We will return in 2018 with a new look, mission & direction. Stay tuned as we develop our online destination that celebrates contemporary & retro pop culture as well as body, mind & spirit!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The reality of doing good ... my new TV Find story in the December issue of delight! magazine

Read it here:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fran Drescher on surviving cancer, returning to TV; Shemar Moore on surviving a near-fatal accident; Danica Patrick on staying fit and fighting COPD

Launching a new podcast while juggling several other projects (some big, some small!) has its ups and downs. The ups: A new podcast and several other projects! The downs: Little sleep and totally forgetting to blog about some of my noteworthy celebrity health and fitness covers in the last six months or so!

With that said, enjoy the above stories on some of TV's favorite survivors and thrivers!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And I'm a fan o' Dianne!

There's a reason Dianne Kay was the sweetheart of a generation (or two ... or three, if you ask Dick Van Patten)! The ever-sparkling Eight is Enough star kindly gave us another shout-out on her fun and informative blog, which you can find on her groovy new web site,

And she coined a fun new word, "Mannie" (hahaha! love it!) -- which makes me feel sorta-kinda '70s-Mike-Connors-cool. Which, by the way, is a first for me. I was anything but "Mannix" cool growing up in the '70s and '80s. In fact, trying to be so just made me "Mannix"-depressive.

But this fan-o'-Dianne is only happy and grateful today. Thanks a million, Dianne, and we look forward to hearing the latest and greatest about your in-the-works TV comedy Seconds and your other projects and musings in 2012!

Still an angel: my new interview with Cheryl Ladd

So pleased to share my new cover story on Charlie's Angels star Cheryl Ladd -- who, at age 60 (!), continues to shine as an actress, health advocate and now kickboxing grandma! -- in the December issue of Wellbella. This monthly magazine is available nationally at GNC stores and can also be read in its entirety here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 4! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, actress-writer Dianne Kay, on her in-the-works TV comedy "Seconds" and her life-saving psychic vision ALSO: Chris pleads to Oprah/Gayle: reimagine Agnes Nixon's "soaprahs"!

Retro pop meets forward thought as ebullient and enlightening "Eight is Enough" star Dianne Kay -- in part two of her exclusive, in-depth interview -- opens her heart about loving her TV siblings (including her "secret marriage" with Adam "Munch" Rich), working with Steven Spielberg on the set of his feature "1941" (and auditioning at her apartment with Mickey Rourke!!!), dealing with her garage sale addiction (hey, who stole her "8 is Enough" jigsaw puzzle?!?), being mistaken for a faux Betty Crocker, being overwhelmed by ugly reality TV (editor's note: "Kate Plus Eight is Enough!"), raising a teenage son in a hormonal household and developing her new half-hour, one-camera comedy series, "Seconds." In addition, Dianne shares with us her psychic vision that alerted her to her kidney cancer last fall and, in doing so, saved her life.

ALSO: Chris discusses changing media and changing times -- and beseeches Oprah to reimagine the "soaprah" and infuse her O brand of "retroality" drama and personal empowerment in half-hour versions of ABC's sadly-dumped "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." Fellow daytime icon/pioneer Agnes Nixon needs your help, Oprah -- please save all her children!

Chris also talks about the rapidly evolving book publishing world, the rules of which are shifting thanks to Inc. signing deals to publish high-dollar tomes with high-profile celebs ranging from "Laverne & Shirley" star (and fellow cancer survivor) Penny Marshall to New Age guru Deepak Chopra. Then Chris shares his short-lived book "negotiations" with late, legendary Hollywood press agent-business manager Jay Bernstein, who this fall celebrates the posthumous publication of his memoir, "Starmaker."

Offering insight about his "Come and Knock on Our" tell-all and his equally long-in-the-works "Price is Right" tell-all, Chris explains how journalistic, in-depth, "unofficial"/"unauthorized" TV books have become far and few between as the publishing industry, since the late '90s, has moved toward studio/network-commissioned, licensed (and therefore often "fluff-piece") TV books while television has taken over telling these boob-tube biographies. Hmmmm ... can you say, "multimedia e-book"?

Also: the return of Facebook's controversial group "Farrah Fawcett: We Want the Truth 2," a few parting thoughts about ABC's reimagined "Charlie's Angels" turducken, er, turkey, and what '80s TV icon ABC will likely "retool" next. (Goodbye, "Hot Bosley" ... hello, "Hot Belvedere"?)

Finally, in the fourth installment of a recurring "dream weaver" segment, dream interpreter/intuitive life coach Yvonne Ryba ( shares two of her compelling, prophetic "death dreams" while encouraging listeners to reimagine their own reality by understanding the creative power of the mind.

For more on Dianne Kay, check out her new web site: and see Chris's site, http://Retroality.TV

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer/"Lassie" whistler: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2011 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Must. Read. Now.

The ever-delicious Carrie Fisher: Electroshock therapy caused memory loss. That, and 70-lb. cinnamon buns weighing down her hemispheres.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A shout out from (and to) Dianne Kay!

A big thank-you to the delightful Dianne Kay for giving me a kind shout-out on her fun and informative blog on her new, official website,

It was my pleasure to interview Dianne for the new episode of my behind-the-scenes pop culture podcast, "Reimagine That!" Dianne is so easygoing and warm -- and her sense of humor and knack for storytelling made her the perfect guest for our new Retroality.TV audio show. Check out part 1 of Dianne's two-part interview in the YouTube file she's kindly embedded on her blog here, then peruse the rest of her site -- just like Ms. Kay, it's a real gem!

On that note, thanks to my podcast announcer/producer, Linda Kay (no relation -- it's a small world, indeed), for her stellar job in helping execute "Reimagine That!" Linda received a wonderful interview from Dianne in August for Linda's cool website, The C.A.P.E.R. Project, devoted to the cult '70s kids show The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. Dianne tells Linda all about working with the C.A.P.E.R. "kids" (they were grown men!) during her very first TV job:

Stay tuned for part 2 of Dianne's "Reimagine That!" interview, which will post within episode four of the podcast in late November.

