Bird-Loving Desert Dweller Heidi Fleiss Explores Animal Planet Series

by | December 8, 2010 at 8:10 AM | RealityTV, TV News

Former Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Former Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)


Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss starring in her own show on Animal Planet? It could happen, now that she’s signed a deal with a producer of unscripted TV shows to “explore” the possibility of developing a series for the animal-oriented cable network.

What does Heidi Fleiss have to do with animals? Well, she happens to be the owner of a number of exotic birds – parrots, cockatoos and the like – which reportedly live largely uncaged in her rented house in Pahrump, Nev., a desert community about 60 miles west of Las Vegas.

Her proposed reality series would focus on her life as caretaker and protector of her flock, according to TMZ.

However, what TMZ didn’t report, but we can, is this: According to an Animal Planet source, Heidi is signed with one of the most prolific production companies in the non-scripted TV arena – producer Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Productions. That’s the company that brought you ‘Dirty Jobs,’ ‘Ghost Hunters,’ ‘American Chopper’ and about two dozen other shows. TMZ says Heidi told them she’s signed to shoot a pilot. Our sources say Heidi might be jumping the gun on that, but it is true that the production company has already done some shooting, as part of the process of exploring whether a series is feasible.

And that will depend in large part on Fleiss herself and whether or not she can be relied upon to meet her commitments to the production if an actual series ever comes to fruition. In 2006, she booted a production crew from her Nevada home after they followed her around for 10 months for an HBO documentary. The film – ‘Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal (Nev.)’ – was completed anyway and premiered on HBO in July 2008.

In the documentary, Fleiss admitted she was addicted to methamphetamine. The film also told the story of her birds – which then numbered nearly 70 (for reasons that are unclear, TMZ puts the current total at 20) – and how Heidi inherited them from an elderly former madam who lived in a trailer behind Heidi’s house and left her the birds in her will.

When it comes to TV, Fleiss, 44, (whose cousin, Mike Fleiss, also produces reality-TV shows) has a checkered history. Most notably, she was seen last year on ‘Celebrity Rehab’ on VH1, during which she left the show and rehabilitation facility, crashed her SUV and then returned. She was also seen subsequently on ‘Sober House.’

Just this past Thanksgiving, a fire broke out in her home, but by all accounts, none of her birds were injured, and neither was she.

Animal Planet’s exploration of a show starring Heidi Fleiss indicates that the channel is on the lookout for edgier animal shows. Another new series – featuring boxer Mike Tyson and his pet pigeons – is tentatively scheduled to premiere next year.

What do you think of Animal Planet’s new edgy approach to the world of people and pets?