Hooray for Jersey boy Eric Nies!

Who knew that confronting the fact that you’re no longer *somebody* in Hollywood could be such a positive thing?

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But that seems to have been a catalyst for Jersey boy Eric Nies, who is suddenly in the spotlight again after bearing his bruised soul on VH1’s “Confessions of a Teen Idol.”

TMZ recently ran the photo above and below, and others like it – all sans clothing – after Eric dove into the icy waters in upstate New York to rescue a little dog reportedly named Sugar Ray. The dog, the site reports, chased geese onto the somewhat frozen lake and then fell in. Heroic Eric stripped off his clothes and chased after him.

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(Clearly, Eric is one smart dude for taking off his clothes, which only weigh you down when wet and also leaves you susceptible to hypothermia. Or, he’s simply a devotee of Discovery Channel’s “Man vs. Wild.”)

TMZ says Eric suffered minor scratches, but that he and the pup are just fine.

Eric’s celebrity appears to be on an upswing after starring in “Confessions,”  which revealed the former “Real World” star to be insecure and unsure of himself, yet extremely likable.  The former host of “The Grind” has embraced New Age philosophies in recent years – including the belief that washing one’s hair with own’s own urine is a good thing – but he also seems to have a good head on his shoulders and a kind, generous heart.

During one of the show’s challenges – which required Eric and his co-stars (Billy Hufsey, Jeremy Jackson, David Chokachi, Jamie Walters and Adrian Zmed; Christopher Atkins was absent) to walk down a street in Los Angeles filled with paparazzi and do whatever it takes to get their attention, Eric did just that in his own unique way: He held up a cardboard sign asking for donations to fight child hunger.

As a result, US Weekly bought the photograph – along with ones of Billy, Jeremy and David – but Eric’s photo was the only one that the magazine ultimately decided to run.

What’s next for Eric? The sky’s the limit, I think. In the meantime, just in case you forgot what his face actually looks like, here’s a reminder:

VH1

VH1

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