What’s a Hollywood has-been to do now?
I loved The Love Boat. I watched it when I was really young, so obviously there was a lot I didn’t get, particularly the innuendo about who was guest starring that week. I didn’t realize that many of these guest stars had once been “stars.” I was, maybe, eight years old at the time, and by then the show was off the air and in syndication. I would watch on the tiny TV in the kitchen, as I was eating dinner. I think that after that show, maybe, I would watch Fantasy Island, or the new version of Hollywood Squares. Again I was eight, or maybe ten, so excuse my memory for being a tad foggy. Since we didn’t have cable, it was a choice between these shows and the local news, if my memory serves me correctly, and it usually does.
The Stars on The Love Boat the Stars were the guest stars, although I had not a clue about this. For ten-year-old me the Captain was the star; for my mother it was the “where are they now” who were. Every once in a while, my mother would peek over my head and inform me of their past relevance and accomplishments. But hey, I thought Charo was just a guest on the cruise who needed help from Captain Stubing, or Gopher. I thought Joan Rivers was just a center square on the newest version of Hollywood Squares. I had no idea she’d done anything prior to this like being a famous comedian, or Johnny Carson’s occasional stand-in. These shows made them a star again for a week, or as long as they sat in the square. I was ten, and if you were on my television in Brooklyn, that meant you were a star.
There was always available work for the “has been,” or for the actor between jobs. Hey, they were stars to me. I had no idea that their shine had faded. I had no idea that this was a step down, that they were doing all they could do to retain a modicum of relevance. I feel bad for the actors of today, who have lost that shine. With shows like the ones I watched no longer on the air, what’s an out of work actor to do these days to stay relevant?
Oh, I know — make political videos or maddening speeches. So here is my idea for someone in Hollywood who hasn’t listened to any of my other crazy ideas yet. It’s called “The Leftist Squares,” hosted by Chelsea Handler. In the center square is Martin Sheen. I’m sorry, Debra Messing, but he is a former president; you can get to pick any other box you want, though. Since it’s 2017, and we need to keep the show fresh, and there is nothing that says fresh, like a show having a DJ. Voilà! you have Moby, who has already created the theme song with his song called “We Are All Made of Stars.” By gosh, aren’t we? So you have Martin Sheen and Debra Messing as the Stars, Chelsea as your host, and the musical stylings of Moby. Moreover, in recurring squares you have the others from the videos, who look vaguely familiar; but they are in these videos. So, we can ascertain that at one point they must have been huge. Sorry, I totally forgot about Sally Field, I guess: I must really not “like” her.
Since, in Hollywood, it’s all about who will pick up the show, think about all the networks that would entertain this idea. Since we know that CNN and MSNBC are strictly entertainment, they might also be interested. It’s a slam dunk. The questions and humor are, of course, never ending. This show can easily run for the next four to eight years. Instead of a laugh track, we can have a crying track. Instead of jokes, we can have soliloquies. The clothing theme can be all black, just like they were in their videos, as a hint of dark days to come.
The very special Halloween episodes will be awesome, with one of the stars dressing as a fetus. Maybe that’s “Jumping the Shark.” Who even really needs contestants? Heck, we don’t even need to give away money. Celebrity thoughts and ideas are enough for the common person. By the way, if the networks pass on this, a new version of Fantasy Island is always a possibility, again starring Debra Messing, as Ms. Rourke, and Martin Sheen as Tattoo. We can call this “Reality Island.” Maybe a new version of The Love Boat, but we can’t use a boat; carbon footprint and all; we can call it The Love Prius. Okay, I can’t give away all my ideas.
All people, who were relevant, want is a chance to stay that way. I get that this isn’t as much about your ideas and philosophies, as much as it is a cry for help. And I, Judah Friedman, have heard your cries and am here to offer you my assistance. This is for the little Judahs at home, who wouldn’t know the difference between Will and Grace and Without a Trace, and who would think The West Wing came with fries, soda, and a prize. You were there for me when I was a child, and I am here for you as an adult. By the way, I just realized we don’t have to call it Leftist Squares, or Reality Island. Both Hollywood Squares and Fantasy Island work perfectly well. So, if you can control yourselves for a little while, along with your need for relevance, I truly think we have something here. Remember, less is more and more always makes you look less. If that doesn’t make sense, who cares? It’s Hollywood, baby!