Sunday, January 07, 2007

Only the Dumb Asses Love Patti

What a week it was as a hack schilled for a p.r. campaign and presented it as "truth." Jaw boners rushed in to repeat the spin because, apparently, the idea that The New York Times might ever print something less than the truth was news to gas bags.

Homophobe Jesse Green ("At Yom Kippur, it seemed to me then, pride and humility are not ideal pew-mates, especially squeezed in so tight.") met 'cute' (or what passes for cute on the right) with Patricia Heaton ready to try anything to breathe life into a career so dead that she's now appearing in an off-Broadway play -- and she isn't even the lead (sse "Not Everyone Loves Patricia," 2-1 and continued on 2-4, Sunday, December 31, 2006).

It took a 'genius' to think up the 'hook' and a close friend (outside the paper) to collect on a favor owed (upper management isn't aware of that but the collector can't stop bragging about it -- it should be noted, many things bragged about aren't true so possibly it's gas baggery braggery?) so all the 'genius' had petered out before the photo shoot for Patti's So Called Comeback resulting in photos that revealed her to be as big, bulky and outdated as an early seventies maxi-pad.

In fact, anyone looking at the first photo (on the front page of last Sunday's Arts section) would have known before reading a word that something other than politics killed Patti Heaton's career.

It is dead, by the way. Officially dead. It might be shocked back to life (stranger things have happened) but right now she'd be lucky to get an unscripted walk-on.

We (Ava and C.I.) have long noted Patti Heaton. Calling her a "loser" is being postively generous. So reading Dumb Ass Jesse's attempt to drum up some sympathy for Patti was a non-stop laugh getter for us. We had no idea others would swallow this tripe. But boy, did they.

Here's the (Republican) revisionist party line on Heaton's non-career put out by the paper of little record: Like the Dixie Chicks, poor Patti is the victim of a backlash! The entertainment industry refuses to forgive Patti her politics!

Lies, lies and more lies.

Patricia Heaton committed career suicide before most in the industry were even aware of her politics. She was a little nothing who managed to grab two Emmys for best actress in a comedy (2000, 2001) when the reaction shot passing for a sitcom became a craze for some of the non-thinking set. The 'wins' were based on the perceived heat of the show and the fact that it was being championed by people who should have known better (yes, we just insulted two friends). On the latter, so much so that the first informerical to go into syndication was aired in 2002. Ellen, a truly groundbreaking series at the end, did do a mock tribute. However, it took the pervs who created Somebody's Gotta' Love Raymond to make "The First Six Years" -- a celeb testimonial to a questionable show (played straight, not mock) which now airs regularly in syndication as an episode of the series America would have been better off without.

The awards went to the Heaton head and 'theatrics' that had been confined to the set were now on public display and that, dear readers, was what killed her in the entertainment industry. Dumb Ass Jesse can't tell you that -- either he doesn't know or he's just not interested -- but her attacks went public. In one of the worst, she had to issue an apology.

This has nothing to do with politics, it had to do with a hack actress (hacktress) thinking she was anything other than the nag of a second rate TV show. When you reach the mid-second-tier that Heaton had, you generally start angling for a film career, you certainly don't go around attacking film actresses in public and accusing them of various things that happened only in your right-wing, closed mind.

Heaton was an embarrassment and that's what killed her career -- she had no tact, she had no manners and she was prone to public tantrums. Had she been 17 to 23-years-old and considered "hot" ("hot" has never been applied to Heaton), she might have been able to overcome it. Industry insiders would have grimaced and written it off as the learning steps of youth. But Heaton was an adult and then some. She was someone damn lucky to have caught a ride on Ray Romano's coattails; however, she seemed to see herself as the next Meryl Streep (if Streep lacked class).

There is a hierarchy in the entertainment industry and those near the bottom who forget that fact are usually brought quickly down to earth by their own egos. Heaton was.

That's the reality of what turned the industry against Patti. She has no one to blame for that but herself.

Dumb Ass Jesse wants to tell you that it was politics but somehow manages to note only Heaton's recent conflict with Michael J. Fox. (Fox is more forgiving of it than most in the industry.) First off, that wasn't Heaton's first foray into advocacy against stem-cell research, wasn't her first national stage embarrassing moment. Though the homophobe may not know the reality of what killed her career, he damn well should be aware that Heaton took to the airwaves on the Terry Schiavo issue -- coming down firmly on the side of the Bully Boy, and firmly against the will of the American people.