Chris Mann

P.S.: Here's a closer-up look at Dianne's kind words ...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 3! ............................................................ Chris Mann's special guest, actress-writer Dianne Kay, remembers "Eight is Enough" joy and tragedy ALSO: Nasty Nellie and Erin Walton go tête-à-tête, & Chris shares his "Family Feud" home game strife

Retro pop meets forward thought as "Eight is Enough" star Dianne Kay -- in part one of her exclusive, in-depth interview -- opens her heart about her TV dramedy co-stars, including Dick Van Patten, Susan Richardson, Adam Rich, Grant Goodeve, Betty Buckley, Connie Needham-Newton and the late Lani O'Grady and Diana Hyland. The upbeat and funny blonde beauty also talks about surviving kidney cancer last year as well as surviving the pitfalls of Hollywood. And for the first time ever, she talks about being suspended from an episode of "Eight is Enough" after standing her ground when show writers decided to make her character, Nancy, pose nude for an art gallery and then receive self-esteem talk from the Bradfords after they see the exhibit. (One word: Ewwww!)

ALSO: Chris discusses the upcoming literary event (tour?!?) titled "Good Girl vs. Bad Gir: Mary McDonough in conversation with Alison Arngrim," in which the respective authors of "Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton" and "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch" offer behind-the-scenes dish while discussing the events and issues that shaped them as women and as advocates.

Chris also reveals how the "Family Feud" home game brought strife to his house in the late '70s/early '80s, shares his cinammon bun-enhanced fascination with actress-author Carrie Fisher (who once followed him on Twitter -- come back, Carrie, come back!), talks about Showtime's hit new dramedy "Shameless," exposes his true feeling about having bowl-resistant hair in the Adam-Rich-bowl-a-riffic '70s, and previews his plans for an updated edition of his book "Come and Knock on Door" for the 35th anniversary of "Three's Company" in 2012. (James Franco, can we borrow your "Chrissy" wig?)

Finally, in the third installment of a recurring "dream weaver" segment, Chris encourages listeners reimagine their own reality with dream interpreter Yvonne Ryba (

Host: Chris Mann 

Announcer: Linda Kay 

Created by: Chris Mann 

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann 

Copyright 2011 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Retroality's "Reimagine That!" podcast, episode 2! ............................................................ with Chris Mann's special guest star, Joyce DeWitt ALSO: why ABC's "Charlie's Angels" reboot got the boot and how under-fire Alana Stewart shut down Facebook's "Farrah Fawcett: We Want the Truth"

Retro pop meets forward thought as Three's Company star Joyce DeWitt, in the conclusion of her in-depth two-part interview, shares her spiritual insights, reveals her "All You Need Is Love"-inspired connection to Beatles-loving John Ritter and tells why she hasn't spoken to co-star Suzanne Somers in 30-plus years -- despite Joyce's repeated efforts to extend an olive branch. She also tells Retroality.TV editor, author and host Chris Mann her fond memories of co-stars Don Knotts, Norman Fell, Audra Lindley, Richard Kline, Priscilla Barnes, Jenilee Harrison and Ann Wedgeworth. And Joyce bares all about still being recognized for having a great pair of L'eggs.

ALSO: Chris dissects the cancellation of ABC's reimagined Charlie's Angels and previews his upcoming Wellbella cover story interview with original Angel Cheryl Ladd. And Chris breaks news about Alana Stewart and her attorneys shutting down the Facebook group "Farrah Fawcett: We Want the Truth" -- the same group that orchestrated a letter-writing campaign this summer that apparently led the California State Attorney General's office to open a reported investigation into the Stewart-helmed charitable organization The Farrah Fawcett Foundation. Finally, in the second installment of a recurring "dream weaver" segment, Chris encourages listeners reimagine their own reality with dream interpreter Yvonne Ryba (

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2011 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV (http://Retroality.TV)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

EW- and GMA-Reunited ... and it feels so good

For more with these casts and 6 other TV and movie reunions -- including Aliens, Office Space, and Growing Pains -- pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, October 7.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Retroality.TV's NEW podcast, "Reimagine That!" ............................................................ with Chris Mann's special guest star, Joyce DeWitt, dream weaver Yvonne Ryba and Retroality's story behind the Farrah Fawcett Foundation controversy

Retro pop meets forward thought as Retroality.TV editor, author and host Chris Mann interviews "Three's Company" star Joyce DeWitt about the late, great John Ritter, Priscilla Barnes, Suzanne Somers' and Charlie Sheen's acrimonious series exits, James Franco, Richard Kline, late "Three's Company" executive Don Taffner Sr. and more. Joyce gives her candid views on Hollywood's obse$ion with "reimagining" TV and movie hits, offers her light-hearted take on her current off-Broadway play "Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage" and tells how she reimagined her own life at age 35 when she embarked on a transformative spiritual odyssey when "Three's Company" ended.

ALSO: Retroality's story behind the story of controversy surrounding The Farrah Fawcett Foundation and its president, Alana Stewart. And, in the first of a recurring "dream weaver" segment, reimagine your own reality with dream interpreter Yvonne Ryba (

Host: Chris Mann

Announcer: Linda Kay

Created by: Chris Mann

Producers: Linda Kay, Chris Mann

Copyright 2011 by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stewart strikes back at ABC News, "disgruntled ex-employees" and "a--holes," says attorney general merely auditing Farrah Fawcett Foundation

Alana Stewart says she is "looking into" legal action against ABC News for reporting the Farrah Fawcett Foundation -- which she helms -- is under investigation for fraud and other financial wrongdoing. She lashes back at Fawcett's "ex-employees" and "assholes" who she says have banded together on Facebook to malign her and the foundation. More on this developing story to come ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

ABC News: Farrah Fawcett Foundation under fire for potential money mismanagement and fraud (Retroality readers saw this coming months ago!)

ABC's reimagined Charlie's Angels isn't the only media-savvy enterprise relying -- and, for now, flying -- on the feathered wings of an iconic Hollywood original.

