Tori Spelling's Mommy Issues
With a new memoir on parenting, the TV scion turned reality star dishes on her feud with her mother, Candy, her kids’ love of paparazzi, and her return to 90210.
Tori Spelling has survived a lot longer than most people thought she would. After a decade on her father’s young-adult juggernaut, Beverly Hills, 90210, she, like the rest of the teen-idol cast, spent a decade in relative oblivion. But then something changed—not in Tori, but in pop culture. TV veered sharply into high-drama, guilty-pleasure “reality.” The paparazzi mutated. Entertainment became a series of goofball, anything-goes hijinks. In other words, the world shifted Tori-ward.
“When you’re a celebrity, people are always taking pictures of you. And if it’s been two weeks since you’ve had a baby, it’s hard not to worry about them seeing your belly.”
In fact, one could argue that the past few years have seen the true flowering of Spelling’s career. No longer playing second banana to Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth, she made a tabloid splash three years ago with a juicy, home-wrecking affair with her TV-movie costar Dean McDermott. From there, she and McDermott made a reality show together, now in its fourth successful season. She wrote a dishy bestselling memoir that included details about her feud with her mother, Candy. And her recent appearance on the new 90210 netted the series its highest ratings in months.
Now Spelling is back with a casual and candid take on motherhood in her new book, Mommywood (released, probably not coincidentally, within weeks of Candy Spelling’s own memoir). In it, Tori holds forth on everything from her paparazzi-loving toddlers to body after baby. She took a break from her book tour to speak to The Daily Beast about rumors of a post-pregnancy eating disorder and where things stand with Mom.
The kids are with me because I’m on the road for a week. I don’t put them through this if it’s for one night—my husband, Dean, and I switch off. But we’re in New York right now for five days and there’s no way I could have left Stella and Liam. I definitely cannot go more than a day or two without them.
I’m so blessed and grateful to have work right now. But then there’s another part of me that just wants to be with my kids all day. I’m sure every working mother feels that way. Dean is completely hands-on with the kids, and I am so blessed for that. In the book I talk about the curse of having the hands-on dad, because then all of a sudden you feel left out of it—like, “Wait, I wanted to change that diaper!”
Did you ever think one day you’d be saying, “Wait, I wanted to change that diaper”?
Right? Exactly. You never think that until you experience it yourself. Parenthood is like an alternate universe.
Liam seems to get along well with the paparazzi.
Definitely. He has no idea what he’s getting into. Stella’s a ham, too. The kids are hilarious. They’re definitely very socialized. They’re friendly with everyone. It is strange sometimes to think that people know my 2-year-old by name, but that’s the world we live in.
Growing up in the spotlight, was it like that for you, too?
I feel like it’s completely different now. It wasn’t really a paparazzi world back then, with flashbulbs going off as soon as you walk out your door. I definitely was exposed to a lot of Hollywood-esque things, I suppose, but as far as the flashbulbs and the paparazzi stalking us, that did not happen. That’s a new thing.
In the book, you talk about Liam and how you worried about him having a big nose based on his ultrasound. Do you think all moms think this way?
In the book I did speculate about that because when I saw the sonogram, all I could think about was, “Oh my God, does his nose look large?” Obviously, that comes from what I experienced myself growing up. But when you get your sonogram, it’s the last few months of the pregnancy and your kid is running out of room in there—they’re all squashed up. So the features are greatly exaggerated. But I didn’t know that then. They look a bit scary. So I just put the question out there—is that reaction a characteristic of someone living in Hollywood? Or do moms everywhere think the same thing? Do they all worry about what their kids will look like? I think they do.
You’ve commented that Jessica Alba, who had her daughter Honor Marie two days before you had Stella, was back in her pre-baby body two weeks after giving birth, while you could barely move. Did you feel pressure after your pregnancy ended to be physically perfect?
When I wrote Mommywood I was still losing my baby weight, so when I talked about the pressure, yes, it was very much there. It took [Jessica Alba] two weeks to get back to her pre-baby body. It took me six months. And some women never lose it. But when you’re a celebrity, people are always taking pictures of you. And if it’s been two weeks since you’ve had a baby, it’s hard not to worry about them seeing your belly.
But if you’re talking about today, I have lost my baby weight. And yeah, I may look a bit thin. But I’m running around doing all these projects and taking care of my two babies. And all of a sudden, according to the press, I’m too thin. So something’s wrong with you, no matter what. You can’t win. I’m perfectly healthy. The reality is, obviously, when I make a joke—“Sometimes I just eat what’s left on my son’s plate”—it’s me being silly, when the press makes it out to be like I’m eating just two french fries a day. Of course not. I was joking. When you have two kids, though, it’s hard to give your full attention to sitting down and eating a proper meal. There’s too much going on at any given moment.
You’re already shooting season four of your reality show Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.
The new season starts in May. It works out really well, because they just sort of follow our daily schedule. They came with me on the set of 90210 and they’re on the book tour with me now. The kids have gotten so used to the cameras and the crew, they miss them when they’re gone. It’s become like a big family.
Speaking of family, your mom, Candy Spelling, recently released her own memoir, Stories from Candyland. Have you read it?
Her book being out the same time as mine is just smart corporate planning. Kudos to them on that. Obviously they want to sell copies, and any drama that can be created around it will sell copies. I’m completely supportive of her choice to do her book—everyone should be able to tell their version of the story. And I fully intend on reading her book.
In your book, you say that your relationship with your kids is always a work in progress. Would you say that applies to your relationship with your mother, too?
All relationships are a work in progress. I don’t know what the future holds. I just think that right now it would be better for both of us and our relationship if everything weren’t so public. I would like for us to deal with things more privately.
90210 scored its highest ratings in months last week when you made your debut on the show. How does it feel to be back in Donna Martin’s shoes?
It was great. I was nervous my first day because I kind of felt like the new kid on someone else’s set. And I just kept thinking, “Everyone knows each other, what’s it going to be like?” That new-kid-in-school feeling. But when I got there, it was just so comfortable. It was like being home again, but yet not quite home again. The new cast was great, but I really loved working with Jennie [Garth]. We’ve been friends a long time, but it was wonderful working with her again. It was just like when we were 17, giggling on the set. But while we used to giggle over boys, now we were talking about our kids.
Obviously fans are happy to see Donna return. Do you think you’re going to stick around?
I think it’s great—it really validates me making the effort to come back, that I did it for the fans. And we’ve got such loyal, amazing fans, so I’m really happy to see Donna and Kelly back together on the show. I’m definitely open to doing more, but I don’t know anything about that yet. I did a few episodes this season, and it seems like it could lead to more, so hopefully I’ll be back next season. I would love to.
Screenwriter and journalist Sona Charaipotra has contributed to The New York Times, People, ABCNews.com, MSN.com, American Way and other publications. Formerly an editor at Teen People and a reporter for People magazine, she writes about travel, food and entertainment at www.IshqInABackpack.com.