Funny takes a break “Tim Conway 85 “

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Six Emmy awards for acting and writing funny. From McHale’s Navy to The Steve Allen Show and of course he received four of those awards for his brand of funny on the Carol Burnett Show.

Tim Conway died today in Los Angeles, he was 85.

Comedy takes a break



Snow in Vegas, Jail time for Jussie?, Rookie Knock Out in Jersey

Put on your mittens and just get happy, its just another Vegas day! 

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Forget the Bikini clad bodies around the pool and make yourself a snowball, your friends in Minnesota will be jealous.   Fabulous Las Vegas is gonna get its second dusting of  snow this week.  If your in town for the week I’m sure it sucks to hear its unseasonable.     Some of the resorts will expand their soup menus.   Scarfs and mittens advised.

Bars in Chicago for Jussie? 

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The Chicago Police Department, is charging Empire actor Jussie Smollett with felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report.  A Cook Country Grand Jury met yesterday.  A false report is a class 4 felony is punishable by one to three years in jail.   A bail hearing is tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m today.

The rookie took Teresa down in Jersey 

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Everybody is afraid of the Queen.  The housewives tip toe around Nene in Atlanta, Vanderpump in Beverly Hills, don’t want to anger the queen, you may not be heard from again!

How so nevah,  From the moment, rookie housewife Jackie Goldschneider met Teresa Giudice in New Jersey ,she wasn’t intimidated. Which put her firmly in the cross hairs of the Queen.  In last nights Part one (of three) of the Reunion. Jackie body-slammed and dragged Teresa who reminded everyone “That this was her show!” A one point she lost control and grabbed bossman Andy Cohen cards.  Jackie had the last word when Teresa threaten her.   “You gonna throw something at me? Aren’t you on probation?

Housewife Delicious



December 6th 2015 11PM Kennedy Center

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Aretha Franklin, Performing in the Kennedy Center Opera House December 6, 2015

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The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a massive building on the Potomac River containing nine theaters.

By Gavin Edwards\ New York Times


In her final decade, Aretha Franklin’s two best-loved performances both took place in Washington. In 2009, she graced Barack Obama’s inauguration with a gorgeous “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” while wearing a hat so remarkable it ended up on display in the Smithsonian on Dec. 6, 2015, she sang an unforgettable rendition of her own anthem of rebirth, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King, who was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement alongside Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson and other luminaries.

The 1967 single is sensual and spiritual; after 48 years, Ms. Franklin felt it more deeply than ever. It was a showstopper at the Kennedy Center — and on internet browsers everywhere. Soon after, Elton John told The Times that he had been watching the “Natural Woman” clip over and over. “I will definitely, when I’m 75, be having a fur coat like that, and coming in with a clutch bag, too,” Mr. John promised. “And throwing my coat off. And in a fishtail dress.”

We spoke with performers, guests and others who were at the Kennedy Center that night about their memories of Ms. Franklin’s soaring performance. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.


RICKEY MINOR, musical director of the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony The producers were interested in Aretha — her doing “Natural Woman” was kind of a no-brainer — and I knew that she attended the Kennedy Center Honors every year, sitting in the audience to celebrate the honorees.


DEBORAH F. RUTTER, president of the Kennedy Center Aretha received her Kennedy Center Honor in 1994, at a time when most Honors recipients were at or nearing the end of their careers. That she continued performing and producing new work for the next two decades is a testament to a talent that transcends age and time.

GLENN WEISS, executive producer and director of the Honors ceremony There was a big back and forth before Aretha agreed to perform, but the song was such a huge iconic thing in her life. I think it was important for her to be there.

CHILINA KENNEDY, who has played Carole King in the Broadway musical “Beautiful” and appeared in the Kennedy Center Honors tribute I’d heard the story of how Carole and Gerry [Goffin] had written the song for Aretha: they were walking down Broadway and [producer] Jerry Wexler pulled up in his limo and rolled down the window and said, “Hey, I want you guys to write a song called ‘Natural Woman.’”

MINOR With Aretha, you need to be bendable and not breakable. It was going to be just her with the orchestra, but she made a call and said, “Hey, I have a way that I do this song with my background singers.” Everyone needs what they need to be comfortable.

WEISS She always walks onstage with her purse. When we were in rehearsals, she walks out and puts it on the piano. When she walks downstage, she picks it up and puts it on the floor. The show ends with everyone in the tribute downstage singing “I Feel the Earth Move.” In rehearsal, there’s a line of people in street clothes — her, James Taylor, Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monáe — and this one bag sitting in the middle of the stage. When we finished the song, James Taylor leaned over to pick up the bag and hand it to her, being a gentleman, and reflexively she almost pushed him away.

WEISS Traditionally the honorees go to the White House for a reception, and then they go back to the Kennedy Center, the president comes, and the show starts. Unfortunately, that weekend the San Bernardino shooting happened. We were told by the White House that the president is addressing the nation at 8 o’clock, and we’re scheduled to start at 7:30. The night was a bit of a roller coaster and maybe a little emotional, but the president came to us at intermission.

MINOR I always welcome everybody before the show and thank them for coming, because I probably won’t see them after the show. I knocked on Aretha’s door — she’ll make you wait, you won’t just walk in there. There were a lot of people in there — hair and makeup, she was getting ready — but she was in a great mood.