The network's news division is reporting that the Farrah Fawcett Foundation is under investigation by the California Attorney General's Office of Charitable Trust "for potential mismanagement of funds, diversion of assets, and fraud." ABC News also reports that the foundation and the Farrah Fawcett Living Trust, which finances the foundation, were given 60 days to turn over their estate planning documents and financial records to authorities. The deadline to do so is apparently sometime this month.

This news breaks just ten days after foundation president Alana Stewart -- who in media appearances is often billed as Farrah's best friend -- co-hosted with Fawcett's Angels co-star Jaclyn Smith the "Give Back Hollywood's Farrah Fawcett Foundation Pre-Emmy Cancer Benefit." 

From the Farrah Fawcett Foundation Facebook news page

That red-carpet affair, originally titled "Friends of Farrah," touted Ryan O'Neal, Raquel Welch, Cheryl Tiegs and Stewart's adult children with rocker Rod Stewart and George Hamilton as its celebrity guests.

Also there: Barbie designer Bill Greening, who signed copies of the new Black Label Collector Edition Farrah Fawcett Barbie Doll. An undisclosed percentage of proceeds from sales of the popular doll go to the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. According to a press release for the event, the foundation's mission "is to provide funding for alternative methods of cancer research, clinical trials, prevention and awareness with an emphasis on anal and pediatric cancers."

But Retroality reported in June that an impassioned group of Fawcett fans, led by Cathy Swango, organized a letter-writing campaign requesting that California's attorney general open an investigation into the Farrah Fawcett Foundation and her estate. 

We've also reported here that Farrah's Story producer Craig Nevius has previously pushed for the attorney general "to investigate the 'Farrah Fawcett Foundation' and interview a handful of Farrah's trusted friends and associates with respect to Farrah's knowledge and intent regarding this so-called 'charity.'" In court papers filed in March 2010, Nevius alleged that Fawcett "was not aware" of the existence of the foundation, which is "funded by Ms. Fawcett's assets" and with which O'Neal "recently announced he would be 'working.'"

ABC reports Fawcett's college boyfriend and longtime friend Greg Lott "says the California Attorney General's office has been quietly interviewing friends, business associates and several beneficiaries of Fawcett since early July."

The network also reports that Stewart calls the investigation "outrageous." Stewart says the foundation -- which became active following Fawcett's tragic death from anal cancer in June 2009 -- is operating based on Fawcett's wishes. 

Also, according to the story
Richard B. Francis, the trustee of the estate and chairman of the foundation, as well as Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal's former business manager, calls the investigation a witch hunt and says the foundation has done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, he says the foundation is cooperating fully with the investigation.
 Witch hunt or "Angel" intervention? Stay tuned ...

From the Facebook group "Farrah Fawcett: We Want the Truth"

Thank you, La Lucci, for always going for the gold

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Returning fall faves -- 'cuz May 2011 is sooooo retro

Pleased to share my new TV Find feature in the Sept. issue of delight! magazine.

Bethenny Frankel gets real about health

Check out my new Wellbella cover-story interview with reality star Bethenny Frankel.

From New York “housewife” to entrepreneur, this popular author and TV personality opens up about balancing her hectic lifestyle with healthy choices that are possible for all of us.
She’s single-handedly redefined not only the shrewd TV-housewife but the “reality star” at large, one skinny-minded business venture at a time. Best-selling author and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel, who skyrocketed to success in 2008 in the New York edition of Bravo’s hit “Real Housewives” franchise, could now teach a master’s course in real-world, as-seen-on-TV branding."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Defamation? Delusion? Damaging despicableness? ............................................................ Part 2: Without foundation? O'Nealian accusations, securing Farrah's image and "rebranding the truth"

Montage illustration by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV
By Chris Mann

As the ever-beloved Farrah Fawcett is yet again immortalized in likeness—this time as a wholesomely sexy Barbie doll commemorating her iconic 1976 swimsuit poster and benefiting an Alana Stewart-helmed cancer foundation in her name—the late TV angel’s embattled lover, Ryan O’Neal, keeps fighting to hold onto her multimillion dollar image while trying to salvage his own.

Last month, the University of Texas System sued O’Neal for possessing an estimated $30M Andy Warhol portrait of Fawcett—one of two in existence—that they say she bequeathed to them. In turn, the actor sued his longtime foe Craig Nevius, alleging the “delusional” Farrah’s Story producer—who helped Fawcett secure the rights to her record-selling poster—stole from and sold out Farrah and defamed and distressed O’Neal with “lies” that led to UT suing. O’Neal, claiming the “second Warhol” is legally his, is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Nevius assisted UT in part by pointing out that O’Neal’s daughter (and OWN “soaprah” co-star), Tatum, divulged in her recent memoir, found, that Dad had the Warhol—which media reports have since called “missing” and “stolen.” “That was a ‘thank-God-we’ve-caught-you moment,’” Nevius told ABC News in June.

Not exactly the kind of “a-ha moment” Oprah likely bargained for when signing father and daughter to their (forced?) reconciliation series, The O’Neals. But with Tatum claiming Ryan “brutalized” her, abandoned her for Farrah and exposed her to "lots of drugs" growing up—charges pretty much echoed by her brother Griffin (who instead said his dad gave him cocaine at age 11)—should unseemly O’Neal allegations at this point leave anyone with an O face?

(O’Neal previously called Tatum’s drug and abuse claims, outlined in her 2004 memoir A Paper Life, “malicious lies.” And when asked about Griffin’s charges that, upon Fawcett’s terminal cancer diagnosis, “vulture” Ryan’s “only goal was to make sure he would be in (Fawcett’s) will,” the O’Neal patriarch snapped to Vanity Fair in 2009, “I hate him! He knows I have money. I made a tremendous amount of money on real estate; more than I deserve.”)

Ryan’s attorney requested a 10-day extension to file his response to UT’s suit, originally due by Aug. 1. Nevius’ legal answer to O’Neal’s suit may hit next week as well. Expect serious fireworks—especially now that a UT System rep says the university has “photographic and videographic evidence” of Fawcett referencing her ownership of both Warhols shortly before she passed.

