Vanilla Ice: Latest '80s/'90s Throwback to Turn to TV

Rise to stardom. Fall from fame. (Attempt to) revive career with questionable TV project.

For so many stars of the 1980s and early '90s, it's just the way the cookie crumbles. Earlier this summer, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany threw away their '80s pop star rivalry (and possibly their common sense) to film the Syfy movie "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid," which features them brawling on top of dinner tables and in a swamp, and Gibson uttering the utterly appropriate post-fight line, "I think we're alone now."

The latest throwback to turn to TV for a tune up: Vanilla Ice. He couldn't hack it in rap, but apparently, home renovation is his new thing.

"The Vanilla Ice Project" will focus on Robert Matthew Van Winkle's (yep, that's his real name) "passion for home renovation." It will document the room-by-room overhaul of his 7,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a statement from the DIY network, which plans to premiere the series in October.

Will the "Ice Ice Baby" singer's latest endeavor crown him the king of cool again or make him melt into the morass of '80s/'90s trash? Looking at how five stars of Ice's ilk fared by attempting similar career reboots offers some clues:

Flavor Flav

Flavor Flav, "The Flavor of Love"

Like Ice, Flav hailed from rap roots before he jumped into reality TV. Unlike Ice, he actually had credibility in the rap community. He also had a knack for winning fans, thanks to his frequent exclamations of "Yeah, boy!" and his neckwear of choice, clocks big enough to hang above a mantel. So people knew what they were in for when they turned on "Flavor of Love," Flav's three-season-long romantic quest on VH1: a little bit of mumbling, a lot of incomprehensible accessories and a motherloade of in-fighting between the women who wanted to be his wife.

Flav bounded back into the public consciousness thanks to his reality series. In 2006, the "Flavor of Love 2" finale scored the second highest ratings of a non-sports basic cable show. But can Vanilla Ice's Bob Vila act generate anywhere near as much must-see drama as a show that boasted contestants with such nicknames as Luscious D and Hotlanta? Doubtful.

Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels, "Rock of Love With Bret Michaels"

There was a time when it seemed Bret Michaels' hair would last longer than his stardom. Then came "Rock of Love With Bret Michaels," which gave the Poison frontman a prime position in pop culture and a tour bus full of groupies. Three seasons on VH1 pumped some much-needed juice into Michaels' career and scored him a spot on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice 3."

But if it hadn't been for the subarachnoid hemorrhage that hit Michaels in April, he might just have gone down in the annals of reality TV history as another '80s vestige who looked for love and maybe a little instant gratification.

Thanks to his brush with death, he scored a satellite interview on "Oprah" and the cover of People magazine. His new reality series, "Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It," chronicles his road to recovery. Now, no one's advocating that Vanilla Ice get hit by a two-by-four during his home renovation saga, but if that were to happen, maybe he could monetize the resulting bump.

Scott Baio

Scott Baio, "Scott Baio Is 45 ... and Single"

Scott Baio found his better half thanks to his 2007 VH1 reality show, "Scott Baio Is 45 ... and Single." The show even bred a baby and a sequel: "Scott Baio is 46 ... and Pregnant."

But lately, it seems like the former star of "Happy Days," "Joanie Loves Chachi" and "Charles in Charge" makes headlines more often for his right-learning politics than for his projects.

In February, he used his Twitter feed to make a joke about first lady Michelle Obama and was reportedly inundated with death threats.

In April, he tweeted, "Taxes are DONE...That should feed, house & provide medical for a few lazy non working people at my expense. Have a great Monday!" The tweet initiated an ugly back-and-forth between him, his wife and the blog Jezebel.

Is his reputation any better now than it was before his reality stint? Maybe not.

Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan, "Hogan Knows Best"

In case anyone doubted Hulk Hogan had lost some of his, well, hulking power since his '80s heydey, he tried to prove them wrong with his four-season-long VH1 series, "Hogan Knows Best," in which he wrangled his family as only the world's best known professional wrestler could.

Alas, he couldn't control everything. In 2008, Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) and his wife divorced and his son was sentenced to eight months in jail for a near-fatal 2007 car crash. Now, he plays second fiddle to his daughter, Brooke, on her VH1 reality series, "Brooke Knows Best."

Vanilla Ice has no kids. Judging from Hogan's ordeal, he probably shouldn't start while the cameras are rolling.

Brian Boitano

Brian Boitano, "What Would Brian Boitano Make?"

Here's where Ice should really pay attention: unlike the other guys, Brian Boitano has a show that actually focuses on a real skill, cooking, rather than finding love or hooking up or throwing down. The Food Network series gets its name from the song "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" in which the boys of "South Park" herald a host of magical, made-up feats of strength accomplished by the 1988 Olympic gold medal figure skater. The 1999 ditty became such a phenomenon that Boitano hopped on the bandwagon instead of trying to block it. Now he's triple-axeling around the kitchen, whipping up such dishes as "Missed Putt Pizza."

The takeaway: Ice shouldn't be afraid to poke fun at himself. He could start by turning "Ice Ice Baby" into a show-appropriate theme song: "All right stop, collaborate and listen/Ice is back with a brand new renovation/These crown moldings grabbed a hold of me tightly/I'm nailing 'em in daily and nightly." New title: "Splice Splice Baby."