#RHONY, public figures, Reality TV, Television, Women

#RHONY: Does Bethenny Want to Be Here?!

Last year, there were numerous reports about Bethenny Frankel threatening to quit Real Housewives of New York during filming. Press outlets stated it was due to the fact that she and Carole Radziwill, her former on-camera comrade, were not getting along. Allegedly, Bethenny was at her wit’s end, devastated by the whole debacle.

Ultimately, we saw how the demise of that friendship played out. It went from tentatively terse to flat-out terrible. While Bethenny seemed to tantrum rather than ice out her friend (Carole was the one to act too cool for school), Carole is now speaking out bitterly via Twitter when there’s really no need to. Unlike Bethenny, she’s not coming back to RHONY next season.

Which brings us to the point of Bethenny returning. Several seasons ago, RHONY fans expressed frustrations with the Skinny Girl when she didn’t show up to filmed parties and other events captured by cameras.

“So, Bethenny can just dial it in this season?” one recapper lamented to me at the time.

Since Bethenny was considered the Queen Bee with the clever quips that kept the franchise feisty, she was still contributing to the storyline even as it seemed unfair that she could bow out of events at her choosing. That season and this past one – when she was a no-show at Ramona’s skincare line party – she telepathically conveyed to the audience: I’m too good for this. I’m a REAL businesswoman, not a “Real Housewife.”

One friend told me she completely understands Bethenny’s stance: “She’s the only one who really had to pull herself up by the bootstraps, work hard and acquire her wealth all on her own. There was no rich husband. She didn’t have a dime from her parents because they are estranged. Bethenny, therefore, cannot relate to all the other women on this show.”

Although at times it seems Bethenny really doesn’t want to be there at all, this show has given her a platform to promote her products and the visibility of her brand. Overall, she does have many hardcore fans who will defend her to the death (it’s reality TV, but this is only slight hyperbole). Her one-liners are always original and off-the-cuff, and when she’s in the wrong, she knows how to play her cards right, garnering sympathy and armed with defense tactics.

At this past reunion, host Andy Cohen hardly seemed the fair arbitrator with fans crying “Bethenny bias”, and Bethenny stans firmly on her side, deeming Carole Radziwill to be the devil.

Bethenny looked pained and severely constipated (in fact, she had talked about the latter in Colombia on the cast trip) throughout the season – again, a season during which she had reportedly threatened to quit the show altogether. However, she appeared confident at the reunion, vicious even and ready to tear Carole apart. She seemed to take a deep breath of fresh air in vindication and while Carole could have creamed her with a barrage of receipts, complaints and having other ladies on her side, Bethenny shouted the loudest, stood her ground and with Andy Cohen clearly in her corner, she appeared triumphant at the end.

Bethenny Frankel has a love-hate relationship with reality television, specifically with RHONY and with fame overall. What makes her most miserable is what she is inspired to confront…again and again. Walking away is not an option. The successful businesswoman didn’t make a name for herself by being a quitter.

When it comes to Bravo, she is either a glutton for punishment or a genius who feels that all risks – and all hassles, like business parties so “beneath her” that she’ll decline without hesitation- are worth the ultimate rewards. She is smart and shrewd enough to know what those rewards are, and furthermore, what they could be, and see that she gets them at the end of the RHONY journey.

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Reality TV, Television

#RealityTV: My Dad Was On #LoveAndHipHop and Other Musings

(Pictured: NOT my dad, but Mendeces from Love and Hip Hop New York)

Today I spoke to a college sociology class about reality television. One of the questions they asked was about how much is real versus what is produced, which got me thinking that it depends on the production company–as well as the network the show is produced for.

From what I see on Bravo, the “Real Housewives” seem to genuinely get into their scenes, sometimes almost forgetting cameras are around them. One could argue that they become more heated about interpersonal hiccups because they’re determined to give those cameras intensely “raw” emotions.

I don’t feel that same authenticity (that I personally sense with a show like Real Housewives of New York) with reality shows on other networks. My dad was once on VH1’s Love and Hip Hop and it seems, if you examine the footage, that producers were angling for a very dramatic reaction to a treatable diagnosis. It’s interesting to note that mom Yandy is wearing a leather jacket with spikes, definitely not my own OOTD for pediatric visits carrying babies. Also, spoiler alert, just so you are reassured: Her son is fine today.

