complaints, condescending twatbags, healthcare, rants

Where is Richard Simmons when we need him?

Yesterday, I read an article in The New York Times entitled “Breaking Down the ‘Wellness-Industrial Complex,’ an Episode at a Time“. It was a surprisingly interesting and disheartening read. I wasn’t attracted to it because of the title, though. I decided to read it because of a quote that was used to draw attention to the article.

A man named Scott Cave, who lives in the Appalachian Mountains region of Virginia and has a doctorate in history, is a regular listener of the podcast, “Maintenance Phase”. The popular podcast, which has existed for about a year, is named after the concept of maintaining weight loss after a successful diet. The hosts, Aubrey Gordon, and Michael Hobbes, “spend each episode exploring what they call the “wellness-industrial complex,” debunking health fads and nutritional advice.” Gordon got started because she collects vintage diet books, and realized that a lot of them were full of ridiculous ideas that ultimately don’t work in keeping people slim and fit.

Cave says he listens to “Maintenance Phase” because “he appreciates the way the podcast examines and evaluates primary sources in a way that’s fun.” He also relates to some of the topics, since he himself has a weight problem. One time, “Maintenance Phase” did a show about how people who are overweight or obese are more likely to avoid seeing healthcare professionals. Cave identified with that, as once he visited an urgent care practice because he thought he’d broken his finger. He was told, “We don’t think your finger is broken. It might be, but you’re very fat, so you should probably deal with that.”

Mortified by the shaming comment about his weight, Cave ignored signs and symptoms of an autoimmune disease for a long time. He didn’t want to deal with more negative stigma about his size. So he suffered in silence with his swollen finger, and felt ashamed. That negative comment, while based in truth, dealt a terrible blow to Cave’s self-regard and trust in the medical care system.

I can relate to Cave’s reluctance to visit doctors. I haven’t seen one myself in about eleven years. In my case, it’s partly due to not wanting to be lectured about my size or my bad habits. It’s also due to some legitimate trauma I experienced at the hands of an OB-GYN who physically hurt me as she examined me, then fat shamed me.

This doctor’s pelvic exam was so painful that I cried out, and she basically told me to shut up as she stuck me with another, smaller speculum that also hurt. I bit my lip and gutted through the rest of the exam, hoping I wouldn’t pass out. I had to complete the exam so I could join the Peace Corps. Afterwards, the doctor told me I was too fat and would gain weight in Armenia. Then she basically shamed me because she wasn’t able to get a “good look down there”. She claimed I wasn’t “cooperative”. She offered me birth control, even though I was a virgin at the time. I left her office feeling completely violated, humiliated, and frankly, like I had just been assaulted.

It took twelve years for me to have another gynecological exam by a much kinder, more understanding, and professional physician’s assistant. She let me cry, and heard my explanation about why I was so upset and anxious. Then, when she did the exam, it didn’t hurt at all. I remember being so relieved that I wasn’t in pain. Then I was very angry, because the doctor who had done my first exam had hurt me without reason. I hadn’t thought to complain about her. I now wish I had.

I was so upset and stressed out during that second exam that the P.A. thought I had high blood pressure. I ended up having to visit her several more times before she was convinced that I had white coat hypertension. Sadly, we had to move out of the area. The P.A. also changed her practice, and now only works with cardiology patients. So even if we had stayed in the D.C. area, I wouldn’t have been her patient for long.

I last saw a doctor in 2011 at Bill’s insistence, because I thought my gall bladder was giving me issues. It’s probably full of stones. But the ultrasound didn’t show that the gallbladder was so inflamed that it needed to come out just then. And then we moved a bunch of times…

So no, I don’t go to doctors. I know I should, but I don’t. Aside from mycophobia (fear of mushrooms), I also have a touch of iatrophobia (fear of doctors). And I can understand why Cave doesn’t go to doctors, either. The experience is often demoralizing, expensive (for those who don’t have Tricare), and just plain awful.

