To my generation, Ian Ziering is best known as Steve Sanders, the spoiled rich kid from Beverly Hills, 90210 who ended up turning into a well-rounded, mature young newspaperman. To the current generation, he is probably better known as a dancing king. This past spring, Ian put on his dancing shoes and quickstepped his way to the finals of season four of Dancing With the Stars.
This month, Ian is trying on a new pair of shoes - those of a shrewd businessman in the Lifetime Television series Side Order of Life. Ian plays a character named Brian Fowler, whom Jenny (Marisa Coughlan) thinks might be Cellphone Man - the mysterious man she has been having a telephone romance with since she and Ian (Jason Priestley) broke up.
Ian is excited to be playing this character (in a three-episode story arc beginning September 23), and he says: "Brian is a very smart, successful businessman. He meets Jenny and sparks fly. He sees a woman who could make him happy for the rest of his life, but there are a few hurdles in the way of their happiness. He wants their relationship to work as much as she wants him to be Cellphone Man."
For Ian, accepting this role was a no-brainer. "The writing is excellent; the cast and crew are great. The directors I've worked with are top-notch; everyone's on top of their game. And Marisa has such incredible depth - she gives you so much to work off of."
While the episodes are being touted as two 90210 cast mates reuniting, as Ian tells me: "We were never apart in order to be reunited. Jay and I speak all the time and are great friends. But you could say that this is our professional reunion. I've filmed two of my episodes so far, and I actually haven't had a scene with Jason yet. Hopefully in the third episode we'll have a scene or two together. I'm thinking we have to, right?"
The week that Ian's Side Order episodes start airing is the same week that another former cast mate, Jennie Garth, begins her run on the fifth installment of Dancing With the Stars. So, will we be seeing Ian in the audience, cheering on his old West Beverly High School girlfriend? "Of course! I can't wait to see her dancing. She's got a lot of rhythm. I know she can move. But ballroom dancing is a completely different animal. There's a whole lot more going on there than with drunken nightclub dancing, I can tell you that much!"
Sense of accomplishment
According to Ian, Jennie is in for a tremendous amount of work as well. "But with that hard work," he explains, "comes a tremendous sense of accomplishment. This show is not like the other reality series out there. This show is elegant, classy and entertaining. It's not even a reality show, it's a dance competition. Reality shows have such a bad stigma attached because they tend to highlight the more base aspects of society rather than highlighting the triumphs." In other words, instead of watching and hoping to see a train wreck, fans of Dancing tune in to see people's hard work paying off.
Another aspect of that hard work paying off is the new light Ian is seen in with the ladies, since we all know that ladies love a man who can move. "I'm not gonna lie - it worked out OK. As a single guy, I haven't found The One. But this certainly has opened doors to more opportunities!"
Be sure to catch Ian's latest professional opportunity, his guest-starring turn on Lifetime Television's Side Order of Life, beginning September 23 at 10:00 p.m. And definitely look for him in the audience of Dancing With the Stars, as he cheers on his former cast mate to victory.
- Cindy Elavsky