The Light from the TV Shows: Shannen Doherty & Kurt Iswarienko – A Match Made in Reality-Show Heaven

Despite its title and its subject matter, “Shannen Says” – the new WEtv reality series in which Shannen Doherty plans her latest and, God willing, last wedding – isn’t just about Shannen Doherty. It’s also about her husband-to-be, photographer Kurt Iswarienko, who, to hear the couple tell it, earns as much focus on the show as his blushing bride. Granted, they may have been feeding me a bit of what I wanted to hear, since I began our encounter at the TCA Press Tour with the explanation that Bullz-Eye is very much a guy’s site, but they certainly spun their story well, ’cause I bought it. Or maybe I was somewhat swayed by having had a slight crush on Ms. Doherty since we were both in our teens. Either way, the conversation went swimmingly, and in addition to discussing their TV endeavor, I also got a bit of insight into Iswarienko’s photography, and by the end of it all, it was all “Wilford Brimley” this and “Jennie Garth” that, like we were old pals. Good times…

Bullz-Eye: Kurt, most guys have a tendency to view weddings as more of a means to an end rather than something to really get excited about, so I can’t imagine what it took to get you involved in a show that focuses on every single aspect of the wedding process.

Kurt Iswarienko: I agree with you that most guys probably share that sentiment. [Laughs.] The cool thing is that I didn’t have to deal with planning the wedding at all, because my job was to plan the honeymoon. And Shannen did the planning of the wedding. So it wasn’t any kind of hassle or nightmare at all to go into.

BE: Shannen, I’ve read the press release for the show, and this is obviously something that you’ve been looking forward to for quite some time, the definitive dream wedding.

Shannen Doherty: Yeah. Uh… [Long pause.] Yeah. [Laughs.] I’m not quite sure how to… [Another long pause.] Yes, since we’ve been engaged, we’ve sort of talked about, “Okay, we’re doing to do a wedding, we’re going to do it right,” and definitely this is. But I’m also not that girl who, from the time I was six, dreamed about having this fantasy dream wedding, or that I just had had had to get married.

BE: So how early did David Tutera come into the mix? Was he always going to be a part of it?

SD: You know, I think… [Hesitates.] He probably came into the mix pre-production, when, y’know, you’re sort of talking about the show and the wedding, and I had said to my executive at the time, “I think I’m going to hire a wedding coordinator, just because I need one, but also because while I’m working I need someone to take my vision and make it happen.” And then the network said, “Well, how about David?” And I said, “Uh, duh!” [Laughs.] “Great!” So he came on pretty much in pre-production, I guess. Pretty early on.

KI: That, and we spent a whole Sunday watching…

SD: …a “My Fair Wedding” marathon. [Laughs.]

KI: …a “My Fair Wedding” marathon. We both got sucked into it somehow, and we were, like, “Of course he’s the guy!”

BE: How has he been to work with? Does he throw things at you, or does he try to get you to brainstorm?

SD: I think what probably even David would say, because it was something we actually talked about, is that, on his show, the brides come to him and he goes, “No, no, no, your idea is awful, let me change it and make it mine.” And this was very different, because it wasn’t about a show. It was about an actual, real wedding, and I had a definitive vision, and there was no negotiating with me. None. And he didn’t even try, because that wasn’t his job. His job was to actually be a wedding coordinator. And a wedding planner and a wedding consultant. And that means you take the bride’s vision and you make it happen. It doesn’t mean that you look at her and say, “Your idea sucks.”

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The Light from the TV Shows: David Steinberg Gets “Inside Comedy” on Showtime

David Steinberg began his career in comedy with Chicago’s Second City, quickly gaining fame as a stand-up through his appearances on “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” while also courting controversy by performing comedic “sermons” on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” In 1981, Steinberg began to shift his focus from performing to directing, starting with the Burt Reynolds film “Paternity,” and has gone on to become one of the more prolific sitcom directors in the business, but he recently stepped back in front of the camera to host the new Showtime series, Inside Comedy,” which airs Thursdays at 11 PM. Steinberg spoke with Bullz-Eye about his new gig, detailing the trials and tribulations of securing classic clips to accompany his interviews, while also discussing some of his past efforts as an actor, director, and stand-up comedian.

[NOTE: All photos appear courtesy of TheDavidSteinberg.com.]

Bullz-Eye: This is certainly not your first time hosting a show where you interview comedians: you also brought us Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg. Not that there isn’t still plenty of material yet to mine, but what inspired you to take another crack at it?

David Steinberg: I felt that I hadn’t really done it the way I wanted to. That’s why we first started this as a film. Starting it as a film was really good, because then you get so much material, and it’s sort of looser or whatever. And then I settled on this notion of putting two people together and how they connect, but not in any specific ways. They just go together by what they’re talking about. And once I arrived at that, I thought, “This is gonna be good!” [Laughs.] Of course, making it that good…it was time consuming, but it was great, great fun. I worked with some incredible editors, and there was a lot of archival stuff that we talk about that…well, they know that they’re talking to another comedian. That’s the bottom line. And then, archivally, I didn’t just do the clichéd version. I handpicked the clips that I wanted and then begged people to let me use them. [Laughs.] Archival stuff takes so long to get people to sign off on.

BE: Was there anything you wanted to use that, even with all of your pleading, you still couldn’t get?

DS: Yeah, for Jonathan Winters, I had a clip of him in an old Dean Martin roast where he’s roasting (Ronald) Reagan, and in it there’s a wide shot where you could see Dean Martin, Reagan, (Don) Rickles, Phyllis Diller, and… [Sighs.] You know, it’s generally not the original inheritors of the celebrity estates that are the problem. It’s the grandchildren, who don’t even know or understand what it means to be celebrating Jonathan Winters. They asked for so much money everywhere that we couldn’t use it. I ended up having to go with just a tight shot of Jonathan instead. So, y’know, just stuff like that drove me nuts. For the most part, though, I got everything I wanted. Some were just so exorbitant that I just couldn’t do it. But I’m happy with it.

BE: Speaking of Jonathan Winters on Showtime, he also appeared on The Green Room with Paul Provenza not so terribly long ago. It’s great to see people as yourself and Paul continuing to give him the props he deserves.

DS: That’s right, yeah. I will say that the younger comedians tend to look after the older ones. Richard Lewis goes out to Santa Barbara and spends time with him, and Sarah Silverman has done that with Phyllis Diller. It’s very interesting, the comedy community. It’s more surprising and tight-knit than you would imagine.

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