Monday, May 21, 2007

Dr. Phil for Promotion?

I'll be brutally honest with you. I'm a rabid "Brady Bunch" fan. It's not an intellectual choice. It's a primal problem -- a gene with which I was born that somehow predisposed me to love, love, love anything to do with that show. I've suffered through reruns since the show ended, I've watched all the movies, and -- I swear to you -- I even suffered through that darned variety show of theirs. And, yes, I own a copy of Barry Williams' book, Growing Up Brady, and have read it several times.

Look, we all have our issues.

All of this is to explain why, when I watched a promo for tomorrow's episode of "Dr. Phil" that featured a sobbing Maureen McCormick, I sat up and paid close attention. Three o'clock tomorrow, Eastern Time. Dr. Phil. Maureen McCormick. I'm there (or my DVD recorder is, anyway). I will watch anything that has to do with The Brady Bunch. I won't even try to defend myself. I know. I know! But I can't help it.

To put this into a more professional context, I'm wondering what's going on here. (Yes, I want to know -- I desperately want to know -- what's upsetting Marcia Brady so, but that's a whole other issue.) The little cynical other that resides in me (and who, evidently, didn't watch enough "Brady Bunch" episodes) wonders: what's in this for Maureen? Surely, the woman isn't in such dire financial straits that she can't afford to see a therapist if she needs one. I mean, surely, she could borrow the money from one of her siblings ... but there I go again. Never mind. What I'm trying to say is, what's Maureen McCormick doing on tmorrow's "Dr. Phil?" Is she looking to the big doctor for help the way an actual, you know, person would? Or is she promotin' a project, and perhaps she saw (or her publicist saw) the "Dr. Phil" show as a way to get some quick national media attention for it?

See? This is why all of us, and not just refugees from the planet Seventies, should wish every day of our lives that Mr. Brady were still among us. He, and he alone, could resolve all of our problems in 30 minutes (less, if you subtract the time that the commercials took). Mrs. Brady? Alice? Not even close. Sam the Butcher? Forget about it. Mr. Brady was the original Dr. Phil, and doggone it, his methodology worked. His kids turned out fine. His dog and cat probably turned out fine, too, although we can't be sure since Fluff wasn't seen after the pilot episode and we lost track of Tiger sometimes after Jan realized she wasn't allergic to him but, rather, to the dog shampoo he was using, where was I? Oh, yes.

Robert Reed, we miss you. We really, really miss you. Especially when we consider the fact that, if you were here now, we probably wouldn't have to watch "Dr. Phil" tomorrow. Which we will, for strictly professional reasons. We have to know: are celebrities (and former celebrities) using the "Dr. Phil" show to plug their projects? Is "Dr. Phil" becoming another way to enhance celebrity, and sell more movie tickets? Is it more than just a way for unknown nonfiction authors to get some book promotion? Is "Dr. Phil" becoming...a platform for B-celebrities? Stay tuned....

A few minutes lovers at the New York book fair

If you watched "60 Minutes" last night, then you were treated to an Andy Rooney segment that was unusually poignant -- for those of us who love books, anyway. Rooney's segment was about the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Where was Rooney's cynicism? He left it at home, for this segment. Instead, he seemed genuinely humbled to be in the presence of books and book-loving people, and he capped with a comment about how -- I'm paraphrasing -- the Book Fair made him believe there's still hope for our civilazation, after all.

Sure, there was a little bit of promotion in the segment -- promotion for an amazing annual event -- but, more importantly, it was a lovefest. Rooney, the crotchedy journalist, has loved books along. And we, who write, publish, and promote books, have loved them all along, too. What's not to love about this "60 Minutes" segment? You can watch it yourself by clicking here.