OWN Takes A Major Gamble On LiLo Series

14 03 2014

Legendary talk show host, entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey shocked audiences across America when she retired from her beloved afternoon syndicate, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in favor of heading her own network. Harpo Productions teamed with Discovery Communications to present “a mix of original programs, strips, specials, documentaries and acquired movies,” to replace the fledgling Discovery Health Channel.

OWN-OprahWinfreyNetworkOWN has established itself as a network with the sort of dynamic and dramatic content viewers ate up on Oprah’s original show; offering in-depth conversations on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” (now “Oprah Prime”), investigative documentaries on “Our America with Lisa Ling,” and scripted drama on “Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots.’
As of Sunday night, the reality program “Lindsay” joined the 2014 line-up, with a production order of eight episodes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you know who the titular Lindsay refers to. The circus that is Lindsay Lohan’s personal life raised its tents over Los Angeles over two years, notably between when she was filming Herbie: Fully Loaded (erratic behavior and vague hospital stays for a “kidney infection” held up production) and Georgia Rule (unpredictable attendance and attitude, along with a myriad of doctor’s visits for “dehydration and exhaustion” left co-stars and crew in the lurch).
LiLo_graphic1
A once-promising young star, Lohan has been sidelined from big-name and big-budget projects of late for being an ‘insurance risk—’ the industry’s way of highlighting that the actor/actress lacks credibility and poses a threat to the budget and schedule of a project (Film Insurance covers any unforeseen cost overruns related to the legal hiccups (like an arrest or lawsuit), illness, injury or death of cast and crew members of a given production.) Additionally, a string of poor reviews and financial returns have taken the light out of her star.
In the last decade, Lindsay Lohan has been to rehab six times; been charged with two DUIs, theft, assault, and possession of cocaine; violated her probation twice; and served a combined six weeks in the Century Regional Detention Facility, also known as Lynwood Jail.
lindsay-own-tv-show main
The series began filming in the summer of 2013, during the week after Lohan’s release from her sixth facility, Cliffside Malibu. In an effort to maintain the sobriety that has evaded her in the past, Lohan travels to New York City with a sober companion who is employed by the rehabilitation/counseling center. She states the move is to give her a (deserved?) clean slate, and keep her away from the temptations of L.A. nightlife.

While Lohan says all the right things about her struggles and the uphill battle she continues to face without alcohol or recreational drugs to dull/twist her reality, she continues to lack a certain accountability — despite telling filmmaker Amy Rice, “I know this is my last shot.” There is a fine line between acknowledging and blaming one’s dysfunctional family and upbringing as a source of stress that exacerbated their addictions. Lohan is still full of excuses, at one point foregoing a planned AA meeting because there are paparazzi outside her hotel. Understandably, she didn’t want to bring that sort of prying chaos into the lives of other attendees, but being seen at a meeting could only help her at this point; a fact she remains blind to. Finding a “sanctuary” she can call home is priority number one, when finding a regular therapist in the Big Apple and productive hobbies to fill her time should be.
Regardless of what mantras she spews or plans she alleges, it is difficult to picture Lindsay Lohan riding the subway (like Jay-Z) or walking her kids to school (like SJP). Ever. Jail and rehab have not provided a sufficient bottom, indicated by the “This Season on ‘Lindsay’” clips that followed the show.

Following her stint in rehab, Lohan was given an opportunity to appear on the cult-hit HBO series “Eastbound & Down,” which stars funnyman Danny McBride. Reportedly, the episode filmed without incident, and Lohan was a gracious guest. Recently, dual appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and a cameo scheduled on CBS’ “Two Broke Girls” are about all the work Lohan can hope for. She has a long road back to blockbusters— given that her most recent ‘feature’ The Canyons co-starred an adult figure (James Deen) and grossed a measly fifty grand.

The reality show, or ‘docu-series’ as Oprah is calling it, has elements of established guilty-pleasure programming many of you readers will be familiar with. In the roughly 48 hours since it premiered, I have watched the inaugural episode three times. I can assure bits of murky substance dependence, ála “Intervention;” a kooky cast of oblivious family members, ála “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo;” a misplaced desire for all things luxurious, ála “The Real Housewives of…;” and a borderline delusional self-assurance, ála auditions week of “American Idol.”  It’s damn near riveting, and at times not for great reasons. At one point, Lohan will declare: “Until I fuck up, you can’t assume I am going to.” History repeats itself, particularly in her life, so excuse us while we brace for implosion.