As you might have guessed, after I read the article, I read some of the comments. Naturally, they were full of people who hadn’t bothered to read the article. Some were very unkind and lacking in empathy. One guy wrote that the article was “stupid” because it was full of people “making excuses”. In his comment he wrote that “all I see” are people justifying being fat. Then he added that he’d lost 100 pounds.

He got some blowback for that comment, including from yours truly. I wrote, “All I see is a guy who is a judgmental jerk. Congratulations on your weight loss. Looks like you also lost your ability to empathize.”

I got many likes for that. The original commenter came back and wrote that he DOES empathize, but Americans are all eating their way into diabetes. And I wrote that while it’s true that obesity leads to a lot of health problems, it’s not helpful to accuse people of “making excuses”, particularly if you’re a total stranger. I didn’t see any “kindness” or actual concern in his comments, only judgment. And then I wrote…

“If you truly do empathize and want to help people, you should be kinder and more empathetic. Instead of insulting and judging, you could be encouraging and enthusiastic. You could learn a lot from Richard Simmons on how to motivate people. Richard Simmons used to be fat, and like you, he lost a lot of weight. But instead of being mean to people, he encourages them. He actually CARES about them.” Of course, I wrote that taking the commenter at his word that he’s really trying to “help”. A lot of people who make comments about “personal responsibility” and concern troll the overweight are really just getting off by acting superior and being jerks.

As I wrote that comment, I couldn’t help but remember an old episode of Fame I recently watched. The character, dance teacher Lydia Grant (Debbie Allen), decides to teach an exercise class for some extra money. She thinks it’s going to be a “piece of cake”, since these were just middle aged women trying to get into a new dress. But when she teaches, using her usual demanding style, she finds that the women in the class aren’t successful. One woman in particular, name of Renee, is about to give up because Lydia is just too demanding.

But then Richard Simmons interrupts and shows Lydia how it’s done. He asks Renee if he could have this dance. Renee nods and the two proceed to work out. Richard is encouraging, enthusiastic, and kind, and Renee responds in kind. And not only does she complete the workout, but she also leaves with a big smile on her face!

Lydia says there’s no way Renee can meet her “impossible” goal of losing twelve pounds in two weeks. So Richard says, “That’s okay. Let her lose six pounds!” I think that makes a lot of sense, don’t you? There’s nothing that says Renee can’t meet part of her goal and take a bit longer to get where she wants to be.

I’m not saying I love Richard Simmons. In fact, I used to cringe when I saw his ads for Deal-A-Meal and “Sweatin’ to the Oldies”. And I laughed when I read about how he slapped some guy who mocked him at the airport. I did like his 80s era talk show, but it was always on when I was at school.

I just think that when it comes to motivating people to lose weight, Richard is onto something that actually works. Fat people are people, too. Just like everyone else, fat people want to be valued and accepted. Nobody enjoys being insulted, shamed, and judged, especially by total strangers! Moreover, nobody wants to PAY for that experience, especially when the doctor dismisses the patient and says all of their health problems are brought on by a lack of discipline and willpower. And while the commenter on the New York Times piece may actually empathize and care about others, he has a really shitty and off-putting way of showing it.

I got another comment from another person who praised the first commenter for promoting “personal responsibility”. I think personal responsibility is all well and good. But you don’t know why someone is fat. You don’t know what their story is, or if they’ve actually done anything to lose weight. What if that overweight stranger you see has actually been losing weight? What if they’re out and about for the first time in weeks because they’ve lost twenty pounds? How do you think they would feel if you lectured them about personal responsibility and admonished them to slim down? Do you think those words would motivate them to keep going? Or is it more likely that they’d get depressed, say “what’s the use?” and go out for a double cheeseburger?

Besides being cruel and rude, fat shaming people is potentially very damaging. And a person’s weight is also none of your business.

Lydia Grant gets some tough love from Richard Simmons.