I’ve watched other episodes of this show and the fighting between main cast members always catches me off-guard. I get the sense that a producer stands by urgently whispering into a cast member’s ear “Did you hear what she said about you? Are you really going to take that lying down?!” until they capture the fight that they deem just right.

Bravo’s Below Deck is another show, like RHONY, that I feel isn’t too heavily produced. It has the advantage of capturing people working and managing a ship with guests on board. The captain flustered with crew members, or a Chief Stew annoyed with the smart-mouthed deckhand, is relatable and understandable given the backdrop of a yacht with guests (and their own host of perplexing preferences, quirks and personalities) trying to run smoothly.

Whether other Reality shows are real or not might not even matter to you if you find the show to be entertaining. We all had a laugh in my family when my dad, an orthodox Jewish pediatrician wearing a yarmulke, made his reality TV debut as the “hip hop doc.” His patients and my family enjoyed seeing his face in the coming attractions, which not only aired during other VH1 shows, but on E! and during commercials on Bravo while my favorite (very) Real Housewives bared their souls and exposed their dirty laundry.

When one Housewife on RHONY ran to the pediatrician for her son’s hearing test, I appreciated the simple solid T and ragged jeans. That’s my own reality.

(Here’s that Love and Hip Hop clip: http://www.vh1.com/video-clips/ckkmpb/love-and-hip-hop-2-yandy-s-son-needs-surgery)

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Cults, public figures, Television

Men in Bad Sweaters

Just when I thought the Bill Cosby verdict was a no-brainer, I’ve discovered people across the country who feel he was unjustly crucified.

Due to the outstanding number of accusers, the consistencies between accounts and Cosby’s own admissions, I find their complaints baffling. The argument one woman gave me was regarding statutes of limitations, as well as recollections of what occurred many years ago. I couldn’t even get my head around her logic truthfully, particularly in light of how Cosby incriminated his own self, admitting to drugging women before having sex.

Another person who I find inarguably guilty of the crimes that have been alleged is cult leader Keith Raniere of NXIVM. If you read the Frank Report by Frank Parlato (FrankReport.com), you’ll get a sense of just how evil Keith is and how far it goes. It is beyond the sex slavery and trafficking you hear about in the news. But if you look at Keith in the YouTube video he made with actress Allison Mack, he seems soft spoken and innocuous looking. His ex girlfriend Toni Natalie compares his appearance to that of Harry Potter’s. It is hard for those who’ve met Keith only a handful of times to fathom that this “schlub” (Elizabeth Vargas of 20/20’s word for him) could hold so much sway…yet Keith is a hypnotist and excels at mind control.

Cosby epitomized the fun-loving, comedic, wholesome dad on his hit television show for many years. People of my generation idealized the family dynamics of the Huxtables, sometimes even forgetting that family was fictional. Those with dysfunctional home lives resented Bill, Claire and crew while fantasizing about a way to be like them. As it turned out, the married Cosby was meeting women under the guise of mentorship or career counsel during that time, then drugging and raping them.

These two men in bad sweaters seem unlikely perpetrators to the untrained eye. Keith looks like the young cutey-pie Rabbi who may have taught me in seminary, inviting students from my all girls school to Shabbat lunch, singing songs while bouncing his child on his knee. His esoteric speak would be about Torah in this imagined scenario. Yes, Keith really does appear at first glance like someone I might have known as a depressed teen searching for spiritual meaning….trying to fill my undernourished soul….someone whose words would seem meaningful at a time when I was vulnerable.

Both men seemed to offer kindness, guidance, advice and answers to those they initially captivated. Their ugly sweaters swathing portly mid-sections hardly made them look intimidating. But perhaps the exteriors are what allowed these men to escape the law for as long as they did. The old, very trite adage of “you can’t judge a book by its cover” applies here. Both men seemed sage and safe on the surface level, which disguised a host of evil manipulations.

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Moms, Television

#Netflix: Grace & Frankie’s June Diane Raphael Is Just As Amazing Off-Screen: An Interview

(I originally wrote this article for Huffington Post.)

I recently interviewed Peter Cambor of Showtime’s Roadies who also plays Barry, boyfriend of Brianna on Netflix’s hit series Grace & Frankie. While chatting with Cambor’s publicist, I casually mentioned that I am also a big fan of June Diane Raphael who plays Brianna on G&F.

