About Last Night: Celebrity Rehab Is No Joke

The entire premise of VH1's Celebrity Rehab has been looked at with suspicion by me and a good many other people. But after seeing the premiere last night, I'm going to give it a tentative recommendation. As D-List celebrity reality shows go, this one appears to have its heart in the right place, without the sound effects and editing that would signal we're watching a dark comedy. Some of the participants in the show already seem as if they aren't serious about the process, perhaps because they see it as just another way to live in front of the camera. But the show encourages us to not find their misbehavior or lack of commitment charming; we identify instead with the man heading up the rehab effort, Dr. Drew Pinsky. He's been around for a long time in various contexts (what reality fan could forget the sobriety he lent to the sublimely awful first season of Big Brother?), but what I like about Pinsky is that he really does seem unimpressed by the fact that he's dealing with celebrities. He doesn't want to be their friend or score favors on the party circuit; he wants them to pull themselves together.

Pinsky began the show by describing its premise: he would take eight celebs in crisis and get them into an intense program in Pasadena, with the hope of saving lives. The first person to show up was an emaciated Jeff Conaway (Grease, Taxi), who appeared to be literally clinging to life. His addiction began, so he said, with pain medication, and he said cocaine made him feel normal. In a badly slurred voice, Conaway told Drew he had taken cocaine and Jack Daniels the previous night. Drew had dealt with Conaway originally during his disastrous appearance on Celebrity Fit Club (this show is a sort of reunion for former VH1 reality stars). Drew said he felt Conaway's girlfriend also had a drug problem and was impeding his recovery.

The next arrival was wrestler Joan Marie Laurer, aka, "Chyna." She said she couldn't even say what she had done over the years, because drugs are so prevalent in the wrestling world (her lip collagen abuse is a separate issue). Chyna flatly said she didn't believe she needed rehab. She told Drew she was a binge drinker, but was not an abuser. Seth Binzer of the band Crazy Town said he had become a major cocaine addict after hitting it big. We saw home video footage of him firing up a crack pipe. Seth brought a couple of beers to the rehab facility, which seemed to amuse Shelly, the tech on duty. Drew believed Seth really did want to quit, but was currently powerless.

Mary Carey, the adult film star and former candidate for governor of California, said she had become a heavy drinker from hanging around with her porn friends. Her mother had attempted suicide, and Mary promised to quit porn and shape up if she lived. Mary's sex toys were all confiscated, as Shelly's inadvertent effort to become the breakout star of this show continued. Mary began flirting aggressively with Seth, coming across as intoxicated, and Shelly took her aside to tell her to straighten up. Drew informed her there would be no sex in Celebrity Rehab, and said he doubted Mary really understood what was ahead of her.

Jessica Sierra of American Idol (and recent subject in gossip columns) said she was a drinker and had recently moved on to binging drugs as an escape. She said her arrest made her realize she needed help. Jessica told Drew she didn't want to end up like her mother, a drug addict and prostitute who died not long ago. Drew warned her she was repeating history. Conaway was entertaining the women, although hardly anything he said was comprehensible.

Brigitte Nielsen said she was drunk during her entire time on The Surreal Life and became nasty. She said her children informed her she had a problem, and she wanted to quit so she could be a better mother. Drew told Brigitte her addictive side would tell her that the fact she didn't drink every day would become an excuse to drink at all. Jaimee Foxworth, best remembered as the daughter who disappeared from the cast of Family Matters, said she became a heavy marijuana user at age 16, and then went into porn. She said she wasn't really sure the marijuana was even bad for her, but her mother said Jaimee was now having problems breathing. Drew said most people didn't realize how hard it was to quit pot. Conaway finally sobered enough to undergo an exam. Drew said his problem was a complex one involving drug abuse, chronic pain, and psychological issues.