KENNEDY For the 11 o’clock number of the Carole King section, I introduced her, said, “Aretha Franklin!” and people freaked out.

MINOR The honorees don’t know who’s performing for them.

KENNEDY Carole was losing her mind, Obama was losing his mind, everyone was going wild. I was standing in the wings with James Taylor, who was just as excited to see what was going to happen.

JAMES TAYLOR To me, Aretha is the ultimate — not that it’s a competition. She didn’t open her mouth unless what came out was brilliant.

KENNEDY Out she walks with her fur coat and her purse; she whacks the purse on the piano and sits down. They cut this part out of the segment that went to air, but she did a few scales, taking her time getting ready, and then all of a sudden she hits that first note, “Looking out on the morning,” and it was the most unbelievable performance I had ever seen.

MINOR Carole just kept saying, “Oh my God, oh my God,” and holding her head. She had never seen Aretha play piano and sing her song. Lots of people don’t know that Aretha plays piano, but if you want to get her true sound, you need her playing. Vocally she knows where she’s going, so she can lead herself into that on piano. She’s got more movement in certain places than most pianists would. That teaches her rhythm section to get out of the way, to support her and not dictate how the song goes.

WEISS It’s a roomful of people who have seen a lot of artists over the years, but not a lot of people have seen Aretha sitting down at a piano.

KENNEDY I couldn’t believe what was coming out of her mouth. She got up from the piano, walked downstage, and dropped her fur coat in the middle of the stage.

RITA MORENO, Kennedy Center honoree: The moment she “casually” dropped her massive mink coat onto the stage was one for the ages.

MINOR I was playing bass right behind her. When she dropped that jacket, I almost dropped my bass. It was so in the moment — I don’t think she planned it.


ARETHA FRANKLIN (speaking with in 2016) I wasn’t sure about the air factor onstage, and air can mess with the voice from time to time. And I didn’t want to have that problem that evening. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Kennedy Center, and I wanted to have a peerless performance. Once I determined that the air was all right while I was singing, I said, “Let’s get out of this coat! I’m feeling it. Let’s go!”

WEISS Of all the television I’ve done, and there’s been a lot, this was one of the most viral clips. I was in the TV truck, in the loading dock behind the stage, watching the monitors for the 14 cameras. Not only was I seeing what was going on, but I’m seeing reactions in the crowd, and I’m making choices of what’s going to go on the air. There was such electricity in the room — part of it might be because of how moved Carole King was. During that show, a lot of the audience will look to see how the honoree responds. When something like this happens, all your plans go out the window and you’re capturing the live moments: the audience gets up on their feet and the president is wiping a tear from his eye.

TAYLOR She was in excellent form and in excellent voice. She was also funny and wry and with it — I thought she would be with us another 10 years.

MORENO She brought a prodigious talent, musicality, and down stompin’ woman’s sass to all she does.

CICELY TYSON, Kennedy Center honoree She had the most beautiful face. You could see her emotions in her face as well as hear them in her voice. It was no surprise when the audience stood up — you can’t sit and listen to her and not be moved. After she finished, she came off the stage and she had a huge bouquet of flowers. She walked up the aisle and an audience member joked, “Are those for me?” She said, “I’m sorry, they’re for my lady,” and she brought them right to me and put them in my arms.

KENNEDY She was up in the stratosphere with those riffs, but every cell of her being seemed to be in the music. There was nothing else, just her and the song. That’s what we try to do as artists — we try to get to where she was that night.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page C4 of the New York edition with the headline: When ‘A Natural Woman’ Blew the Roof Off.

Sold my soul for a case of “Bit of Honey”

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My niece said, they’re auditioning at the Hilton, you should go. Even though I hadn’t seen or heard of the show, I said okay.

The medium sized meeting room was filled with perspective contestants and staff, who asked you about yourself and hobbies. When they asked me had I’d seen the show, I figured I was doomed. But no one gave me the heave ho and We saw a video of the show and played a mock version of the show. I was terrible.

When I was younger, my mother and I would occasionally drive down to LA to see the taping of some of the shows like Johnny Carson, Laverne and Shirley and various game shows. The game shows were lucrative, because they gave audience members a fist full of tickets to entice us to sit through the hours of taping. It was common for them to tape ten to fourteen shows a day. We came home with Tee Shirts, Electric Can Opener and was grueling.

I had long forgotten about Face the Music when they called and told me to come down to LA. Bring changes of clothing and expect to stay 14 hour a day. I had no expectations of winning a car or a ton of cash, I was just excited to be on TV.

My wife and I rented an Oldsmobile Cutlass and drove down to LA, where we stayed in a seedy hotel on Hollywood Boulevard near the Sunset Studios. I convinced her, the long day would be worth it because of the cash and prizes.


We arrived to the studio. As I was walking away, my wife remembered I had the rental car keys and the room keys and as she was walking towards me to retrieve the keys, she was blocked by two security guards. Who took the keys from me, and put them in an envelope, sealed the envelope and gave the sealed envelope to my wife, who was less than fifteen feet away.


In my mind, we would tape then break for lunch. I was assigned to a waiting area with other contestants ,where we were told the rules. We had to sign various releases including one very scary release that said, if the show was preempted in one of the five largest markets, we would forfeit our prizes. So if there was a national emergency, I could kiss my 1980 Ford Pinto goodbye.