“(A)t no time have I ever claimed that Ryan O’Neal stole the portrait of Farrah Fawcett,” Nevius wrote in a statement published last month on The Morton Report web site. “(I)n terms of me being the one to cause Ryan’s public humiliation, well, has he watched his own reality show? … (I)t’s hard for me to believe that I am the cause of this man’s ‘mental anguish and emotional distress’ when, according to his reality show, he has recently been in therapy for personal and relationship issues dating back before I ever met him.”

O’Neal’s ever-growing legal, personal and public-relations battles became even more entangled this week with the heroin- and gun-related felony arrest Tuesday of his troubled son with Fawcett, Redmond, 26, and the possible future arrest of the long-estranged Griffin, 46. Hours after Redmond was busted, Griffin reportedly caused a head-on car crash that sent him to the hospital with moderate injuries. Police later discovered drugs and a loaded weapon in Griffin’s car and are seeking a warrant to arrest him.

The O’Neals are “falling apart,” Ryan told TMZ after Redmond entered a not guilty plea in court Thursday. “But we’ll come back.”

The former Peyton Place and Love Story star’s comeback—or, more precisely, rebranding—in recent years as a reality docudrama fixture has been fraught with controversy and challenge. Ironically, though, his most persistent conflict during his made-for-TV reinvention hasn’t been with his tragic offspring but rather with the man whose association with Fawcett put O’Neal back in homes in the era of celebreality.

But O’Neal won’t be referring to Craig Nevius as the executive producer who directed him in TV Land’s 2005 reality show Chasing Farrah. Nor will he acknowledge him as the filmmaker who won the showbiz-leery Fawcett’s trust so much that she named him her “loyal friend and protector,” spokesperson, agent, manager and, ultimately, the business partner who would help execute her vision for her groundbreaking cancer documentary. (That project— filmed in part by Farrah friend Alana Stewart and originally titled A Wing & A Prayer—was Fawcett’s would-be work of art. Nevius says she didn’t want the innovative docufilm in any way featuring “talking heads” and focusing on her “love story” with on-again, off-again flame O’Neal.)

Instead, O’Neal—who, in Fawcett’s final months and with Stewart’s involvement on-camera and off as the project’s newly-promoted producer, overtook and repackaged the “video diary” as NBC’s “news special” Farrah’s Story—now brands Nevius in a legal filing as “a delusional fan” who is “obsessed” with Fawcett and “jealous” of O’Neal and Stewart. So “deeply jealous” of O’Neal, he alleges, that Nevius made “false, malicious and defamatory accusations to the media and (UT) … in an attempt to ruin O’Neal’s reputation and strip him of the Warhol portrait while drawing attention to himself.”

Exactly how a jury would assess O’Neal’s reputation—pre and post-Nevius-claims—is, in this scandal-loving new-media age, anybody’s guess. Ryan has twice been arrested himself—in 2007 for firing a gun in a dispute with Griffin (these charges were later dismissed) and in 2008 with Redmond for felony drug possession when authorities found meth in his Malibu home during his younger son’s probation check. Ryan pleaded guilty and was ordered to partake in a drug awareness program. His attorney, Mark Werksman, told People magazine at the time that the actor "found it extremely frustrating and upsetting" to be charged. “He's not a drug user and he doesn't want to be thought of as a drug user.”

Around the time of Ryan’s second arrest, he attempted to force Nevius to turn over A Wing & A Prayer to him and another executive producer. When Nevius refused (he says according to Fawcett’s strict instructions “never (to) give anyone—including Ryan—the footage or the contract”), O’Neal reportedly called him and threatened, “I’ll kill you with Farrah, and then I’ll kill you in real life.” O’Neal told The New York Times recently, “I may have said ‘I’ll kill ya,’ but I said that as a joke.”

Nevius offered up a most unflattering essay on O’Neal days after The O’Neals premiered on (oh, the irony) Father’s Day. “Now, as the two year anniversary of Farrah's passing approaches—she died on June 25, 2009—I realize that the woman I remember is the one that Ryan O'Neal has forgotten,” Nevius wrote on The Morton Report, referencing the O’Neal’s recent interview with Piers Morgan, in which the actor blamed his family for Fawcett’s cancer.

“At least that's how it appears to me as he boldly and recklessly steers the promotional tour for his new reality series, The O'Neals, into the very dark but familiar territory of exploiting Farrah's tragic death just as he did two years ago,” Nevius wrote. “But this time through, he's not treading lightly but plowing forward in what appears to be a shocking attempt to bury his own children under a heap of undeserved guilt. All the while he positions himself as the put-upon father who, as hard as he claims to have tried, simply could not keep his kids happy as they went to war with Farrah to win his attention, affection and approval.”


Among Nevius’ bold claims in this piece: “(Not) that Ryan didn't profoundly contribute to Farrah's pain and suffering during her illness. Because he did … A few months after Farrah began chemotherapy, Ryan became increasingly jealous and, at times, even angry at the outpouring of love and sympathy that she received from all over the world—not to mention his own children.”

Interestingly, O’Neal doesn’t mention the Morton Report piece in his complaint. Instead, he offers a few character assassinations, er, characterizations of his own. He claims that when Nevius met Fawcett in 2005, he “claim(ed) to have production experience (and) surreptitiously ingratiated himself into Fawcett’s life, contacting her multiple times per day and taking it upon himself to act as her personal assistant without pay.”

Ouch again.

O’Neal continues, “Unfortunately, when Nevius showed Ms. Fawcett and NBC his work on the documentary, it was clear that he was unskilled and that his work was amateurish and sensationalized—his cut of the documentary looked like tabloid journalism, contrary to the wishes of Ms. Fawcett, and could not be broadcast on national television. As a result, Ms. Fawcett requested that O'Neal take creative control of Farrah's Story, thereby ending Nevius' creative involvement with the documentary. In part because of Nevius' emotional instability, the last time Ms. Fawcett saw or spoke with Nevius was in the early spring of 2009, shortly after he had delivered his cut of the documentary.”

(Two years later, The New York Times would characterize O’Neal’s takeover of the project thusly: “After Mr. O’Neal and NBC gained full control of the documentary, the film took on the feel of network celebrity fodder—at once more glossy and more morbid.”)

