If you're a reality-TV addict, then the name Shanna Moakler will ring a bell; the more important question, however, is which bell. There was her MTV series with hubby Travis Barker (Blink-182, +44, Expensive Taste), which ran for 16 episodes, as well as her stint on the third season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," which lasted for a decidedly shorter period of time. Now, however, Moakler is sitting alongside Carson Kressley ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") and Cynthia Garrett (VH-1) as one of the judges of The CW's latest guilty pleasure, "Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants." We spoke with Shanna about the show, her husband, and asked the question we're all dying to know: when is "Pacific Blue" finally getting released on DVD? First, though, I had to correct a bit of confusion accidentally caused by Shanna's very apologetic publicist.
Shanna Moakler: Hey. Hi, hello?
Publicist: I have Harris on the phone for you.
SM: Hey, Harris, how are you?
Bullz-Eye: Well, pretty good, but it's actually Will Harris.
SM: Oh, Will!
Publicist: Oh, I'm sorry! They didn't put the right name on. I'm sorry! Oh, I feel terrible!
BE: No, no, it's okay. And it's a pleasure to speak with you, Shanna.
SM: Well, hello, Will! (Laughs)
BE: So this, uh, isn't exactly your first reality TV venture, huh?
SM: No, definitely not! But it's a different type of reality TV for me.
BE: Did you have any hesitation about doing another reality series, or did you figure that serving as a judge would be a breeze, relatively speaking?
SM: I did. I thought that serving as a judge and a host would be a breeze, but more than anything, it had to do with pageants, and pageants are something that I just hold dear to my heart and I really enjoy, so it was kind of, like, "Okay, this is something I like; it has my interest."
BE: How old were you were you did your first pageant?
SM: I was 16.
BE: Do you see yourself in this show at all?
SM: A little bit, y'know. Especially more towards the end, when we actually…the big finale of the show, they actually have a huge pageant, so when the girls are actually on the stage competing, more on the actual big stage, that's when I was, like, "Awwww! I miss that!" It's fun!
BE: Were you ever in a mother-daughter pageant?
SM: I wasn't. But I used to watch them as a kid!
BE: What's it like working with Carson and Cynthia, and more importantly, how many of Carson's comments end up on the cutting-room floor?
SM: Well, Carson is non-stop. He's so high-energy and he has so many one-liners, and he's so quick. He's so funny! It was great working with the both of them, because we really did mesh well. Carson is the beauty and fashion, I was the pageant expert, and Cynthia kind of brought the modern woman's intake into it, and we just blended really nicely. And we just laughed the entire time! We had so much fun!
BE: Did you know either of them prior to coming into the show?
SM: I didn't, no.
BE: When you watched the first round of the competition, did you have to stifle the occasional cringe?
SM: Ooh, yeah, the first competition…? Because the first round, we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into or what to expect, but the first round…I believe it was the first impression, and they had to think of a team name, and we were just, like, "Whoa!" We were kind of thrown back. But there are actually some really great mother-daughter teams who had some substance and are sweet.
BE: Which pair impressed you, personally, the most after that first round?
SM: After the first round? I really liked, um…oh, gosh, what was their…it was Hollis and her mother, but I can't think of their team name at the moment, and I can't think of Hollis's mother's name!
BE: Hang on, let me check, I've got the internet up right here. Um…that'd be Gina.
SM: Gina! Yeah, Gina and Hollis. They were my favorites at first.
BE: What was it about them?
SM: They just had this natural ease on the stage. They just came out and they were so natural, and they had this really awesome relationship with each other. You could tell that she really respected her mother, and the mother was just so proud of her daughter, and they just had this really cool bond between each other were you were, like, "Okay, that's what we're looking for."
BE: Was it hard to just lay it on the line and tell some of them how you felt about their performances? Because some of them seem really authentic and, well, nice.
SM: Yeah, it was. There were some who had done pageants before, so we were a little tougher on them, but there were some who hadn't. And it was really hard being tough on the ones who had no experience, because on stage, you could tell that they were terrified! But at the same time, they needed massive help, like makeovers and all kinds of stuff. And I don't mean makeovers because they were so horribly unattractive; there are just some women out there who don't know how to dress for their own bodies, for instance.
BE: I watched the first episode, and I enjoyed it…
SM: Oh, you did? Nice!
BE: …but, at the same time, I've also kind of been describing it as "car wreck TV," because you feel like you shouldn't be watching it, but at the same time, you can't turn away from it.