We all learned that home during the taping would be this large room in a loft in the studio, where there was a dressing area, two restrooms and a large lighted mirror. The contestants were encouraged to entertain ourselves and watch the taping on a portable TV.


There were snacks for us A large steel can held the IRIS soft drinks, coffee was in a large teachers coffee pot. with an orange light. Lunch on the first day was fried chicken, poured into another large steel can lined with a black garbage bag and chips. Napkins were our plates. No one complained.


Face the Music was produced Sandy Frank, who was responsible for the very successful “Name that Tune”. The twist, however, was that in addition to identifying the songs that the orchestra played, the contestants had to link the song titles to famous people, places, and things. (Remember. I sucked here) The Host was Ron Ely, who was best known for his loin cloth in TV’s Tarzan. Way, way, wayyyy back in 1966. The Singer was Lisa Donovan who’s trademark move was twisting her shoulders at the beginning of every show. Her twisting slowly took over the room. By the end of the first evening all of us were twisting with Lisa


They called us for the show. People traveled from Washington State to be on the show. There were nearly eighty of us. Two new contestants for each show meant, only 28 would get on if they taped fourteen shows. If!

My reality changed after realizing that I wasn’t guaranteed to get on. After I told everyone I was going to be on. “Fuck”

I was one of six black contestants. One brotha, names Eugene, killed it and became the champion. While we should be happy for him, all we felt was dread. You never seen blacks on one game show in those days. Eugene went on to win three other shows. They taped 11 shows that day.

My new wife, was disappointed that I didn’t get on. To make matters worse, the audience prizes were mostly tee shirts.


Several times a day the producers would visit the loft. The staff, asked us to chant their names as they walked up the stairs, the chants would grow louder as the producers got closer to the room, when the the door open there as absolute pandemonium, we were jumping up and down.

These were all self respecting people who would never act this way. ANYWHERE! But we wanted to get on, so we tossed aside our self respect and screamed they way the told us too.

By the second and final day, I was depressed. I kept it to myself. Even with the announcement they were going to tape 14 shows, did nothing to relieve my sadness. I told everyone I was going to be on TV, and now it looks likes its not going to happen.

Eugene, who came out of top for four episodes, lost in the the pivotal fifth episode which would have guaranteed him a new car. I felt bad for wanting him to lose.

In the room, you could feel the disappointment. I even sang a sad song that make a couple of people cry.

At one point, they asked us to come downstairs. Showtime, was shooting a documentary (I think) featuring game show contestants. We all signed releases without looking. When the cameras were on me, I told them how excited I was to be on and how well we were treated (All lies)

We returned to more chicken. I sat staring at set. There was no more Lisa Donovan Twist. Just as I started to settle into my reality, I wasn’t going to be on. They called my name.

The other contestants made me feel important even though I would never see them again. The brotha worked on my Natural, others made sure every thing was perfect. No one had to coach me about my energy. I was ready.

When Ron Ely asked what I did? In song, I said I was an opera singer. My colleagues at the insurance company where I worked as clerk, teased me about that for months.

(An Opera, what?)

I didn’t make it past the first round, BUT, I was a hit, with pats on the back from staffers and the female producer. I got carried away by the laughs in the audience. Ron Ely, told me to settle down. But who was he? I was a hit!

My consolation prize was a selection of Bulova Clocks and a Case of Bit of Honey.

The car was especially quiet leaving the studio. Then all of sudden “Wedding Ring” WEDDING RING!! WEDDING RING!!! my wife is screaming! Was the answer, to the question. I made the mistake and said, I know! HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW WEDDING RING!!! We have only been married a few months. WED-DING RING!

An unscheduled stop at Del-Taco, reduced the temperature of the car.


I have auditioned for several games shows. From the Zoo like atmosphere of the Price is Right, to Card Sharks, I was called by three of the four shows I auditioned for. But the more I thought about the degradation and making a complete fool of myself, and decided against it.

If can’t say if this is the experience at all game shows, but I was one and done.

My prize arrived six months later, I was Bit O Honey for world

Every now and then I will get a call from someone who has seen me on Face The Music, on Game Show Network and other Cable channels and I walk away, we no regrets. While all my children know that I’m crazy, I wish I could get a copy of the episode so they might share it with their children

See you on Cable


I am a “Masterchef” survivor

MasterChef casting

Have you ever wondered what kind of person auditions for reality TV? Here’s my story, and what I saw

By: Jessie Glenn/

This life story was originally published on Salon on February 18, 2018.
If you take 300 people and push them to an extreme stress level, some of them will die under the pressure. I believe producers of reality shows know this is true. There are no former reality show contestants who will candidly discuss the process of casting and filming a major reality show because the contracts contestants sign contain nondisclosure agreements in addition to frank threats against their family and friends.
And, elements of reality show casting are horrific enough to deserve a transparent discussion. Full of dangerous, dirty secrets; no one can talk about the full details except me, an unlikely candidate from the start. The only explanation I have is that my interest was accelerated by a desire to please, an insensate understanding of pop culture and a pathological curiosity. 

When my husband Billy and his daughter Lila moved in with me and my children in 2008, they brought with them a riot of  pop culture we had never been exposed to. As I sorted through the novel offerings I understood two things almost immediately: I hated video games the most and liked cooking shows the best. We had watched “Hell’s Kitchen” for two years already when  “MasterChef” began its run in 2010. Billy got me hooked in the first season. I dug into the sort of anxiety that resolves deliciously at the end of each season and enjoyed recreating and embellishing the food in my own kitchen. We watched season 2 but, really, I watched Billy watch the second season. He liked watching it, and I wanted to be the thing he liked watching.

