Sunday, January 01, 2006

Dick Clark's Return: Real Reality TV

I don't know if you saw Dick Clark last night, but he was back on his "signature" New Year's Eve Special after missing it last year because he had a stroke.

First of all ... how to say it kindly ... it was good to know he's on the mend, but he was not in great shape. If you've lived through a stroke, of course, you ARE in good shape to just be alive and be able to talk, but for someone who was so "on" his whole life, sharp, smooth, suave and radiantly upbeat, this was a far cry from the Dick Clark we all knew.

I'm glad I was not the producer who had to make the call to put him on air. They made a brave call.

Of course, it was the only REAL thing on TV last night. Very real. Very sad in ways, but also wonderful to know he is as well as he is. The truth is, people who have had strokes freak the rest of us out. Stroke patients and their relatives are hyperaware of how well Dick Clark appeared last night.

We've seen a lot of unreal reality TV, very overproduced schlock, but last night, we saw reality. On New Year's Eve when the old Grim Reaper and young Baby New Years lindyhop out the last few steps dance of a long year, we saw both in Dick Clark. Dick Clark the seemingly ageless, age-defying fifties soda shop cutie is suddenly 76 years old and not in American Bandstand twist-and-shout shape.

And ... whoops ... last night's TV audience might have actually been shocked into reality. In households across America, they suddenly looked down at those age-spotted hands holding the popcorn bowl, noticed their spreading waistlines and even trotted over to the mirror to count the wrinkles and notice the grey ... and be forced to blow the Hollywood Myth out of the water that we're all young and strong and full of energy year after year after year and never die.

Whoa, wait, did I say that word, that WORD-THAT-SHALL-NOT-BE-SAID in Hollywood, d-i-e, the word which can only be spoken in association with a Bruce Willis action movie, that is. And even Bruce has been down-aged (the new version of downsized, where you get taken out by a 29-year-old Ashton Kutcher in his case). Aging ain't okay.

But last night it was good to get a sobering taste of reality. In case you missed it, here it is again. Get ready, I'll give it to you straight ... we age, we grow old, even our favorite teenager Dick Clark is doing it.

May 2006 be enjoyed with that concept in mind, that time is running out, so make the most of it and thank Dick Clark for making the new year even more precious.