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Warning for young stars: This can be your future

Now clean and sober, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim look for a second act in an A&E reality TV show. But is the joke on them?

July 28, 2007|Robert Lloyd | Times Staff Writer

I don't know what sort of interventions and therapies have been tried to arrest the downward spiral of Lindsay Lohan. But whoever cares for her could do worse than to sit that child down in front of an episode of "The Two Coreys," A&E's new unreal reality show about fellow former child stars Corey Feldman and Corey Haim and where they are now. Lindsay -- look hard! This could be your future.

It's not the Coreys themselves I refer to, who became best buds back on the set of "The Lost Boys" and starred together with diminishing returns in several films thereafter. As just another faulty human, I'm not qualified to judge them, and in any case, they're both sober now after their well-publicized drug years. (Many more years in Corey H.'s case.)

But as a credentialed professional TV critic, I do not mind saying that the self-reflexive stunt documentary, although fun enough when the Osbournes did it, has grown -- and has it ever grown -- into a particularly low form of entertainment. At it's worst, it's a kind of bearbaiting; overall, it's the 21st century version of dinner theater, the place where once-serious actors go when they can't get the jobs they really want. "The Two Coreys" is not the exception that proves the rule. Lindsay! This is not where you want to go!

The premise seems to be this: Corey F. and his wife, Susie, have welcomed Corey H. into their home in order to make a television show about, um, welcoming Corey Haim into their home. (Except it isn't their home -- just a house in Vancouver, Canada, rented for the purpose of welcoming Corey H. into it.)

This arrangement supposedly has something to do with helping Corey H. get his career/life back on track -- clearly we're to regard him, and with some cause, as the more troubled of the two. But the comedy and/or drama is largely meant to reside in the way that Corey F. will be caught between his friend and his wife, his new life and his old life.

Corey H., who more recently cleaned up and shed 130 pounds, fixates on old glories and can frame his future only in terms of the past.

The episode I've seen -- not Sunday's premiere -- was sent out perhaps because it's the one in which Corey H. cries when Corey F. tells him that Warner Bros. is at last making a sequel to "The Lost Boys" and that there is no room for him at that haunted inn: "There's something I need to talk to you about, dude." (Corey F. can feel his friend's pain; he has been there himself: " 'Ninja Turtles,' when they did the second one without me, do you know how much that hurt?")

In other business, the Coreys attend a 20th anniversary "Lost Boys" screening, Susie poses for cheesecake photos and Corey H. disappears alarmingly into the night only to return with a belated wedding present for his BFF and his BFF's SO. There are group hugs.

There could be something interesting here. But you'd need an actual documentary to reveal it, not this jagged artifact, in which almost every situation smells of prearrangement.

Nevertheless, for some old Coreymaniacs -- the generation that was the right age to care deeply about "License to Drive" and "Dream a Little Dream" and to build castles in the air for the Coreys to live in -- this series will in itself constitute the event, the reunion, the comeback. The framework itself is beside the point: They are loved for having been loved.

It used to be the place of a disgruntled former employee or a revengeful ex-spouse to sell the inside story of the feckless celebrity, but now some celebrities just cut those deals themselves.

I suppose it's proactive in some way -- if what you have to sell is your unfortunate past, strange behavior or willingness to be made to or allowed to act like a knucklehead in public, why leave the profit to others? As executive producers of "The Two Coreys," the two Coreys would seem to be in on the joke -- in interviews, they refer to the series as "scripted reality" even as they insist on its emotional truth -- yet in watching the show it's hard not to think that the joke is on them anyway.

There are some for whom the unmediated life is not worth living, in whatever form that has to take. It reminds me of the story about the man who won't quit his job mopping up after circus elephants: "What? And leave show business?"

Are you listening, Lindsay? Beware the elephants!


'The Two Coreys'

Where: A&E

When: 10 p.m. Sunday

Rating: TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)

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