Even with my limited knowledge of reality shows, I knew that real people became unreal characters. I’d long understood that the caveat to my lifelong atheism was that though there is no one creator god, all gods are real, because people create them through belief.

Once made, gods take on their own power. It’s not just mental illness that causes a person to think a god voice has spoken to them. It’s also that the god has been brought into existence as a character with a measure of his or her own free will. Same with reality show contestant fame. Did I want my husband to see me on television as a kitchen goddess creature brought into existence for a moment? Yes, I did. I wanted to be more special than a person. That impulse alone is both questionable and problematic for a person weighing the odds of a dangerous decision. And I imagine it’s a feeling shared by most people wanting to be reality stars.

The casting process that no one is allowed to talk about occurs in multiple stages. Most contestants send a video, then go and prepare a “signature dish” in person at various tryouts around the country (I drove to Seattle to do mine), at which point the “signature dish” is graded by subcontracted cooking school judges in secret. If they pass you on, the next step is filling out reams of paperwork that end up coaxing a TV-ready backstory and a streamlined brand where, before, there was simply a person.

For other contestants there is a different path. Quite a few of the “kooky” contestants, the ones with puppets and spells and flying falcons, are recruited, but for comic relief rather than a quick advance to the finals. They are Hollywood eccentric staples. Christine Ha, however, the winner of season 3, was recruited based on her Blind Chef cooking blog. Luca, winner of season 4, was recruited after an unsuccessful tryout with me in season 3. For me, this raised the question: Do they choose the winner before the first tryouts?

For us regular schlubs, once you pass the next few rounds of casting online, you get to fly to LA (which you pay for yourself). You gather with some of the other contestants in a nondescript meeting room at The Doubletree Hotel in Culver City and you all complete a two-hour-long personality psych test reminiscent of the somewhat outdated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The test is analyzed by a computer while you wait and the results are then given to a psychiatrist who meets with each potential contestant. You do not get to see the results. It seemed to me that the point of the test is to judge what dramatic traits each person has that could be harvested later for a plot twist.

I filled out the questionnaire carefully, consistently, and not at all truthfully. “You’re a real rule follower, hmm?” asked the tall, fit examiner, who looked as if he could be a psychiatrist out of central casting himself. “I suppose so,” I answered blandly. I knew that tests with multiple similar questions asked in different ways are testing for lies. But, I think I beat it. The doctor figure asked a lot of other questions about mental health and what I guessed were follow-up questions for: hypochondriasis, hysteria, psychopathic deviation and hypomania, among other conditions. More generally, the test was an attempt to predict behavior in various situations. Or, what TV producers would call plotlines. Over the course of the 15-minute interview I peppered posed naïveté with sassy, authentic eye contact, thus maintaining the brand I had created without breaking character. Had he worked for other shows, I asked? My voice pitched higher than usual. “Yes!’” he said, “‘The Biggest Loser,’ ‘American Idol,’ all the Fox shows.”

I was too pissed at the thought of his sadistic prying into the vulnerable psyches of the idiots who would want to go on reality TV to maintain my “PNW Organic Mom 2.0” profile. “What about that First Do No Harm clause in your medical training?” I asked, my eyes narrowing now. I never imagined I would actually get to say that to a doctor in real life. I wanted to make him uncomfortable.

“We’re done here,” he said, opening the door. “Go see the private investigator now.”

The experience with the “MasterChef” detective felt just as invasive. No, I never modeled underwear for softcore porn. I don’t think? I’m sure I did many worse things he didn’t ask about, though, and I sweated guilt. He must have known I was guilty. I can’t remember what he looked like or how long I was in his office. Was I ever arrested? I don’t remember. What will the financial credit report, arrest records, residential history and historical reports he ordered dig up? Because I’ve done nothing. Right?

I flew back home to Portland, Oregon, the same day I left and felt wild, violated and alive. The blood and pee samples I had to send to them from the lab after I got home felt like no big deal after the professional interrogation. Submit. Submit your blood, they said. Yes, sir. I did.

I passed the next round of casting and they sent me the final multiple contracts by email and I sent them back 17 bulleted questions about the details because oh my god, they were unbelievabledocuments. Any part of myself that desired to please got trampled by the part that liked to win.

In the “MasterChef” contract, which a casting director later told me was essentially identical to those of most reality competition shows, they asked me to agree to be subjected to physical and mental distress, to agree to have my medical history used in any way that they wanted and to use it in perpetuity, to agree that my family would likely not be contacted in the case of an emergency. They asked me to release the show and its employees from liability for any injury to myself from risks both known and unknown. They asked that I release them from liability from the social and economic losses that could result and to please note that the consequences could be substantial and could permanently change the future for me, my family, friends and significant others.

They asked for a clause that could have kept me from working at my own media publicity company and to remove my own company website on their request.

They asked me to agree to pay a 15 percent “management fee” to a company called One Potato Two Potato (OPTP) owned by . . .  Gordon Ramsay. This fee would then apply to any income or even gifts I received in any context potentially related to the showI asked if OPTP would do any other career management. No, they said.