0202123As a former Lindsay (the actress) fan, I will undoubtedly continue to watch the mayhem that is in-store on “Lindsay” (the show).  I admit, I loved Mean Girls and even occasionally rock out to “Rumors” when it comes across shuffle on my iPod.
There’s a fine line between celebrities who genuinely struggle with addiction or mental illness and those who squander their chances and egregiously self-sabotage. Historically, I have given up (interest and/or creative admiration) on people whose personal lives eclipse their professional achievements.
[For example: In my mind, Katherine Heigl is an ungrateful twat who deserves to never work again; LeAnn Rimes is an attention-starved former childstar who knows she peaked at 13; and Justin Bieber is going to end up with a shell of his career and eternally on probation, just like Chris Brown, because nobody tells him ‘no’ or points out that saying ‘Jesus is my homeboy!’ doesn’t negate your moral misdeeds.] I digress.

I want to look at Lindsay in a decade and not even recall the criminal and pharmaceutical issues that plagued her for the last decade. There is no denying her talent, from her mature and intuitive turn as Ali Fowler on “Another World,” to her comic chops in Freaky Friday and emotional range shown in Prairie Home Companion and Chapter 27. Unfortunately, ratings for the series did not start off on a high, with a reported 693,000 viewers tuning in. It would appear that people are so over the hype and the shortcomings of this woman. Even in our 24/7-media cycle, stalkerazzi, fame-obsessed society watching this kind of epic failure loses its salacious glow and becomes just plain sad. 

I hope that LiLo gets herself together, for real, this time and pulls a Drew Barrymore-level or Robert Downey Jr.-level comeback. Those are the ideals for this situation. Seven more episodes to go; we’ll have to wait and see if the woman known for millions of water-cooler moments can work her magic once more, and reform this squandered celebrity into a stable, sober, consistent adult actress.

Advertisements




Michigan Mother Arrested for Attempted Murder of Disabled Teen Daughter

7 09 2013

I am so appalled by a People magazine brief I read online about this Michigan mother who tried to kill her autistic 14-year-old.  I can’t not comment on this.

Kelli Stapelton Mug Shot; Benzie County, MI

Kelli Stapelton Mug Shot;
Benzie County, MI

I can imagine, to a degree, what it’s like to parent a differently abled child; as my mother has been an educator and administrator in the special ed sector for nearly three decades. She worked with kids who were emotionally disturbed, had mental retardation, and autism. I have grown up being exposed to, and fairly well educated on, their issues and limitations, as well as the strategies and successes; and participated in different activities with and for autistic children and young adults. On several occasions, particular students that struck a chord with her would be brought into our home and included in family activities.
My mom’s stories about some of the pitiful families these kids come from turn your stomach and break your heart. These children are not disposable, not a single one of them, no matter how impaired or volatile. People with patience can achieve results that will leave the kid feeling capable and valuable.

That said, reading about the the accused, Kelli Stapleton, sent me immediately into a kind of rage. HOW could any parent kill their child? HOW could any parent of a disabled child turn on them that way? HOW will this girl, if she ever recovers, be able to trust her mother (and primary caregiver) again?!

I was compelled to read Stapleton’s blog, which is titled “The Status Woe,” which was not only referenced but quoted in the People article. (DISCLOSURE: Like this page, it is hosted by WordPress.)

I cannot believe what I read.  It is one thing to advocate for your child, a very necessary thing whether they fall on the spectrum or not, but quite another to admit to bullying your way to get what you want-– when the trained professionals have a different plan for how best to manage your child’s day to day. “It takes a village,” unless Kelli Stapleton lives in that village. She is a one-woman show.
Besides the fact that this woman has put their entire lives, every bloody detail, out there for the world when her daughter has no way to protest; I was disturbed by the amount of attention-seeking and immature illustrating Stapleton does.  How can someone expect to be respected and taken seriously when they have adorned their “website” with gifs and banners, admitted to being profanely vulgar towards a county mental health staff, or chastising a teacher (and co-worker of your spouse!) because she dared to do her job and input on the ‘behavior plan.’

