Just a few days before the debut of her new reality series “Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On,” with sister Wendy Wilson and life-long friend Chynna Phillips, Carnie Wilson explained why she needed a second stomach-restricting surgical procedure to curb her weight gain.
In the first episode of “Still Holding On,” premiering Sunday, April 8, at 9/8c on TV Guide Network, Carnie is seen deciding to undergo a second stomach operation — a so-called “lap band” procedure in which a special rubber band is installed around the stomach to make it smaller.
Her surgery, performed this past January, delays an important concert date, throwing Carnie into conflict with her friends and bandmates.
Why’d Carnie have this lap-band operation on top of the stomach-shrinking gastric bypass operation she’d already had 12 years ago? Because she’d gained back two-thirds of the weight she lost back then and became alarmed.
“This was necessary for me to have intervention again,” she told us, when we sat down with all three of the Wilson Phillipses in New York this week. “It will always be my cross to bear. And I just think feeling physically ill again and really struggling to take off one pound … I don’t know what happened. I think it was just a combination of reverting back to old habits and not exercising anymore.”
Gastric bypasses are supposed to give patients a feeling of fullness during meals that is supposed to curb their intake. After a while, that didn’t happen for Carnie. “I also did not feel the sensation of being full anymore and my surgeon said that my tummy was like a funnel – the stomach was actually still small but at the bottom of the stomach was like a funnel where [it] was so stretched out … For reasons unknown to me, food was passing right through, so I actually felt hungry all day.”
The follow-up, lap-band procedure, she said, “was me reaching out for help and not being ashamed to reach out for help.”
This new Wilson Phillips reality show is not entirely about Carnie. It’s about the trio reconvening in their 40s after some time off to record a new CD and, hopefully, go out on tour.
Before you watch it, you might want to review the Wilson Phillips family tree.
The trio is:
Carnie, 43, daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson: She’s a TV veteran who hosted her own talk show (“Carnie!”), starred in two reality series — “Celebrity Fit Club” and “Unstapled” (whose title referred to the gastric bypass surgery she underwent), and even hosted “The Newlywed Game” for a time on Game Show Network. She has two daughters with husband Rob Bonfiglio.
Wendy, 42, Carnie’s younger sister. She has four sons with husband Daniel Knutson.
Phillips, 44, daughter of Michelle Phillips and the late John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, half-sister of MacKenzie Phillips, wife of William Baldwin (with whom she has a son and two daughters), and sister-in-law of the other Baldwins (including Alec). She was a contestant on the 13th season of “Dancing With the Stars.” Fun fact: Her mother was once married to Dennis Hopper for eight days.
We talked to all three about the series and the new CD, which was released just this week. Titled “Dedicated,” it has the trio harmonizing on songs made famous by their parents, including “California Dreamin’ ” (the Mamas and the Papas), and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.”
On the CD: Carnie said the idea for the album was hatched after the three joined Michelle Phillips for some impromptu harmonizing on “California Dreamin’ ” at a family gathering. “It’s big shoes to fill,” said Chynna. “But we knew going into it that our goal was never to try and top what they did – those songs are masterpieces. But what we decided to do was to put our signature on it and really sing from our hearts and just make sure that we did the songs justice and we didn’t butcher them.”
On the reality show: Turns out Carnie, the one with all the TV experience, was the one who was most enthusiastic about doing a TV show. Wendy and Carnie said they watch reality shows such as the various “Real Housewives” shows on Bravo, plus “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “The Biggest Loser” and others. “My new thing is ‘The Shahs of Sunset.’ I can’t believe what I’m watching,” Carnie said of the Bravo reality series about a group of super-rich Iranian-Americans living lavish lives in Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
Chynna revealed that there’s no TV in her house, so she’s not watching any reality shows, or “Dancing With the Stars” or even brother-in-law Alec Baldwin in “30 Rock” (at least on regular TV).
All three said they didn’t want to make a conflict-ridden series like so many of the others. “Not on the TV Guide Network,” Chynna pointed out. “['Still Holding On'] doesn’t have to be that way because they have a completely different viewership.
“They actually wanted the show to be sort of built around the music and that was important to us,” Chynna said. “We met with a lot of different [networks and production] companies and they were all like, ‘We love you, but we don’t want it to be all about the music’.”
In addition, other producers they met were a little too keen on populating the show with the singers’ famous relatives and in-laws. ” ‘Do you think your brother-in law would do it?’ ” Chynna quoted one of them as asking.
For the record, Alec won’t be seen on the show, but husband Billy will be. So will Michelle Phillips. As for Brian Wilson, the elusive Beach Boy, Carnie said she hopes he comes on next season, if there is one.
“Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On” premieres Sunday night, April 8, at 9/8c on TV Guide Network.