The fact that fat people have to work up the gumption to see doctors is a serious issue. I recently read a horrifying story about a 27 year old woman in Los Angeles named Amanda Lee who visited a doctor because she had lost 35 pounds, was having abdominal pain, and couldn’t eat. Instead of getting to the bottom of why Lee was losing weight and experiencing pain, the doctor said that maybe it was a good thing she was in pain and couldn’t eat. He continued the horror by saying that only being able to eat things like pureed apples was a “blessing”. And he added that she didn’t look “malnourished”. I would add that according to the photos and videos I’ve seen, she doesn’t appear to be that overweight, either. But then, it is Los Angeles. In any case, the doctor refused to do any testing on Lee, and she left his office in tears.

@mandapaints

“Maybe that’s not such a bad thing” not a time to joke.

♬ original sound – Amanda Lee

After her appointment, the mortified young woman recorded a TikTok video in her car. She was sobbing hysterically as she recounted what had happened during her appointment. Commenters encouraged her to see another doctor, so she did. That doctor did a colonoscopy on Amanda Lee and discovered a large tumor. She had surgery to remove it, and was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer!

As of June, she was receiving chemotherapy. I hope she also looks into suing that first doctor for malpractice! I’m grateful that the commenters on her video were kind, rather than fat shaming. I’m also glad she shared her story, because I think it will help a lot of people on many different levels.

Well… that about does it for today’s fresh content. We didn’t go out yesterday, so I suspect Bill will want to do something this afternoon. Enjoy your Sunday.

Standard
celebrities, musings, narcissists, social media

Phylicia Rashad’s head on a platter…

Phylicia Rashad is in the news for supporting Bill Cosby on Twitter. When he was suddenly released from prison a few days ago, she tweeted “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

That tweet led to a lot of backlash. Rashad, who was appointed the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts in May 2021, is now being pressured to resign from her job. Her response, so far, was to delete the offending tweet, then issue this apology “This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community… I offer my most sincere apology.” As far as I know, she’s still got a job at Howard University. Regarding Rashad’s comments, Howard University has stated that “Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies.”

We’ll see what comes of this.

Many people, obviously upset that Phylicia Rashad would dare to publicly support her old friend, Bill Cosby, feel like her support of Cosby should equate to losing her job. It’s as if all of the great things Phylicia Rashad has done over her long career as an entertainer should be erased, simply because of a tweet supporting the man who was her co-star on a groundbreaking 80s era sitcom, as well as a 90s era show. This is obviously a complicated issue for Rashad, although I am surprised that she didn’t realize people would be up in arms over any public support for Bill Cosby.

Phylicia Rashad six years ago. She supported him then, too. Are we really surprised that she still supports him today?

Phylicia Rashad shared the experience of making The Cosby Show and, later, Cosby, with Bill Cosby. They’re obviously still dear friends. I don’t like the idea of punishing people who exercise their right to speak freely. Phylicia Rashad, to my knowledge, hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone. Moreover, she’s known Bill Cosby for many years. They have a long history together and she’s always supported him, no matter what. I don’t know what’s in Ms. Rashad’s head… and I think her first tweet was very ill advised and considered. I don’t know how a person can be a celebrity in this day and age and not realize that publicly supporting a sex offender is going to lead to being canceled by the public. Still, while I would have expected her to be savvier about voicing unpopular public opinions and backlash, I think her comments about Cosby are disappointing, but not particularly surprising.

On the other hand, Phylicia Rashad is human, and sometimes humans get carried away and do things that are ill-considered. In terms of her career, Rashad shouldn’t have tweeted. But as a friend to Cosby, obviously she felt moved to do so. Whether or not she should be friends with a convicted sex offender should be up to her. As much as some people think Bill Cosby should lose everything, the reality is, he won’t. There will always be people who will support him– family members and friends– and they aren’t going to be swayed by what the Internet thinks. There are few people in the world who are truly alone, especially people like Bill Cosby.

Phylicia’s sister, Debbie Allen, talks about Bill Cosby’s attitude toward pregnant Lisa Bonet.