Despite the huge number of questions I asked, and despite the lawyers that they undoubtedly employed along with the detectives and psychiatrists, somehow someone missed that I never sent back the signed contract. I promised nothing.

The day before all the contestants arrived, the casting department called to say I had made the cut. I was a contestant. They were flying me out to LA the next day. Clearly, I was a replacement for someone else who dropped out at the last minute and I figured, fuck it. I never signed anything waiving any of my rights and as the daughter of a journalist, I’m genetically hardwired to be curious. It was the most perfect setup for a pathologically inquisitive, masochistic exhibitionist that ever was. I couldn’t wait to get there.

The contestant minders were called wranglers. They were all gorgeous. Perry was the lead wrangler but her official title was Contestant Coordinator. There were quite a few wranglers and in my memory they run together into one attractive, fit, amoral blur. All of the contestants stayed in a hotel for the first two days and, pelted with questions, the wranglers told us some things and would not tell us other things. It was hurry up and wait and whisper and guess. We spent all the time asking what was happening and where we were going and when we were eating. They got direction through earbuds which would then be transmitted to us.

There was an odd assembly where a producer (who appeared to be an actor) assured us that all the contestants had the same chance of winning or he would get in trouble with some official body and we should try our hardest. Then a member of the “official body” came on stage and shook his finger at the phony-looking producer and the producer pretended to be scared. It was like watching a psych version of WWF.

Everyone there besides me seemed like they were OK with believing whatever they were told. The contestants applauded and shrieked like initiates in a revival tent. Each one was a winner. They all just knew it. I was almost jealous. I missed out on the orgy of emotion and faith that the reality show congregants trampled over each other to prove.

We contestants were each interviewed during the first two days in front of a production set of fake produce, a regular horn of plenty, where I refused to be filmed holding the Walmart bag. We weren’t allowed out of the hotel room unless we were with the wranglers, who would take us on one or two outings, either to the hotel pool or a burger place, where we would share enormous confidences with one another. Explosive familiarity bloomed in these small portions of time we were able to see other people, strangers, who were all equally anxious to unfold their shininess to other shiny strangers after the stress of staying hours in a hotel room with antagonists and no phones. Because the wranglers made a huge deal out of telling us our roommate selections were random. And because that appeared impossible.

Everything the wranglers said seemed a pretty obvious setup to me to add intensity and create plotlines. I could see it from the outside (I kept a notebook, of course) and the artifice was fascinating and well done. From the inside it felt . . . gross. They had asked me about religion; Atheist, I said. And food: all local and organic! So I was roomed with a devout Evangelical Christian woman who used sugar, Rice Krispies and food coloring to make statues of the judges’ heads, which she brought with her from Texas. The Palestinian and the Israeli were roomed together (the Israeli contestant dropped out before the end of the weekend). The short, anxious, possibly gay man and the bully banker. The flamboyant opera singer and the dead-eyed animal tracker. Contestants chosen for the producers’ raw accessibility to stereotyped plotlines. Locked in together for hours. Fascinating. Cruel. Effective. More than any other experience in my life, the wranglers exemplified the ideology of “just following orders.”

Once filming started we had 14-hour days on set while contestants took turns cooking, then either failed or made it through to the next round. Our clothing was assigned the first day and cleared with costume and we wore the same thing each day as the musky people smell increased and slept-in hairstyles were prodded back to center. As the people who didn’t get an apron left each day, the remaining contestants’ relationships grew more intense. The man with the puppets who read handwriting samples, the pastor’s wife from Detroit, the witch who tried to put a spell on the judges and the vegan bread maker who was shocked (shocked!) to hear that yeast was alive left fairly quickly. The Jamaican Marine cooking peas and rice; the Italian cook who came back to win season 4; the gentle Hawaiian man whose parents promised to kill me a pig; the fabulous, black, Christian opera singer; the racist, alcoholic redneck, they mostly stayed till the end of the week.

The shiniest people were obvious from the beginning. The star power of Felix Fang, the technique and focus of Becky Reams, the staggering capability of blind contestant Christine Ha and the hugely tall, kind, food lover and former Army Corps of Engineers contract specialist Josh Marks outshined the rest of us, as we all stretched our powers of charisma.

My tryout was at the last part of the last day of the weeklong tryouts. The only people left were the ones who were continuing along to the next episode and the set was quieter than the days before. My dad (the journalist), my husband, my brother and his wife (pop culture enthusiasts), our three kids and my brother’s daughter flew down to California to watch while I cooked.

That morning, I left my wallet in the hotel room and future finalist Josh Marks noticed I was desperate for some coffee. “I got it!” he said. I blushed. I hate accepting things from people I don’t know well. “I’ll get you back when you’re famous,” I said. As if I didn’t care. “Absolutely,” he answered cheerfully. But I didn’t get the chance to buy Josh Marks a cup of coffee. No one has been able to do that for several years now.

On set through the day, the pressure mounted. I am not generally fazed by strangers trying to stress me out, but the wranglers and interviewers are pros. They also try out for the job that they have and the skill is being able to set people off balance. When contestants talk into the camera in a reality show, they are answering questions that have been carefully and tactically worded to create an interestingly uncomfortable moment. I was surprised to find myself flustered. I burned the goddamn garlic. Why did I decide to use a Japanese mandolin when I had never used one before? Because I wanted to know how it worked just like I wanted to know how a reality TV show worked. But, it turns out solving puzzles with a clock running down while people try to destabilize you is less satisfying on set than in real life.