O’Neal told the New York Post in May 2009 that Fawcett wanted Nevius off the project in mid- to late-April because he persistently pushed for a storyline indicting paparazzi and tabloids for her deteriorating health. "He was obsessed with this angle, that the media was haranguing Farrah to the point where she couldn't recover,” O’Neal said. "Harangued? Who isn't harangued? We all get harangued. At most, that's a sidebar. This is a story about Farrah struggling for her life."

We may never see Nevius’ edit of the film or know what the terminally ill and at times heavily medicated Fawcett thought of it—or wanted after seeing it. But given the unprecedented access she gave Nevius to her private life—and her apparent permission and approval for him to make many of her intensely personal struggles public—it’s hard to imagine he would deliver a take on her vision that opposed the wishes she had voiced.

Was Nevius’ edit sensationalistic “tabloid journalism” or hard-hitting docu-journalism about tabloids whose cover headlines screamed—much to the fighting-for-life Fawcett’s pain and disdain—“Farrah Begs: Let Me Die!”

O’Neal now alleges that Nevius retaliated after Farrah cut him off. “Sadly, Nevius’ malicious behavior is nothing new, and it is consistent with his prior despicable conduct. In 2009, Nevius intentionally sold private, personal medical information about Ms. Fawcett’s battle with cancer to tabloid journalists, distributed film footage of her battle with cancer and other materials proprietary to Ms. Fawcett and third parties, and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company that Ms. Fawcett established.”

These charges are more or less duplicated from a complaint filed last year by O’Neal’s business manager and Fawcett’s estate trustee, Richard “Bernie” Francis, who sued Nevius on behalf of Farrah’s estate. That suit was settled this spring, The New York Times reported, without Francis’ allegations being proven:

“For the next 18 months, Mr. Nevius pursued his lawsuit against Mr. O’Neal, Ms. Stewart and Mr. Francis full-time, hoping to regain control of the company he and Ms. Fawcett formed and produce the film he says she wanted. Mr. Francis countersued, accusing Mr. Nevius of being a hanger-on who ingratiated himself with Ms. Fawcett and embezzled money from their company. (He and Mr. O’Neal never offered proof, and Mr. Nevius denies the allegations.)”

The charge that Nevius sold Fawcett’s private medical information to the tabloids is most ironic. In June 2008, Nevius wrote a Los Angeles Times editorial exposing UCLA Medical Center for breaching Fawcett’s privacy and calling out the National Enquirer for inducing the breach by paying a UCLA employee (who was later indicted) for Farrah’s private medical info . In “Chasing Farrah Too Far,” Nevius even details a run-in with an Enquirer reporter who tried to persuade him to discuss Fawcett’s health. Clearly, the late actress authorized her producing partner’s revelations—including her specific exchanges with U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien’s office—in that essay.

Nevius also worked with Los Angeles Times reporter Charles Ornstein to document Fawcett’s sting of UCLA in the only media interview she gave following her cancer diagnosis. Nevius’ company, Windmill Entertainment LLC., released film footage of Ornstein’s August 2008 interview to various media outlets around May 11, 2009—the date the Times published Ornstein’s piece. About two weeks earlier, per Fawcett’s 2008 agreement with the newspaper, Nevius gave written permission to the Times to publish the interview within five days of Farrah’s Story broadcast premiere on May 15.

The producer says that O’Neal’s recent legal action against him is “a desperate attempt … to further harass me into silence. I believe this is less about the portrait of Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol than it is about certain actions and events that occurred during the last few years of Farrah's life which I have knowledge of and that he (and others) would prefer me to never speak about.”

Nevius is likely referring in part to The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, the charitable organization receiving an undisclosed royalty from the sale of the new Farrah Barbie. Last year, he released a statement to X17 Online “publicly calling on the Attorney General to investigate the ‘Farrah Fawcett Foundation’ and interview a handful of Farrah’s trusted friends and associates with respect to Farrah’s knowledge and intent regarding this so-called ‘charity.’”

This spring, a Facebook group called “Farrah Fawcett: We Want the Truth” encouraged fans to write the attorney general to investigate the foundation and the final months of Fawcett’s life. So far, no active investigation has been reported.

Last year, Nevius questioned the foundation’s origins—and its officers’ roles—in a legal response to Francis’ suit against him. He claimed Fawcett “was not aware of the Foundation’s existence during her lifetime or of Mr. Francis’ attempts to usurp her estate.”

“On information and belief, (Alana) Stewart … appointed herself ‘president’ of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, a charitable foundation funded by Ms. Fawcett’s assets, and Mr. Francis named himself ‘chairman of the board/treasurer,’” Nevius claimed. “On information and belief, Kim Swartz, an attorney for Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, who has been fired by Ms. Fawcett, also installed himself as ‘director.’ On information and belief, Mr. Francis and Ms. Stewart are using the Foundation to divert Ms. Fawcett’s assets away from other rightful beneficiaries. On information and belief, although Mr. O’Neal has no official title with the Foundation, he recently announced that he would be ‘working with the Foundation.’”

According to a business entity record published on the California Secretary of State’s web site, “The Farrah Fawcett Foundation” was first filed with the state on Nov. 20, 2006. The foundation is also referenced in Fawcett’s amended Living Trust, dated and signed Aug. 7, 2007. Charitable trust registration records on the California attorney general’s web site show the foundation was registered with their office on Jan. 25, 2007.

Oddly, however, registration records on the attorney general’s web site indicate the foundation’s 2007 and 2008 IRS returns and the registry’s annual renewal report for 2007 were filed by Francis on May 15, 2009—the night Farrah’s Story premiered. Six weeks later, Fawcett died. The first public mention of The Farrah Fawcett Foundation appears to be on the date of her death, when O’Neal released a statement requesting donations be sent to the foundation “to support cancer research.”

Also curious: A 2010 report quoting Lee Majors’ manager, Denny Bond, as saying the decades-estranged Majors and Fawcett, who reunited via phone just months before her death, planned to reunite on a Vegas stage in Love Letters and were planning “a Los Angeles charity performance for her soon-to-be-established cancer foundation.”

