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Celebs and their spectral encounters

TELEVISION REVIEW

July 17, 2010|ROBERT LLOYD | TELEVISION CRITIC

I don't believe in ghosts, but I will believe your ghost story. I won't regard it as a lie or a delusion or offer any logical explanations for what you say you saw. I don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe in stories, and a good one will make the hair on my neck stand on end however much it runs counter to how I think the world works.

There is a show on Bio, a.k.a. the Biography Channel, called "Celebrity Ghost Stories." It begins its second season Saturday night, returning like Jacob Marley to haunt your television set. It is not the ghosts who are the celebrities, I should point out, though that would be a pretty interesting program if you could book it. (Imagine the green room.) Rather, it is the well-known living who relate their meetings with the less famous dead.

The season's first episode opens with Michael Imperioli, Christopher from "The Sopranos," who describes a spectral encounter in the much-haunted Chelsea Hotel. Joan Collins recalls a fabulous party in Venice, Italy, where she met a ghost in her gray chiffon palazzo pajamas. (How the ghost got in her pajamas, she'll never know.) Donna D'Errico, who was on "Baywatch," remembers an imaginary friend who was perhaps something more than imaginary. And '80s teen dream Corey Feldman, who some might not consider the world's most reliable narrator, relates how arguments with his now ex-wife literally upset their house.

It is one of those shows, like "Unsolved Mysteries" and "America's Most Wanted," on which "dramatic re-creation" carries the visual weight of the tale. I don't believe in dramatic re-creation -- I mean, I know it exists, but I dislike it; I would ban its use if I were the King of Television. It cheapens the reality it means to bring to life. Here, we get actors miming the very actors we have just seen (and continue to hear) as themselves, in staged scenes that leach whatever is special and spooky from the first-person storytelling and render it budgeted and mundane.

It would be better on the radio.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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'Celebrity Ghost Stories'

Where: Biography

When: 6 and 9 p.m. Saturday

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

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