Daily Archives: May 1, 2009

Squeeze Joan Rivers and what comes out?

I think we may be done with Joan and Melissa Rivers. I’m speaking on behalf of all of us, I hope you don’t mind. But this pair of spoilt, attention-grabbing monsters, who last week contaminated Celebrity Apprentice in a way previously unimaginable, have mopped up the last few remaining drops of any goodwill I might have had for them, and now I wish they’d leave the stage. Turn, go. We’re done.

Melissa always seemed to me like an over-nurtured brat anyway, sheltering beneath the umbrella of her mother’s showmanship. Having apparently found that big-time comedic talent skipped a generation, she comes across as unnecessary, a superfluous human being, a celebrity we’ve squeezed onto the D-list as a temporary measure while we’re drawing up the E-list. She’s Joan Rivers’s daughter and crutch, and as such is favored and indulged by TV producers in ways she wouldn’t be if she’d just wandered in off the street – but isn’t that it? The sum total of the Melissa Rivers experience? 

Furthermore, the recent Apprentice episode in which she was fired showed a truly sour, unpleasant side to her character. A side I somehow knew would be there.

Things don’t go your way? Throw a tantrum. Outplayed by your opponents? Then storm off and curse and threaten and fuss and be thoroughly objectionable, so that all eyes are on you, milking the maximum amount of air-time out of your woes, simultaneously guaranteeing that viewers are going to like you even less than they did before.  

That said, her departure from the show was a highlight, for her outrageous display of childish petulance, but also, and mainly, because it made us realize that she’d finally gone. Phew. Quite a relief, that.

Joan, on the other hand – well, it’s hard to dismiss this woman so readily. If she is the tree-trunk of this relationship, then Melissa is a mere twig.

Joanie’s showbiz career has been nothing less than a  phenomenon. And she’s not done yet. By some miracle of determination she’s still going, still working, still creating, still selling, after…well, how old is she now? 200? I lose track. Of course she’s a laughing stock for all her ridiculous plastic surgery. Some genius with a scalpel has taken Joan Alexandra Molinsky, a rather ordinary woman from Brooklyn, born of Jewish Russian stock, and turned her Korean – that’s some feat. A Korean, moreover, who looks like she failed the audition for Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal.

And, oh sure, the scratchy voice sounds like it could give out any second, and the mind may not be as sharp as it used to be – I saw some of her later red carpet shows on E! and there were times when she appeared disoriented and hysterical. Though that could happen to any befuddled grandmother who wandered onto the set of a popular TV show and started assailing celebrities. Shortly after, she lost the E! show and moved to TV Guide Channel. Then this gig ended too. Honestly, I’m not surprised. If she could just shake off that albatross Melissa somehow, she’d do so much better, I think. 

However, all of this is entirely forgivable in my eyes when you’re an icon and still giving it everything you’ve got. 

What’s not forgivable is her “performance” on Celebrity Apprentice after Melissa got kicked off. That tarnished her image forever. On the one hand her brat of a daughter is darting about giving orders, rubbishing her fellow contestants, swearing, refusing to be interviewed, being a terribly bad sport. Meanwhile, on the other, her ma, a stiff-faced bullet with rigid hair, is lobbing mouth-grenades at poker player Annie Duke and Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick, the girls who dared defeat her daughter.

Voice almost breaking under the strain, she called Broderick a “stupid blonde” and yelled insults at Duke: “I’ve known your kind for 40 years in Las Vegas. You’re a Nazi and a piece of shit.” Or somesuch nonsense. Adding that, “poker players are trash.”

Then she quit the show altogether along with Melissa, though that may just be a display of trunk-twig unity for the cameras, a face-saver, mother hen protecting her wounded, disgruntled little chick, and we’ll see her return this coming week.

But how telling all of this is, and how much more we’ve learned about Joan and Melissa Rivers than we would from their resumes 0r any concocted PR blurb. In that sense, Donald Trump and producer Mark Burnett have done us a massive favor. They exposed mother and crutch for what they really are, stripping them down and laying them bare in ways that no amount of cosmetic tampering can ever hide or disguise. In so doing, by the way, they also secured a pick-up by NBC for the show which, having faced cancellation a while back, is now heading into its tenth season.

The spiritual guru Wayne Dyer asks: “What comes out of an orange when you squeeze it?” The answer of course is orange juice. Why? “Because it’s what’s inside.” Well, same goes for us. Anyone can be nice and cooperative and put on a decent front when things are going well. It’s when things go belly-up, when people are “squeezed”, that you really find out what’s inside. And so we witnessed with Joan and Melissa Rivers last week.

So much effort goes into the presentation with those two. Joan especially. But truthfully what’s the point? What is the point of striving so hard to be beautiful on the outside if all the while you’re ugly on the inside?


Celebrity Apprentice gets four magic carpets out of five.

TV Swami – he say YES.


Naked in Dangerous Places video. Click here.


Filed under Television commentary