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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TV's top-rated tabloid twosome--CBS Corp.'s "The Insider" and "ET"--all but ignore CBS star Charlie Sheen's domestic violence arrest, guilty plea after "The Insider" attacks tragic Gary Coleman about same in his final TV interview


 The Globe magazine will soon publish Gary Coleman’s “death photos,” but it isn’t the first tabloid to exploit the late actor’s dying images.

Coleman’s ex-wife, Shannon Price—called “cold, cunning and creepy” for her questionable conduct during and after the actor’s dying days—this week defends herselfonly,” as its promo proudly blares, “on The Insider!” (as well as its sister show, Entertainment Tonight).

Here’s hoping Price holds a mirror up to The Insider's producers and panelists, who, after hosting Coleman’s disturbing TV swan song in February, should know by now that tabloid TV exposure is a two-way street.

If anything good can come from the diminutive Diff’rent Strokes star’s tragic death from a brain hemorrhage at 42, it will be the beyond-timely demise of the attack-style television “interview” and throw-’em-under-a-bus “coverage” that helped write his troubled life’s final act.

Namely: the well-deserved mercy killing of a brand-defining chunk of the CBS Corp.’s once-benign (read: pre-Anna Nicole) ET and its more transparent, gossipy, mob-scene offspring—the show whose aggressive badgering and exploitation could have sent the infamously quick-to-anger Coleman to an even earlier grave in February—The Insider.



via The Insider  

Varying levels of tabloid toxicity sadly unite TV’s most influential block of half-bloodthirsty, half-obsequious entertainment news shows. The target of these schizophrenic series’ dark sides? Rarely, if ever, a CBS headliner, film giant or a celebrity who otherwise has current bankability, high-placed PR and legal teams and the collective power to shut down these infotainment series.

To wit: CBS’s Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen planned to plead guilty this week in an Aspen, Colo., courtroom to a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge stemming from his felony menacing arrest on charges he threatened his wife at knifepoint on Christmas day. But, aside from brief, vague reports (mostly on their web sites), both ET and The Insider have all but ignored this story for months—though they chirpily trumpeted his recent press release revelation that he’d signed for two more seasons of his series “after two-and-one-half months of a whirlwind of speculation” (and for upwards of $2 million per episode).


via The Insider--the show's web site (and not the series itself) last "covered" Sheen's troubles via this interesting analysis

No, today’s prey are yesteryear’s luminaries clearly on their way down, out and potentially six feet under—or at least those former stars struggling to re-spark or resuscitate their image and livelihoods by coming to the (A-list-)celeb-friendly series that often unapologetically deliver the final blow.

In his last TV interview, the often-agitated and visibly weakened Coleman—fresh from his own domestic violence arrest and plea deal, a seizure and head injury in January and pneumonia and heart surgery last fall—suffered one of his problem-plagued life’s final indignities during his visit as an in-studio "guest" at The Insider on Feb. 17.

The show's celebrity attorney panelist flesh-chewing interrogator, “CBS legal correspondent Lisa Bloom,” relentlessly pounded the actor with the same aggressive question—Did you abuse your wife?!—despite the fact that he'd already answered her. Her button-pushing "cross examination" of the embattled, embittered and explosive former sitcom star was a rude and ruthless spectacle that The Insider was all too happy to spin and exploit ad nauseum across the next several days of February sweeps.


via The Insider

(Coleman, long strapped for cash and ever-desirous to set the record straight—like any public figure—on his terms, would return to the studio he fled to confront Bloom’s co-panelists on Feb. 26. That appearance was apparently so taxing that the actor suffered a seizure while on set. Fortunately, an infinitely more empathetic Dr. Drew Pinsky was sitting in Bloom’s chair and administered life-saving procedures on Coleman during his still-unseen swan song. Tellingly, Pinsky has interviewed for the syndicated TV newsmagazine Extra—not ET or The Insider—about Coleman in the days following the actor’s death on May 28.)


