Welcome to the Planet of Recycled Celebrity.

This weekend we will be stopping to ogle the latest edition of “The Surreal Life,” where the formerly famous and marginally acclaimed shamelessly pander for our attention.

Why, here comes future anger management casualty Rob Van Winkle.


You may remember him as Vanilla Ice, the rappin’ Caucasian who was more laughably inane than musically accomplished.

“I’m not here to live in the past,” rips Van Winkle.

Heck, dude, that is the only reason you’re on “The Surreal Life.” Because of your tacky show business past. Get used to it, Ice. If you can’t laugh at yourself, WB is more than happy to invite America in to do the job for you.

And how silly sweet it is.

“The Surreal Life” – returning for a second goofy season at 9 p.m. EST Sunday on WB – is the comical reality show that turns a cockeyed crew of D-list celebrities into a human zoo for our viewing pleasure.

Besides the cranky, tattooed Artist Formerly Known as Vanilla Ice, the loopy lineup of housemates this time includes:

Ex-televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. Former “CHiPs” star Erik Estrada. Onetime “Baywatch” babe Traci Bingham. Porky porn king Ron Jeremy. Trishelle Canatella, infamous hot tub vixen from “The Real World: Las Vegas.”

The wacky wonder of it all is that “The Surreal Life” is such an amusingly enjoyable guilty pleasure. It may even be more fun the second time around.

“The diva behavior is just overwhelming … I hope I never get to the point that I’m as spoiled as you are,” snaps Canatella to the haughty Bingham, who huffily complains about the color of the tub she’s supposed to use.

“The Surreal Life” follows its own rules for maximizing conflict, comedy and conversation. While living together for 12 days and nights in a garishly decorated Hollywood Hills estate once owned by Glen Campbell, the semi-celebrities also do household chores, share bedrooms and bathrooms, go grocery shopping and prepare meals together.

Also, no cell phones, pagers or personal assistants are permitted.

Along the way, there will be a few twists and surprises. Like a visit from former “Diff’rent Strokes” stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, when Vanilla Ice causes a meltdown. Oh, goody!

A word of caution to family audiences. “The Surreal Life” may not be your kind of show. Profanities are bleeped. And with porn prankster Jeremy on board with naughty bodies like Canatella, the show’s not averse to being playfully perverse.

“Our gang loves to talk about sex. Sex, sex, sex,” notes Messner, who does not feel too comfy around such raging hormonal chitchat.

But she’s a remarkably good Christian sport. She even hits it off with the genial Jeremy, who makes a fun-loving first impression as a relaxed, self-deprecating kind of guy. Same goes for affable Estrada, the now-paunchy Ponch, who maintains a cheerfully nutty outlook.

So chill out, Vanilla Ice. It’s all good.

You’re livin’ “The Surreal Life.” Relax. Enjoy.


9 p.m. EST Sunday


(c) 2004, Detroit Free Press.

Visit the Freep, the World Wide Web site of the Detroit Free Press, at http://www.freep.com.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-01-09-04 1033EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.