Shannen Doherty doesn’t have a great track record in reality TV.
She spent one season as the host of SyFy Channel’s hidden camera show “Scare Tactics” (back when it was still called Sci Fi Channel). Fronted Oxygen’s “Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty,” which lasted a single season. And was the first celebrity eliminated on the tenth season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
(She’s also been mocked for participating in a series of ads for online college EducationConnection.com, even though her goal is to get a degree as a tribute to her late father.)
But she’s not giving up just yet. Doherty’s latest reality project is the WE tv docu-series “Shannen Says,” charting a seven week rush to the alter with photographer fiancé Kurt Iswarienko. It’s her most personal and revealing reality effort yet, and Doherty’s personality seems suited to the medium. This one just might work.
Doherty’s former “Beverly Hills 90210” co-star Tori Spelling has had better luck with her relationship-centric reality show “Tori & Dean,” which has lasted six seasons on Oxygen. And another “90210” grad, Jennie Garth, enters the fray later this month with CMT’s “Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country.”
What separates Shannen is her bad girl reputation. Iswarienko will be her third husband (although since her second marriage — to infamous Paris Hilton sex tape co-star Rick Salomon — was annulled, she prefers to say she’s only been married once before). And she’s known for being a bit of a diva. “Shannen Says” doesn’t do a whole lot to dispel that perception.
From browbeating Iswarienko over his decision to spend Sunday morning (Doherty’s self-proclaimed “family day”) playing football with his friends, to making it perfectly clear to celebrity wedding planner David Tutera (of WE’s “My Fair Wedding”) that the wedding will be done exactly as she says, Doherty is a woman who wants to get her way. Always. (Her argument to Iswarienko: “If they can find somebody to replace me on ‘90210,’ they can find someone to replace you in a friggin’ football game!”)
As she bonds with Tutera over astrological signs, he says he understands that Aries (Doherty’s sign) are stubborn. But Doherty prefers to think of herself as “determined.”
That determination is on full display throughout the first two episodes of the show. WE will air eight episodes in all, culminating with the wedding, which provides a clear arc to the action. There’s also plenty of built-in tension from the stress of planning a major event in a short timeframe, and the natural conflicts that arise between Doherty and Iswarienko, and Doherty and Tutera.
Doherty has been a working actress since the age of 10 and has all the career peaks (TV hits “90210” and “Charmed,” cult movie favorites “Heathers” and “Mallrats”) and valleys (Fox’s flop soap “North Shore,” the ill-advised softcore detour “Blindfold: Acts of Obsession” opposite Judd Nelson) to show for it.
She’s both a Hollywood survivor and a captivating screen presence. More importantly for reality TV, she’s equal doses crazy and amusing.
She wants to make sure every single guest wears black to her wedding. If they don’t they’ll be ushered away by security. She initially believes she can plan the entire wedding herself in just seven weeks because, in her words, “I’ve directed TV shows. Honestly, how hard can a wedding be?” (By the way, her directing career basically amounts to a few episodes of “Charmed.”)
There’s a chance all this attitude will go over like a lead balloon with the same viewers who didn’t vote for her to stick around on “Dancing with Stars.” And anyone hoping for Doherty to dish some celebrity dirt won’t find anything beyond brief fawning references to Ron Howard and Jason Bateman, and the tidbit that the “90210” prop department designed her first wedding.
But the slickly produced show — loaded with glamorous shots of Doherty’s Malibu home and the gorgeous locations she scouts for the wedding — looks great and moves swiftly from one drama to the next. It’s probably unwise to ask much more than that from celeb-reality TV.
“Shannen Says” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on WEtv