Tony Wong Toronto Star
Shannon Tweed-Simmons and her daughter Sophie are displaying their commitment to Canada by showing me their matching blue maple leaf tattoos.
“See? What did I tell you?’ says Tweed-Simmons, flipping her hair to show off the nape of her neck.
“We’re completely Canadian, but we just happen to live in L.A.,” says Sophie, ensconced in an oversized lime green armchair at an office building on the Toronto waterfront. “She helped me get it because I was only 17 and she had to lie to the tattoo artist that I was 18.””Yeah, that’s me lying to people to help you out,” says Tweed-Simmons.
Viewers will be familiar with the banter of the famous mother-daughter duo after seven seasons of Gene Simmons: Family Jewels on A&E, where the KISS rock star introduced his family, including former Playmate of the Year wife Shannon (born in St. John’s, NL) and his two kids, Sophie, now 21 and Nick, now 25.
The new series, Shannon and Sophie premiering on Tuesday at 10 p.m. on the W Network, promises to have more of a Canadian spin, shot in Vancouver and Whistler.
The two were in Toronto recently talking to the Star about their new show.
The success of Family Jewels seemed to be the contrast between Gene, who usually ended up doing something rock star crazy or completely egocentric, and the rest of the family whose job it seemed was to bring him back to earth and prick his balloon. But you’re both relatively sane. So how does this work?
Sophie: Actually, there’s always been a big contrast between us, but people didn’t really see that. I would always be more serious and buckled down. And she’d be like, “Let’s get wasted!”
Shannon: Oh no. I’ve become the dad. I don’t want to be the dad.
The show spends time with Sophie and her dating life. You could say it has a Bachelorette reality show vibe with some Meet the Parents thrown in. Do you agree?
Shannon: Oh, bite your tongue.
Sophie: I say yes, because you’re always trying set me up on dates. She’s very involved with my dating life. And she really wants grandchildren.
Shannon: But The Bachelorette, she’s always like sleeping with 20 guys at the same time. The problem is for TV, they cram a whole bunch of dates in so she looks like a whore.
Sophie: Great I look like a whore, thanks.
Shannon: Well you’re moderately whorely.
Now the big question for Sophie: Canadian or American men?
Sophie: Canadian. I think they’re a lot better. They care less about famous people. And their own looks. It’s more about your connection. People in L.A. and New York, they’re really trying to get somewhere. And it turns out I’m a good vehicle.
Shannon: And hey, I want to meet your dad because I play guitar.
Sophie: They don’t ever make it.
So Shannon, what are your rules?
Shannon: I have none. That’s the problem.
Sophie: I’ll say I can’t date him, he’s divorced or something like that. And she’ll say, no problem, he’s single, he’s fun.
Shannon: I tend to push her toward having a little more fun. And she’s a little more reserved than I think she should be.
It comes with experience. I was hell on wheels. I did everything so I know not what to do.
Between a rock star and a Playmate wife living in Hollywood, how did you end up raising such grounded kids?
Shannon: I experienced a lot, so I know what not to do. And Gene is Dudley Do Right.
No drinking, no drugs, no smoking. They have that example to follow. They don’t want to disappoint him.
Sophie: Nick and I never drank or smoked. But it seemed like half my high school, and most of them not even from famous families, went to rehab before school was over.
I always thought it was unreal they would have to miss three months of school.
Shannon: I would be like, where’s so and so? And they’d be gone.
A lot of the show centres on Sophie trying to find independence and moving out.
Shannon: I made a closet out of her room by the way. It’s awesome. I made a gym out of Nick’s room. It’s nice and quiet.
Sophie (looking at Shannon): Now that college is over, I’m really leaving you. I’m out of there. I’m not coming back this time.
Shannon: You will. You might be scared of the dark.
What does Gene think?
Shannon: Gene would like to have them handcuffed to the furniture. He would like to interfere more. But he’s thankfully very busy. We get to make fun of him and he doesn’t get time to talk back.
In the first episode you walk in with a date to your house and you catch your parents making out on the couch.
Sophie: That was my first date and I haven’t seen him since. I’ve walked in on them multiple times. That’s why I need my own place.
So did you find true love?
Sophie: I have not found true love yet, which is good. I’m too busy for that. And just in case you needed to know, I don’t think any of the boys on the show “made it to the show” if you know what I mean.