SM: Yeah, I try to keep telling everybody, "It's gonna be your favorite guilty pleasure!" I also try to tell everybody that, y'know, it's reality TV, it's not supposed to be rocket science. It's supposed to be fun and entertaining ,and it's supposed to be make you laugh, y'know?
BE: Do you have a favorite guilty-pleasure reality show yourself?
SM: Omigod, I love "Kitchen Nightmares." I love Chef Ramsey! I just want him to cook for me once, anything he likes.
BE: And, of course, you were on "Dancing with the Stars."
SM: I was, yes!
BE: Did you think you were going to last longer than (the two episodes) you did?
SM: I so thought I was going to last longer! (Laughs) I have to say, I'm a little bitter about it, but, y'know, I was just having so much fun, and when we got sent home, I was sad. I was really sad, because I was just really enjoying my time there.
BE: You were also on an episode of "Entourage" this season.
SM: I was, yeah! God, what a great cast and crew!
BE: Were you a fan of the show before you were on there?
SM: I was a fan of the show. And it's so nice when you work with companies that, y'know, have a lot of money in them? (Laughs) Like, HBO's such a big, huge company, because everyone's so happy to be there, and they're so happy to be doing their jobs, and it's such a great energy on the set. It's, like, God, I would love to be part of a production like this all the time! It's great!
BE: But besides that appearance, you really haven't done a whole lot of straight-up acting work lately.
SM: No, you know, I really wish that I had more opportunities in acting. And, now, with the writer's strike…I get constant reality (TV opportunities), and I have to be really careful with that. And I enjoy hosting. I enjoy the whole gamut of entertaining, whether it's acting, modeling, singing, dancing. I've been doing more modeling and hosting than anything, but my heart really is in scripted projects, so I'm really hoping to go more down that avenue. It's so funny, because when I did do "Entourage," they were, like, "Wow, you can really act!" "Yes, thank you!" It's, like, you've gotta prove to people that you're not a pageant girl, you're not a model, you're not just a Miss USA contestant; you've gotta prove that you can do it.
BE: Well, the big question, then, is whether there's been any word about "Pacific Blue" coming out on DVD? (Writer's note: Moakler played Officer Monica Harper in 44 episodes of the USA Network drama.)
SM: Oh, I don't know. I get that question all the time, because I try to tell people, "You know I've been in a lot of other stuff besides that!" But I don't know. I still get so many fans who come to my MySpace page and write about it; people still love that show.
BE: And that actually leads into what I was going to ask about next. You do a fair amount of blogging on your MySpace page…
SM: I do, yeah.
BE: In fact, you were just taking suggestions for naming your next cat.
SM: Yes, I was! (Laughs)
BE: Is it hard to maintain a relationship with your fans on there? Because I would think you'd have a pretty huge influx of straight-up horndogs who want to be your friends.
SM: I get such a huge amount of people on my MySpace. And I spend probably a good two to three hours a day – I usually do it really late at night before I go to bed – and I really do go through the whole thing. Sometimes I'll have my friend add friends for me, but I really do try to read all the letters. And there are always certain letters that stick out to me, or a lot of people ask the same questions, and I'll try to address them in a blog or something like that, but I really do try to keep it up, because it is such an easy way to stay in touch with your fans. And, y'know, your fans really respect that.
BE: Obvious question: how's Travis?
SM: He's awesome!
BE: Everything going well with you all now?
SM: Yeah, things are awesome!
BE: It's just not the same when you guys aren't in the gossip tabloids anymore.
SM: Yeah, I know, right? It's, like… (Sighs) "This is nice…"
BE: Do you have any upcoming modeling shoots in connection with your press for "Crowned"?
SM: Yeah, actually, there's a new one I've done for Maxim.com.
BE: And you were talking about wanting to do more acting, but is there any particular genre you'd like to work in specifically? Because you've worked in several, certainly.
SM: Yeah, I'd really love to do anything. I mean, films, like romantic comedies, or there are shows on HBO that I think are awesome. And I also like sitcom work. I did an episode of "Joey," and I had such a great time on that set. And it was such an amazing schedule that it was, like, "Okay, I could do this and have three kids!" And it's a live audience, so…y'know, I really appreciate each one for its own different thing, but I just want to be on a set where people are happy to be there.
BE: And last question: have you ever been in a pilot or project that didn't get picked up that you thought should have?
SM: I have, actually. It was called "Johnny X," and it was one of the guys from "21 Jump Street" (Dustin Nguyen) and I was, like, "Oh, this is so getting picked up!" But it didn't.
BE: Oh ,well. Well, I'll keep you on schedule, but it's been a pleasure speaking with you.
SM: Thank you so much, Will!