I have a couple little things to say:
1. Jeff Conaway passed away this week and that is an unfortunate thing. I am not one who tends to get broken up over the death of celebrities, but it would take a tremendously calloused person to not recognize the sadness of seeing someone’s demons have the final say.
The headlines came out that the Grease star had died, and I believe that movie has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts. A lot of people my age associate it with their childhoods and I imagine the movie has renewed resonance in the post “High School Musical,” “American Idol,” and “Glee” world in which we live. In fact, now that I think about it, Grease became a “reality” TV phenomenon of its own when it opened up the casting process to create the show casting for the Broadway revival into Grease: You’re the One that I Want! (When I went to look up the title of the show, I found that there was a similar show on the BBC, Grease is the Word, that did the same thing for a West End revival.)It seems like the American musical is alive and well if Jukebox musicals, revivals and the Disney Channel are your idea of inventive theatre, but that is a whole other post.
I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and watched Grease start to finish, but I am pretty sure that I have seen the whole thing in installments from frequent airings on cable TV when I was young. My main familiarity with Jeff Conaway, however, comes from him being a part of the great ensemble cast of the wonderful late 70’s, early 80’s sitcom, Taxi. More current TV audiences may know him from Celebrity Rehab, on which he showed audiences the behavior that would lead to his early death. Though Dr. Drew Pinsky would report, while Conaway was in the coma from which he would never awaken, that an overdose did not occur, he asserted that Conaway’s state was directly related to years of bodily abuse. Later, on Friday Pinsky would report via Twitter that: “I'm saddened to report he has succumbed to his addiciton [sic].”
“Jeff was like a brother to me,” fellow Taxi cast member Marilu Henner said in a statement to E! News. John Travolta, who starred alongside Conaway in Grease, released a statement to TMZ that Conaway was "wonderful and decent man and we will miss him."
This leads me to…
2. When I die, don’t report it via Twitter (and if you do, take a little time to ensure proper spelling and punctuation). Also don’t send your condolences via TMZ (this, of course, presupposes that I will have sufficient notoriety when my time comes that this would be considered a viable option). Seriously, TMZ is a site that would have published deathbed photos of Conaway complete with tubes up the nose and a colostomy bag if they could have gotten their hands on it. Why anyone would give a scoop to these pricks who exploit their subjects and viewers alike is completely beyond me. I have occasionally tuned into TMZ’s spin-off TV show (generally by accident, but occasionally I will tune in to find out what sponsors I should be boycotting) and have been appalled by the smug manner in which they routinely pass off the worst kind of trivialities as news and seem to think that invasion of privacy and the forsaking of propriety constitutes as journalism. The only reason I could see Travolta giving his statement to TMZ would be if he thought that a brain-dead public would not get the message if he gave it to a reputable news source. Still, Marilu Henner gave her statement to E! News, which generally deals in the same trivialities as TMZ, but aren’t dicks about it, and the message got out just fine.
Seriously, though, if my death is treated like this, I will come back and haunt your ass, and not Sixth Sense style, but full on Amityville Horror shit.
That’s about it. In summation, I guess all I wanted to say was R.I.P. Jeff Conaway, fuck TMZ, and you can keep your Twitter.