Bernsen's inner 'Mole'
Corbin Bernsen recalls watching the old "Divorce Court" show as a child, riveted by the raw emotions on display.
Today's reality shows aren't much different, the erstwhile "L.A. Law" star figures.
Mr. Bernsen, 49, should know a bit about reality television. He starred in last year's "Celebrity Mole" and does the honors once more for its sequel, "Celebrity Mole: Yucatan."
The new installments begin at 10 tonight on ABC.
He understands that some will see his reality-show side career as a step down from television series and feature work, but says he finds the mental challenges irresistible.
"It's not 'Fear Factor.' It's a real mind tease. That's why I went back," Mr. Bernsen says.
Both Mr. Bernsen and Stephen Baldwin return from last season's "Mole." The new faces include professional bad boy Dennis "The Worm" Rodman, "Growing Pains' " Tracey Gold, "The Cosby Show's" Keishia Knight Pulliam, former MTV video jockey Ananda Lewis, supermodel Angie Everhart and comedian Mark Curry ("Hangin' With Mr. Cooper").
Former NFL star Ahmad Rashad returns as ringmaster, guiding contestants through a series of physical and mental challenges. Of course, one of the six is secretly "the Mole," the player cast to disrupt the proceedings.
Being a return player hardly gave Mr. Bernsen an edge, he says.
"It was a disadvantage," he notes. "The most skilled person in the whole thing was Dennis Rodman. Any one skill you really want is animal instinct. He's got that. I learned why he was such a good rebounder. .. I just know that he could see a ball go up and know exactly where it'd come off the boards, and he's there."
"For all you know, he's thinking about strippers and Cancun," Mr. Bernsen says.
Mr. Bernsen understands the appeal reality shows possess.
"There's something live about it even though it isn't live," he says. "We like seeing real emotion."
That said, not every manufactured situation with a group of B-level actors can be a ratings hit.
A good reality show is like any other program, Mr. Bernsen says.
"It's got a setup, an activity, an Act II and Act III," he says — which in the "Mole's" case is the "execution," where one player each week gets cut at the show's end.