That was quite well known and we addressed it on April 17, 2005:

Abe will no doubt be delighted to know that Allyson has sussed us out, "I am on to you and have you two figured all out. You only attack Everybody Loves Raymond and Patricia Heaton because Heaton spoke out for Terry Schiavo!"
Well Allyson, you have figured us all out. Months ago, we consulted our Magic Eight Ball and asked, "In April, will Patricia Heaton take to the chat circuit to speak on the Schiavo issue?" Magic Eight Ball responded, "Most definitely. And her hair will still look like that of a circus clown's." Which is why we've mocked the Heaton from the start. Great catch on that one.

That's a key issue to the public's turning on Heaton and you can't hide it under the rug no matter how you try.

Dumb Ass Jesse not only attempts to ignore that, he attempts to ignore reality (and was joined by a lot of jaw boners) when he floats how shocking it is that she went from second banana on a TV show with high ratings to nothing. (A non-lead role off-Broadway is "nothing" when you've sampled the fame of others.) He also notes the attempt at an ABC sitcom that never made it to air.

This led one jaw boner last week to vouch for the show ABC refused to pick up, though like most of America, the jaw boner had never seen it. There's a reason for that and we've covered it months ago. For now, let's address the notion Dumb Ass floated -- is it so amazing that playing "the wife" on a "family" sitcom could lead to . . . nothing?

Patricia Richardson tasted far greater fame on Home Improvement where she had no competition for viewers' attention from accomplished pros like Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Six years after Home Improvement left the airwaves, she landed a multi-episode role on a big three network (NBC, West Wing). Richardson, born the same decade as Heaton, is more attractive than Heaton and comes with far less baggage. Drop back a little further to Joanna Kerns (also born the same decade as Richardson and Heaton) who starred as the mother Maggie on Growing Pains. It would be six years before you'd see her on a broadcast TV series in anything other than a one-off and she has a better reputation in the industry than Heaton.

Did Heaton think she was better than either actress? (Obviously she thought she was better than ALL actresses juding by her public tantrums.) Or maybe she made the mistake of looking at Meredith Baxter's time on Family Ties and thinking, "We're just alike."

No, they aren't. Meredith Baxter was an established actress before her sitcom fame playing a mother. She also made strong choices in her material (before, during and after). More importantly, Baxter was the second lead of Family Ties. (Michael J. Fox was the star.) Heaton? She was behind Romano, Roberts, Boyle and Brad Garrett.

And unlike Patricia Richardson or Joanna Kerns, Heaton didn't play a likeable character. She played a nag that was created to offer an excuse for Raymond Barone's inability to grown up. Tim Taylor may have been 'boyish' but Jill Taylor wasn't a nag. Richardson's character could make points without resulting to a bray that harmed the ears of all watching.

Deborah Barone was an unnattractive character. She was created as such on the page and Heaton was gifted enough, at that, if nothing else, to bring Deborah to life. Deborah -- never "Deb," never "Debbie," never "Debs." The ball buster stereotype with no redeaming qualities. She was a non-stop nag. She was often on a high horse and the joke was always she shouldn't be on that high horse (when she insulted the custodian after berating all the Barones for doing the same, when she decided that she wished her own mother was more like Marie Barone, etc.).

A real actress would've asked for some sort of life for the character. Would've demanded it after the first Emmy win. Deborah would have women friends, you would have seen her outside the context imposed upon her by a male frame. Heaton never grasped that nor that one storyline that was insulting when thirty-something did it (work outside the home is too tough for Mommys!) was twice as insulting when Nobody Loves Raymond did it because while Hope Steadman had talent (and a later storyline would attempt to demonstrate that), the "joke" when Deborah tried to go back to work (one episode) was that she was now so stupid she couldn't even handle being an assistant in a field she'd once practiced. Her mind was shot by Mommyness, you understand.

Who did Heaton think was rooting for her in the audience? A sexist man saw confirmation of every ball busting stereotype in her performance and a thinking woman would have to look at the degrowth arc of Deborah (which started from a very low base line) and think, "Please God, don't bring that woman back in another sitcom."

