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Corey Feldman: No longer lost

Former child star hopes upcoming reality show jumpstarts career

By Serena Kappes

Corey Feldman chills out at the L.A. release party for his latest album in August. Inset: Feldman in 1986's "Stand By Me"

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(PEOPLE) -- Much of Corey Feldman's life has played out in front of the cameras. So it's fitting, then, that he would take part in a reality show a la "The Real World" called "The Surreal Life."

Feldman sees the WB realityfest -- in which he shares a home with other celebrities including Motley Crue's Vince Neil and the former MC Hammer for 10 days -- as a strategic career move. "I'm all about image repair at this point," he told The Boston Globe recently.

He's also hoping "The Surreal Life" will help him promote his album "Former Child Actor," which he released in August. He co-wrote the title song with his friend, another 1980s teen idol, Rick Springfield. "I don't want to be lumped into any categories," Feldman, 31, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in June. "That's what the album's all about -- 'Former Child Actor.' I've been labeled all my life."

Feldman has been in the spotlight since he landed a McDonald's commercial at age 3. By the time he was 8 he had made his movie debut (in 1979's "Time After Time"), and by his teen years, he had become one of Hollywood's busiest young actors, starring in movies such as 1985's "The Goonies" and 1986's "Stand By Me."

The constant work was an escape from an abusive household, says Feldman. "I couldn't be abused too badly when I was working because they didn't want me to have bruises, you know," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in June. At 15, he was granted legal emancipation from his parents, Sheila and Robert Feldman.

Troubles didn't end there

Stand By Me
Feldman, right, uncovers a mystery in 1986's "Stand By Me," along with costars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix and Jerry O'Connell.

But the young actor's troubles didn't end there. A growing addiction to drugs culminated in a 1990 arrest for heroin possession. "It took people a long, long time to forgive me. I was just a kid making mistakes like any other kid," he told the Phoenix New Times in 2000. Feldman has been drug-free for more than a decade.

Despite his clean-and-sober status, getting his career back on track was tough. "It took about six years for me to get my foot back in the door," Feldman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "And then once I did get my foot back in, the work was there again, but it was just in drips and drabs," in low-profile films such as 1994's "National Lampoon's Last Resort."

Today, the L.A.-based Feldman is still acting: He has appeared in independent films such as the recently released "Bikini Bandits" and as a guest on CBS's "The Guardian." He plays himself in the upcoming David Spade comedy "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star." In addition to the acting work, Feldman is busy touring to support his album, the follow-up to 1999's "Still Searching for Soul."

As for living "The Surreal Life," audiences will be treated to his on-camera marriage to college student Susie Sprague, 20, during the show's final episode. He hopes the show is a springboard for his career. "The long-range goal is for, obviously, the music to take off, for my film career to resurrect itself," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently. "I would like, in the long term, to be recognized as a writer-director-actor."

For more Where Are They Now? stories, visit PEOPLE.COM

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