At the time, I considered my admission terribly geeky and was not expecting what I heard in response: “Would you like to interview her?” Uh, hells yeah!

The hilarious Raphael is not only on my radar screen for Grace & Frankie where she shines alongside Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, but since I began my foray into the wonderful world of podcasts, I have listened to her as a guest (Bitch Sesh and Ronna & Beverly) and a co-host with her husband, comedian Paul Scheer (How Did this Get Made?). I have also seen her play a realtor on Netflix’s quirky comedy series Lady Dynamite and have caught up retroactively on earlier work she produced with co-writer and best friend, comedian Casey Wilson (the movie Ass Backwards).

Sometimes when you speak with someone you admire, it’s a let-down – like that certain 90s actor who blew ringlets of smoke in my face and asked me to go on some more about how I liked his work. However, chatting with Raphael was everything I had hoped for and more. She started off our phone conversation by saying she has a “dear friend named Shira Weiss” (sister in law to Casey Wilson who also guested on a Bitch Sesh episode) so it had been funny to see my name in the emails preceding our interview. Instantly, she felt like a “friend in my head” (to quote Wendy Williams) with her endearingly warm tone, humility and the way you could tell she really listens when you talk.

An extremely busy mom to an almost 2 year old with another child on the way, she is currently filming season 3 of Grace & Frankie and spends a lot of time writing comedy when not filming, so we spoke early in the morning for 20 minutes.

SW: I came to know you through Grace & Frankie but as a Bitch Sesh fan, I went & caught up on your prior work, particularly with Casey Wilson. How has being on such a hit show with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin changed your

day-to-day and your fame?

JDR: There’s a misconception that actors and writers in the alternative comedy scene want to avoid the more mainstream. It’s not true for me. I pursued it, but this is the first thing that I’m in that really became a hit in this way. I have to say it’s nice to alternate between different types of comedy. I’ve always felt so supported by the comedy fan community who has been with me since the early days, really smart people who will follow you to the ends of the earth. They have been amazing with feedback and with recommending my work to others who wouldn’t necessarily find it. People who follow more mainstream comedy will say “Who is she and where did she pop up from?” but I’ve actually been doing this for a while so it’s really nice and flattering to be newly discovered by these people who knew nothing about me. Overall, I don’t feel any different. More opportunities are coming my way. More people have seen G&F who are just now seeking out old work I did. As far as ‘fame,’ I can still walk down the street with a lot of ease and comfort.

My dad watches this show and that has felt like great support. His peer group loves it and he loves it! It’s addressing issues that he and his friends are dealing with. On a very personal level, that validation from a parent has been great. The show means a lot to our parents, addressing some stuff that’s not really talked about. It’s been nice to see that they feel represented, which they should.

SW: From what I read, you just announced that your second child is on the way. What’s it like filming Seasion 3 of G & F during a pregnancy & juggling new motherhood?

JDR: I feel supported with the pregnancy. The struggle I’m having, to be honest, is with really putting my body out there. With Season 1, I had just had a baby and now I’m pregnant. I’m not feeling like myself and how I would present myself given the choice. Some women drop pounds from breastfeeding, but I didn’t start losing weight until I stopped. Suddenly, I was the heaviest I’d ever been now doing a job that was going to reach the most people. The reality is that it’s totally normal to have baby weight and I was where I should be: If it takes a year to put on that weight, it should take a year to lose it. So physically putting myself out there in a very public way and not feeling like myself has been challenging. That said, I always say that I have it easier than so many working mothers, and very often when you’ve worked so very hard, the time when you achieve success coincides with when you start a family. While it can be challenging having a young child to take care of while working, I’m not being filmed every day on the show like Jane and Lily are and I have a certain freedom. Though I will say that when I’m not being filmed, I’m busy with my writing career. With my son who is almost 2, I’m feeling a lot more confident today about how I divide my time. And now of course, I am headed into another transition.

Having a child has probably been one of the best things for me because there’s a certain amount of freedom – a not caring what people think. I have this child and know I don’t want to be gone too much so I’ve achieved a balance. If he’s ok, then I’m ok. I’m feeling a lot more freedom to fail. It can actually free you as an artist because you have a different perspective.

