FUN, FEARLESS FEMALE
Former Who's the Boss? cutie Alyssa Milano spills all about her cybersmut crusade, her Charm-ing new role, and the singer who rocks her world.
By Dennis Hensley
Alyssa Milano didn't have to be a show-biz veteran of 18 years to know that when Melrose Place/90210 producer extraordinaire Aaron Spelling calls, you listen. And it's a good thing she did last spring when
he placed an eleventh-hour plea, begging her to read a script for his new WB show...she's now starring in it. Charmed, an hour-long dramedy set in San Francisco, is the story of three sisters who happen to
be witches (Beverly Hills, 90210 refugee Shannen Doherty and Picket Fences' Holly Marie Combs play the other two).
"I was in Hawaii guest-starring on an episode of the new Fantasy Island when he called," remembers Milano, who recently finished up a yearlong stint on Spelling's popular nighttime sex-capade, Melrose Place.
"It was like getting called to the principal's office, she laughs. "He pitched the whole show to me, so I said, 'Send me the script.' That was on a Wednesday, and I started work the next Monday."
Moving from island views to witches' brews in just one weekend is the kind of chameleonlike magic that has given Milano the shelf life to survive all these years in "the business." After all, this is the same girl who was able to convince audiences after eight years of playing the sweet Samantha Micelli on Who's the Boss? that she could be the sexy (and damn conniving) Jennifer Mancini on the ever-orgasmic Melrose Place last season.
"I'm proud that I'm still working and that I'm a good person after doing this for 18 years, because let's face it, the list of child actors who actually become sane adults is very short." Sane, yes. But it wasn't easy.
Her Cybersex-y Scandal
It's surprising that Milano still has nice things to say about Who's the Boss?-the sitcom that she began working on when she was just 11-considering she basically went through puberty on national television thanks to the long run of the show. "That's your most insecure, screwed-up time anyway," Milano laughs. "So to be 13 and zitty and awkward and getting little mosquito bites for breasts and all that...yeah, it was definitely weird."
It turns out that losing the Samantha stereotype was even harder. "After Who's the Boss? there was a period when I could not get meetings with producers," remembers Milano. "That was hard." Milano had to remake her image-a few seductive movie roles here, a sexy magazine layout there-to convince the right people. Unfortunately, it all went a little too far.
Three years ago, Milano's brother Cory, then 12, logged on to one of Alyssa's Web sites and, in short, saw a little more of his big sister than he bargained for. "Some of the pictures were from movies I'd made," Milano says, "and some of them were my face on other people's bodies"-
naked bodies, that is. Obviously, this was a tough time for Milano and Cory. "I was sorry it hurt him. I mean, I have no problem with the nudity I've done [the film Embrace of the Vampire, an artsy layout
for Bikini magazine]. I just don't want someone taking it out of context and making $15,000 a month off of it."
Milano well into her third year of an eight-year run playing Tony Danza's daughter on Who's the Boss?
David Charvet and Milano get physical as Craig Field and Jennifer Mancini on Melrose Place last January.
Milano and Shannen Doherty put on the sister act in the bewitching new WB show, Charmed.
So Milano took matters into her own hands, becoming an Internet vigilante-a Buffy the Vampire Slayer in cyberspace, if you will. With the help of her mother, she started a company called Cybertrackers, which patrols the World Wide Web and discourages the unauthorized use of nude
photos of celebrities. "We basically harass the companies until they take the pictures off, and if they don't, we sue," Milano says firmly. "We've had five lawsuits, and we've won money out of every single one of them. We're going to take the money and start a new search engine called SAFE, which stands for Security Association For Entertainers. That way, people can log on to SAFE and find clean materia1 on celebrities."
All this talk of work and lawsuits doesn't mean that Milano doesn't know how to cut loose and get crazy. She's a regular at the local tattoo parlor (currently she has a fairy on her hip, a sacred heart on her butt, rosary beads onher back, an angel on her left ankle and flowers around her right, and the initials S.R.W on her calf-we'll get to that later). And of course, there's eating. "I'm always going to have a really positive reaction to food, because in my family it was about big Italian family dinners."
Milano is ecstatic to report that she's recently been setting another place at her table after a two-year dry spell in the romance department. "My boyfriend right now is the lead singer of a band," she gushes. "I can't tell you who it is because I want his success to come from him and not from who he's dating." The pair met at a mutual friend's house about nine months ago. Though they obviously had chemistry, Milano sensed he was too shy to ask her out, so on her way out the door, she made
the move. "I said, 'If I give you my number, will you call me?' And it worked!. He called the next day at 10:30 in the morning," Milano says, practically swooning. "The next night, a Disney Sunday-night movie I had done called Goldrush was on. He actually watched it, and then left me a message saying I was luminous."
Milano certainly looks luminous when she talks about him. "I stand in the front at all their gigs and I probably look like a total dork because I'm in awe, but I don't care." Having been engaged for a time to Party of Five's Scott Wolf, who played Bailey Salinger, Milano is no stranger to being involved with someone who is part of pop culture. "It was definitely weird," she admits of her old flame's high profile. "I can watch Party of Five now because it's been four-and-a-half years, but there was a time when I was like 'Ugh, it's bad enough that I have his initials tattooed to my calf [she's since decided S.R.W means 'Some Rad Woman'], but do I have to see his friggin' face everywhere?'"
It's no wonder Milano is partial to performers, considering she's been in the entertainment business since long before her hormones kicked in. In addition to her TV work, she appeared in the feature films Fear with Mark Wahlberg, Hugo Pool with Sean Penn, and Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger ("He used to help me with my algebra homework during lunch"). She also had a wildly successful career as a teen pop star in Asia, releasing five albums, including a best-of collection.
Then an assistant knocks on the trailer door and informs Milano that she's going to be needed at a wardrobee fitting at 6:00 the next morning. "This job is really fun," she sighs. "Thank God, because the hours are so crazy that it could be a real drag."
That's all the carping Milano cares to indulge in. Given the opportunity to vent, Milano just smiles and takes the high road. She still feels grateful. "This business has been really good to me," she says. Despite her highs (Who's the Boss?, Melrose, and now Charmed) and her lows (all the downtime in between), she says reflectively, "I made it through because I always knew what was important in life, and I never doubted that I was going to be okay."