Further Musings on Entertainment's Dark Side
This story does not end happily.
Last November, things were looking up for the Jones family of New Orleans --- three sisters, their mom, Madeleine, and their dad, Charles, who had lost their home (and Charles his livelihood) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Reduced to living in a Baton Rouge hotel, the Joneses were chosen in light of their circumstances to be featured on a new UPN show, Get This Party Started!, hosted by Ethan Erickson and Kristin Cavalieri.
Thanks to Katrina and her aftermath, the family had been unable to throw daughter Alexis the kind of 21st-birthday party they felt she deserved. Then, here comes this new TV show saying they'll pay for this professional party planner to stage the surprise party of the Joneses' dreams in a Vegas hotel suite. As you'll see tonight when you watch the show's premiere, the party is a major success. Alexis not only gets the party she'll remember the rest of her life, the entire experience apparently lifts the whole family's spirits.
Then, three weeks later, Charles suddenly dies of a heart attack.
This tragedy is not mentioned anywhere on this show, other than to dedicate the program thusly: "In loving memory of Charles Jones." When I read that on-screen dedication after previewing a DVD of the episode, I asked a UPN spokeswoman to fill me in on what had happened to Mr. Jones. She could shed no light on the circumstances surrounding Charles' sudden death, alas --- leaving the rest of us to wonder if the stress of having lost everything in Katrina, including the limousine business/reception hall in which he was a partner, proved to be too much for him.
And while it's true that the death of one of its participants puts a serious damper on the premiere episode, this otherwise well-meaning series has almost no chance of succeeding anyway. It's overlong, contrived and utterly out of place on UPN; indeed, it plays like something the network needs to discard before it goes out of business this fall.
Once again, we see that there is often a dark and foreboding side to the entertainment world --- a side created largely by unforeseen events and unexpected moments. It is not the first time I have seen this sort of situation; I recall the time that a similar behind-the-cameras tragedy occured, during the filming of the Power Rangers Halloween episode, "It Came from Angel Grove." Her name was Carol Michelle Mickelson, and she was a fan of the Power Rangers, particularly Jason David Frank, who at the time portrayed Tommy. She was terminally ill, and, with the help of the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, the Power Rangers production team made arrangements for Carol and her mother to be on the set with Jason before filming. Sadly, Carol passed away on March 29th, 1996 --- one week after the episode had completed production. Some six months later, September 11th, 1996, "It Came from Angel Grove" originally aired on Fox Kids. (A rather bizarre and, I would wont, tragically ironic twist, eh what?)
Please visit VirtualMemorials.com to learn more about the story of how "It Came from Angel Grove" came to be dedicated to Carol's memory. I promise you, you will be very deeply touched.
You will also see here, as demonstrated by tonight's premiere episode of Get this Party Started!, with the Charles Jones family of New Orleans, that there is often a cruel irony to interacting with show business that most Mortals don't expect. And while, from time to time, magic proves successful for all that transpires, ultimately, not even happy endings can conquer death.
Walt Disney once noted, I recall, that "to capture our varied and worldwide audience of all ages ... Good and Evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personified. The moral ideals common to all Humanity must be upheld." Read your news or log on these days, and you tend to wonder why we're not exactly doing a perfect job of upholding those moral ideals. As you and I know, of course, it isn't a perfect world. Then again, it never was one to begin with.......
(FOOTNOTE: Well, obviously the party has apparently ended before it could even get started. Get This Party Started! has been canceled after only two modest airings; obviously, the tale Adam Buckman told, which I have here shared with ye again, was enough to keep the viewers away. The reality show business, like all of entertainment itself, has doubtless become a dog-eat-dog Multiverse. Ah, me.)