Daniel Baldwin said he had first gone into rehab in 1989, and had been arrested before also. He had now been sober since November 2006, but knew this was his last chance to stay clean. Baldwin said he hoped he could help people by appearing on the show. Drew addressed the whole group for the first time. He said drug or alcohol use, or sex, would be grounds for kicking them out. Drew said he knew not everyone would make it. Late at night, Conaway appeared distraught, crying incoherently as Drew listened. He then called for a paramedic to come, diagnosing a withdrawal issue. The other celebs witnessed Conaway taken away, and got a glimpse of their potential futures. [Hollywood Nation]

Ugly Betty:

MODE magazine was in its customary state of frenzy over Fashion Week. Daniel worried that he couldn't live up to the standard that Wilhelmina had set in the past. Wilhelmina received hormone shots as part of her campaign to get pregnant. Betty gave Justin's class a tour of the magazine and tried to persuade the mostly uninterested kids that MODE was about more than models and celebrities. Marc took Amanda to a psychic to try to get some information on her unknown father, but she wasn't especially helpful. When the school class got an eyeful of some of the models, the clique leader ordered everyone to skip lunch, which prompted Betty to tell Daniel that MODE needed to change and show some average-looking women. She suggested that "healthy models" could be a good theme for Fashion Week. Daniel went to Alexis to get approval for the new theme, but she turned it down and belittled him in the process.

Wilhelmina found out that her chances of actually having a viable egg for the pregnancy were low, and that she would probably need a surrogate due to having a "hostile womb." Daniel told Betty he had gotten approval for the theme after all. Betty ran into Bow Wow at the magazine, and they got stuck in an elevator, giving him the chance to hit on her. When Amanda opened the elevator doors, she believed the psychic's prediction she would "rescue a dog" had come true. Christina got the word that the company health plan wouldn't cover the experimental procedure for her husband. Alexis introduced the models for the healthy model weigh-in, but they looked thin as ever. Amanda made another trip to the psychic and was told to look for a B to give her a kiss if she wanted to find her father. Betty realized the scales had been rigged to make the thin girls seem healthy. Alexis defended herself to Betty, saying that no one cared about the models and only wanted to see the clothes on thin girls. Alexis told Betty that rigging the scales had been Daniel's idea.

Wilhelmina tried to rope her manicurist Brandy into being her surrogate, and gave her a fur coat to get her to change her mind. Betty confronted Daniel about the scale; he told Betty that rigging the scales was the only way he could get approval for the show, and he didn't want to admit to her that Alexis had blown him off originally. While searching for a movie for his date night with Cliff, Marc found a bondage DVD that Wilhelmina's not-so-innocent manicurist had done. Daniel dropped by the Suarezes to tell Betty that he had scheduled an alternative fashion show with normal-sized models, but it had to be done on the quiet. Amanda believed Betty was the B she was looking for, and they bonded (for the first time?) over each having a missing parent. When Betty gave Amanda a Gene Simmons picture that had fallen off her daddy wall, Amanda interpreted that as B giving her a "kiss."

Wilhelmina told the manicurist to get lost, and Marc told Wilhelmina that Christina was desperate for the sort of money she was willing to pay her surrogate. Daniel commandeered the mike at the MODE fashion show to introduce the guerrilla real woman show, with Bow Wow and Omarion providing the entertainment. Justin's impressionable classmates were among those in the audience to watch Betty walk down the runway, but none of the girls appreciated it. Betty thanked Daniel "on behalf of all the girls who wear oversized t-shirts to pool parties." [Gelter]

30 Rock:

The funniest show on TV just aired its last new episode: it's enough to make you cry. Jack was still smitten by C.C., and was considering buying a German television network. Jack felt Liz was not solid enough financially, and told her to consider buying real estate. Kenneth walked on the wild side by trying Tracy's cappuccino machine, and promptly became giddy. Tracy urged him to slow down: "Coffee's not like alcohol -- it's pretty addictive." Liz bought an apartment on the recommendation of Jenna, although she still needed final approval from the co-op board. Jack and C.C. were both too busy to get away to see each other, so Jack had the idea of literally meeting her halfway, at a betting parlor in Pennsylvania that was exactly halfway between Washington and New York. He got into the bucolic spirit and tossed his cellphone in a lake.