I kind of get the confusion, though. At one time, Bill Cosby could do no wrong. People my age grew up on his brand of family friendly television. I watched Bill Cosby on TV every week when I was growing up, having been introduced to him on 70s era shows like Fat Albert and his classic comedy film, Bill Cosby: Himself. But it wasn’t just his work on television sitcoms that made him so powerful and influential. Cosby had books, films, albums, and commercials. He had dozens of honorary doctorates and other awards. He made speeches and championed causes. He sermonized about being an involved father. He was called “America’s Dad”, and that persona transcended race. People of all colors and creeds looked up to him as “America’s Dad”. That’s probably why it took so long for him to fall out of favor with the public. Maybe if he hadn’t been “America’s Dad”, he would have been prosecuted when he was much younger and would have done a lot less harm. We probably shouldn’t be so quick to make the charismatic among us into heroes because almost all of us have clay feet.

In those heady days of the 1980s, Cosby seemed charming, intelligent, and funny. I noticed that he incorporated a lot of the routines from his film into plots on The Cosby Show; but they were still humorous, especially when performed by talented actors. The Cosby Show was very well written, family oriented, and high quality entertainment. Phylicia Rashad was a huge part of the reason why that show was so relevant in my youth– from the time I was 12 until I was 20. The Cosby Show opened doors and broke down barriers. It’s heartbreaking to realize that the character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, is not the same man as Bill Cosby is, even though Cosby’s real life comedy routines inspired the show. So many of us who grew up with him on TV have had a hard time separating Cosby from his kind and wise alter ego, Heathcliff Huxtable. Of course, now that we know more about Cosby as a man, it makes sense that Cliff Huxtable was an OB/GYN.

Eddie Murphy got chastised by Bill Cosby for being too foul mouthed…

I never saw a single episode of Cosby’s next show with Rashad, entitled Cosby, as it aired at a time in my life when I was too busy for network TV. From 1996-2000, I was in the Peace Corps, working nights, or in graduate school. But Cosby lasted four years, and The Cosby Show was on for eight years, so that means Rashad worked with Cosby for twelve years. Incidentally, Bill Cosby also had another 90s era show called The Cosby Mysteries, and a 60s and 70s era show called The Bill Cosby Show… I think the fact that he’s had four series named after him is pretty telling about the massive size of his ego. And while he put a lot of Black actors on the map by giving them jobs, he also destroyed a lot of people– particularly the scores of women who were his victims. Meanwhile, he was hypocritically berating and chastising people like Eddie Murphy for using the f word, or Black people as a whole.

Bill Cosby talking about people crying when their sons are in orange suits… Wow.

I do believe the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. Yes, Cosby got out of prison, but that does not make him innocent of the crimes that put him there. He got out of prison on a technicality. He’s even admitted to drugging women he was pursuing for sex. That is criminal behavior, and it was right for him to be punished. I agree that Cosby didn’t spend enough time behind bars, even though I doubt he will re-offend, given his age and fall from grace. I wish that he had been prosecuted years ago, much like I wish Donald Trump could be held accountable for his disgusting sexual attacks on women. I don’t know what it is about men who are destined to be powerful. So many of them turn out to be incredibly predatory when it comes to sex, money, and political power. And that hunger for sex, money, and power is often married to a charismatic exterior that fools many people. For years, I thought Cosby was one of the good guys. I can see that a lot of people still believe Trump is a good guy, despite so much evidence and actual proof to the contrary.

The first account I read about Cosby’s sexual dalliances was Janice Dickinson’s. I read her book and was surprised when she wrote that Cosby had raped her. I mentioned it on Facebook, and several of my friends discounted her comments, mainly because of her “bitchy” persona. Several years later, all of these other women came forward with their claims. I gained new respect for Janice when I read her book.

