Family Robinson." However, the comparison would seem to create an unusual family tree with the likes of "American Idol" castoff Sanjaya Malakar, Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt from MTV's "The Hills," NBA great John Salley, Patti Blagojevich (wife of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was denied the right to participate on the series), actor Lou Diamond Phillips and professional wrestler/beauty queen Torrie Wilson all vying to see who can last longer in the Costa Rican jungle. If that group wasn't compelling enough, add model Janice Dickinson and actor Stephen Baldwin to the mix. Dickinson and Baldwin took a break from prepping for the reality series to share their expectations and size up their fellow contestants. One thing is clear - if this conversation was an indication of anything it's that the adventure is sure to be anything but boring.
Baldwin kicked off the chat by talking about reality and the psychology of reality in this new series. "It's going to be a chance for different individuals to really be who they are and express themselves and whatever that means to the individual. And, for me, as kind of kooky as reality seems I really enjoy that aspect of it. It's an opportunity to be in an environment with people who you might not ever hear those different perspectives from whether it be faith-based or political or whatever."
The series is also a chance for a variety of B-list celebrities to interact in often-intense situations. "I love that at any point during 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here'," Baldwin said, "Spencer might, you know, beat the crap out of me. It's just exciting." The ever-outspoken Dickinson scoffed at the thought that Pratt could overpower Baldwin. "Stephen Baldwin of the Baldwin family," she said, "Each one of these brothers have individual talents. Stephen, you're a star. Spencer, what did he ever do? He got married on 'The Hills,' big fucking deal."
As for another competitor, Baldwin admitted, "I think I was most surprised by Sanjaya. You know, because then I met him and talked to him for about 10 seconds. I think he's going to be dead in five minutes." Dickinson quickly countered Baldwin by saying, "No, no, no, no, no, he's Indian, man, he's slumdog. They exist on, like, air... I challenge you on that. I think little slumdog... he got past 'American Idol.'"
Dickinson scoffed again when asked how prepared she was for the series. "I don't have to prepare myself because I'm a surfer and I scuba dive. And in order to have courage on 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here' you have to face your fears." Having already appeared on the UK version of the series, Dickinson came face to face with one of her biggest fears already. "If a rat comes near me I'm out of there. I mean the last time I did it... seriously, a fucking rat climbed on my cot and bit my fingers. And I do not intend - I have catastrophic trauma, you know, from the last time from this big old hairy rat."
However, Dickinson added that facing your fears does have a positive outcome and "is going to allow me to perhaps gather some more courage. I am a parent. I have two teenagers and that's a big job in itself. So I'm really grateful to put my fake eyelashes and my hair extensions and my nail polish away for a month to get out there and participate with everybody in the camp at the campsite and tell camp stories."
Baldwin compared his thoughts on competing on reality series with real people as opposed to one with celebrities. "'Survivor' is going to involve people who may not necessarily react the same way celebrities do. I mean, obviously because of the difference in life experience and just overall life style. Like for example, you know, Janice is afraid of a rat and I would make a rat my friend. Who knows how a civilian might respond to that, you know? But I just think that when you get certain personalities that are creative into certain situations that are pressurized and unpredictable it just allows for regular Joe people to see people that they maybe hold in a certain light or esteem or whatever reacting like regular people. So it's going to be fun just to see what I can do to be a part of causing those kinds of reactions."
While each reality show usually has at least one contestant that stirs the pot, Dickinson is fully aware of whom that person will be in this cast. " If anybody wants to cause a stir in reality that would be me out of anybody," she proudly said. "That's why they're building the show and I was the first person asked."
Surely having previously lived through the reality series experience can be an advantage, according to Baldwin. "I've worked with Mark Burnett and did 'Celebrity Apprentice' and people asked me how was it? And it was way more difficult than people had realized because of what the producers had put you through." The actor added that Dickinson "has the advantage here because she's already done this sort of thing within this team of producers before. But there really is no way to prepare for it quite honestly. I just think that we've got to get down there and I believe it's the person who is mentally the most agile and physically the most able to adjust to the situation is going to be the winner. That's it."
Who will go further � Baldwin or Dickinson? The two didn't make a prediction but did express how they will approach some of the more challenging tests in the competition. "There's something wrong me," said Baldwin. "I kind of like when I get to go do something and if I'm going to break my leg or something then that's cool, whatever. The leg will heal, you know? But I will say that eating gross stuff really sucks. So hopefully I won't have to eat too much gross stuff." Dickinson admitted, "That's the beauty of the show. You know, like watching glamour-puss Dickinson... I don't know. Stephen's a bad ass so he can handle shit."
Another challenge will be living without the staples of American life. "He's not going to get those Starbucks," Dickinson said of her co-star, who joked, "I'm having them airlifted into the jungle."
One thing that both contestants agreed upon is that it doesn't take long for the cameras to become invisible when doing a reality show. "That's the point of what makes this whole thing interesting," Baldwin shared. "There were a couple times during 'Celebrity Apprentice' - I'm a born again Christian. I'm not supposed to be saying cuss words. There were a couple times when I got pissed off and frustrated and I let a couple things fly. And all of the sudden I was like oh my goodness is there a camera?"
The winner of "I'm A Celebrity... " gets more than bragging rights. Each celebrity has picked a charity to donate any prize money they could win in the course of the show. Dickinson's charity is the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation while Baldwin is playing for an organization called Love 146, which is a charity "involved in human trafficking. It is all about the abolition of child sexual slavery."
"I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here" premieres tonight on NBC as a live two-hour event at 8:00/7:00c and then will air each night, Monday through Thursday, until its finale on Wednesday, June 24.