As was noted here on July 2, 2006 while addressing Star Jones departure from The View and who would replace her:

ABC hoped it would be Patricia Heaton. They signed a generous contract with Heaton and have had to face the fact that there's no sitcom that can be shaped around her limited talents (short of starring her in My Wife, The Shrew). As reality sunk in that nagging isn't what most look to in a lead character, they hoped to save the contract by sliding her over to The View. But she's doesn't test well with women.
As a reader once pointed out, Heaton took to the airwaves to slam Michael Schiavo and repeat lies about Terry Schiavo's health status. That doesn't help her test results. It also doesn't help that women didn't love Raymond as much as men did. Heaton played the male idea of the wife from hell (never wants sex, always battles with your mother openly, nags you, go down the list -- while Ray was Peter Pan and 'loveable').
Star Jones never understood The View audience. Her homphobia would have played well on Pat Robertson's show. It didn't play well on The View where the audience was a little less rabid and a great deal more educated. Some at ABC have realized that putting Heaton on the show is asking women to embrace self-hatred (for her positions and for the character that made her semi-famous) and be back in the Star Jones trap. They're also starting to get concerned about how potential guests would respond to the addition. (Not well. Her remarks to Jay Leno were the kind of self-immolation that helped kill Sean Young's career.) They thought they had a "common sense" type (a la Meredith -- that's how they saw her) and now they're starting to grasp all the baggage Heaton brings with her.

The sitcom didn't make it to the air and Heaton didn't make it to The View because ABC grasped how unpopular she was and, sorry Dumb Ass Jesse, that had nothing to do with her being seen as attacking Michael J. Fox (which hadn't happened yet), it had everything to do with her abysmal TVQ and the fact that her pilot didn't do well in the focus group.

Dumb Ass Jesse wants to paint it as "Hollywood" turning on Heaton for politics. It had nothing to do with politics, it had everything to do with her conducting herself in a way that was seen as tacky and trashy. Bad manners killed Heaton in the industry. It's killed bigger than her before. For instance, last week's jaw boning on Patti also noted a much bigger name than Patti (a segue?) but the jaw boners, who grasped that bore was insufferable, saw Patti as peaches & cream. Now the jaw boners are probably unaware of the moment that killed the bore's career -- a late 80s moment involving a piss "joke" that was shocking for its target and for its bad manners. The career never recovered (and never will). These things do matter as did Heaton's public tirades.

But that's the industry and Dumb Ass Jesse wants to act as though 'twas the industry alone that turned on Heaton. Pantene isn't part of the entertainment industry. It's big business. "Hollywood" didn't kill Heaton's attempt at a Pantene "career" -- the public did.

Again, what Dumb Ass and the jaw boners repeating his hype didn't cover, we did. September 17, 2006:

It makes no sense at all. You don't follow the path of the woman Pantene backed off of when the ratings blockbuster sitcom was still on air. You don't follow the path of the woman Patene got more complaints on than any other person ever featured in their ads. Our personal favorite complaint, sent into Patene and then circulated out by a company prankster, was the one that made the point, this is a paraphrase: "If Nicole Kidman was endorsing Pantene, I'd use it. But why on earth would I want to have the life of Patricia Heaton?" Take heart, dear, no one does. Probably not even Heaton.
As those complaints piled up, Heaton suddenly found herself just schilling on TV for a grocery store. Apparently, though unbelievable pushing a product that's supposed to make you look good, people could buy her as an eater.

See, that's reality. Pantene (big business) dumped her because she was hurting their product and that came before she ever uttered a word about Terry Schiavo or, this year, had her battle with Michael J. Fox.

That's why her hideous show (which tested poorly with focus groups) didn't make it to the air -- People Don't Like Patti. And to try to understand why her career is in the toilet, you don't need to look any further than Pantene which spent a lot of money thinking she was someone women would 'relate to' (if not aspire to be) and only saw her hurt their product. Which is why she was kicked to the curb (by big business) when Who Really Loves Raymond was still airing new episodes. That rarely happens but it's a sign of how unpopular she is that big business pulled the plug on here.

As two who frequently call in our own markers in the press, we'd be the last to slam someone else for doing so but, please note, when we call in markers to get something covered, we ask that it be covered, we don't ask for lies. But bad off-Broadway plays need all the help they can get, apparently. Probably all the more so when they feature Patti Heaton in a supporting role.