That being said, personally, I don’t like the “cancel” aspect of our culture, which has come about thanks to social media. In fact, I think it’s chilling that a person can make a statement on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube that leads to Internet mobbing and financial ruin, particularly when the vast majority of people don’t have a personal stake in whatever has them in a tizzy. Phylicia Rashad actually knows Bill Cosby as a person, not as someone she’s seen on TV. Most of the people who are maligning Rashad’s character don’t know her or Cosby, nor are they even among his victims. Unless, of course, they feel victimized because they fell for Cosby’s charm in the 1970s and 80s. I wonder how many people have sent Phylicia Rashad death threats over her tweet. I would not be surprised if she’s gotten a few threats… and perhaps her family members have gotten them as well. For some reason, many people think it’s okay to get so angry over what someone dares to communicate that they literally call for the offender’s head on a platter. I think that’s taking things a bit too far.

Today is July 4th. It’s a day when Americans celebrate liberty from British rule. I grew up very close to where the Revolutionary War was won, so all my life, I’ve heard about how special and wonderful the United States is, particularly because we have so much freedom. But clearly we don’t have that much freedom. While a person can say whatever they want to say and, generally speaking, don’t have to worry about the government jailing them, there’s a very good chance that if it’s not what people want to hear, and they are “big” enough, they will experience cancel culture. And so many people get riled up over these things. They think a person should suffer for the rest of their lives over their thoughts, deeds, and comments. No matter what, there’s always going to be someone who thinks that lives should be ruined, or even ended, over a tweet. Then, after the next news story breaks, they forget all about that person they felt should have their head on a platter. Meanwhile, that person is still living with the aftereffects of being canceled.

I honestly don’t know if Phylicia Rashad is qualified to be a dean at Howard University. It seems to me that she might have been hired because of her fame, accomplishments, connections, and ability to influence donors. She doesn’t appear to have the usual educational background that university deans typically have. It may turn out that by publicly supporting a sex offender, she’s permanently disgraced herself and Howard University. It could be that because of the tweet, she won’t be able to do her job. If that’s the situation, then yes, maybe she should be fired or resign. But I don’t think she should be fired simply for an ill advised tweet. She has personal feelings about Bill Cosby based on actual in person experiences with him that the vast majority of other people don’t have. Her personal feelings about Cosby are not so cut and dried.

Look at Governor Ralph Northam. In the 1980s, he posed in blackface for a medical school yearbook photo. When that photo was unearthed a couple of years ago, many people called for his resignation. He resisted, and has gone on to do marvelous things in Virginia. Or, at least I think he’s done marvelous things to make Virginia more liberal, which suits me fine. I know a lot of my Republican friends can’t stand him. The point is, I’m glad he didn’t resign over social media backlash and cancel culture. And I don’t think Phylicia Rashad should be forced to resign, unless it becomes clear that she can’t do her job. Ultimately, that will be for Howard University to decide, not the general public. It should be up to the students Rashad serves and her co-workers and bosses, not random people on Facebook. No matter what, people should not be sending her hate mail or death threats. People who send hate mail and death threats must think that would be alright for others to do to them, if at some point, they do something that society deems unacceptable.

Anyway… experience has taught me that these things can and do blow over eventually. Five years ago, Josh Duggar was outed for being a sex pest. One would think the Duggars would have been finished in 2015 over that revelation. But no, it’s taken six years and accusations that Josh Duggar was viewing child pornography to finally get the Duggar family canceled. Like it or not, some people will still like Bill Cosby. They’ll ignore what he’s done. I figure, Phylicia Rashad has as much right as anyone to support her friend, Bill Cosby, even though it may turn out that her public support of Cosby will make it impossible for her to do her job as a university dean. But not being able to do her job should be why she gets fired… not what she tweets on social media. At this point, it’s not yet clear if she’s now incapable of doing her job. I, for one, think Rashad should have the chance to redeem herself.

Standard
book reviews

A review of Inside Fame on Television: A Behind-the-Scenes History, by Michael A. Hoey…

Lately, I’ve been overdosing on 80s era television. I don’t know why I do this so often, especially since I didn’t have the greatest childhood. A lot of people enjoy being nostalgic. I think our memories have a way of softening the realities of the past.