Like the scene from “The Wizard of Oz,” I walked slowly past the crowd pushing a cart with my signature dish on in through the black curtain darkness with all of the videographers and wranglers dressed in black, motionless, watching me and suddenly: there I was in a cavernous room. Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich were elevated on a stage in front of me, brightly lit god-men.

They each asked me about the dish (it’s an egg frittata with California asparagus and goat butter Hollandaise! All sourced within five miles of the warehouse and all organic!). Branding myself as “Portland Locavore” was a no-brainer. They each walked down from the stage one at a time and tasted; then, an airplane flew over the warehouse. “Damn, that ruined the ambience,” said Graham. I started cracking up. “OK, again,” said one of the interviewers. I regained my lack of awe.

“Beauty shot,” said the cameraman. “We want to take a long still of your plate.” I backed off obediently and then realized they were filming me, not the plate. That was how they got those odd shots of people nervously waiting right before a commercial break. I stared back at the camera, eyes as flat as possible. Fuck. No.

“No,” said Joe. “Yes,” said Graham. Then I remembered — they had already interviewed me about this — “which judge’s ‘yes’ vote would be most important and emotional for you?” I had told them, well, Graham will say yes, Joe will say no, so Gordon’s the swing vote. Which is how they wrote it. So that I would react.

I knew I wouldn’t get an apron because I was a replacement contestant from the start, plus I wouldn’t hold the Walmart bag. As I watched during the week, I learned that the food had little to do with moving past the first round. The tryout round was to watch contestants for telegenic qualities, one-liners and quick responses on camera and potential plotlines between contestants. The second round knocked out all of the contestants who had compelling, touching backstories but not much cooking experience and/or not enough plotline potential.

“Daaamn. Shame,” Gordon said in his thick British accent. He didn’t like my frittata (burned garlic).  “But the goat butter Hollan-dez is rally qu-white good.”

“Thanks!!” I couldn’t help being excited by the verbal pat on the head. I knew that on top of the other egregious actions sustained by the “MasterChef” contestants, Gordon’s management company was waiting to siphon off future earnings from winners. But he was awfully charismatic in person. I think it was season 3 winner Christine Ha who said he smells incredible. I didn’t get close enough and I wasn’t going to be one of those people who asked for a hug in the first round.

There was a dramatic pause in which I felt zero anxiety. “No,” he said. Because I knew he would. I can’t deny a bit of disappointment, though, as much as I would like to. So I didn’t win at not caring entirely, but I gave it my all.

I walked back through the door with no apron and everyone made sad sounds for the camera. I looked at my husband — let’s get the fuck out of here. “Stop. Exit interviews,” said the wrangler.

She wasn’t the wrangler I had been led around by all week and she wasn’t Perry, queen of the wranglers, but she was enough of a voice of authority that I stopped rather than diving through the open door like I wanted to. It might have been Carter. Or Angelic. It’s possible this next part is a stress memory, but I’m nearly certain that the exit interview took place in an elevated boxing ring. Although there’s no good reason there would be a boxing ring in the warehouse. Maybe the ring was there so I wouldn’t contaminate the winners with failure. Losers were very strictly not allowed to speak with other contestants. Once you failed, you no longer belonged.

I rushed through the interview quickly and was so close to the industrial backdoor when another gorgeous anonymous wrangler told me I had to see the psychiatrist again. No, not the same doctor. “Do you harbor any thoughts of killing any of the judges or yourself?” he asked.  “No . . . .” said I. They finally let me go.

When I got home I was a little screwed up. Despite knowing that they were messing with me, it worked, probably because I thought I was immune. Anxious, neurotic, easily startled and sobbing off and on for the next week, I was mortified that I could have inadvertently exposed my children to a bout of my depression (self-imposed, no less). I hid as much as possible and it passed in a week or so. The children steadfastly pretended not to notice.

I learned later from speaking with a number of the runner-up cooks that every round longer that a contestant stayed in the competition, the symptoms of traumatic stress appeared more intense when they returned home. Many of the runners-up from each season appear quite damaged. Some are unable to hold jobs, have difficulties with explosive anger. The winners fare somewhat better but not always. I’m still friends with many of them on Facebook and there are secret Facebook groups to talk about all things reality, though interest for most contestants dies off over the years other than blatant self-promotion, fundraising and talk of appearances on other cooking shows.

Despite thinking most of the people who decided to sign that contract were total rubes, the contestants of season 3 were some of the most interesting people I ever met and I don’t doubt that they all had their own reasons for submitting to the abuse. It was a group formed by a casting department for intentionally created, attractive diversity: telegenic people from as many walks of life as they could come up with, who would do practically anything for attention and who loved food. I wouldn’t have traded that part of the experience. But it’s impossible to discuss the experience of being a short-term reality show contestant without noting that some don’t emerge from the experience unscathed.

The week the season finished filming, after he lost the finale to Christine Ha, Josh Marks, the self-titled “gentle giant,” was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He struggled with psychosis. Josh got into several conflicts, including a fight with cops, and heard voices in his head. Police said he claimed he had been possessed by Ramsay. It’s not hard to imagine the god that Gordon Ramsay became through Josh’s deep faith actually manifested.  The week before he took his life, Josh was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I met this man’s family. I met his mother, who struggled to find adequate mental health resources for him in Chicago. Josh was kind and decent and excited about his future and starting a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard and I mourned his death.