Bloom—who now represents Michael Lohan (!)—soon chimed in on Joy Behar's Headline News show. "I'm an attorney," Bloom stressed after Behar played an abbreviated clip of the on-air debacle. "I've represented a lot of women and children in abuse cases. I know how to talk to batterers. I know how they respond. They generally only go after their own family members. And Gary Coleman has pleaded guilty to a domestic violence incident against his wife, but it was pleaded down to a misdemeanor and he only had to pay a $500 fine—no jail time."

She was referencing Coleman's arrest on Jan. 24 for failing to appear in court on previously-unpublicized charges of domestic violence against his wife, 24-year-old Shannon Price, during an incident at their home in Santaquin, Utah on April 18, 2009. An Associated Press report said details of that incident were not outlined in court documents but qualified Coleman's defense attorney, Randy Kester, as characterizing the event as an "argument that got out of hand." "No one was injured and no ambulances were called," Kester said. "It was just a disagreement."

It wasn't the couple's first quarrel—or their last. Price was arrested in July 2009 and charged with domestic violence after a furniture-toppling row with Coleman. Bloom failed to mention Price's arrest. To be fair, the celebrattorney also didn’t bring up Coleman’s arrest and conviction for punching a female autograph-seeker who the 4’8” actor said taunted and intimidated him in 1998. Nor did Bloom remind us he also was accused in 2008 of trying to run down a male fan who snapped his photo at a Utah bowling alley. That fracas resulted in no arrests and was settled this January for an undisclosed sum.

A week prior to his Insider outburst, Coleman pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor charge of domestic violence/criminal mischief stemming from the still-murky April 2009 incident. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a domestic violence/assault charge and the judge ordered the actor to pay a $595 fine and attend classes on avoiding domestic violence.


via The Insider

The judge also should've sentenced Coleman to stay away from ravenously provocative infotainment shows. Especially on the days that Gloria Allred's legal eagle daughter sweeps in for the kill.

"I think in this country," Bloom continued to Behar at the height of the TV’s Tiger Woods hate-a-thon, "we're really tired of seeing celebrities get away with bad acts against their own family, drug use, whatever it is. They're never held accountable. Nobody ever asks them the hard questions. They get a pass on all of the shows. So I was there to see if he was going to answer the questions." (Coleman's initial response to Bloom—“There is no abuse that goes on at my house”—apparently was not precise enough for the attorney.)


 Bloom's argument sounds pretty reasonable. Until you remember that Entertainment Tonight and The Insider are anything but journalistic enterprises with reputations for calling out Hollywood BS.

In fact, ET has had its lips suctioned to so much corporate-synergized celebrity butt for so long that Mary Hart can't smile without giving Tom Cruise or an NCIS star a wedgie. So, yeah, Ms. Bloom, we'd all love to see one of your entertainment news co-horts ask your network’s cash cow Charlie Sheen a hard-hitting question about, say, his drug use or alleged domestic violence, instead of parroting his attorneys’ and publicists’ carefully-crafted media statements.  But guess what? It ain’t gonna happen.

Because Sheen, like NCIS star Mark Harmon and former Paramount Pictures golden child Cruise, is a current celebcommodity (let alone one on the company payroll) whose access, success and/or influence both shows need to survive. Likewise, we’ll never see these shows even gently press the sometimes-controversial Cruise about Scientology in favor of asking him insipid, sycophantic questions about why his daughter is or isn’t wearing shoes in a paparazzi photo.

But God forbid Cruise or anyone else now in ET/The Insider’s favor falls on hard times and no longer proves lucrative and/or legally threatening to the industry. To see that terrible fate, we need look no further than Gary Coleman, Dana Plato, Lindsay Lohan, Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and any retro star "caught" looking fat, old, disoriented, intoxicated, tired or frail. Or, as in the case of Farrah Fawcett in a wheelchair—her long-dreaded "final photo"—trying to live their final days in dignity with an ET-paid pap invading what little privacy they have left by shoving a camera lens in their face.

America already knew Gary Coleman was a troubled and angry and sick “former child star.” We didn’t need The Insider to put him--and now, postmortem, his ex-wife--on camera and incessantly poke him with a stick to remind us how cruel Hollywood can be.



1 comment:

Roselvr said...

Still have to listen to Opie & Anthony.. not a fan of ET or Insider. Used to watch it before this new format which I hate. It reminds me of a mini court room.