One of my favorite memories from the 1980s was my devotion to the TV show, Fame, an hour long program about the students and faculty at the fictional “School of the Arts” in New York City. Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, Fame premiered in 1982 on NBC. I was in the fourth grade. After two years on NBC, the show was canceled, although it won awards and was critically acclaimed. However, even though NBC passed on Fame after two years, it was popular enough that the producers brought it back in syndication, where it continued for another four years, finally ending in 1987.

Ahhh… music to my ears. This is an extended version of the TV show’s theme, sung by Erica Gimpel. The song was made famous by Irene Cara.

Although the “School of the Arts” doesn’t exist, the story was based on a couple of real life high schools for talented students in New York City. And because the show was about kids who wanted fame, it had a lot of singing and dancing in it. I think I liked the singing and dancing the most when I was a kid, but as I got older, I appreciated the stories more, particularly in the superior early seasons. Anyone who watches the later seasons of Fame will understand what I mean. It truly did jump the shark in a big way with some ridiculous plot lines and musical numbers!

Michael A. Hoey, author of Inside Fame on Television: A Behind-the-Scenes History, worked on the television version of Fame for five of the six years it aired. I happened to discover his book about a week ago. I was bored and doing some random Googling when I came across an excerpt of his book. Based on what I read on Google, I decided to purchase the Kindle edition, even though there were a couple of reviews that indicated that I might not enjoy it. I have a pretty high tolerance for bad writing, though… it’s definitely higher than my tolerance for bad singing, which I’m sad to say, was occasionally an issue on Fame. Seems like that show focused more on dancers than singers.

Anyway, Hoey has written a fairly comprehensive account of what went on behind the scenes on Fame. Some of what he wrote surprised me, and some stuff wasn’t at all a surprise. For instance, he writes that actor Billy Hufsey was a bit of a legend in his own mind, much like his character, Christopher Donlon was. That doesn’t surprise me. But then he shared a rather off color anecdote about why Mr. Hufsey didn’t want to wear a “dance belt”. The anecdote was funny, but then, I like off-color humor. I also had to look up “dance belt”, because not coming from the dance world, I didn’t know what it was or what it looked like. I guess I can see why some guys don’t like to wear them, even though they probably keep the family jewels safe and the audience’s sense of modesty safer.

For the most part, I thought Hoey’s book about Fame was interesting and well-written; however, there were quite a few instances in which an editor’s help would have been beneficial. For example, there was a character named Jesse Velazquez on that show. He was played by the very talented Jesse Borrego. On at least one occasion, Jesse’s name is spelled “Jessie”. Similar minor errors appear throughout the book. Same thing with Carol Mayo Jenkins, whose name is sometimes spelled “Carole” or the last name, Jenkins, is left off. These are minor but annoying glitches that a round with an editor would have helped clear from the manuscript.

Another thing I noticed was that Hoey wrote this book as if he was writing to friends. Sometimes he let his personal opinions about the actors and musicians come through in a surprisingly nasty way. He clearly wasn’t a fan of Janet Jackson’s. She was briefly on Fame during the third season and it was pretty clear that she wasn’t a good fit for the show, for whatever reason. I have read Janet Jackson’s thoughts on Fame, too, and she wrote that it was an awful time for her. Hoey writes that Janet Jackson was very rude to him and others and, at one point, he writes that “she performs when her health allows, but she’ll never be as big of a star as Madonna is”. Madonna, by the way, also auditioned for Fame and was passed over. I thought Hoey’s comments about Jackson were kind of mean-spirited and inappropriate, not to mention untrue. Janet Jackson isn’t as hot as she was in the 80s and 90s, but I would certainly never imply that she didn’t make it big. She definitely did.

Hoey also writes about actress/singer Loretta Chandler, noting that she has a “magnificent voice” and reminds him of Jennifer Hudson. But then, when describing an energetic dance number Loretta did as her character, Dusty Tyler, he points out the “she’s not a small person (putting it politely)”– that’s exactly what he wrote– which I thought was kind of rude. It’s true that Loretta Chandler is what the Germans would call zaftig, but I thought Hoey’s added comment “(putting it politely)” was unnecessarily mean and more than a bit impolite.