SW: You and Casey Wilson (comedian and Bitch Sesh Co-Host) are writing partners and have a certain style as women who are goofy and don’t worry about being ladylike, kind of like Wedding Crashers humor but with girls acting “ass backwards.” With that preamble, how do you want to go down in history as a comedian?

JDR: Well, the movie Ass Backwards we co-wrote (and acted in) and is about the two of us in New York based on our real experiences there and the delusions and dysfunctions of that time period. Of course, we did this with heightened characters. I have such a love of physical comedy and think things can be as broad as possible as long as they’re rooted in some sort of reality. I’m not really as interested in that sort of Indian Sundance comedy…. I enjoy comedies that are going for hard jokes. That said, some of the stuff we’re writing is so different because we’re different. We’’re very curious about female friendships and what goes on, which is Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives’ is so interesting, how they are so aware of themselves being seen on TV as the seasons go on, and it’s actually so funny to get a look into this world. I am absolutely fascinated by female interactions and that will be the crux of my work. The humor in Casey and my work is different because we’re different and want to showcase those type of female friendships. We really do have so much fun together.

SW: You’re married to comedian Paul Scheer. How did you guys meet?

JDR: Paul and I met at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. Paul came to see Casey and my performance since he was one of the mainstays of the theater – He was called on to give us feedback on our performance.

SW: How did the opportunity for Grace & Frankie arise?

JDR: Grace & Frankie came along when I was postpartum lying on the couch. It t was the one script I read and I decided I had to go in and audition for.

SW: I think I’m funny, but one of my son’s cringes with embarrassment sometimes. I’m sure that has to be a little different when both parents are professional comics. How do you envision your kids reacting to their parents’ humor as they get older?

JDR: I grew up in a family where my parents were not comedians. My mom worked as a teacher and my dad was in construction. They weren’t into comedy necessarily but were the funniest people I knew. There was such a premium put on making each other laugh at the dinner table. I don’t really care if my kids see my work – I actually hope that they don’t see a lot of it (laughs) – but I hope for a family dynamic that includes

sharing a lot of laughter.

SW: Some quick words on the podcast “Ronna & Beverly” where 2 comedians are in character as older Jewish women with thick Boston accents. They are hilarious and I know you were a guest. I want to turn my friends on to listening to this absolutely brilliant show— What can you say about these fellow comedians as if you were promoting them? What would your advice be so I can get my friends to listen?

JDR: They do have a really committed fan base which you see at their crowded live shows, but their podcast is not as well-known as it should be. All of us in this group of female comedians based in LA have been on each other’s podcast and are friends (this network includes and is not limited to: Jamie Denbo and Jessica Chaffin who play Beverly and Ronna respectively, as well as comedians Jessica St. Claire and Melissa Rauch.) I’m really proud of that and it’s pretty special how everyone is there for one another.

SW: I wish I were funny enough because I’d love to somehow break into that group!

JDR: (laughs) It’s a pretty elite group. Everyone is so super talented that I’m so happy that I, myself can actually be a part of it. But most importantly, it’s so incredible how everyone in this group of women is so supportive of one another!

You can listen to June Diane Raphael on the podcast How Did this Get Made? & if you haven’t seen it, now’s the time to binge watch Seasons of Grace & Frankie on Netflix.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV, Television

#SouthernCharm: More from Luzanne Otte Who BRIEFLY Dated Thomas Ravenel

Since my last post about Southern Charm, I have had certain haters come out of hiding. (Last post: https://wordpress.com/post/shirasgotthescoop.com/482) These are not people I know IRL (as the kids say, the abbreviation for “In Real Life”), so it’s alright for the most part. These are the types of individuals who use cartoons of animals as profile pics and pseudonyms to protect their real identities. They’ve made sure to rub it in that there is no longer a Huffington Post Contributor platform for the 100k writers who were on it. Some of them even claim to be responsible for the Huffington Post no longer having that platform – they say it’s because of a Housewives show on Bravo that I reviewed unfavorably. Now THAT would be quite a feat if it were true! Instead it’s laughable to think that a small group objecting to some show recaps I wrote sank an entire platform of 100K writers.

Simultaneously, there have been so many clues that actually STARE YOU IN THE FACE so you know exactly who these people – these “trolls” – are. It’s clear that the folks who are now tweeting about me since I interviewed Luzanne either work for Thomas Ravenel or conduct some pro-bono activity on his (and his girlfriend Ashley Jacobs’) behalf.

