Brush with infamy
: I made mention of hate mail from Bill Cosby below (in the item about Daddyhood) and Jim Treacher sent me email demanding:
“Bill Cosby sent you hate mail? Details, man! Details!”
Nothing I love better than someone who actually asks to hear one of my stories from my (not-so-)good(-not-so-)old-days. Pull up a chair, young man.
When I was the TV critic at People, I wrote many a rave review of Cosby’s original family sitcom when it first appeared. I said that he saved sitcoms themselves (which were being written off about then). He (along with shows like Hill Street Blues) proved that you can make money with quality. He helped herald the real golden age of television. But then Cosby started reading his own PR and he turned haughty and his show turned into the weekly sermonette. I said his show went downhill (he saw it differently: as far as he was concerned, I turned on him). So I started getting the poison-pen letters. After I said that he was a has-been, he sent me a tin cup and a note asking where the flowers were for his funeral (a mixed metaphor I never fully groked). He went to a lot of trouble getting a test cover I had created for Entertainment Weekly before its launch — a cover that touted the arrival of wise-ass women Roseanne and Murphy Brown and touted the end of the Cosby era — and he had someone replace his image with mine and a coverline that said farewell to me when I left Entertainment Weekly.
I ended up on lots of enemies lists — not just Cosby’s and not just that anti-warblogger twit’s.
: After Murphy Brown went bad (or I turned on the show, depending on your perspective), they wrote my name into the script with a network executive warning a Kathie-Lee clone not to get on the bad side of powerful people, like Johnny Carson or “Jeff Jarvis, that man is a bottomless pit of hate.” I’m thinking about making up CafePress T-shirts with the slogan.
: Alan Thicke sent me mail begging me to stop making him my “personal whipping boy.” I only begged him to stop making talk shows.
: Jay Leno called me to whine about my view in TV Guide that Johnny and Dave were both funnier.
: Bill Moyers complained to my bosses about me because I said that he was boring.
: But my proudest moment came years earlier. During my tenure as a columnist in San Francisco, I suggested that Frank Sinatra should have stayed retired and at a concert the next night, he stopped in the middle of singing My Way, of all songs, to call me “a bum.”
Life doesn’t get much sweeter.
: Max Power takes on my challenge to defend the economic impact of the lottery.