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Ghost Hunting with VH1: the Celebrity Paranormal Project

What do you get when you mix ghoul, ghost and Gary Busey? No, it’s not the scariest Halloween costume ever, it’s the newest in celeb-reality from VH1: the ?Celebrity Paranormal Project.?

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Similar to MTV?s ?Fear? and the UK’s “Most Haunted,” the ?Celebrity Paranormal Project? places a handful of innocent celebrities inside a haunted dwelling, provides them with cameras and other-worldly ghost-detecting gear, and then leaves them to fend for themselves overnight. Without the presence of crew-members, the celebs document their journeys on hand-held and stationary cameras, and have until dawn to find the ?heart of the haunting,? the area inside the building with the greatest amount of paranormal energy. The result is relatively amusing, frequently creepy, and slightly nauseating, as the constant use of the hand-held cam sends the world rocking and swaying. Created by the master-minds behind ?The Surreal Life? and ?Flavor of Love,? the ?Celebrity Paranormal Project? is similarly successful in showcasing the best and the worst sides of quirky Hollywood heroes.

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I attended the launch party and screening for the new series at Social, the new upscale haunt which has managed to fill the glamorous shoes of the historic Hollywood Athletic Club on Sunset. Upon entering the elegant black and white lobby, I immediately thought?of the founders of the original club: Cecil B. DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Lon Chaney, and Rudolph Valentino. Immersed in a sea of familiar faces, from A-list to Z, I wondered what the film legends of yore would say to these celebrity castaways cavorting about their members-only green room and dining area. What would they think of Chris Knight and Adrianne Curry canoodling with Danny and Gretchen Bonaduce in the upstairs lounge? Would they gasp at the sight of Hugh Hefner and his three girlfriends lounging in the ballroom? Would they swoon, as I did, when the lobby greeters failed to recognize the fabulous Furonda of ?America?s Next Top Model? fame?

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By the time I arrived, we had an hour or so to mingle and observe the luxuriously renovated second floor, which previously was known only to only the top elite of classic Hollywood. The lounges were lit dimly with soft leather couches and masculine dark wood flooring, the game room was abuzz with a lively game of pool (Was that Coolio shooting the 8 ball?), and the handsome ballroom was aglow in deep rose and ivory hues, providing just enough light to see your neighbor, but also enough coverage for the better-known stars to hide comfortably in the shadows. It was here that I watched the screening of the first episode of ?Celebrity Paranormal Project,? which featured the exploits of Hal Sparks, Donna D?Errico, Jenna Morasca, ANTM?s Toccara, and host Gary Busey. Admittedly, it was an unusual experience to kick back and watch TV sandwiched in between David Carradine and Danny Bonaduce. Danny was talking animatedly to Adrianne Curry, who made the astute observation (which I alluded to earlier) that Busey was definitely the scariest part of the ?Celebrity Paranormal? experience. As a participant in a later episode of the program, however, she did experience some truly horrific scares. In an excerpt from her blog, Adrianne writes, ?That was seriously the scariest thing I have EVER experienced. Things happened around and to me that I just cannot explain. I could not sleep for weeks? and I still find my heart racing in the dark, or if I hear something when no one is home. They should call it The Celebrity Forever Paranoid Project.?

Though she was all smiles by the time of the screening, it seemed apparent that the fear experienced by all who had participated was not simply an act or PR stunt. As creators Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin stood to thank the celebrities for their involvement in the project, I looked around and saw grim smiles and shaking heads: these were people who had truly experienced something other-worldly. Whether you?re a believer or non-believer in paranormal phenoms, it?s hard not to empathize with the shaken celebs locked in the dark recesses of chambers, where in the case of the first episode, literally thousands of people died slow, painful deaths. The unusual combination of familiar faces, and the unnerving sight of desolate domains viewed in night-vision luminescence is perfect for enjoying as the countdown to Halloween nears.

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You can catch the “Celebrity Paranormal Project” every Sunday night at 10pm on VH1.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Photography by Wire Image.

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Written by Courtney Wachs

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