But printing lies in The New York Times doesn't make them true, something the 'reporting' of Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller (to name but two) should have clued the jaw bone set in on.
And pretending, as Dumb Ass and the jaw boners did, that Heaton's a "feminist" is even more laughable. "Feminists for Life" is an organization built on spin (for laughs, check out Crapapedia's entry on them -- written entirely from their point of view and based upon mythical events that never happened). A feminist doesn't have to have an abortion, doesn't have to ever want to have an abortion, but she doesn't campaign to destroy that choice for other women.

As Katha Pollitt has noted of that psuedo-feminist organization:

The problem is that FFL doesn't just oppose abortion. FFL wants abortion to be illegal. All abortions, period, including those for rape, incest, health, major fetal defects and, although Foster resisted admitting this, even some abortions most doctors would say were necessary to save the woman's life. (Although FFL is not a Catholic organization, its rejection of therapeutic abortion follows Catholic doctrine.) FFL wants doctors who perform abortions to be punished, possibly with prison terms.
It was extremely difficult to get Foster to say what she thought would happen if abortion was banned. At one point she would not concede that women would continue to have abortions if it was recriminalized; at another she argued that criminalization was no big deal: Instructions on self-abortion were posted on the Internet. I had to work to get her to admit that illegal abortion was common before Roe, and that it was dangerous--numbers on abortion deaths were concocted by pre-Roe legalization advocates, she told me. Yet the FFL website prominently features gory stories of abortion mishaps and discredited claims that abortion causes breast cancer. (Challenged on the cancer connection, Foster says they just want women to have medical information. Asked why they don't then link to the 2004 Lancet article debunking their cancer claims, she says they are not medical experts and have considered taking the cancer pages down.) So legal abortion is dangerous but illegal abortion would be safe? When I pointed out that in countries where the operation is banned, such as Brazil and Peru, rates are sky-high and abortion a major cause of injury and death, she professed ignorance.

I got similarly evasive answers when I asked why FFL didn't promote birth control, and when I asked if FFL considered the pill an "abortifacient." She did tell me that "birth control doesn't work" for swing-shift nurses because they lose track of their body clock--interesting, if true--or for teenagers, which I know to be false. "We just want to focus on meeting the everyday needs of women," she told me. But when I asked how the everyday needs of women with unwanted pregnancies would be served by encouraging them to bear children and place them for adoption, Foster didn't answer. Instead, she extolled the benefits of open adoption.

But Dumb Ass and some jaw boners presented the myth that Patti was a "feminist" because she's a part of the psuedo-feminist organization that supports enforced labor (if not motherhood since they are "pro" adoption).

One of the great howlers in the article became a major groaner when a female jaw boner repeated it: "And she is not, in person, prudish or judgemental. Most of her friends have had abortions, she said, and they're still her friends."

What is that nonsense? Let's start with "Most of her friends . . ." Is that the modern day equivalent of "Some of my best friends are Black"? Actually, the psuedo-Feminists for Life claims to know many who've had abortions . . . and now regret it. Is Patti claiming the same or just trying to prove (as when she name drops David, Peter, Paul and Mary -- no, she's not referring to Geffen, Jackson, Newman and Tyler Moore) that she's a saint in a land of sinners? (Would modern day saints peddle stereotypes?) This was laughable in print, repeated by a female jaw boner, it was embarrassing.

For the record, a feminist doesn't portray a stereotype gladly. She may have bills to pay, she may be starting out. But if it's a continuing role and she gets any kind of limited power, she uses that (such as an Emmy win) to leverage a more fully written role. Heaton wasn't interested in that and she's not a feminist.

As for the "she is not, in person, prudish or judgemental" -- when someone's striving for good (arranged) press, do you think they self-present reality? Please, that sort of statement never belongs in a daily paper about anyone a reporter (or 'reporter') has just met.

But it's spin and a publicist worked overtime (and a non-publicist keeps bragging about calling in a favor) so it makes it into print and some foolishly mistake it for reality. Heaton was a little nothing whose own chances to move up to anything higher (slim though they were) were destroyed by her bad manners. In terms of the public, even before she became 'controversial' due to some for her politics, women didn't see her as a spokesperson (which is why Pantene axed her).

We've covered all of this and more and done so only with what is publicly known. Having visited the set of Raymond frequently, we could cover a bit more but have been kind.

The illustration is from "Patricia Heaton's Pep Talk (parody)" which ran here October 29, 2006. Unlike a Dumb Ass, we didn't discover Heaton yesterday -- we've been offended by her for years.
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