The March 3-debuting “All Star Celebrity Apprentice” is bigger and tougher and faster than other “Celebrity Apprentice” seasons. At least, that’s the idea one gets from talking to Marilu Henner, who is among the contestants who’ve returned to tackle the NBC reality show a second time, along with names including Gary Busey, Dee Snider, Trade Adkins, LaToya Jackson, Penn Gillette, Lil Jon, Stephen Baldwin and past winner Bret Michaels.
“The tasks were more challenging. Also, because people had played the game before, they knew what to expect, so you didn’t have people breaking down as much as you saw them really putting their best efforts forward, and everybody got to play to their skill set,” says the actress, author and memory maven. “The first time I played I enjoyed myself and this time I enjoyed myself even more. Really, you learn your personal best. I came back from this experience on fire. Like, ‘I’m the project manager of my life and I’m going to whip this into shape and that into shape!’” She laughs, and adds, “Trump is a character and he’s a lot of fun to play the game with himself. He’s very: ‘I love the smell of business in the morning.’ You sort of pick that up from him.”
Marilu is also on fire with her drive to help people get the most out of their memories. Famous for her eidetic memory that gives her extraordinary powers of recall, she has translated her best-selling “Total Memory Makeover” book into a calendar format with tips to enhance our autobiographical memories day by day. The paperback edition of “Total Memory Makeover” comes out in June. A side benefit of Marilu’s program is going through each day with more acute awareness and more of a sense of being present in the moment.
In May, she’ll go back into production work on CBS’ “Unforgettable.” You may recall that Poppy Montgomery-Dyaln Walsh series was canceled — then un-canceled — by the network and is now slated to return in summer with 13 new episodes. To refresh your memory: Montgomery’s character is a detective who has an eidetic memory like Marilu’s, and Marilu is a tech advisor, part of the creative team, and has been established in the character of Montgomery’s aunt. Ironically, the aunt has early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Will she make more appearances this coming season?
“Probably. I think that’s going to happen,” answers Marilu.
Also, viewers can expect to see Montgomery going through the process of clinically testing her memory, as Marilu did. “You’ll see some of that in action. You’ll see the person who was kind of her mentor in this the way.”
The character is based on Marilu’s own memory mentor, neuroscientist and Fello, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California at Irvine. “The first time I was tested I had to answer over 500 questions. I went through every memory test ever devised. There were tests for HSAM, highly superior autobiographical memory — they have kind of this gold standard test that’s 60 questions. And then they put things from my own life, because they were able to look up a lot of information about me,” recalls the actress who rose to fame on “Taxi.”
Marilu had fun going through some tests set up for her on Anderson Cooper’s show that airs tomorrow (Feb. 22). Her commitment to memory improvement stems from her belief that “if all we’re doing is living our lives where we wake up, go through our day, turn off the light and go to sleep – wake up, go through our day, turn off the light and go to sleep — nothing has moved forward with us. No experience has had any meaning for us. I feel like developing a strong autobiographical memory is the strongest line against meaninglessness that we can have. Because then we can take the information every single day, bring it to our present and then let it inform our future, and that makes a huge difference.”
It’s something worth remembering.