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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Halo Around Valerie Harper.

I mentioned last time about the dastardly, horrendous, unthinkable thing that MeTV did to
Valerie Harper last week.
As most of you know, Valerie Harper is dying from a rare form of brain cancer.
So, and I can't believe that this is unrelated, MeTV decided to launch "Valerie Harper Week" on the Mary Tyler Moore reruns that they show.
They don't carry "Rhoda", or, knowing them as well as I do now, they would be running "Rhoda" twenty-four hours a day until she dropped.

About a couple of years ago, I met Valerie Harper for the first and only time.
My wife and I had gone to a Thai restaurant in Stamford Connecticut.
At the very next table was undoubtedly Valerie Harper, along with an older woman, who turned out to be an old friend of hers whom she appeared with in the chorus of the original cast of "The Music Man" on Broadway.
I immediately engaged her in conversation, not only because of our common background, but because when I was running "She's The Sheriff", her show, "Valerie", was shooting on the very next soundstage.
We were, in fact, neighbors, yet we had never actually met.
It took being three thousand miles and twenty three years into the future for that to take place.
She was fired from that show by the studio, Lorimar, and replaced by Sandy Duncan.
Valerie promptly sued Lorimar for wrongful termination, and collected a cool two million for her troubles.
I had been having my own troubles with Lorimar, and expressed the joy that most of the people who worked on the lot had for her.
We all loved that she won the suit.
So, for the entire next hour, we virtually all had dinner together, and she was totally delightful.
Looking back at the timeline, she had already been going through her first bout with the brain cancer.
But there was no indication that her spirits were dampened.
Shortly after that, she opened on Broadway in the play "Looped".
I saw it, and wrote a glowing Report Card about it.
I really don't think it was colored by my personal encounter with her.
She immediately responded with a thank-you note.
A totally class act.
Which is why she, in fact anybody, deserved better treatment than she received on MeTV.
Here's what they did:

During the promos for "Valerie Harper Week" on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", they showed clips of Valerie as Rhoda.
And in all of these clips, they smeared Vaseline around the corner of the screen, creating a halo effect around Valerie.
This was their way of saying "We all know she's going to die soon, so we are going to be melodramatic about it to keep you aware of this and get you to watch".

This halo effect is not unprecedented in the history of television.
When Michael Landon wa dying, and knew he was dying, he made one last appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
And they used that same Vaseline on the lens halo effect on Michael Landon.
It was very dramatic, along with being very tacky and cheesy.
But it was merely an artistic choice.
A rather ill thought-out one, but they probably meant well.
With MeTV and Valerie, not only was it tacky and cheesy, but also extremely exploitative.
Not that she would probably care at this point, but I care.
And no one should be subjected to this sort of thing.
This is the kind of stuff you save for the memorial reel at next years Emmys.
And not a moment sooner.
Particularly when there is blood still coursing through her veins.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."