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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Iliza Shlesinger (“Excused”)

A hallmark of attending the Television Critics Association press tour and the various panels and events surrounding it is that you really never know who you’re going to end up chatting with. On one evening this time around, I went to the Paley Center and found myself chatting with Joe Regalbuto (known to most for “Murphy Brown”, though I’ll always remember him best as Rex Smith’s scientific sidekick on “Streethawk”) and “Waltons” creator Earl Hamner, Jr., then had a chance to say “hello” to one of my past interview subjects for both Bullz-Eye and the Onion AV Club, Ed Asner. But that was a special Warner Brothers event celebrating the history of the studio’s TV series, so I wasn’t entirely blindsided by their appearances there…unlike the gorgeous blonde in a traffic-stopping dress who strolled into the CBS all-star event even though, I felt quite certain, she wasn’t actually on a CBS show.

I mean, you wouldn’t forget someone who looks like this, would you?

And I was right, as it turns out.

Well, sort of, anyway: Iliza Shlesinger isn’t on CBS, per se, but she hosts the syndicated dating show “Excused, “which – provided it appears in your market – appears in on your TV screen courtesy of CBS Television Distribution. Funnily enough, I’d worked with her publicist on several past projects, which is why the publicist came up to me and asked, “Would you like to talk to Iliza?” Like I’d turn down an offer like that…

(Plus, as I told Ms. Shlesinger a few minutes later, I also immediately thought, “Hey, I’ve actually watched that show, so I won’t have to sit there bluffing my way through the next several minutes!”)

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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?

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