The foundation is again in the news thanks to Barbie and Stewart. “Farrah created the foundation two years before she died and her aim was really to help in cutting edge research and to help people that are actually struggling with cancer now,” Stewart told Fox News this week, “so that’s really the mission of the foundation. It’s really wonderful for her memory and for her legacy and for her fans.”

In June, the foundation joined forces with Brand Sense Partners, LLC and Robert A. Finkelstein. Ltd. “to identify and execute new business ventures to perpetuate the star’s legacy and to support her non-profit foundation’s mission of raising funding for alternative methods in cancer research, prevention and awareness,” a news release states.

Stewart told the Los Angeles Times that more projects are in the works to keep Fawcett’s legacy going, adding she often asks herself, “What would Farrah do?”

If Farrah’s story behind the poster behind the commemorative doll is any indication, Fawcett would fight to control her image—and its copyright—and take legal action to keep others from exploiting either at her expense.

“The poster” that launched her star and solidified her image as the wholesome TV angel with a celestial body and a twinkling smile was entirely Fawcett’s creation. So says photographer Bruce McBroom. And so asserted Fawcett in a suit she filed in February 2009 alleging the poster’s publisher and related business entities invaded her privacy and unjustly enriched themselves by misappropriating her name, image and likeness.

“Plaintiff solely chose the photographer, Plaintiff solely created overall styling, Plaintiff solely determined the wardrobe (i.e. specific swimsuit used), Plaintiff solely created the hair styling, Plaintiff solely did the makeup used, Plaintiff solely directed photographic content (including, but not limited to, the angle of the photograph as well as the pose and posturing of the model), Plaintiff solely determined the location where the photograph was taken, and Plaintiff solely approved the background used in the photograph.”

Plaintiff also retained exclusive copyright ownership of the entire shoot—at least according to her suit—and received 10 percent of merchandising royalties totaling $400,000. Refusing to be “owned” apparently led Fawcett to bolt from Charlie’s Angels after one season in 1977 when its executives refused to give her a 10-percent cut of the show’s massive merchandising.

Strangely, though, according to U.S. Copyright Office public records, the poster’s publisher, Pro Arts, had registered “Farrah” under its name in 1976—and for more than 30 years, it claimed the copyright, even though Fawcett apparently owned it. Her suit was dropped in May 2009, two months after the registration suddenly changed to her name, according to U.S. Copyright Office records. Her long ownership fight—which intensified in 2008 and piqued in early 2009 while Nevius was her business point person—finally resulted in resounding victory.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office records, the “Farrah / by Farrah Fawcett” copyright changed one more time—on the day Fawcett died. The same estate that sued Nevius now controls the iconic image whose legal ownership he helped her secure.

One wonders not only what Farrah would do but what she would say about the ongoing battles over her image, her intentions and her legacy that have placed many of those closest to her in perennially defensive postures.

Perhaps she would find inspiration in the ongoing fight by Happy Days cast members to get their due for 35-plus years of the CBS Corp. and others exploiting their names, images and likenesses for profit. A quote from the Seventies sitcom TV icons’ recent court filing seems to say it all:

“Although defendants routinely rebrand their corporate images, they should not be permitted to rebrand the truth.”

Copyright 2011 by Chris Mann

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Move over, Cunninghams! Seventies sitcom icon David Cassidy demands his share of 40 years of "Patridge Family" merchandising from Goliath Sony

"I don't want to shame and embarrass and humiliate them, but I will if I have to," Cassidy told CNN. "You owe me a fortune -- you want to go to trial, big bad Sony against David Cassidy, go ahead."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Suzanne Somers on renaissance man James Franco's "Three's Company" revival, adopting (?) Chrissy Snow's "moral code"

Suzanne Somers, like co-star Joyce DeWitt, says she was invited to see James Franco's Three's Company Sundance project in January, but declined due to a scheduling conflict. Too bad. Imagine the photo op of her posing with Franco and his Chrissy Snow wig at the after party. (Surely she could've squeezed a Thigh/Butt/Facemaster in the shot, too.)

Also in this recent clip from Access Hollywood Live!, Somers talks about the transformation she underwent when becoming Chrissy, including a "change" (or not, as she corrects herself) in her "moral code." Interesting ...

Here's Richard Kline with Franco Snow ... Suzanne, is your Somershave hair removal system on the market yet?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Remake Schemake! Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, other '70s superwomen still kicking ass at 60-plus

Today TV's Wonder Woman, actress-singer Lynda Carter, blows out 60 candles. That's right, she's 60! (Take that, Sally O'Malley!) This year Princess Diana would've turned 50. But the TV people's first princess, Diana Prince, was taking the world by storm a good ten years earlier. In fact, this Arizona-born beauty won the Miss World USA pageant in 1972. Three years later, a certain superheroine in star-spangled satin tights beckoned. And Lynda has been kicking ass ever since--most recently, as the star of her own critically acclaimed cabaret show. This spring, the sultry songstress's second CD, Crazy Little Things, hit stores. 

NBC recently passed on David E. Kelley's reimagined Wonder Woman, which could have seen Carter in a cameo or guest role had the series been picked up. After three decades of rumored film and TV reboots, Lynda Carter remains the one-and-only live action Wonder Woman.

Lynda remains in fine company, though. Also turning 60 this month: actress-singer Cheryl Ladd. Hard to believe it's been 34 years since she hit the scene as Farrah Fawcett's little sister, Kris Munroe, on Charlie's Angels. Like co-star and fellow ageless beauty Jaclyn Smith (who is 63 or 65 [!], depending on the source), Ladd is still kicking ass and taking names as a made-for-TV movie star. Ladd's next movie: Hallmark's Love's Resounding Courage, set to premiere in October. 

Jaclyn--seen above striking a pose with her longtime grrrfriend at last year's TV Land Awards--is doing just fine herself. A self-made lifestyle brand, she continues her long-running apparel line at K-Mart and has launched numerous other hit enterprises. Last year, she also turned heads in a darkly dramatic role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Charlie's other original Angel, actress Kate Jackson, has kept an unusually low profile in the two years following the death of her longtime friend and co-star Farrah Fawcett. She was a no-show at the TV Land Awards and has in the last two years otherwise stayed away from the medium that made her a star. But expect Kate to fly back into action with the October release of her long-anticipated memoir, The Smart One. I have a strong feeling that Kate--who has, according to a tabloid report, claimed ownership of her iconic 1976-81 ABC series--will drop at least a couple of bombshells in her book, which will hit bookstores shortly after ABC premieres its reimagined Angels update. 