In other news, today there were questions raised by bloggers as to whether Luzanne was auditioned for the show Southern Charm. Luzanne swears to me that because of her insane 9-5 job working for the archdiocese and an overall lack of desire to be on television, she was clear about it never working out in a million years when Patricia Altschul and Thomas alluded to the possibility.

Tamara Tattles wrote this great piece in support of Luzanne. However, she also questioned whether Luzanne auditioned for the show: http://tamaratattles.com/2018/05/24/my-post-about-the-luzanne-otte-situation/. I respectfully agree to disagree on certain topics with Tamara Tattles, but I commend her on her overall support of and belief in Luzanne Otte who became an unwitting victim of salacious (and false) website gossip. Her article was well-written.

I asked Luzanne today about the whole notion of “auditioning” for the show and here is exactly how she responded to me:

“Not at all. I thought Thomas was trying to become a better man and looking for a strong woman to help him get there. I really thought he’d turned over a new leaf. It wasn’t until sitting with Pat and Thomas when I kept saying I wouldn’t be on the show, then the look on his face and not hearing me that I realized he may be looking for a woman to redeem himself. ‘Look I’ve got this debutante, church lawyer, friend of Pat’s who likes me.’ But the fact of the matter is, even if I didn’t object to reality TV, I love my job and need a job to pay my bills.”

On a related note, FitsNews.com recently reported that Thomas Ravenel has been in a depressed, anxious and highly agitated state since the sexual assault allegations came to light (Luzanne’s disclosure – let the record state – was NOT at all sexual in nature. She spoke of  a Jekyll and Hyde switch from sweet by day to volatile at night). Sources in Charleston and others in the know, tell me exclusively that he’s been fretting significantly since the interviews with Luzanne ran yesterday and the day before. He’s been trying to figure out the best ways to do some damage control, say these sources.

As for the sexual assault allegations and the resulting “investigation,” at this point we are waiting for an update from Charleston Police. Sources in the know tell me that Bravo has stated: What a reality TV personality does off camera is none of their concern.

I sincerely hope that those sources have gotten it all wrong here: Rape (as Nanny Dawn alleges in the statement she brought to the Charleston PD) is something to take with extreme gravity. Bravo is part of NBC Universal, so it seems ironic to me that Matt Lauer was so quickly dismissed from the network when more serious accusations currently plague Thomas Ravenel. We think of all the men who were immediately let go during this #MeToo and #TimesUp era: Mario Batali, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey and so many, many more. See this list: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sexual-misconduct/weinstein-here-s-growing-list-men-accused-sexual-misconduct-n816546 .

I’m happy that after months of being unjustly maligned by gossip sites (allegedly ones that ate up sordid tales fed to them by TRav and Ashley), Luzanne Otte has had a chance to finally clear her name. I hope she can get back to the private life she so desperately craves.

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Bravo TV, Television

#SouthernCharm Debacle: Nanny is Second Accuser

If you don’t follow Amy Feinstein on Twitter, you’re missing out. The writer who contributes to both Inquistr.com and FitsNews.com broke a major story that she published on the latter site this am. Amy is one to watch because she really has the scoop on Bravo’s Southern Charm and is more in the know about that show than anyone I’ve encountered. She is also someone who wants to see Kathryn Dennis rise triumphantly, so on a personal level, I respect that as a woman who champions women and wants to see  the former underdog redeem herself. We all realize how delicate this is as well as Kat’s sobriety. Two steps forward, two steps back and so on….

By now you know all about the Thomas Ravenel allegations of sexual assault. I conducted the very first interview with Ashley Perkin on this little blog right here. Since then, I’ve connected with FitsNews, which published the first piece breaking the news that an accuser had come forward (I just wish that People, Us Weekly and Page Six had credited Fitsnews editor Will Folks. I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due – always!). Although it was a strange way to be introduced, since connecting, I’ve written a few articles for them myself. With that long introduction, I must say that FitsNews’ editor Will Folks has been working tirelessly with Amy Feinstein to give us top coverage of everything pertaining to the current Southern Charm debacle.

This morning’s major revelation, courtesy of Amy Feinstein, was a huge bomb: The second TRav accuser is Nanny Dawn.

She spent 5 hours with the police a few days ago giving her account of Thomas’s unwanted advances in 2015.

