Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight
IF YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG, SO, very often, are nationally syndicated talk shows. Not everyone in the latest batch of TV chat hosts is a kid anymore, but the shows seem more juvenile than ever. Here's a rundown:
Carnie She empathizes like Ricki; she hugs like Rolonda. She's Carnie Wilson, 27, daughter of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and one-third of the singing group Wilson Phillips. On her first show, she wailed, "I really do care! I really, really care!" We know! We know! On one show, about hurtful gossip, Carnie hustled up onto the stage to comfort a panelist. "I have been in the public eye my whole life," she confessed. "I am here, and it's going to be all right." (I'm feeling better already.) Carnie wades right into the emotional maelstrom, stroking the distraught guests. If she is going to get so close to active weepers, then she should rethink that satin wardrobe.
Danny! Who says there are no second acts in American lives? This show stars Danny Bonaduce, 36, the former child star of The Partridge Family who stumbled into drug and sex scandals. His métier: frank talk and game show antics. Unfortunately, the production is so cheap that every time the audience claps, it sounds like a stampede. Bonaduce is certainly not embarrassed to ask anything. He quizzed Beverly Heard, the teen who brought down Rep. Mel Reynolds, about lesbianism and threesomes. His refreshing lack of sanctimony sets him apart from the herd.
Former Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Gabrielle Carteris, 34, brings a relaxed approach to such standard talk show fare as why women go for bad boys and surgical body sculpting. The show has bounce and vitality, helped along by daytime's rowdiest audience. Carteris's smooth manner—like a younger, unpretentious Sally Jessy Raphaël—gives this show the best chance of succeeding.
The George & Alana Show The ex-Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton are introduced as "a couple celebrating their 17th year of estrangement." (Actually it's 19, but who's counting.) It's an empty hour of happy talk and B-list celebs (Alan Thicke, David Hasselhoff). George, 56, and Alana, 48, treat each other with a practiced air of exasperation. Imagine, if you can, a less substantive Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.
Lauren Hutton and... The model and Central Park West star tries a one-on-one interview show with guests from showbiz (Kathleen Turner) to science (oceanographer Sylvia Earle). The wrinkle is the show's flashy style. Hutton, 51, and her guest sit across from each other at a table surrounded by mirrors and monitors. The camera shifts between people, their reflections and their black-and-white guest format.
Tempestt Tempestt Bledsoe, the former Cosby Show cutie, is all grown up at 22. Though she's the youngest host on the air, her show, which alternates between serious and frivolous topics, has a relatively mature, sedate tone. She brings enthusiasm to the job, but also a high-pitched voice with a rising inflection that makes every statement sound like a question.
Mark Walberg This obscure former comedian should be sent to a remedial course on talk show hosting. He has not mastered the fundamentals, like extending the microphone to audience members. As his panelists pour out their tales, Walberg, 32, keeps exclaiming, "Wow!" Judging by his woebegone guests, I suspect his talent bookers moonlight as parole officers.