All three of our kids told me that reality TV was stupid and that on-set filming was boring. I think they were still annoyed that I tried to leave them for a month. My husband and I never really watched cooking shows again until the “Great British Bake Off” years later. I felt bad about it in a topical way — we had to start watching something else, so thank god for “True Blood.”

An activity I thought would be partially a lark and partially an unprofessional investigation became something else: an experiment in power and submission and subversion over which I had no control. I knew there would be danger, but I thought the danger would give me energy, that it would excite me creatively where a happy marriage and a calm few years had left me feeling  dull and soft without the potential for danger. But instead of feeling like a warrior surviving a crucible, I left feeling I had failed to protect the tender people. Eccentric, charismatic strangers, yes, but these fragile egotists couldn’t have completely known the results of professional abuse. Being violated is something that can make people feel alive. But that doesn’t make it safe.

A month after I returned home I got a chatty note from the casting director. “Oh, could you send me those final forms, it seems we don’t have your signed contract.”

“I’m really not at all wild about that idea,” I wrote back.

“I’m having legal call you to straighten this out.”

“Feel free to email.”

They never contacted me again.


He lied, destroyed evidence. CBS say’s No Mr Moonves you may not collect $120 million

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Former CBS Boss Man Les Moonves and Wife Julie Chen (picture Google) CBS announced on Monday it will not pay out a controversial $120 million severance package to former CEO Leslie Moonves. The company said it had ample reason to fire the disgraced executive for cause.

By:Vanessa Romo/NPR

Disgraced former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who’s been accused of sexual harassment and assault, has been denied the controversial $120 million severance package contained in his contract, the network’s board of directors announced on Monday.

The decision follows an investigation by two law firms into the allegations against Moonves which culminated in a graphic report that concluded that the company had ample of reasons to fire the television executive for cause, subsequently paving the way for it to withhold the whopping payout.

“With regard to Mr. Moonves, we have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation,” the statement said.

The board said harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS, but the company has not placed a “high institutional priority” on preventing it.

Moonves was forced to step down in September, following a New Yorker story in which a dozen women came forward claiming he had sexually harassed or assaulted them. That story came nearly a year after the #MeToo movement began to gain traction in the entertainment industry.

Among the CBS report’s damning findings, according to The New York Times, which received a leaked copy, is that Moonves “destroyed evidence and misled investigators in an attempt to preserve his reputation and save a lucrative severance deal.” The report also included several previously undisclosed allegations of sexual misconduct.

Additionally, as The Times’ Rachel Abrams, told NPR’s All Things Considered:

“The lawyer said that they investigated 11 of the 17 women who they knew of who had made accusations against Mr. Moonves. And they make a point multiple times in their report to say that they found the women credible. And by contrast – if I could just read you what they wrote about Mr. Moonves – they said they found him to be evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct. And the lawyers also wrote that Mr. Moonves engaged in multiple acts of serious, nonconsensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace both before and after he came to CBS in 1995.”

Another salacious bombshell from investigators, as reported by the Times, is that Moonves received oral sex from at least four employees “under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity (especially given what we know about his history of more or less forced oral sex with women with whom he has no ongoing relationship).”


CBS has a history of Sexual Harassment Cases-Cybill Shepard said her show was cancelled after refusing Moonves 

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Investigators also found that CBS management was aware of allegations against Moonves for years. Former board member Arnold Kopelson, who died in October, was informed as early as 2007 about an attack in which a woman said “Moonves had masturbated in front of her and tried to kiss her during a doctor’s visit in 1999,” Abrams told NPR, adding that there is no evidence Kopelson took any action to look into the allegations or inform other board members.

Moonves’ attorney, Andrew Levander, told NPR in a statement that “the conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit.”

“Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated this ‘process’, the press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy,” Levander said. “Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”


Before you shed a tear for Mr Moonves.  His estimated net worth is $800 million dollars.


CBS has a history of sexual harassment cases ” Cybill Shepard said her show was cancelled after rejecting Moonves advances”


During its four year run from 1995-1998 on CBS “Cybill” received 12 Emmy Nominations. In 1996, Cybill won the Golden Globe for best Comedy Series.  Cybill Shepard won the 1996 Golden Globe for best actress in a Comedy.  Co-star Christine Baranski won an Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy.

From Wiki: The series got respectable (though never spectacular) ratings throughout most of its run, but was abruptly canceled by CBS at the end of the 1997-98 season after a noticeable ratings decline. The show was actually pulled from the CBS schedule after the April 8, 1998 episode had aired; the remaining new episodes that had already been produced were aired over the summer. Shepherd much later alleged that the cancellation occurred because the network was uncomfortable with Cybill’s feminist leanings and frank depiction of female sexuality. The cancellation was not expected by the show’s staff, as the series ends with a cliffhanger and the words “To Be Continued…” on the screen. At the time of its cancellation, the show’s ratings were higher than Nash Bridges (1996-2001) and Chicago Hope (1994-2000); those shows continued to air on CBS.


Last week on Michelle Collins show on Sirius XM

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Cybill Shepard said her show “Cybill” was cancelled because she rejected CBS CEO Les Moonves .   She said Moonves arranged a dinner date with her after a few seasons into the show.  “His assistant and my assistant made a dinner date and we went to it and he was, well, he was telling me his wife (Moonves was married to Nancy Moonves at the time)  didn’t turn him on, some mistress didn’t turn him on,” Shepherd told Collins.

