Category Archives: Ask Stacy by Stacy Jenel Smith

The Ask Stacy column

‘DWTS’ Pro Tony Dovolani Steps Out in Comedy/Rock ‘n’ Roll Caterer Inspires Reality Shows

Tony Dovolani

 Dancing With the Stars” pro Tony Dovolani got to try out his comedy acting chops in next week’s (Feb. 19) episode of TV Land’s “The Exes” — and loved it.

 The nice guy ballroom champ tells us that his one-time “DWTS” partner, Leah Remini, called him out of the blue.  “She said, ‘All right, you’ve been preparing for acting for a long time and I’m going to make sure you get the opportunity.’  I guess they had put a scene together for her, dancing, and she said ‘How about if I bring Tony?’

“The question was, ‘Can he act?'” Tony recounts, “and she said, ‘I’ve seen him study.'”  They not only brought him in, but gave him more and more lines, much to Tony’s delight.  He points out, “Normally in situations like this, if you’re not good they take your lines away.  So that means they liked what they saw.”

He was definitely required to act, since the script called for him to play a fellow who didn’t know how to dance, that Leah’s character teaches.  “It was such an incredible experience — definitely a favor returned on her part.  She just made me feel like I could conquer the world, and you know that’s a special quality in a person,” says Tony.

He enjoyed getting laughs from the audience, applause from Leah and from the “Exes” cast including Donald Faison, Wayne Knight and David Alan Basche.  One of the show’s producers “gave me a very nice vote of confidence.  He said, ‘Tony you’re very warm on camera.  You’re very likable.  You come across very nice.  I think this is something you should pursue.'”

Not that he has any intention of putting aside his dancing shoes.  The 18th season of “DWTS” is set to launch March 17, and as far as Tony is concerned, there is no end in sight for the show.   “Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly entertained audiences for 70 years — musicals and dance were a part of our culture.  So I don’t see it going away.  Every year we do something new and we twist it a little bit and we mix it up a little,” he says.  He also considers “DWTS” the most positive of programs, because not only does the winner triumph but so do other competitors, in that “they’ve still accomplished something for themselves….It shows how difficult some things are, but  If you work hard, anything is possible.  That’s the message every week, and I think we need more of that on television.”


EAT, PLAY, LOVE:  Shelleylyn Brandler, lovely blond cast member on FUSE TV’s “Warped Roadies,” just might be stepping into her own reality TV spotlight soon.  The rock ‘n’ roll caterer, whose TaDa company hands out all kinds of gourmet grub to music stars from Taylor Swift to Marilyn Manson, has been paged by pal Gene Simmons to star in a prospective cooking show titled “Rock Star Chef.” 

The KISS frontman is “the most amazing mentor I could ask for.  He is busy with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame right now,” she notes, referring to KISS’ induction into that rarified group April 10, “but after that we’re going to get together about it.”  Meanwhile, another producing entity has been pitching a reality show centered on Shelleylyn and her world, called “‘Sex, Food and Rock ‘n’ Roll.’  Food is the new drug.”  She notes, “It’s a matter of finding the right home.”

In the ’90s, she was a concert production runner with a rocker boyfriend — and a knack for snacks the bands began to crave.  “It was my brother who said, ‘There’s Martha Stewart, but there’s no one for the urban, punk, rock ‘n’ roll style.  You could really make a niche for yourself in rock ‘n’ roll catering,” recalls Shelleylyn.  She also recalls lackluster food — at best — being served on rock tours.  “Nobody was caring about food or being a foodie. I remember sitting in my  living room coining the word ‘foodie,’ because I just cared so much,” she declares.  “I wasn’t a great chef, but I knew that on my worst day, I could do better than what some of these professional people were doing.  My turkey sandwiches were made with fresh rosemary bread I made myself — so what I did was always a little better than what I was seeing.”

