Perhaps no reality-show elimination is as brutally cold as on Fox's Skating with Celebrities (Mondays at 8 pm/ET), where the booted have likely spent weeks sliding their backsides on the ice. The first to lack muster with the judging panel was Diff'rent Strokes alum Todd Bridges, who in this TVGuide.com Q&A sings the praises of his pro partner, opens up about his sobriety, and promises a true Hollywood tell-all the likes of which you cannot imagine.
TVGuide.com: You treated Skating with Celebrities viewers to a "Whatcha talkin' 'bout, Willis?" early on. Did you just want to get it out of your system?
Yeah, I figured if I kill it before anyone else says it, then it will be done!
TVGuide.com: How much input did you have into your music and costume choices?
A lot. We picked music that I could really dance to, which would take away from the fact that I don't skate as well as the rest of them. But I tell you, just from the first week to the second week, I skated [much] better in the second. I just had that little tippy-toe fall.... Jenni Meno and I, we wanted to be crowd-pleasers, and I think we accomplished that.
TVGuide.com: Was the giant afro a part of your "misdirection" strategy?
No, it went with the year of the song. Remember, I didn't have any skating slipups, except for the fall.
TVGuide.com: Still, you seemed pretty devastated about the fall.
Yeah, it bothered me because when you're competing in any type of situation, you don't want to fall. I'd rather just not skate well. But to know you got eliminated because you fell, that's a different thing.
TVGuide.com: At the end of the day, did your bit of roller-skating experience help you at all?
It's like icicles and fire. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: That's a "no," I take it?
They have nothing to do with each other. Roller-skating and ice-skating are two different things I found that out the hard way.
TVGuide.com: Roller-skating, you have eight points of contact with the surface, whereas ice-skating gives you just two.
But it's not even two points you're on edges!
TVGuide.com: Did you appreciate having Jenni's husband help you with the lifts?
That was great. It was his idea for us to do it, and then he came in and helped us out. I was the only celebrity who did a lift.
TVGuide.com: Now how about giving Jenni herself some props.
Oh, we had a blast. We fit together really well. She worked me so hard and put a lot of time on the ice. We were both sad when I fell I was depressed for a couple days after that and she helped me get through it. She's a really nice person. Her husband, too.
TVGuide.com: When you first met Jenni, did you sit her down and set her straight on the Todd Bridges "myths versus realities"?
Noooo... the funny part about it is that everybody who meets me realizes that all of that stuff is hogwash. They continually write these things, like I'm still out there doing things wrong today. Everyone forgets that I'm 13 years sober. The rest of those guys are faking it, and I'm not I really am sober.
TVGuide.com: It must get tiring always lumped in with child stars who went on to be, like, mass murderers.
They lumped me in a couple of weeks ago with Leif Garrett [arrested on heroin-possession charges]! They show my picture with his, like I got in trouble with him! It's part of a slew of things that we actors have to deal with. On a continual basis we get called "has-beens," but they don't know the true meaning of the word, obviously. The true meaning is someone who cannot work in their chosen profession. I've been working in mine for 35 years, so I don't know what they're talking about.
TVGuide.com: How did the judges' harsh criticism, particularly from Sir John Nicks, hit you?
You know, it didn't. Like I said, you get kind of [immune] to it because that's what we deal with as actors. No matter how well you do, no matter how successful you are, they're always going to criticize you, and you just have to go, "OK, whatever" and be happy with yourself. I'm happy that I was able to learn to turn around backwards, to spin, to lift a lady over my head things I didn't think I'd ever be able to do.
TVGuide.com: Having done this show, are you more inclined to lace up?
Oh, I do, I skate a lot now. It's great exercise.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Right now, we're working on my life story and putting together my book. We'll have all of that stuff out by next year.
TVGuide.com: What are we titling the Todd Bridges life story?
The movie is called Killing Willis, and Robert Townsend is the director. We haven't named the book yet.
TVGuide.com: Are you going to get the kid from Everybody Hates Chris to play you?
Actually, the film only shows me that young for, like, maybe 10 minutes, and the rest is me as an older kid. We already have a guy in mind. Did you see Ray? The script is even more hard-core than Ray. We've been told it's kinda dark, but there's a huge light at the end because I made it out of all that. Everyone thinks they know the story, but they really don't. You've seen the True Hollywood Storys, but this is the real version.
TVGuide.com: Working where I do, I have to ask: Who from Diff'rent Strokes do you keep in touch with?
Conrad Bain, the director, and some of the producers. I talk to Gary [Coleman], but he kind of vanishes. He's a vanisher. One minute you talk to him and the next his number has changed and he's moved out of town.
TVGuide.com: Um, are you sure he's not just standing behind a mailbox?
No, he really disappears on you!
Additional reporting by Bettina Charles
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