TV audiences last saw Jackson in the NBC news special Farrah's Story, which aired six weeks prior to Fawcett's death from anal cancer on June 25, 2009. The outspoken Jackson (who, like Jaclyn Smith, is a breast cancer survivor) also gave a head-turning interview in May 2009 to the Today Show hours after Farrah's Story producer Craig Nevius sued Fawcett's longtime lover Ryan O'Neal, friend Alana Stewart and Fawcett estate trustee Bernie Francis for interfering in his contract to oversee the NBC May sweeps documentary about Farrah's battle with cancer. Jackson repeatedly referred to Nevius as "Craig Devious." But she did an about face in early 2010, saying she was "embarrassed" about her remarks. "I was told before I did the Today Show that Craig Nevius was a crook and all this other stuff. I thought he was attempting to do all these awful things," she told Radar Online.

The Emmy-winning actress says she was cut off from Fawcett soon after her Today interview. She told Radar that Hamilton and O'Neal refused her access to her dying friend because Farrah didn't want to see her. "I wasn't allowed to ask Farrah if that was indeed the case that she didn't want to see me or others," Jackson said. "I wasn't allowed to talk to her on the phone, at all. Even if a person is in such pain that they sleep most of the time, if the phone was answered, or the messages weren't so full that you can't leave one, I could have had someone put the phone to her ear so I could tell her that I love her." (Hamilton and Stewart denied her claims.)

Last December, Jackson settled a lawsuit against longtime O'Neal associate Bernie Francis, who also served as Jackson's business manager. Jackson had claimed Francis had left her in "financial ruin" to the tune of $3 million. According to TMZ, both parties were "satisfied" with the confidential settlement agreement.

Finally, TV's original  Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner, continues to kick butt metaphorically--at least in a meditative sense. The Emmy-winning actress hosts holistic healing retreats in the U.S. and abroad, and she also gives keynote speeches about the body-mind-spirit connection at various events. (See our 2010 interview with her here.) And she's returning to the small screen again Monday night  (July 25) in a return appearance in the SyFy network hit Warehouse 13. She also recently guest starred in the cable net's superhuman crimesolving drama Alphas. Not bad for a 62-year-old gal who once battled Fembots and Bigfoot for a living! (Bionic Woman remake? Does anybody even remember that? Uh-huh, that's what we thought.)

Read Retroality's interviews with Carter, Ladd and Smith and Farrah's Story producer Craig Nevius.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Defamation? Delusion? Damaging despicableness? ............................................................ From Ryan O'Neal's $30M Warhol docu-drama to CBS Corp.'s retro sitcom jackpot, celebrity image is everything in David-vs.-Goliath legal battles

Montage illustration by Chris Mann/Retroality.TV
Part one in a two-part story

TV angel Farrah Fawcett sadly left us in June 2009, and Happy Days went to rerun heaven more than a quarter-century ago. But that's not stopping costly and increasingly nasty legal wars over the use—or alleged misuse—of the multimillion-dollar likenesses these cultural icons left behind.

Fawcett's posthumous drama involves an estimated $30M Warhol portrait of the late actress, the Texas alma mater she named in her will, the embattled longtime lover she did not and the outspoken TV producer who for years has fought him and his business manager’s handling of her reportedly $50M estate.

The Happy Days dispute centers on circa-2008 Vegas casino slot machines and displays plastered with cast member likenesses, a media conglomerate hitting a decades-in-the-making merchandising jackpot and a beloved family of retro sitcom actors claiming they're owed a $10 million-plus cut of the "winnings."

The sitcom actors claim they had not been paid in over a decade—or, in most cases, ever—for CBS Studios Inc. licensing their likenesses on everything from Vegas slots, DVDs, dolls, bed sheets, drinking glasses, trading cards and lunch boxes.

Today, their lawyer, Jon Pfeiffer, told the AP that CBS recently issued his clients checks for $6,000-$6,500 each, claiming “that is the full payment for all that is owed.” In other words, CBS just told Mrs. Cunningham, Joanie, Potsie and Ralph Malph to sit on it.

As the Fonz would say in a thoroughly disapproving tone, Aaaaaaaay.

(Fonz’s portrayer, actor-producer-director Henry Winkler, is not a part of the suit, nor is co-star-turned-producer-director Ron Howard. Winkler said he’s received his royalty checks, sums undisclosed, as part of a separate contract but supports his castmates in their fight.)

Both the Fawcett and friends-of-Fonzie fiascoes pit powerful and wealthy institutions—academic and showbiz—against individuals with comparatively limited resources, all battling over the value, real or perceived, of celebrity images designed for and dependent on public consumption.

In the case(s) of Warholgate, acclaimed film actor-turned-controversial “docu-reality” TV star Ryan O'Neal has come out swinging on both sides of the coin. But more on that shortly.

In the Happy Days money war, co-stars and co-plaintiffs Marion Ross, Erin Moran, Anson Williams and Don Most remain the very picture of wholesomeness personified in their hit 1974-84 series set in 1950s and ’60s Milwaukee. Their images have been used since the mid-Seventies to market a relentless array of products that in turn have continuously sold the series to new audiences, making the show’s corporate owners a very pretty penny.

Now, especially in the case of the cash-strapped Moran—who last year lost her home to foreclosure—these not-so-Happy folks are clearly the collective David taking on the corporate Goliath of CBS Television Studios, Inc. (which now owns co-defendant Paramount Television, which produced the series for ABC).

Happy Days epitomizes what is best in America, with the Cunningham family exemplifying the best of what a family can be,” states the complaint filed in April against CBS on behalf of the four actors and the widow of co-star Tom Bosley. “As will be proven at trial, defendants’ actions epitomize what is worst in Corporate America, exemplifying its worst business practices.”