Along with a generous portion of nerve, she lucked out in terms of timing — just ahead of the explosion of interest in chefs and culinary arts.  Now her credits include nine years of catering for the Coachella Festival, plus The Warped Tour, the Mayhem Tour, tours for Taylor Swift, Beyonce, shows including the BET Awards and many more.  She knows that Miley Cyrus is gluten free and Tobey Maguire is vegan, and she recently learned how to cook Kosher for some orthodox rockers.  And perhaps most importantly, her go-to hangover cure is “menudo, the Mexican soup.”

WRIST WATCH:  Despite all the heavy breathing, cat-fights and sexy bodies on display on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” obvservant viewers may have noticed that The Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis wears the same bracelet all the time.  That’s all the time as in every scene and every photograph, from poolside with his daughter to the hot tub with one of his wannabe wives, to when he’s modeling teeny tiny swim trunks and handing out roses.  No, it’s not a high-end accessory — it’s a Step by Step Foundation bracelet.  This band is a symbol of an international non profit ( that helps children in need around the world.  It was founded by Juan Pablo’s friend Liliane Stransky who is also from Venezuela.  We’re told he has been an active supporter for three years now.  Now, there’s some exposure anyone can feel good about.

Why ‘Sean Saves the World’ is Bringing Linda Lavin Back to TV

sean saves the worldLinda Lavin offers a very simple explanation for her return to series TV in NBC’s forthcoming “Sean Saves the World” with Sean Hayes:  “I go where the material is best,” says the Tony winner and American Theatre Hall of Famer.

The actress who ruled the airwaves as title star of the classic sitcom “Alice”’ from 1976-1985 plays Hayes’ sometimes contentious, often pushy mother in the October 3-debuting show.

She tells us she’s been offered other roles of mothers.  However, “This is the first best mother I’ve read in television in a very long time — because she’s not a joke, or the butt of a joke.  She’s not a simplification.  She’s a full-blown human being, and I choose to do women who are looking for their own identity beyond being someone’s mother,” adds Lavin, true to her consciousness of female equality that “Alice” fans no doubt recall. 

She goes on, “Who she is, is an evolving, opinionated, alive, lively, sensible and attractive woman who wants to have a full life with her son, with her grandchild and for herself.  I think she’s extremely identifiable with this generation of women who have adult children and grandchildren and are saying to the world, I’m also somebody – not just your mother, not just your grandmother.  My identity, and her identity is very respected by the writer, Victor Fresco, and that means a lot to me.”

“Sean Saves the World” is getting much attention for bringing the gifted Hayes back to the tube, of course – in the role of a divorced gay dad who is attempting to balance his demanding job, his teenaged daughter and, yes, his mom, who is such a woman to be reckoned with.  Lavin says she and Hayes hit it off like long-time friends right away.

She looks younger than her septuagenarian status.  But she shrugs off compliments.   “I know I’m aging, and I know my body is changing and my face has changed, but I’m happy with being here and being accepted and being alive and being well and working.  I think a lot of that is why I have the energy I do.”

As for returning to the situation comedy game itself, it sounds as if Lavin finds it like riding a bike.  “The process is the same.  There’s a script, there’s a sit-down at a table, there’s rewriting, there’s rehearsal, there’s an audience.  It’s not a whole different world.”

EATING SPORTS FOR BREAKFAST:  With NBC’s Sunday Night Football ready for its new season – launching with its Thursday night (9/5) NFL Kickoff show with the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Denver Broncos – Al Michaels seems to be loaded with vitality.  How does he account for that at age 68?

“I eat no vegetables,” he answers.  “The guys I work with will tell you.  I eat a lot of steaks and chops, fish and all that stuff.”  Yikes!  “No,  I don’t know what it is.  I’m just lucky.  I married the right woman, so that has a lot to do with it.  I’m just lucky – very, very blessed.  I’ve had a lot of good things that have happened.” 



