ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Cable Is a Harsh Mistress, Plus Betty Buckley and Ilene Kristen

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24 Oct 2011

Betty Buckley
Betty Buckley
Photo by Robb Johnston

A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


Greetings from Soy, a delish little coffee place in the Village where James loves to come and write. I decided to join him so I'd have a nice place to write my column and because I love soy lattes, so I was excited to be at a place where I could just order a latte and not have to qualify that it's soy. When I got there, I walked up to the counter and ordered an iced latte with a smug smile. The woman behind the counter then asked me what kind of milk I wanted. What the — ?!? It's literally called Soy! What a misleading moniker. It reminds of a scene in the hilarious film "Girls Will Be Girls": Varla Jean Merman is doing a commercial for "Bizzy Gal Dinners," which are TV dinners that are quick to serve because they don't have to be heated up. They've been treated with "nutridation" which makes the food molecules feel hot in your mouth. After the commercial, there's a streaming list of side effects and qualifications, one of which is "not intended for human consumption." What the — ?!? Then why are you selling them as food? Watch

This week I interviewed Betty Buckley on my Sirius/XM "Seth Speaks" talk show. Betty's performing at Feinstein's in her show called Ah-men, where she sings Broadway songs made famous by men. I asked her about playing Abby Bradford on "Eight is Enough" and remembered that she screen-tested for the role but clanked the first time so she had to fly out again to re-test. The reason she had been brought in is because Brandon Tartikoff (who was working with Fred Silverman at ABC) saw the film "Carrie" and thought the character she played (Miss Collins the gym teacher) would be right as Abby Bradford. Speaking of Miss Collins, I asked Betty what it was like doing the big death scene in the movie. When Carrie is wreaking havoc on the prom guests, an enormous basketball backboard breaks off and slams into Miss Collins. Betty said that it was rigged so it would stop ri-i-i-i-i-ight before hitting her, but they had never actually tested it. So, in the film when she covers her head and looks completely terrified as the backboard flies towards her, she's not acting. Who needs sense memory when your actual life is being threatened? Watch the scene here. P.S. "Seth Speaks" repeats Monday nights from 7-9 and Tuesday mornings from 11 AM to 1 PM on Sirius/XM STARS 107.

Last year, when we moved back to the Upper West Side, James and I decided we had had it with paying tons of money for cable TV and decided to stick it to "the man" by not having cable installed our new place. We proudly had nothing to watch for a few weeks. So, yeah… We then decided that Tivo wasn't quite the same thing as cable, so we wouldn't feel guilty if we had that installed. Suddenly, we were able to watch Hulu Plus and stream movies from Netflix. Ah. Delish. Then the new season of "Project Runway" began and we discovered we couldn't watch it on Hulu Plus or Tivo without cable TV. We bravely soldiered on because we were making a point! Then…the new Rosie show began. I called my friend Paul Castree, who lives down the street, and begged him to let us watch it with him but he wasn't home at the time so we missed the first episode. That was it. We immediately had cable installed. Yes, we gave in. But, we didn't go back to where we started. No, this time it's much worse. Now, we're paying for Hulu Plus, Tivo and HBO and Showtime, which we never even had before. And, on the first day of our delicious return to cable we turned on the TV to watch the Rosie show to discover we didn't get OWN! So, now we have to pay one more cost to cover that. That's right, we stuck to our values for less than a year and although it feels terrible to have no backbone, now we don't have to wrack our brains every night, trying to make conversation. We can finally sit again in awkward silence watching TV.


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