There are certain phrases, buzz words if you will, that people in this industry- parents, educators and aides, and (OT/PT) therapists- do not use. (Ex: Normal.) Stapleton’s blog is littered with them and she places blame on the child for behavior she is not yet able to control (Ex: stating her daughter makes their homelife ‘horrific’). These are not altogether unforgivable offenses, but they raise red flags.  Stapleton is very ‘me me me,’ telling the Traverse City Record-Eagle last February that she started her blog because “I felt like I needed witnesses… If I didn’t survive this situation, I wanted people to know that I was a good mom and I did everything I could do, and I asked for help from all these resources.”
She even blogged that, “For 12 years, I have done a fabulous job of complementing professionals to stroke egos, kissing enormous asses to get needs met, flexing my muscles when necessary, and begging when it was called for,” but stated outright that no one would be “FUCKING WITH THE BEHAVIOR PLAN.” Seems to me like it’s Stapleton’s way or the highway, and that means her daughter’s well-being hangs in the balance.

I won’t feign sympathy for someone who tried to kill their child, and being that her family has volunteered personal information by way of that blog, and a Facebook group, I CAN CRITICIZE HER ALL I WANT.

Isabelle, and her father, Matthew Stapleton. Photo source: The Daily Mail (UK)

Isabelle, and her father, Matthew Stapleton.
Photo source: The Daily Mail (UK)

Stapleton’s husband, Matthew, wrote (in part) on the “Team Issy” Facebook September 5th: “So many of you have been very supportive of Isabelle and my family… and for this we are grateful. We are blessed with supportive friends, family, and an incredible community. Even strangers have been supportive of Issy and we ask that they continue to do so during this tough time.
We are also aware of the many stories and rumors that can accompany such events. We ask that you continue to keep the focus on Isabelle’s recovery and not necessarily on the events that have brought us to this unfortunate fight for her life. We ask that people don’t judge, but instead direct their positive energies on the recovery of this beautiful young lady.”

Seriously?  Haven’t you asked your community for enough?  They bought bracelets and t-shirts, they signed petitions and sent letters, they consistently fundraise. Your wife, who previously said the community’s continued support was “just so humbling and beyond generous and amazing”, just tried to kill your daughter.  How dare you even consider asking more of them.

Autism is no one’s choice, but the situation the Stapleton’s now find themselves is entirely Kelli Stapleton’s fault. Her choices to strong arm the insurance companies, the clinical organizations and therapists, the school district… all lead to this family’s back being against a wall and their daughter with no program to attend. Stressful as that is, killing her solves none of the problems, and further, doesn’t teach her mother to be less selfish.  Several news outlets (GOOGLE IT, I can’t link to them all) report that the “incident” was a murder-suicide… perhaps. But as we see entirely too often with filicide, the parent survives. THAT is why Kelli Stapleton has been charged with a crime, THAT is why Kelli Stapleton deserves to be in jail, THAT is why Matt Stapleton should get a good divorce lawyer.

I look forward to the comments and continuing coverage of this story. I can only hope it reaches national news channels and crime shows (I’m looking at you, Nancy Grace), and justice is properly served for this girl.

—————————————————————————————————————
UPDATE     Despite statements made to police that Stapleton believed it was time she and her daughter “went to heaven,” as she had reached “her wit’s end” with her daughter’s condition; a court appearance has been set to determine her competency in participating with her defense.  Stapleton admitted that she lured the girl to the family van, drugged her, and then set ablaze two charcoal grills to kill them both– because “this would be the best solution for the family” to end the her frustration with the girl’s condition– according to trial transcripts and a Michigan State Trooper affiliated with the case.
Kelli Stapleton’s husband, Matt, who is prinicipal of Frankfort High School, has petitioned for divorce and full custody of their three children.

I think it’s very clear what Stapleton’s motivations and intent were, and there should not be a judge or jury in the world compassionate enough to believe that a mother who claims to have devoted her entire existence, and blogged about it for all to see (praise), to creating a full life for her daughter, could have “snapped,” or behaved in such a way without premeditation.  This was her life for over a decade, which means she had nearly 4,000 days to consider how, when and where to kill her middle child.