Read on in the link below and then continue to keep up with Amy Feinstein on Twitter: @RosewoodGirlz. You can follow Will Folks of FitsNews @FitsNews.com:

https://www.fitsnews.com/2018/05/10/exclusive-nanny-dawn-steps-forward-discusses-police-report-against-thomas-ravenel/.

 

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Television

Did You Watch ‘You Can’t Do That on Television?’ Here’s Why You Should Have

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(Christine McGlade headshot for You Can’t Do That on Television, photo provided by Christine McGlade)

Once upon a time, long before the advent of the Internet, and well before we all carried cell phones, a group of unknown kids boarded a bus from school to a small Ottawa TV taping facility. There, on most days and even on weekends, the children – who had little to no acting experience – would read through kid-focused scripts and add their own improvisational flair. According to Christine McGlade, now 51, and back then the eldest of those funny-yet-mainly-untrained kids, there had not been the formal casting process (characteristic of today’s shows) for what would become You Can’t Do That On Television(YCDTOT). In an hour-long phone conversation, Christine keeps me riveted (her voice reminds me of the fascinating narrator of the Serial podcast, Sarah Koenig), chronicling life back then and how she feels YCDTOT changed television and was a sort of precursor for reality TV.

“Saying ‘we were plucked from the schoolyard’ is metaphorical,” says Christine, but she emphasizes that this is how it actually worked: “We went to the station where they put us alone in a studio in front of a camera and asked us questions. Then, they put us in drama classes taught by the amazing Carole Hay: If we didn’t cut it in drama class we never made it on air and Carole provided us with acting training that we would never have received as non-actors. She was amazing.”

Christine explains that, before “cable” even came into existence, the sketches were initially slated for a live local show: “Cable came in with Nickelodeon and many people had no idea what cable even was. We began doing our sketches in 1979, on the heels of Laugh In (which the show has been compared to: ‘Laugh In for kids’) and right as this new show Saturday Night Live was beginning.”

Christine McGlade would have the opportunity to work alongside Ruth Buzzi from Laugh In, yet she would grow up humbly, never considering herself to be a “TV Star.” In the age of Lohan and a certain Canadian kid (Bieber) that may retrospectively have been a blessing in disguise. Christine simply thought of herself back then as someone who had a job that she enjoyed. In fact, she would never actually stop working, going off to college during her final years of YCDTOT (when the show was already on Nickelodeon and quite popular), earning an art degree and working in entertainment before settling into the realm of digital media. She did manage to find time to have three children (two of whom are twins in their 20s, the other is 16) and is otherwise private about her family life.

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(Les Lye, Christine McGlade and Ruth Buzzi, photo provided by Christine McGlade)

Professionally, however, Christine is outspoken on her endeavors and it is quite clear that she has worn many hats in the business world. Most recently, she designed and is in the midst of launching an app that teaches kids about website coding.

It kind of makes me (but not her) sad to think that Christine doesn’t fully realize that “Moose” was watched and admired by so many children. (“Moose” was her nickname in school and the name of her character on the show that would go from Canadian TV to Nickelodeon in a few short years, becoming the most popular show on the network in 1984.)

Perhaps she was somewhat overshadowed by some of the regular ole major network shows of the time: Silver Spoons, Different Strokes, Facts of Life. But I have to say, I for one was watching Nickelodeon, a much more age appropriate television channel. I barely remember Tootie or Blaire (or even Rickie Schroeder’s character) as I remember the green slime that drenched Christine overhead when she deigned to admit the 3 little words: “I don’t know.”

Back then, Christine wasn’t treated in any out of the ordinary manner in school, nor was she recognized much (although she relates one bizarre story about Americans who came to Canada unannounced- actually, to her house – to meet her. It’s sort of a sweet fan story, yet creepy and stalkerish). My sister, middle brother and I remember watching “Moose” on You Can’t Do That On Television. The cast member we don’t remember as well is Alanis Morissette, the renowned singer who would have a role on the series before she furiously hit the airwaves as a famous woman scorned (if lyrics are testimony). Christine, however, made more of an impression on us in the 1980s. She was always willing to laugh at herself, to be the butt of the joke (in one episode, she discovers that her mother is paying off the other kids to be friends with her. In another, she is informed of a “raise,” much to the chagrin of the other kids in the cast — all, of course, part of the show). On the show, she was visibly caring and protective over the younger cast members. Also, time and again, she seemed really cool about being “slimed” as the inevitable response to not knowing something.