Ask Stacy: 411 About Piers Morgan, Patty Duke, Catherine Bach, Missy Peregrym

Piers Morgan

DEAR STACY:  I’ve seen Piers Morgan on “America’s Got Talent” and also “Britain’s Got Talent,” but I don’t know anything about him.  Is he a record producer, musical performer, or show business executive?  He seems to know his stuff. – April M., Brooklyn, NY

DEAR APRIL:  The man who will be Larry King’s talk show replacement rose to notoriety as a writer-reporter and/or editor at the London tabloids The Sun, News of the World and The Daily Mirror.  His career has been chockablock with controversy, feuding and complaints by celebrities over what’s been called his invasive style.  Morgan was fired from his editor post at the Mirror in 2004 after the paper ran photographs showing British soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners – photos that were proven to be fakes.  Still, he has a strong TV presence, as his 2003 “The Importance of Being Famous” three-part TV special for the BBC showed.  Simon Cowell selected him to be his own replacement when his “American Idol” contract prevented him from serving as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” in 2006.  In 2008, he won “The Celebrity Apprentice,” on which he’d been seen hotly disagreeing with Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.  Morgan is married to The Daily Telegraph gossip columnist Celia Walden, daughter of a former Conservative Member of Parliament.  He has three sons from his previous marriage.

DEAR STACY:  What is Patty Duke doing these days?  She’s a long-time favorite of mine.  Haven’t seen her in a while. – Jan F., Allentown, PA

DEAR JAN:  According to her son, Sean Astin, “She’s doing great.  Still living in Idaho.  Hungry to work.  She did 14 months on ‘Wicked,’” he notes, referring to Patty’s stand in the role of Madame Morrible in the San Francisco production of the musical.  That wrapped up earlier this year.  “Now she’s anxious to get into something new.”

DEAR STACY:  Whatever happened to the gal who played the original Daisy Duke on “Dukes of Hazzard”? – Phil I., Pensacola, FL

DEAR PHIL:  Catherine Bach has mostly remained out of the spotlight – except for “Dukes of Hazzard” conventions — since her days as Daisy Duke.  Once the show ended, she appeared in a few B-movies, but hasn’t done much acting since her role in the TV series “African Skies” in the early 1990’s.  She was married to Angela Lansbury’s son, David Shaw, from 1976-1981.  She wed entertainment attorney Peter Lopez in 1990 and they had two daughters.  Sadly, Lopez died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound this past April.

DEAR STACY:  Can you please give some information about Missy Peregrym, who plays Andy on “Rookie Blue”?  I know I’ve seen her on other shows before. – Tim S., Montebello, CA

DEAR TIM:  Yes, you may know the Montreal-born beauty from her two years playing as another Andi – Andi Prendergast – on “Reaper.”  She also had a recurring role on “Heroes” in 2007, another on “Smallville” in 2006, and she played Jackie Bradford on the series “Life as We Know It” in 2004-2005.  One of three daughters of a minister, she grew up in Surrey, British Columbia, and launched her modeling career at 18.  Her commercials included Mercedes Benz and Sprint Canada. After moving to Los Angeles, she landed the lead role in the short-lived WB series “Black Sash.”  Other credits include the 2006 big screen gymnastics dramedy, “Stick It,” “The Chris Isaak Show” and the telefilm “Call Me:  The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss.”  Peregrym, who used to date the NFL’s Ben Roethlisberger, now lives in Toronto, where “Rookie Blue” was shot.

DEAR STACY:  Can you tell me whether Adam Baldwin is one of the acting family that includes Alec Baldwin?  Our group of friends had a disagreement about this. – M.R., Canton, OH

DEAR M.R.:  Chicago-born, 48-year-old Adam Baldwin of “Full Metal Jacket,” “Angel,” “Serenity” and “Chuck” fame is not related to the famous acting clan that includes brothers Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen.

Ask Stacy: ‘Wipeout’ Mini Course, Bob Harper, Garrett Morris, Susan Powter, ‘Goonies’

John Anderson, John Henson ABC photo

DEAR STACY:  I read in your column where John Henson said that there would be a mini version of the “Wipeout” obstacle course touring the country this summer.  When will it be in this area? – Nick G., Moreno Valley, CA

DEAR NICK:  Sorry, but the tour finished up mid-June, after the “Wipeout” course replica opened at Orlando, New York, Atlanta, Nashville and other Eastern and Southern locations.  Maybe with enough demand, they’ll bring it to other parts of the country.

