Entertainment Weekly June 2006
Entertainment Weekly June 2006
Big Mama* had better watch out for Shannen Doherty. That is, if Big Mama’s big boss Jenny, a double-chinned drag queen eerily resembling a burlesque Kathy Hilton, has her way. “[Big Mama] has become very lackadaisical and late and a diva. And I’m like, ‘Honey, you’re a man in a dress working in a bar.”… Please, Shannen Doherty, help me.” It’s early afternoon in the Hollywood casting offices of Oxygen’s latest reality series, and Jenny and a gaggle of conflict-phobes are taping auditions as they prepare to dump their significant others, sisters, roommates, and cross-dressing employees. Not that any of them actually wants to do the dirty work. For that hatchet job, they’ve turned to a seeming natural: feisty Beverly Hills, 90210 ingenue-turned-tabloid queen Shannen Doherty.
“Breaking up with people is the absolute hardest thing to do.” says Doherty, 35, who agreed to host and exec-produce the series after her former Scare Tactics exec producers Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey pitched the title. In this reverse-dating show, Doherty hand-delivers breakup videos and helps the victims cope with their losses. “I’m not an expert on relationships. Clearly.” says the starlet, who has a divorce and an annualment under her belt. “But I can say, I feed what you’re going through. I’ve had those feelings too.” Hold on a second. When did Shannen Doherty turn into Barbara Walters? Isn’t this the same woman whose fabled 90210-era bitchiness got bashed a couple of months ago by former costar Tori Spelling on “So noTORIous?” Doherty sighs and pauses before addressing the attack. “[Spelling] sent me a tape of the pilot and a very, very, very small note asking me to do the show, promising that she would never say a bad word about me ever, and we used to be best friends, and still care about each other,” says Doherty, explaining that she was upset when friends called to tell her about the on-air abuse. “I was on a self-imposed hiatus. I needed time to myself and I said no. I don’t know if it was something taken personally or maybe it was “If we make fun of her, it will still bring in the ratings and publicity.” It did hurt. I hope it helped her. If mentioning my name made people write about it, then great. Good for you. I get it. It’s a business.” (Spelling replies: “I have nothing but good feelings towards Shannen… a smart woman with a sence of humor about herself. I’m sure she got that from the show. I wish her the best.”)
Far more shocking was when an Oxygen executive-who should have been an ally, also dissed Doherty. “She is the ideal addition to our roster of… somethings controversial women,” said the programming and marketing president Debby Beece in the release announcing Breaking Up’s premiere. Doherty quickly counters the charge. “I haven’t been controversial in 15 years!” she sais, raising her raspy voice, exasperated by a reputation she can’t seem to shake. “What have I done?! I don’t leave my house. I play a videogame that has become my boyfriend. What’s controversial about that? I don’t date anymore. I’m doing nothing. Life changes when you’re in your 30s. You grow up.” Giggly, dorky, and endearingly intent on making a good first impression, Doherty seems about as tabloid-ready as Madeleine Albright. “In the focus groups no one saw her as a negative person,” reveals Healey. “They thought of her as a girlfriend.” Adds Hallock, “She’s not really a hammer unless a hammer is required.” (Incidentally, an ego smashing did occur when one sleazy dumpee said to Doherty, “You’re the last Coca-Cola in the desert to a thirsty man… Are you ovulating?”) Could ‘Breaking Up’ heal Doherty’s troubled relationship with the public? “As my mom says to me, One person at a time. [For] everybody that says, ‘Oh, you’re so nice,’ that person tells someone else,” says Doherty, who also runs No Apologies Productions, where she’s developing a TV-drama for herself. “Live your life, be a good person, believe in God, trust in yourself. That’s all you can do.” C’mon. Don’t go all soft on us just as we’re looking forward to seeing you fire people. - Jessica Shaw *Names have been changed to protect those in drag. Okay- the producers just haven’t shot the episode yet.