Green slime is now Nickelodeon’s emblem, logo and largely, its claim to fame. Those who never watched You Can’t Do That On Television would never realize how affected by it they actually were. For instance, The Amanda Show, which would air on Nickelodeon years later and star Amanda Bynes (this was probably when my youngest brother, now 31, too young when YCDTOT bonded us 3 older siblings, tuned in to Nickelodeon himself) was another example of kids taking over and running the show with their comedic chops. While Real World on MTV was the first program to showcase a group of unknowns in coerced cohabitation adjusting to the challenge of claustrophobic living, You Can’t Do That on Television was the first case of unknown kids working together and seamlessly adjusting to the challenge of doing so on camera. Creator and writer Roger Price, alongside director Geoffrey Darby, involved the cast members in the process so that they could make adult decisions towards shaping the final product. Due to this highly collaborative process, this was the first show, Christine relates, that was truly “produced by kids for kids.”

For Christine, who would become an innovator in digital media over in Canada, You Can’t Do That on Television is symbolic. Back when she was a child star who didn’t consider herself a child star (she was academic and unconcerned with comparisons, but she would probably consider, say, Jason Bateman, Drew Barrymore, Macauley Culkin, Malcolm Jamal Warner and Neil Patrick Harris to have been child stars), there was no Youtube, no Netflix or Amazon, and certainly no social media and video sharing. She was just a hard-working student who also made a show, and would move to Toronto at age 21 to attend arts school. She would go on to earn a BFA and end up directing and producing a lot of television as an adult.

“I still work in media,” she says happily, “I’m just behind the camera.” While much of Christine McGlade’s work in recent years has had educational focus for kids, the irony is not lost on her: “You Can’t Do That on Television was kind of anti-educational” she explains. “It’s funny because I’ve worked in educational media and one of my former cast mates grew up to be a teacher. But actually, Roger Price was a very rebellious anti-establishment man. His thought process was ‘If the kids took over the studio, all these fun, silly, hilarious things could happen.” It was this unconventional approach of Price’s, explains Christine, that she feels was a “cultural precursor to what we now know of as “reality TV.”

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(A “selfie” of Christine McGlade today)

In his book Slimed (2013), Matthew Klickstein explores all the shows on Nickelodeon that were worth revisiting. It is clear, according to Klickstein, that YCDTOT set the tone for the network. Christine calls it “that whole rebellion ethic” and adds “You involve the kids and it just flows. We were as close as it gets to the kids version of Laugh In and at first, no one thought it would ever fly! ‘Are you kidding?’ people thought, ‘channels above 13?!’ Back then (circa 1980), the association people made to ‘cable’ was “cheap,” a community kind of cheap that was not very credible.”

Today, Christine McGlade loves to hear from fans who have found her on Facebook, Twitter or through old clips on Youtube. She remembers all the other castmates fondly since she was somewhat of an older sister to them. I ask her about Alanis Morissette even though I’m quite sure this is a trite, tried and true move, but I justify it to myself, as a big Alanis fan, with: “Come on, You oughtta know!”

“Ah, she was a very talented singer and she was only on a couple of shows because she already had a singing career. ‘Moose’ was a little older than the other characters and there was some churn in the cast. Over the course of the show, there was a huge bank of kids. Some of them made it on air and others ended up being on even more. I stuck around almost for the entire run, from age 14-23, while most kids were there between age 10 and 13. Alanis was a true professional who I remember doing improv, and I remember her in the studio. Adam Reid was another kid who now acts and also directs. I also still see Abby (Hagyard, who played “mom”) and several of the other characters.”

Alasdair Gillis, one of the most popular boys on the show for his affability, who my siblings and I remember quite well, is now successfully working outside of entertainment in Ottawa and, according to Christine, is an “uber” professional in social services. She has met up with him in New York and had the opportunity to reunite with other former cast members there at the Slimed book launch party last year.

Unfortunately, relates Christine, an incredible colleague as well as friend and mentor, veteran “amazing comedian” Les Lye recently passed away.

My brother Elie Hirschman, 40, has an uncanny memory for YCDTOT. He can probably quote back certain parts that some of the cast members may have forgotten they even said. In back and forth discussions about the show and my interview with Christine, he reminds me: “Les Lye was the MAN. He was not just the dad, he was EVERY MALE ADULT PART. He was Barth, the producer, the announcer at the beginning, Blip the arcade guy, the jailer, the firing squad guy and Snake Eyes the bus driver.”

