What happens when you take a bunch of famous friends, sit them around a dinner table -- complete with some killer cocktails -- and film their gossip, jokes and secrets for television? TV Guide Network's "Hollywood Girls Night," which is the brainchild of "Days of Our Lives" actress Alison Sweeney and former Miss USA Ali Landry.
Landry achieved instant fame as “The Doritos Girl" thanks to a 1998 Frito-Lay Super Bowl commercial, but it's her infamous 2004 annulment from Mario Lopez that everyone remembers. She split from the actor two weeks after their wedding due to infidelity rumors.
Today, the 38-year-old Louisiana native is remarried with two young kids, and is having a blast with her fellow Hollywood ladies on the second season of "Hollywood Girls Night." Landry spoke with The Huffington Post about the series' convivial concept, its most scandalous guest stars and the positive outcome of her split from Lopez.
So how did "Hollywood Girls Night" get started?
Alison [Sweeney] and I have known each other for about 10 years. We did "Celebrity Fear Factor" together. We had children around the same time. We were running in the same circles. She was at a party at my home and we said, "This is ridiculous. We know so many cool girls in the business and we all see each other at events and say we are going to get together but we never follow through."
Alison stepped up to the plate. She sent the invite out to some of our girlfriends and we had our first supper club about two years ago. Then Ellen Rakieten, who was an executive producer of "Oprah" for 20-something years, heard we were doing this and thought it would be great for TV and now here we are.
How does it work?
It’s potluck. We do it in our homes, which is unique. I like to call it a "reality talk show." Everybody brings a dish and usually the person who hosts does the main course. Everyone else brings an appetizer or dessert or wine.
Surely it’s not as uninhibited as it was before the cameras arrived.
Well, it’s very interesting what’s happened. People have opened up. We didn’t expect it because, of course, that was a concern. I really think it’s the way it’s set up. We do "Tell us a secret" or ice breaker questions, which really gets the conversation going in different ways. We talk about personal things, whether it's breakups or ... one guest, Sheryl Underwood, talked about how her husband committed suicide. She had never spoken about it publicly and she really opened up about it.
How much does the alcohol help get the conversation going?
That’s what we all say. The specialty cocktail sure does help, but some of the girls don’t even drink. I think it’s because it’s not a regular talk show format. I feel like we’re all sharing something and supporting each other.
What was your biggest reveal?
I told everyone that I did not have sex with my husband [director Alejandro Monteverde] until we got married.
Who is the most shocking dinner guest you've had on the show?
It's between Kendra Wilkinson, Patti Stanger and Perez Hilton. The night that Perez was there, I know most of the show ended up on the editing room floor because it was too much.
Were the conversations 90 percent about penis size?
Well from Perez it was, or Kendra maybe a little bit, but for us it was about dating experiences and embarrassing moments.
I really admired the way you handled your marriage and annulment from Mario Lopez.
Thanks! Look, it was a really tough situation -- a really tough time in my life -- but I am very proud of the way I handled it. It really changed my life in the most positive way, and that’s so nice to come out of something so terrible and be able to say that. Now I have a wonderful husband and a great family so now I can actually speak about it and not put any blame on the other person, but as someone who went through something terrible and handled it a certain way and I learned from it. I grew.
He was a d**k! Don’t say, "Don’t blame him!"
No, yeah he was! But at the end of the day, it’s not about him, you know what I’m saying? He did suck, it still does suck. It hurt a lot and he never apologized. That’s hurtful, when someone you cared about never stepped up to the plate to at least say, "I’m so sorry I did that to you." But with that said, I had to be even stronger and figure out a way to move forward on my own.
Thank goodness you’re not with someone who could be so callous now.
Oh, I say it every single day. Like, "Thank God I’m not with that person. Thank God!" I’m grateful that happened, really!