Liz asked Kenneth to watch a set of German DVDs in preparation for the meeting with the Germans, since she was busy preparing for the meeting with the co-op board, which turned out disastrously. The Germans came back a day early, leaving Liz to deal with them with the little German she knew. Liz believed that she had made a deal to buy the network. The cappuccino machine was removed so Kenneth could go into detox; he was ashamed at how he had been corrupted by New York. Liz left messages for the co-op board asking for some answers, messages that got more incoherent the more she downed glasses of wine.

The next morning, with Jack now back in New York, Liz found out she had promised to sell NBC to the Germans. Such a mistake while he was gone made Jack realize he couldn't have it all, and he would have to end things with C.C. She had reached the same conclusion after she "had missed a vote on a bill to legalize recreational whale torture." Kenneth prepared to go back to Georgia because he had failed his moral principles in New York, and what followed was a big "Midnight Train to Georgia" production number starring Tracy and Jenna. When Kenneth came back to say he had missed that midnight train, he joined in the musical number as well. It was a pretty memorable finish. [Critics Rant]

CSI:

Jewel sang the national anthem at a rodeo (isn't she still with the rodeo guy?). After some pretty realistic bull riding footage, a rider named Cody was thrown hard and stomped on. He was helped to his feet and seemed OK, but later he was found dead. Grissom noticed that Cody didn't have his gloves on, suggesting he might not have died from a throw; he also found that Cody suffered a hairline fracture on his spine in the first throw and was probably killed instantly when he was thrown a second time. Grissom was told Cody could not have taken the bull out again without some help.

Nick and Greg were called to the scene where a young woman pedestrian named Tiffany was killed in a hit-and-run. The truck involved in the accident was parked right around the corner and was registered to Cody. Both Cody and the victim had the same hotel room. A search of the room found Cody's riding gloves, as well as a poem he had apparently written to Tiffany, and a letter from Tiffany telling Cody she was getting married. Tiffany's autopsy showed not all of her injuries were sustained when she was hit by the truck. Cody was found to be in possession of a device used to coax a bull to donate semen (only on CSI). There were unknown prints on the truck, and it was found that Tiffany actually died after Cody.

Tiffany had been getting phone calls from Precious Ricky, a pimp, and the calls stopped after she was killed. Ricky said he had tried to call her to get her to not leave him, but he didn't kill her. Ricky was later found killed at his favorite country-western bar. A woman at the scene recognized Tiffany and said she had gotten married the previous night, to a guy named Troy who had taken her side in a recent barroom brawl. The woman at the marriage chapel said Troy had shown up for the wedding, but Tiffany had stood him up. An APB was put out for Troy's truck just as Warrick (showing up for the first time) spotted him in a garage pointing a shotgun at his own head. Nick tried to bond with him in an attempt to prevent Troy's suicide. Troy confessed to killing somebody and said he was paying for what he did. Troy said he killed Ricky because he wouldn't let Tiffany marry him. Troy surrendered the gun and was arrested.

Back to Cody: the rope found with his body was not the type he usually used; it was a variety that hadn't been made in years. This knowledge led Brass and Nick to an old cowhand and a younger rider who had been involved in stealing the bull semen. Cody had stumbled upon them and started to fight; because of the earlier neck injury, he was killed instantly when he was struck. The men then set it up to look like an accidental throw. Running over Tiffany had been a total accident and not because she had anything to do with Cody. Grissom revealed he thought Cody's love poem was actually written about a bull. Ew. I like steak, but not in that way.

Celebrity Apprentice:

When Omarosa and Carol returned from the boardroom, Piers Morgan trash-talked them over the extent of the men's victory. Omarosa accused him, probably correctly, of being drunk. When it came time for the task, the head of Pedigree (the dog food company) told them they were to create a 30-second ad for a pet adoption drive.