Hoey writes that Cynthia Gibb didn’t seem to have that “sparkle” that some of the other players on that show had, then notes that she went on to work a lot after she was on Fame. She even played Karen Carpenter on the 1989 made for TV movie, The Karen Carpenter Story, and she was in a few big screen movies in the 1980s, including Youngblood with Rob Lowe. Hoey incorrectly describes all of Cindy Gibb’s movies as “made for TV”, but the truth is, she did do a few actual motion pictures that were in movie theaters. I got the sense that he relied a lot on his memory for this book which, I’m sad to say, isn’t always perfectly accurate. It would have been better if he’d double checked some things.

This book includes a lot of information about the writers, producers, and directors of Fame. That information may or may not be of interest to all readers. I am glad Hoey included some information about the powers that be, as it gave me some insight as to how the show worked. However, I don’t think most people who would want to read this book are looking for an exhaustive blow by blow of the behind the scenes people. A lot of people want to know about the people who starred on the show. Personally, I think Hoey included a pretty good amount of info on the players, but I see some reviewers on Amazon note that they got bored by all of the discussion about the producers and directors.

There are some photos included in this book, which aren’t as effective on Kindle as they probably are in the print version. I found myself looking on YouTube to find some of the episodes and clips Hoey mentions, which was fun for me. I especially got a kick out of watching Debbie Allen doing a dance number with her husband, Norm Nixon, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers and, according to Hoey, is NOT a dancer. They did some pretty good editing for this clip.

If you watch the distant shots, you can see that there’s a different guy doing the fancy footwork.

I liked that Hoey mentioned a lot of episodes and musical numbers. He also included some information about how Fame was once sold as a thirty minute show, forcing editors to remove plot lines and musical numbers so that it would fit in time slots. Needless to say, the thirty minute versions did not go over well at all. I happened to see a few of them back in the day and was glad to see them scrapped.

Hoey writes a bit about Michael Cerveris, who played Ian Ware, a British guitar player in the latter episodes of the show. I actually got to meet Mr. Cerveris once. In 1994, when I was a college senior at what was then Longwood College (it’s now Longwood University), I went on spring tour with the college’s auditioned choir, Camerata Singers. We did this tour every spring to recruit new talent. At the end of the week, we’d go to New York City for a couple of days and catch a Broadway show. That year, I saw Tommy, and Michael Cerveris had the lead role. Michael Cerveris is from West Virginia and he was friends with the acting teacher at Longwood, Pam Arkin (who I believe has since retired– I remember she first came to Longwood when I was a sophomore, back in 1991). Anyway, a few theater folks who were also in Cams sent a note backstage and we got to meet Michael Cerveris. I remembered him from Fame, but he’s now a successful Broadway performer. I tagged along with the theater gang because I was the only one with a camera. Below is a shot of me circa 1994, complete with 90s hair…

And yes, that is Michael Cerveris… that hair of mine is killing me!

Overall, I enjoyed reading Inside Fame on Television: A Behind-the-Scenes History. While I wouldn’t give it a five star rating, I do think it’s a good read for those who enjoyed watching Fame. I know I wasn’t the only one who loved that show. I miss TV shows that took me to a different place and forced me to suspend disbelief. Fame had some really good, hard hitting, well written episodes in the early years, but it did later become a pretty cheesy plot driven show, instead of the character driven show it once was. It probably went on longer than it should have, but even the crappy later episodes are guilty pleasures for me. And it’s always a treat to watch the super talented but sadly departed Gene Anthony Ray dance, or listen to Nia Peeples sing as she dances. This book makes me want to watch more Fame clips on YouTube, or even revisit the first two seasons of the show, which I managed to download from Apple TV. If you liked the show too, maybe Michael Hoey’s book would be good reading for you.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard