Childhood fantasy smashed today: Danny Bonaduce is now better looking than David Cassidy.

The two stars of "The Partridge Family" showed up at Summer TV Press Tour 2004 here on Friday to promote VH1's "In Search of the Partridge Family" reality series.

Bonaduce looked ripped and relaxed in a tight black T-shirt and jeans. Cassidy was eating-disorder thin, wore a baseball cap that screamed "thinning hair" and has lost all trace of lips; he looked like Cookie Monster with a face wax. Everyone felt old.

Bonaduce has been on the road, attending auditions for the VH1 series to narrow down contenders to either four or two -- they were unsure -- for each role in the '70s sitcom. At the end of the competition, a pilot will be shot and, VH1 insists, a series will debut -- yeah, like Jen and Andrew were actually going to get married at the end of "The Bachelor."

Cassidy has been unable to attend auditions and had to hurry off right after the Q&A session with critics because "I'm making a feature film," he said.

"I'm making a feature film," he repeated immediately, to make sure critics got it down in their notebooks.

"I've got to hurry, too, because after this I'm seeing a feature film," Bonaduce quipped.

Every time Cassidy jumped on a question, critics were in for five minutes of "When you do something that had such a positive impact on the universe . . . It was in its time, perfect," blah, blah, blah. And yes, he was talking about "The Partridge Family."

Bonaduce fielded what must be his 267th child-actor-gone-amok question. To his credit, he really mixes it up: "When I went to rehab I was the only child star, but there were nine dentists. Nobody said, 'Do you think you're here now because you're an ex-child dentist?' " was his answer this time.

Cassidy said he briefly dated "Partridge Family" castmate Susan Dey shortly after the show ended, but "loved her like a sister."

"Well, that's gross," Bonaduce responded, summing up the general crowd reaction.

Al Sharpton has achieved the impossible: He's made Donald Trump look like a natural on-screen talent.

Sharpton is the host of the new Spike TV series "I Hate My Job," in which a bunch of guys who hate their jobs quit them to pursue their life's dream. Unfortunately, among the first batch of contestants, it appears that all life dreams involve the entertainment industry; one wants to be an actor, another a standup comic, another a stuntman and a fourth aspires to be a supermodel.

Somehow, the producers of this series have turned Sharpton -- the most entertaining if not most credible presidential candidate to come along in years -- into Stone Phillips, delivering Wonder Bread lines such as "pursue your dream" while looking very stiff and uncomfortable. During Spike TV's portion of Summer TV Press Tour 2004 on Friday, the network showed clips of the series, which seems to be trying hard to look just like NBC's job-competition series "The Apprentice."

But while Trump is at ease if strange-looking as host of "The Apprentice," Sharpton has a want-to-be-anywhere-but-here thing going on, which he kept up during the satellite Q&A, along with up the platitude shoveling. This was a big disappointment to the critics who had expected zippy answers to questions about the transition from presidential candidate to reality show host. Instead, they got, "Other than being president, this is exactly where I think I can do some good."

Shop talk: Al Sharpton, above, host of the Spike TV series "I Hate My Job" and Donald Trump, star of "The Apprentice."