The new project managers were Nely Galan (a TV producer) and Gene Simmons. Nely asked her teammates to engage in some New Age exercises, which Omarosa had no use for. The head of Pedigree told them that the ad should tell compelling stories that would motivate action. Hydra leader Simmons thought talking to Pedigree was a waste of time, and said they should head into the studio right away. The guys all had their own ideas, but Stephen took charge, befitting his background in film. He thought Lennox Lewis should be the star of the ad, because as a boxer it would seem funny for him to be heartwarming. Ivanka dropped by to check on their progress, and Simmons insulted her and said she was wasting his time. Stephen began shooting his Lennox + dog footage, and neither he nor Gene were interested in input from the others.

On the Empresario side, Nely tried to keep the focus on the dogs, and grumbled about the work of Nadia Comaneci (who I don't remember seeing last week at all), saying she wasn't used to working in a group. Trace Adkins handled the voice-over for the Hydra ad and sounded great. Team Empresario had some trouble combining the different aspects of their ad, but Nely believed she had incorporated everything the client wanted. Tito Ortiz and Piers came back to see the progress of the editing at Hydra, worried about being shut out. Stephen and Gene tossed them out. When the ads were unveiled, Empresario went first, with Nely saying they had done things for the Web and a radio spot in addition to what was asked. Trump was pleased with their heart-tugging effort. The Pedigree guy said he was looking forward to seeing Hydra, since he hadn't had much contact with them thanks to Gene. After some Art of War hooey from Gene, the ad aired. The Pedigree guy said one of the spots was obviously superior and would run on network TV.

When the teams came together, Trump mentioned that the Pedigree guy had felt Gene was abrasive and had ignored the client. Ivanka brought up the rude incident earlier, and Gene was motivated to apologize when Trump got upset. Omarosa flirted with Lennox. Trump brought up that Empresario hadn't used their stars well (the second straight week that's happened), and the Pedigree guy said Hydra was the winner. Trump told Empresario that they had gone overboard, and criticized the quality of their voice-overs. Nadia attracted some negative attention for her failure to perform her fairly minuscule duties. Nely asked Nadia and Carol to come back to the boardroom for possible firing. Ivanka noted that Nely didn't seem to be defending herself well. Carol told Trump she didn't believe Nadia had the capacity to lead. Trump asked Nadia point-blank why she should be kept, saying that Nely had real ability but had a bad day, while he wasn't sure Nadia could lead. Trump decided to fire Nadia, ending an incredibly uneventful two-week run for someone who was once one of the most famous people in the world. It must be tough to peak at age 14. [Me Talkin To You]

Grey's Anatomy:

Derek had made plans for a new house, and showed them to Meredith, since he wanted her to share it. Bailey's husband was again complaining about her absence. Derek told Rose that the kiss couldn't happen again because he was sort of committing to Meredith. Izzie told Cristina she was no longer interested in cardio, but Hahn still wasn't picking Cristina to assist her. Hahn's cardio patient was missing, but was eventually found elsewhere performing some sort of healing technique on another patient. Hahn's patient insisted that she be allowed to hear details about her upcoming surgery so she could "visualize" it.

George's mother dropped by with baby clothes for Callie, who was none too pleased George had never gotten around to mentioning to Mom they were through. Izzie inadvertently told George's mom that she had cheated with him and that George was repeating as an intern. Mrs. O'Malley was distraught over George breaking his vows to Callie and God. Tucker brought the Bailey son in to the ER after a bookshelf fell on him; both Bailey and Tucker sniped at each other over whose fault it likely was. Alex and Hahn's heart patient argued over the effectiveness of her healing. Rose charged Derek with not being able to face her, as George eavesdropped. Bailey's son was found to have massive internal injuries. Bailey insisted on watching the surgery, and Hahn was equally insistent she not be in there. Alex told the cardio patient it was time to prep her for surgery, but she said her own New Age prep work wasn't yet done. Bailey fretted over whether her lack of attentiveness led to her son's accident; Derek told her it was no one's fault. George mentioned the Derek/Rose kiss to Meredith, assuming she knew, which she didn't. The surgery on little Tuck was a success, but it was unknown if the boy would be able to breathe on his own anytime soon. Bailey let Hahn know she was not forgiven for tossing her out of the OR. Bailey noted that the patients that the cardio patient had "healed" had seemed to get better.