DEAR STACY:  Is Bob Harper of “The Biggest Loser” gay? – M.K., Dearborn Hgts. MI

DEAR M.K.:  The hard-charging, hugely popular, unmarried trainer has not stated his sexuality.  Many have taken note that he was one of the stars of a video called “Queer Abs,” but that hardly counts as definitive.  The hilarious “Queer Abs” commercial spot is a You Tube favorite.  As one user noted, “gay or straight…I don’t care…beautiful piece of man!”

DEAR STACY:  Whatever happened to Garrett Morris of “Saturday Night Live”? – Penny D., Canton, OH

DEAR PENNY:  The Broadway and TV veteran, whose long list of credits also includes his stints on “Martin” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” keeps working.  He has done commercials for Miller Lite and Nintendo DS over the last year or so.  He was in the 2008 Ice Cube feature “The Longshots.”  Morris is owner of The Downtown Comedy Club in L.A.

DEAR STACY:  Susan Powter used to be one of the top fitness gurus, then she just disappeared.  What happened to her? – Leslie C., New York

DEAR LESLIE:  The Australia-born health and fitness advocate and self-described “radical feminist lesbian woman” took a decade away from the limelight to raise her third son, according to her web site.  Since then, she’s dispensed advice, blogged and put out an e-zine, but simply hasn’t recaptured the audience she had in the 90s.

DEAR STACY:  Is it true that there’s going to be a sequel to “The Goonies”? – Mason J., Chattanooga, TN

DEAR MASON: Although rumors have flown in conjunction with the Steven Spielberg movie’s 25th anniversary this year, star Josh Brolin told Extra TV that although Spielberg has a sequel script, but there are no plans to make it.

Ask Stacy: Dianna Agron, ‘Glee’ and ‘Veronica Mars’

Ask Stacy

Dianna Agron

DEAR STACY:  I enjoy watching “Glee” very much.  I read that Dianna Agron, who plays pregnant cheerleader Quinn Fabray, was a semi-regular on “Veronica Mars.”  I don’t remember her in that show.  What part did she play? – M.N., St. Clair Shores, MI

DEAR M.N.:  Agron appeared in three episodes in the 2006-2007 season only, in the role of rich girl Jenny Budosh, who masterminded the framing of an ex-convict working at Hearst College for a fraud actually perpetrated by herself and her friends

DEAR STACY:  I noticed on “The Bachelorette,” the name of the producer is Mike Fleiss.  My roommate says that is Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss’ brother.  Is that true? – Brandi S., Brooklyn, NY

DERA BRANDI:  No, the reality show producer is a second cousin of the notorious Heidi.

DEAR STACY:  Can you please tell me if it’s true that Danny Trejo was in prison?  What were the circumstances?  I think he is a very good actor. – David F., Hawthorne, CA

DEAR DAVID:  The actor who has appeared in many of the films directed by Robert Rodriguez, a second cousin of his, did indeed do time, for armed robbery and various drug offenses.  In fact, he was in and out of jail for 11 years, as he struggled with addiction from childhood on.  While in San Quentin, he became a champion boxer and completed a successful 12-step program.  Once he was out, he counseled others, and his efforts led him to the set of 1985’s “Runaway Train” with Eric Roberts.  He was offered a job as an extra to play a convict and since the movie’s theme was boxing, he began giving Roberts tips.  After the director noticed, Trejo was cast opposite Roberts and has worked in Hollywood since.

DEAR STACY:  Whatever happened to Audra Lindley, who was so funny in “Three’s Company”?  — Terry G., Springfield, MA

DEAR TERRY:  The Broadway and television actress passed away in 1997 due to complications from leukemia. She was 79, and still doing recurring roles on two series (“Cybill” and “Nothing Sacred”) the same year she died.

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