Toronto Sun July 12th 2006
Toronto Sun July 12th 2006


Shannen Doherty and Danny Bonaduce

PASADENA, Calif. -- Every good press tour starts with a celebrity train wreck. This tour started with Danny Bonaduce and Shannen Doherty.
They were the star attractions as the U.S. cable network portion of the July 2006 press tour began.

The first few days usually feature a parade of misfits and rejects -- and those are just the TV critics! Joan Rivers kicked things off Monday night by not showing up. Instead, daughter Melissa told the handful of press gathered for a sad little TV Guide Channel presentation that mom was too busy selling bad jewelry on a home shopping channel to grace us with her presence. Rivers then popped up on a video screen, made a joke about her many facelifts and announced that she would soon conduct her 1,000th red-carpet interview.

Thanks for mailing it in.

Bonaduce at least had the decency to show up. The 46-year-old former Partridge Family brat was here to promote Starface, a new game show premiering Aug. 1 on the digital network GSN. The series tests contestant's knowledge of celebrity screw-ups. Mug shots of everyone from Nick Nolte to James Brown are thrown on screen and questions asked.

As Bonaduce himself cracked, "if we have a problem with any of the mug shots we can always use one of mine."

Bonaduce has made tabloid headlines for everything from infidelity to drug addiction to picking up hookers, all shamelessly relayed in his autobiography Random Acts Of Badness. He's perfect for this show.

Yours truly got pulled up on stage to help him demonstrate how the show works. I was asked questions about Tom Cruise and Abe Lincoln. "Which one was accused of having a bad beard?" The answer: Cruise. Think about it.

Up close, Bonaduce looks like he has partied hard. His hoarse, gravely voice doesn't help. Why was he chosen to host a game show? "It wasn't like there was a rush to hire me," Bonaduce cracked. GSN president Rich Cronin came to Bonaduce's defence, saying, "even in his darkest time the guy is a pro." He's also a name and notorious is good if you're a little network trying to grab a headline away from HBO.

Besides, America loves bad boys. Bonaduce is happy to play "recovered Danny" if it will pay the bills. Besides, even if he falls off the wagon, he pointed out, who's going to replace him -- "Gary Coleman?"

This isn't his first game-show experience. When he was 12 and all freckles and curls, he was on The Dating Game. His prize was a date in Disneyland. "I got kissed dude, it rocked," he said. "You grow up around David Cassidy, chicks just start flying at you."

Doherty was up next promoting her new reality series, Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty (launching Aug. 22 on U.S. cable's Oxygen network). The bizarre premise has Doherty stepping in for folks who are too timid to confront and dump their mates. In the clip shown to critics, she tells a total jerk to get lost. He instantly forgets his girlfriend and starts hitting on Doherty. "Are you ovulating?" he asks. Smooth.

The 35-year-old actress admitted that if she was ambushed on a series like this, "I would not sign the release." Why do so many others seem eager to humiliate themselves on television?
"It's America," she said. "People have a thirst for it."

Doherty has had her own rocky relationships and the scars to prove it. Married twice (including one brief liaison with Ashley Hamilton, son of George Hamilton and Alana Stewart), she was also once engaged to Judd Nelson. No more actors, she told me after yesterday's session. "I look back and shiver," she says of some of her past loves.
Still, she's right for this show because she knows how to end relationships. Not that she's had much practice lately. She said she has been on one date in a year-and-a-half.

She teared up talking about Aaron Spelling (the late TV titan who hired -- and fired -- her from both Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed).

She especially teared up about being permanently cast in the press as an impossible little bitch, a tag that is at least 10 years old, she said.

"It hurts a lot to read that stuff," she said. "It hurts my mom (who was in the room)."

It has taken a toll professionally, too. Last season, Doherty was cast in a UPN series called Love, Inc. She never made it past the pilot. Producers loved her performance but her negatives, as they say in this business, finished her.

She accepts some of the blame for past bad behaviour -- especially when she was a rebellious teen -- but wishes the press would let go and move on. "The only thing I can do is be myself," she said.

An upcoming project she couldn't name has her very excited. Perhaps she'll get a second chance to, as she put it, "dance with the media."

Bonaduce could probably show her some moves.