Shannon and Sophie Tweed-Simmons ditch Gene for their own reality series

TORONTO - After letting cameras into their rock royalty lives with "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," Shannon and Sophie Tweed-Simmons are taking the reality TV spotlight away from the long-tongued family patriarch.

So, why did the mother-daughter duo want to do their own series, "Shannon & Sophie"?

"Sophie needed a job," Shannon, a St. John's, N.L.-born actress and model who is married to Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, said with a laugh in an interview.

"We like having the platform to reach people on a wide level and the best way to do it is through TV," added Sophie, 21.

"If you do have a charity or you're writing a book, even for outreach, it's a great platform," said Shannon, 57. "It's a good way to use your social media and television to get across your message, if you have one."

And they do have a message, concerning body image.

As viewers see on the series that debuts Tuesday with back-to-back episodes on W Network (at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT), the two embrace their curves and are open about pressures they've faced to fit a certain mould in Hollywood.

Sophie is also working with Cosmopolitan magazine on a body image feature and is writing a book on the topic.

"I have a co-writer, who is a boy, which I thought was really important, because I wanted both perspectives on body image," she said. "We're going to be talking to experts and celebrities about what they think body image is and all those issues."

"I think it also helps for them to see our show in a way that we're not skinny minnies and we don't wake up fully made up," said Shannon.

"Some people are naturally thin and that's OK too. But just don't starve yourself trying to get to an unattainable goal. And by the way, you can't stay there, I'm sorry, it's not healthy. Be healthy is the message."

"We're not perfect all the time," added Sophie. "She always taught me to just embrace my body. I'm taller than most people and I'm going to be bigger than most people. That's just my size."

The series kicks off with Sophie deciding to move away from home for good after catching her parents making out on the couch. Subsequent episodes follow her as she pursues her singing career and goes on several dates as her mother offers help and advice.

They two say they're close, and it's clear they love to banter on-screen and off. During a recent interview, the two were ribbing each other for several minutes and Shannon was giggling so hard she was in tears.

"She's more serious than I am. She's more sensible," said Shannon, a former Playboy playmate whose films and TV projects include a two-year stint as Savannah Wilder on "Days of our Lives."

"More reserved," added Sophie, who is also an actress and has her own charity in Surrey, B.C., a child advocacy centre called Sophie's Place.

The show follows them as they visit Whistler, B.C., and Vancouver, where Sophie lands a gig singing the Canadian anthem at a football game.

And what did Simmons think of them doing their own reality series?

"He just wants to be in it more, so we say 'No,'" said Shannon, who has been with Simmons since 1985 and also has a son, Nicholas, with him.

"He sucks the life out of the room, really, so there's no oxygen for us in there with him. And he has to tour, so that's good, and we get the house to ourselves. If only Sophie would move back in with me."

"I'll never move back," said Sophie. "I love you, but no."

By: Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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May 16, 2014

It started in Cannes. Vancouver-based TV producers Rob Bromley and John Ritchie were at a TV conference cocktail party when they noticed KISS front man Gene Simmons and his Canadian-born Playboy alumna wife Shannon Tweed.

“There was nobody else talking to them; they were kind of sitting off to the side. I always liked their show Family Jewels,” says Mr. Ritchie, executive producer at Force Four Entertainment. “So we just went over and started chatting.”

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