Meredith confronted Derek about the kiss with Rose; she said he didn't want her necessarily, just someone. She said she couldn't trust him, and Derek said she wouldn't trust anyone. They agreed it was over. Again. Bailey brought the healer in to see her son. George admitted to his mother that he was unhappy about the progress of his life. Tuck began breathing on his own; Alex brought Izzie to see the healer to talk her through the surgery. Derek asked Rose for a date. Hahn told Sloan that while she had to admit he was pretty, she kept her personal life away from work. Bailey said that Tucker was getting a hotel room for the night, so their problems will be one issue this show deals with when it resumes. [Too Much TV]

Make Me a Supermodel:

It was January 4, and the fourteen models met on a cold New York day to hear Niki Taylor say, "We're going to be stripping you down and seeing what you're made of." The first task was a photo shoot in Times Square. They were told to sell "sex, fantasy, and drama" despite the cold. After hair, makeup, and a change into non-winter clothes (all of which was very Miami Vice-looking), the photo shoot began. Ben had little experience, so just did what he was told. Katy had trouble hiding her discomfort in the cold. Perry, the photographer said, this could be a "money-spinner." Frankie was termed effeminate. Stephanie, who called herself an intellectual (ugh), was a big success. Jacki was called "a little bit bony," and if a fashion photographer is making that criticism, that should tell you something. Sarah was called a girl-next-door type, which in this context was not a compliment.

After they were finished, the models finally got to see the $20 million house where they would be living, and the reaction was giddiness. Tyson Beckford woke the models up the next morning for go-sees. Everyone met on the waterfront, and Tyson told them they had to take something off and throw it into a fire, in order to symbolize the end of the "old you." After a while, it was one-upmanship time and some of the men began stripping to their boxers and burning all their clothes. Tyson introduced the models to Cory from New York Model Management, who wanted to get a look at their bodies and measure them. Cory was not shy about making blunt assessments of their trouble spots in front of the others, and told them they would be measured weekly. Holly was told her haircut was terrible, and Katy was told her B-cup breasts would come close to disqualifying her for work. The next big event was a party hosted by GQ magazine, where they would meet the style editor. It was a chance to mingle and display personality.

The next day, the fourth panelist was introduced: casting director Jennifer Starr. She in turn introduced the models to Debbie, a catwalk coach. Everyone had to wear leotards so their body form could be ascertained. Tyson did a stroll to give the idea that it was all about confidence. Casey's walk was so bad that Jennifer thought he was kidding. When they got home, the models got their portfolios from the first shoot. Jay couldn't believe his photos were really him. Aryn cried and said she was disappointed. Perry had an injured foot and went to get it checked out. Frankie said he kind of hoped it didn't get better, a strange thing to say in a show where the audience decides who stays and goes. Perry came home on crutches and said he had a broken foot, but said he wasn't going anywhere. The models then faced their first catwalk show, with swimwear. Two men and two women were tapped to wear thongs (since no one volunteered). Jacki panicked at the thought of wearing the thong, an attitude Shannon (who also had to do it) didn't understand.

When it came time to walk, Jacki did not have the thong on. The models were then asked a few questions. Ben was told to look less like a prison guard. Katy was criticized about her thick thighs. Jacki was told that what she did was a firing offense in the real world. Perry was praised for coming through with the injury. Holly was told she rocked. Despite Cory's estimation of her hair, Holly was deemed the best of the week. The three up for elimination by America (after Jacki was chewed out one more time): Sarah, Katy, and Dominic. My guess is Katy will be saved by the backlash to the criticism of her body, and Sarah will be saved by her cute face. [Undeniable Style]