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Jennie Garth reunites with '90210' pals, talks new reality show

April 20, 2012 | 12:54 pm

Jennie Garth celebrates birthday and new show with her '90210' pals
Kelly Taylor, Brenda Walsh and Steve Sanders walk into a London hotel.

Stop blinking! It's not a "Beverly Hills, 90210" reunion episode -- if it were, we'd assume Brenda had moved back to good ol' England after struggling with motherhood and theater work in China.  But that was not the case. Rather, the stars of the '90s young adult soap -- Shannen Doherty, Ian Ziering and Jennie Garth -- reunited Thursday at the London Hotel in West Hollywood (which, it should be noted, used to be the Bel Age Hotel, the sometime home of Dylan McKay) for Garth's 40th birthday party/premiere party for her new CMT reality series, "Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country."

"Ah!! I don't like to call it a reality series," Garth told Show Tracker. "I don't look at it that way -- that term sort of conjures up bad images in my head. This is really a 'follow-doc.' I never thought I'd be letting people into my life like this, but I'm glad I did."

The series, which premieres Friday, inducts Garth into the reality block, alongside her former female costars: Tori Spelling has become a fixture on Oxygen with her reality series "Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood" and its spinoffs. And Doherty recently took the plunge, documenting her road to wedded bliss on WE TV with "Shannen Says." While those shows follow the starlets with their current leading men, "A Little Bit Country" presents Garth post-split from actor hubby Peter Facinelli ("Twilight," "Nurse Jackie") after 11 years of marriage. 

"It was a time to get back to who I was and to sort of put things in perspective," Garth said after having a lovefest with Ziering and Doherty (who became teary-eyed at one point).

Ziering, who has dabbled in the reality world as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars," says he isn't surprised there is an interest in the lives of his former costars. 

"There's always that 'where are they now' thing," Ziering said. "I think it's fantastic. We're all entertainers, and with the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment world, it's important to be malleable. It's the perfect vehicle for Jennie because it'll let people see how genuine she is. I had the honor of working with her for 10 years, and every day was better than the one before."

Garth, who post-"90210" appeared on the comedy "What I Like About You" with Amanda Bynes, said she hopes people take the time to get to know her outside what they've been reading in the headlines recently. "I've been through a lot recently, but I've found strength in it all," she said. "I think by opening myself up, it might help others, even just a little bit."

In the show, viewers will see Garth, who is a country bumpkin at heart, settle down on a 7-acre farm in Central California with her three daughters -- where she still lives today, she said -- "It wasn't just for the show."  Rural living is a remembered experience for the actress. She and her step-siblings grew up on a ranch in Illinois before moving to Arizona, which was where her career had its roots.

"I feel at home in this environment," said Garth, who said she hadn't thought far enough ahead about whether she'd be open to more seasons. "And that's what I needed."


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--Yvonne Villarreal

Photos: Top, Jennie Garth, left, with Ian Ziering and Shannen Doherty at her birthday bash Thursday in West Hollywood. Credit: Getty Images/CMT Bottom photo: A scene from "Beverly Hills, 90210" in 1997; left to right: Brandon (Jason Priestley), Brenda (Shannen Doherty), Donna (Tori Spelling), Steve (Ian Ziering) and Kelly (Jennie Garth). Credit: Andrew Semel / 20th Century Fox