“And I’m watching him drink alcohol and…he says, ‘well, you know, why don’t you let me take you home?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve got a ride’ and I had my car outside with a good friend of mine who is an off-duty LAPD officer.”


CBS TO Moonves $120 million dollar severance package? Forget about it!

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Initially, she believed the show was cancelled because the network was uncomfortable with Cybill’s feminist leanings and frank depiction of female sexuality. 

After she rejected Moonves, conflicts on the show heated up. Shortly after” that dinner, Shepherd said Moonves began sending notes to her and the other “Cybill” producers.

“Don’t have Cybill talk while she’s eating,” instructed one. Another dictated which words could and could not be used in a menopause-themed episode, telling them they couldn’t say “menses, menstruation or period … I had to fight to say ‘period.'”

The show was abruptly cancelled with completed episodes that was shown later in the season a very unusable practice.  Sheppard believed the series would have continued for several more seasons had she not spurned his advances.  “It would have run another five years,”  “We had the best writers in the world, and directors and actors, everybody was brilliant.”

In July, a dozen women came forward accusing Moonves of sexual misconduct. Their accounts were detailed in a piece written by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker.   Moonves was removed from his position as Chairman and CEO of CBS last September  after six additional women made similar claims. Cybill Shepard is the best known individual to come forward.

CBS Woman’s Problem

Most of the actresses aren’t well known to the general public.   Illeana Dougles was a

young actress when she met Les Moonves.   She was one of the six actress interviewed by

Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker.  During her appearance on “The View,” last October. Douglas described how CBS cast her in the pilot of a show called “Queens,” and after a promising introductory meeting, she received a call saying Les was “a little concerned about (her) attitude,” asking her to meet him in his office.

“I go to his office … I have my little clipboard of notes, and all I wanted to do was tell him what a team player I was going to be, to be in the show and how excited I was,” she recalled. “He started asking me a lot of personal questions and I was stumbling and fumbling and not really knowing what to say and that led to him jumping on top of me and putting his tongue down my throat and pinning me down on the coach.”

“Once he saw I wasn’t participating, he stopped and I just wanted to get out of the room … He said, ‘We’re gonna keep this between you and me, right? We’re not gonna tell anyone about this,'” Douglas continued.

After she escaped to her car and “broke down crying,” she described how her manager called her asking how the meeting had gone. “I said, ‘Why?’ And she said, ‘Because Les just called me … He said you guys had a lot of fun.’ “

Douglas was fired from the series shortly after their encounter, which she said Moonves claimed to be “due to poor performance during rehearsal.””I think what he’s referring to is my poor performance when we were alone together in his office,” she said.”

Excerpts From the LA Times “CBS board knew about Leslie Moonves”

CBS board members learned several months ago that the Los Angeles Police Department ad investigated an alleged sexual assault by CBS Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.   Although no charges were filed, Moonves disclosed the existence of a police investigation to a committee of the board, which then hired an outside law firm to investigate the matter, the knowledgeable people said.


The police investigation began in November after an 81-year-old woman told detectives that Moonves sexually assaulted her three decades ago when they both worked at then-television powerhouse Lorimar Productions, the studio behind such shows as “Dallas” and “Knots Landing.” The woman claimed the TV executive, during a 1986 meeting in his office, demanded oral copulation. She told police about another incident, in 1988, when he allegedly exposed himself and assaulted her, sources said.


Los Angeles County prosecutors said they declined to file charges in the case, saying the alleged incidents occurred more than 30 years ago and were thus beyond the statute of limitations. Prosecutors opted not to pursue the case in February. It is not clear precisely when CBS board members learned of the police inquiry, but they were aware that the district attorney had decided not to pursue the matter, one of the sources said.


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Excerpts from NY Times: The year of Reckoning at CBS


In the past 13 months, CBS has undergone a companywide reckoning in the wake of the #MeToo movement that has stretched from its morning show to its prime-time lineup, its news division to its executive suite. Three powerful men at the company — Leslie Moonves, its chief executive; Charlie Rose, its morning show anchor; and Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes” — have all lost their jobs because of workplace conduct.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Eliza Dushku, an actress on its hit show “Bull,” reached a $9.5 million settlement with CBS in January. She claimed she had been written off the series because she confronted Michael Weatherly, the show’s star, about harassing her.

The CBS board is reviewing the findings of an investigation by outside law firms into the allegations against Mr. Moonves and about the company’s wider culture.

“60 Minutes,” the Sunday newsmagazine series in its 51st season, is the crown jewel of CBS News.

But the program has a long track record of sexual harassment and misconduct. The Times revealed last week that CBS was still paying a woman who had accused the show’s founder, Don Hewitt, of sexual abuse. CBS pays her an annual stipend of $75,000 a year, and has offered her further payments in exchange for her silence. To date, CBS has paid her more than $5 million. Mr. Hewitt died in 2009.

Jeff Fager, who succeeded Mr. Hewitt as the show’s executive producer, was fired in September after he threatened a CBS News reporter who was looking into whether he had engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with colleagues. According to the draft report, the investigators said Mr. Fager had been justifiably fired and concluded that he had engaged in inappropriate behavior.

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Michelle Collins and Cybill Shepard @Sirius Studios

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