Tuesday, January 23, 2007
WEBSTER AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA
Today's story comes from an evening I recently spent with some very lovely, funny and cool CNNers, some past, some present.
But CNN work experience is a bit like the Alcoholics Anonymous slogan:
There are no former CNNers, just recovering ones.
So it seems that Emmanuel Lewis, a.k.a "Webster", once heralded as "The Tallest 40 Inches In Hollywood" was a self-proclaimed Talk Back Live fan...
DURING THE SUSAN ROOK YEARS.
He also ran a limousine service out of Atlanta.
I really don't know which of those facts is more bizarre.
Now, for any youngsters out there, "Webster" was one show in the "Rich White People Adopt Black Kids" genre of the early 1980's. The other show was of course Different Strokes, which taught us all the invaluable lesson that:
"The world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some."
I don't know if a genre can be defined by a mere two shows, but I digress.
Both sitcoms also featured actors with rare genetic traits that rendered them childlike, even when they were well into their adult years. Emmanuel Lewis was already 12 when he played loveable imp Webster, and Gary Coleman never seemed to hit puberty while playing Arnold "Whatchew talkin' 'bout Willis?" Jackson.
Fast forward several years. Way past Mr. Lewis's glory days of being featured on the cover of TV Guide.
It was the mid-1990's and Emmanuel Lewis, presumably taking the day off from running his limousine company, was seated in the Talk Back Live audience.
It seems that day Susan was hosting one of those "What's Going To Happen To The Young People of Today?" type shows. One of those topics that allows the anchor to plead for the audience to "Think of the Future of America!"
Caught up in the moment, she passionately grabbed little Emmanuel Lewis's hand, and in her finest anchor-speak, asked people in TV Land something along the lines of:
"What about the young people like him? What can we do for the young people of this country?"
Now, Emmanuel Lewis was about 25 years old at the time. Young yes, but a full-grown man nonetheless.
A full-grown man who may not have appreciated having his hand held like a 10-year-old.
Plus he was Webster.
Also known as the one time little buddy of Michael Jackson, who used to carry him around everywhere like a Louis Vuitton bag.
Apparently, the control room went nuts, shouting in Susan's ear "THAT'S WEBSTER! THAT'S WEBSTER!"
Once this fact registered, the hand was dropped, and she carried on like a pro. Just kept moving on to the next audience member.
Perhaps she learned how to keep her cool from another 1980's sitcom theme song. This one from Growing Pains, staring everyone's favorite Fundie Kirk Cameron:
"Show me that smile again. (Show me that smile)
Don’t waste another minute on your cryin’.
We're nowhere near the end (nowhere near)
The best is ready to begin.
Oooohhh. As long as we got each other
We got the world spinnin right in our hands.
Baby you and me, we gotta be
The luckiest dreamers who never quit dreamin’.
As long as we keep on givin’
we can take anything that comes our way
Baby, rain or shine, all the time
We got each other Sharin’ the laughter and love."