Rocker Tommy Lee and socialite Kathy Hilton are NBC's newest reality stars. When they sit down for afternoon tea with TV Guide, worlds collide! In her new series, I Want to Be a Hilton, Kathy Hilton coaches aspiring social climbers in the art of civilized behavior. In Tommy Lee Goes to College (premiering August 16), Tommy Lee does just what the title suggests. We thought it only proper to ask Kathy, the mother of heirheads Paris and Nicky, to teach bad-boy Tommy a lesson in etiquette. Here's what happened.
The Scene: A private dining room in the posh Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. A waiter carefully places fine bone china teacups, silver pots and a three-tiered stand laden with finger sandwiches and pastries on a table for two.
Tommy Lee enters, wearing a striped fuzzy sweater and carrying a hat in his tattooed hand. Across the room, he spies Kathy Hilton, looking elegant in a chic floral frock.
Tommy: You must be Kathy.Kathy: [Sternly] Where is your jacket?[Tommy is struck dumb.]Kathy: [Laughing gleefully] I'm just kidding. I'm very impressed that you do not have your hat on. There's a time and a place for a hat. And the tearoom of the Beverly Wilshire...Tommy: ...is not the place. I get it. I definitely don't know everything there is to know about manners. I wish I did.Kathy: [Cheerily] No chewing gum, elbows off the table, no smoking, no cell phone.Tommy: [Pretends to swallow] My cell phone is already off. May I help you with your chair?[He does. They sit.]Kathy: Now the first thing we do is put our napkin on our lap.[She looks over to see Tommy tucking his napkin into the neckline of his sweater.]Kathy: [Feigning shock] Unless one were having lobster at the Palm, one wouldn't be wearing a bib. You would simply unfold it and place it on your lap.[Tommy fumbles with his napkin.]Kathy: Not quite so unfolded, dear. You don't want to make a skirt out of it. [Raising a glass of water] Now I would like to toast you: Congratulations on your new show.Tommy: Thank you. [Leans forward and whispers] And may all your ups and downs be in bed.Kathy: Well, that's a new one.Tommy: Probably not an appropriate toast. What would be?Kathy: You acknowledge everyone at the table, unless it is a large gathering. Then you thank the host and hostess, thank everyone for being there and acknowledge people who came in from out of town, family members or people celebrating birthdays or anniversaries.Tommy: Share the love. I was told that it's wrong not to look in someone's eyes while making a toast. In the old days, if someone wasn't making eye contact, that was a sign you were going to be poisoned.Kathy: [Looking directly into his eyes] Now what kind of tea would you like?Tommy: [In a British rock star voice] English breakfast is my favorite. [He opens a pouch containing loose tea] Oh, my, this is the real deal. I don't know how to do this.[Kathy places his tea in the strainer over his cup and pours.]Tommy: This is a proper tea, indeed. Is there correct etiquette for sugar? Do I just grab it?Kathy: [Tolerantly] Well, you might want to use the little tongs there.Tommy: [Stirring the sugar in the tea] I'm going straight for those desserts.Kathy: No, we start with the finger sandwiches.[Tommy scoops up several cucumber and salmon sandwiches with his bare hands.]Kathy: We're at the Beverly Wilshire. There's more. Now remember, your thumb should be pointed in the direction of the pointed end of the sandwich. Now take little tiny bites.[Tommy hastily stuffs it in his mouth, hoping Kathy won't notice. She does.]Kathy: Tommy, no one's going to grab the plate. Now, as you sip, lift your finger.[Tommy flips up his middle finger.]Kathy: [Laughing] No, not that finger. Your pinkie! You must perch it.[She demonstrates.]Tommy: [Outraged] Guys don't do that! [Thinks a moment] Well, actually, sometimes my pinkie flips up when I'm having a martini.Kathy: You see? You have the makings of a real gentleman.Tommy: Why, thank you. What should I say if I happen to burp?Kathy: Just say, "Excuse me." What else is there to say?Tommy: And if I had to leave the table, would it be OK to say, "Excuse me a second, I've got to use the bathroom"?Kathy: Or perhaps "men's room." And you might ask if I will be OK while you are away. Now what if I needed something from the waiter? How would you handle that?Tommy: "Excuse me, sir"?Kathy: Yes! That's very nice.Tommy: [Pleased with himself] Would whistling be bad? Or yelling "Yo, a little help"?Kathy: No, we don't raise our voice. And we don't discuss politics or religion. Or one's money.Tommy: [Raising an eyebrow] What about sex?Kathy: Oh, no, one doesn't talk about that, either.Tommy: That's why I don't go to tea very often.