The Cunningham family versus big, bad business exploiting their likenesses in the name of Sin City jackpots? Can CBS really afford this narrative influencing a jury—or, worse yet, the court of pubic opinion?

Which brings us back to the thorny O’Neal saga.

Earlier this month, the University of Texas System's Board of Regents sued O'Neal in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for possessing a mixed-media portrait of Fawcett that pop artist Andy Warhol created in the early 1980s. The UT System, a richly endowed group of 15 academic and health institutions in the Lone Star state, claims the highly valuable portrait was bequeathed to the University of Texas at Austin—Fawcett's alma mater—in her living trust.

One of two nearly identical Warhols of the actress known to exist is on display through Sept. 4 at the UT Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art. (In fact, the famous image is the face of the museum’s “About Face” exhibit, gracing promotional material and signage hanging near the Blanton’s front entrance.) The other was seen hanging above O’Neal’s bed in recent episodes of his OWN reality series.

O’Neal’s name was notably excluded in his on-again, off-again girlfriend’s living trust, which stipulates that “all of (her) artwork and any objects of art” be given to the university when she died. The UT System claims O’Neal has “wrongfully converted” the portrait—and possibly other artwork from his late lover’s estate. Essentially, the university alleges he stole what a UT rep calls a “big-ticket” Warhol and wants a jury to force him to hand it over.

O’Neal’s publicist, Arnold Robinson, offered two conflicting responses to this dilemma. “The portrait that Mr. O’Neal has is the Warhol that was given to him by Farrah,” Robinson told The New York Post in an e-mail prior to UT’s suit.

After the university sued, Robinson told Star magazine, “This is a completely ridiculous lawsuit. Ryan’s friendship with Andy Warhol began 10 years prior to his meeting Farrah Fawcett. When Ryan introduced Farrah to Andy Warhol, he chose to complete two portraits of her, one for Miss Fawcett and one for Mr. O’Neal. Mr. O’Neal looks forward to being completely vindicated in the courts.”

Then, last week, the 70-year-old actor retaliated—but not at the university. Instead, O’Neal filed suit against Craig Nevius, Fawcett’s producing partner whom she called her “loyal friend and protector” in her final years. O’Neal claims Nevius, who assisted UT in what media reports called an investigation of the “missing” Warhol, is “a delusional fan” who’s maliciously defamed him in part by making allegedly false statements prompting UT’s suit against him.

The actor is seeking at least $1 million in punitive damages on his claims of defamation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

According to O’Neal’s blistering complaint, “Nevius is obsessed with Ms. Fawcett, and his is deeply jealous of her relationship with her longtime romantic partner, the Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated actor Ryan O’Neal. Two years after Ms. Fawcett tragically succumbed to cancer, Nevius continues to harass O’Neal by making false, malicious and defamatory accusations and characterizations about O’Neal and his purported theft, possession and concealment” of the Warhol portrait to UT and the media.

In a detailed response posted on The Morton Report, Nevius—who last month was quoted in Good Morning, America and Star magazine reports breaking news of the Warhol drama—denied he ever claimed O’Neal stole the portrait.

“I have simply recounted the request by Farrah’s alma mater to help them identify and locate numerous pieces of artwork that appeared to be mysteriously missing from the original inventory provided by her estate, which, by the way, is overseen by Richard B. Francis, Ryan O’Neal’s loyal friend and business manager of over 40 years,” said Nevius, who executive produced Fawcett's hit 2005 TV Land series, Chasing Farrah.

Nevius sued both men and Fawcett’s friend Alana Stewart in May 2009 on the eve of NBC’s premiere of its Emmy-nominated “news special” Farrah’s Story. That two-hour “video diary” chronicled Fawcett’s three-year fight against the anal cancer that would take her life on June 25, 2009. It premiered to more than nine million viewers and mixed reviews, many calling it exploitative. "After Mr. O'Neal and NBC gained full control of the documentary," wrote New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg, "the film took on the feel of network celebrity fodder--at once more glossy and more morbid."

Nevius served as the project’s executive producer but claimed O’Neal, Francis and Stewart conspired to cut him out of the project (and Fawcett’s life)—while allegedly violating Fawcett’s business partnership with him and her expressed wishes for the documentary—during its final weeks of production. An article last May in The New York Times detailed O’Neal’s contentious takeover of the documentary originally titled A Wing & A Prayer.

Filing on behalf of Fawcett’s estate, Francis—the estate’s trustee and O’Neal’s longtime associate—sued Nevius in January 2010. Francis’s allegations are more or less repeated in O’Neal’s new action against Nevius.

“Sadly, Nevius’ malicious behavior is nothing new,” O’Neal’s new suit alleges, “and it is consistent with his prior despicable conduct. In 2009, Nevius intentionally sold private, personal medical information about Ms. Fawcett’s battle with cancer to tabloid journalists, distributed film footage of her battle with cancer and other materials proprietary to Ms. Fawcett and third parties, and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company that Ms. Fawcett established” with Nevius to produce A Wing & A Prayer.

Both Nevius’ suit against O’Neal, Francis and Stewart and the Francis-filed estate suit against Nevius were dropped last spring. Nevius told The New York Times that he entered into settlement talks when his attorney advised him last December that the legal fight could continue for two more years to the price of at least another quarter of a million dollars.

“In spite of their best efforts,” Nevius told The Morton Report last week, “Ryan’s former attorneys were unable to obtain a confidentiality agreement from me when they dropped the last equally frivolous action against me (which was purported to be in the name of Farrah Fawcett). So this new charge of ‘defamation’ would seem to be nothing more than another intimidation tactic: a second bite at the legal apple. I understand the truth can be a very frightening thing for some people. By the way, it is also my understanding that truth is a complete defense to defamation.”

“I’m fighting at least two multi-millionaires,” Nevius told The New York Times last spring. “And at this point I don’t know that it’s honoring Farrah. I just don’t think she’d want us all destroying each other, which is pretty much how it’s going.”

And, much like the Happy Days merchandising melee, it sadly doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

Next week: Dueling accusations, the Farrah poster and media branding.