He adds: “Alanis who? Christine, Lisa (Ruddy), Alasdair, those were our buds…”

Christine is very thoughtful and nostalgic when talking about that time in her life. “We didn’t want to be famous,” she says, “That was never my goal or the goal of most of my colleagues back then.”

Christine’s current lifestyle reflects that “I never wanted to be famous” attitude. Now that she manages her own digital marketing business, she relishes the fact that working for herself allows more flexibility than beforehand. This is the type of settled feeling I pray to have at some point, and for Christine, who has notable accomplishments under her belt by age 51, it is well deserved.

She looks back on the YCDTOT time fondly: “It was all very quaint and local. We didn’t miss much school and I got all my schoolwork done. I guess this type of a scenario with such great balance (between school work and TV tapings) might not have been possible today.”

The hard part for Christine about not having wanted to be a famous child is that today, in the age of Facebook, she feels some weird responsibility to fans. It’s “weird” because, as she explains, she’s not an actor and didn’t really want to be one, but she did always want to be a writer and I guess that is what makes her feel compelled to write and blog, to answer questions, to share and tell her story. And as “weird” as a predicament as she sometimes feels she is in, she has reconciled it. She even asked me to provide her Twitter handle and a link to her blog below so that she can remain connected, so that she can respond. Moose made a connection to her fans and that connection was never really severed. The things is: There is Moose and then there is Christine. Moose wants her fans to know Christine. Christine today is a digital media expert, a sophisticated app developer, a woman who has spent time creating educational programs for kids. Drawing from her youth, she is also passionate about the non-educational world, a world that can be characterized as Chuck E. Cheese states in its corporate motto: “where a kid can be a kid.”

“There are a lot of good things that came out of going to work every day as a kid,” Christine reflects, “such as developing a great work ethic. Everybody worked very hard, which is something so unique to a group of kids. I’m thankful that we weren’t too famous because a side effect of fame is being recognized and when that happens, it can feel like a privacy invasion that never goes away. We were really protected from a lot of that.”

In a sad turn of events, she says, the old YCDTOT studio in Ottawa later burned down. Today, there remains its big empty lot and every once in a while, Christine will be in that area and drive by.

“There’s something sentimental and nostalgic about that lot,” she says.

Christine admits that she rarely gets recognized in Canada, but when she visits New York that changes. There was obviously a big fan base, fellow cable watchers like myself who eagerly awaited the ceremonious dumping of green slime on clean heads in the 1980s and then (when I was in college and no longer watching) into the 90s.

Reflecting on her life over three decades ago, Christine talks about how she’s glad she had no long-term plans for acting:

“I think that acting and modeling at a young age can be, for some, like putting all your eggs in the appearance basket. While good agents, directors and production are clued in to talent today, it can still become a problem when ‘cute’ doesn’t work anymore. Education and life experience are very important. I was fortunate that I was already an academic and already fairly bookish and academically inclined. Also, we’re all such helicopter parents today, but my own parents – parents of the 70s – were immigrants from Belfast. They opened the door, sent us out and then saw us again at dinner. When it came to the show, my family made it “my thing.” On the other hand however, my dad appeared on the show at one point and so did my sister and brother and we really had a lot of fun together! I guess one of the best things looking back, in terms of myself and the rest of the cast: We never made enough money to do significant damage. As far as I know, there were no typical tales of woe attached to the kids on the show like there are for some of today’s kid celebs

.”When it comes to young actors today, current reality TV shows, and to celebrities affected by their own fame, Christine McGlade is a breath of fresh air. I think about some current and former child stars who are reportedly getting into mischief, who allegedly have more money than they can manage, and who inevitably land into trouble with drugs and the law due to (also reportedly) improper management. I’m reminded of some old song lyrics. However, in my head, I sing them in the voice of Christine McGlade, who is a decade my senior and definitely the wiser: “Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way? Kids, what’s the matter with kids these days?” (She wouldn’t necessarily sing that. Those are my words, not hers, but you get the gist.)

We don’t have to end here in our story about You Can’t Do That on Television. After all, that’s not what modern times dictate, so because we can, let’s begin:

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