Celebs try on talk shows -- Danny Bonaduce, Gabrielle Carteris, Carnie Wilson, and a host of other hopefuls gabble, gawk, and gossip the afternoon away in a gaggle of upstart talk shows

By Ken Tucker
Updated September 29, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ricki Lake has a new ‘do, Gordon Elliott has new chin whiskers, and Phil Donahue has new ratings problems (his show doesn’t air at all in New York City now, and in Philly he’s just been consigned to 1:35 a.m.!). And not to be cold about it, but who cares? There are tons of new gabfests around to pick up the slack. Daytime talk shows are a ruthless, cynical breed — so here’s a warm, caring look at the newcomers.

Danny! If you’d told me that the best new talk show would feature a former member of The Partridge Family with an exclamation point after his name, I’d have said, ”Come off it, who do I look like? Cosmo Kramer?” But as it turns out, Danny Bonaduce is a very likable entry in a very unlikable genre. What’s refreshing about the gravelly-voiced redhead is that he’s never pious, and he implicates his audience in the sleaze he teases. During his debut week, he interviewed Beverly Heard, the young woman said to have had underage sex with Congressman Mel Reynolds. Addressing both Heard and the crowd, Bonaduce rasped, ”When you say ‘the sick things we did,’ is anybody out there as intrigued as I am about this?” The audience roared its assent. The guy is good. B+

Gabrielle On Beverly Hills, 90210, Gabrielle Carteris was the brainy, sensible girl, and in interviews she always seemed thoughtful and earnest. Tune in to Gabrielle, though, and what do you catch her saying as she breaks for a commercial? ”Next up, a guy who wrote a book called Nice Guys Don’t Get Laid!” Gabrielle‘s supposedly distinguishing characteristic is that it does out-of-studio remotes during the show, but I call talking to consumers about dating habits in a Downey, Calif., shopping mall a waste of technology. C-

The George & Alana Show One guesses that the thinking behind this show was, Well, if Regis and Kathie Lee became a hit as a bickering television couple, why not have a real-life divorced couple host their own show? So far, however, ex-spouses Hamilton and Stewart have been too lovey-dovey both to each other and to celebrity guests like David Hasselhoff. The nearest thing to a spat occurred when George referred to Alana as ”the princess” and Alana said, ”Ooh, I’m gonna punch him low where nobody can see me.” If the ratings sink, expect a camera to be placed at waist level beneath the coffee table they sit behind. C

Tempestt There’s too much of the actress in Tempestt Bledsoe — she overreacts to obviousness, rushing the stage to proffer tissues to sobbing guests. The former child costar of The Cosby Show now oversees shows with themes like ”You’re Rude — Lose the Attitude!” Having booked a panel of impolite people for that one, Bledsoe then expressed Oscar-worthy disbelief when the guests told of their gauche manners and aggressive behavior: ”I mean, that’s really rude!” Of all the new shows, Tempestt takes the highest road — no showbiz razzle-dazzle, and its subjects have more to do with mild annoyances than with major dysfunction — but unfortunately, that also makes this show one of the most boring. C-

Mark Walberg No, he’s not Marky Mark the rapper; he’s more like Charles Perez without ethnicity — i.e., super-bland. Smiling sweetly during his debut week, Walberg arranged for an adult woman to see her mother for the first time since she was 8 months old, then grinned warmly as mother and daughter shed lotsa tears. Didn’t anyone tip Walberg off to the fact that reuniting separated relatives is one of the tiredest tricks in the daytime book? Commercials for Mark Walberg include the choral hymn ”We’ve got a brand-new flavor,” but so far, he’s pretty stale. D

Carnie As the daughter of beached Beach Boy Brian Wilson and one third of Wilson Phillips, Carnie Wilson could qualify as a one-gal subject for numerous talk-show themes: ”My Dad Was Wacky”; ”I’m a Big Beautiful Woman and Proud of It”; ”I Was a Teenage Pop Star.” As the host of her own talk show, Wilson managed to include a live, in-studio chat with both her mom (about what it was like to raise an obese daughter) and her sister (about sibling rivalry) in her first week. When will we be treated to a jaw session with Brian about what it’s like to be a father who played piano in a sandbox? C+