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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paging Cheri "That Bitch" Oteri! Hailey Glassman Calling! Why SNL Desperately Needs to Rehire Its '90s Funnylady & Prove Tracy Morgan Wrong

Share-y O'Teary: The Insider's Hailey Glassman (left), SNL's Cheri Oteri 

Her former Saturday Night Live co-star Tracy Morgan may think she's a "bitch (who) can't even get arrested," but those of us who remember SNL's late-'90s renaissance know that Cheri Oteri can serve up one hell of a mug shot. And it's high time Lorne Michaels sentence her to making his iconic late-night sketch comedy series laugh-out-loud funny again.

Michaels should at least get her for a quick cameo. Only the delightfully twitchy Oteri could truly do justice to spoofing Jon Gosselin's 22-year-old "soul mate," Hailey Glassman. As the once-arrested party girl simultaneously wept, apologized, ranted, squirmed and tittered this week on the entertainment news show The Insider, Glassman unwittingly channeled the tragicomic essence of Oteri's spasmodic splendor. It made me all tingly for the days of yore when Oteri let it all hang out while portraying desperately dingy characters such as "Simmah down nah!"'s Nadeen, the Spartan cheerleader, talk show host Cass Van Rye and Collette Reardon, "Medicine Woman." (She also did bitchin' impressions of Judge Judy, Barbara Walters and Debbie Reynolds.)

Tracy Morgan, simmah down nah! Lorne Michaels, bringah back nah! Cheri Oteri, make us laugh nah!



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Rod Roddy: A Live-Out-Loud Voice Silenced Too Soon by Cancer ... A Former Barker's Beauty Reveals the Beloved "Come on Down!" Announcer's Off-Camera Heartache

Six years ago on Oct. 27, 2003, colorful Price is Right announcer Rod Roddy lost his brave battle with colon and breast cancer at age 66.

The larger-than-life voice behind the immortal catch phrase "Come on down!" from 1986 until his death, Roddy was diagnosed with colon cancer on—of all days—Sept. 11, 2001. He soon became one of the first celebrities to publicly campaign for colon cancer awareness and early detection. Sadly, as his cancer spread despite chemotherapy, Roddy also became one of the first male celebrities to share his diagnosis, in March 2003, of breast cancer. (Recently, former KISS drummer Peter Criss and Shaft himself, actor Richard Roundtree, revealed their breast cancer diagnoses.)

"I could have prevented all this with a colonoscopy, and, of course, that's the campaign I've been on since I had the first surgery," Roddy told CBS months before his death. "To everybody out there, get a mammogram! It can happen to men, too."

Despite his two-year cancer fight, the flamboyant TV ham—famous for his vibrant, glittery blazers and wacky Showcase skits—remained committed to his 17-year gig as Price's famed on-screen announcer and host Bob Barker's TV sidekick. He showed up with bells on until his final hospitalization two months prior to his passing.

"We all admired his courage," Barker told an interviewer in 2003. "He was always upbeat and hopeful. I went to the hospital and sat on the edge of his bed and we laughed the whole time we were talking. He was still having fun."

But not nearly as much fun, another former Price colleague says, as Roddy would have wholeheartedly preferred. In 2002, the high-energy announcer was suddenly taken off camera on the iconic CBS game show. FremantleMedia, the show's production company, claimed Roddy's disembodied voice was the product of their new "international policy" to keep all announcers off camera on all of their shows. Despite his still robust appearance, Roddy was seldom seen on camera in his final year or so on the show. (During his absence for cancer treatment in late 2002, however, fill-in announcers Paul Boland and Burton Richardson were featured on screen when introduced by Barker. And Roddy made a brief appearance on camera during the season 32 premiere in 2003 when introduced by Fremantle exec Syd Vinnedge.)

Roddy's rare on-camera Price appearance, Fall 2003

This "policy" was a facade, says veteran Barker's Beauty prize model Holly Hallstrom. The 1977-95 show vet, who countersued the series' legendary emcee-turned-exec producer and won a multi-million-dollar settlement in 2005, claims Barker yanked Roddy off the screen in 2002 following a backstage dispute over money. According to Hallstrom, Roddy demanded higher pay for a series of successful Price primetime specials. She says Barker—not Fremantle—retaliated by taking away the very thing that kept the ailing announcer going: his coveted, if minimal, camera time.

For the first time ever, an emotional Hallstrom breaks her silence, in this Retroality.TV audio interview, about her "precious" co-star's reaction to his on-screen vanishing act while he fought for survival during the final year-plus of his life. (This segment of Hallstrom's explosive Retroality.TV interview—part 4 in an ongoing series of exclusive chats with the classic game show model—will be available next month on our You Tube channel).

Barker paid tribute to Roddy in an 18-second clip montage in a Price episode airing after the announcer's death. Howard Stern mocked this brief memorial on his popular radio show. CBS' Late Late Show aired a considerably longer video homage to Roddy—one of the talk show's favorite guests—around this time.

The Emmy-winning emcee never referred to Roddy again on his game show. Barker mentioned Roddy only once in his 2009 memoir Priceless Memories—while listing him alongside his Price predecessor, the legendary Johnny Olson, and Roddy's successor, Rich Fields (whose frequent on-camera appearances apparently signaled the reversal of Fremantle's international policy in the last five years). Olson and Fields earned the Price host's recognition in the book's anecdotes; Roddy did not.

Roddy's long and illustrious Hollywood career took off in 1977 when he was hired as the announcer for the hit ABC sitcom Soap, which ran until 1981. Prior to landing his "Come on down!" dream job, he enjoyed success at CBS as the "avoid-the-Whammy!" voice behind the high-rated daytime game show Press Your Luck. For more info about Roddy, visit friend and fellow announcer Randy West's website.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ellen's Miracle Man Shares His Uplifting Story in His New Book "Iron Heart"

Every weekday at 11 a.m., Welcome, Maryland resident Brian Boyle managed to tilt his head back and look beyond what should have been his deathbed. In a boxy beacon twinkling above a sea of IVs and tubes, loudly churning machines and his parents' deafening despair, Ellen DeGeneres helped him transcend each painful today by dancing like there was no tomorrow.

The talk show host's nimble moves brought hope and smiles to the St. Mary's College freshman's face, which, along with his once sinewy legs and equally fast-moving arms, lay frozen after the triathlete awoke in September 2004 from a near-fatal car wreck two months earlier. The dump truck that pulverized his pelvis, tossed his heart across his chest and landed him in a coma crushed the would-be Ironman's body—but not his selfless spirit.

Just as DeGeneres uplifted Boyle in his darkest days, his sunny optimism lit the way for his equally shattered and immobilized mom and dad. Amazingly, Garth and JoAnne Boyle's then-19-year-old son worried more about their welfare than his own. His desire to see them smile again pushed him to relearn how to smile, blink, eat, talk, walk, swim and soar on his bicycle again.

Boyle's story, Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead, hit bookstores on Oct. 1. Earlier this year, he shared with us his triumphant tale, which brought him full-circle to Ellen's talk show in late 2008.

The IronMan champ and outstanding young man recently launched his well-deserved book publicity tour on The Today Show. We congratulate him!

In November, we'll feature Retroality.TV contributor Rose Sacco's review of Iron Heart. In the meantime, we congratulate Brian for his amazing achievements, not the least of which is the publication of his riveting story in his uplifting book.