I began writing this column in August of 1995. Two years later, I moved to LA since work necessitated me being in Hollywood more and more. My apartment had a pullout sofa and my trusty television. On that first morning, ABC launched a new talk show. Throughout my professional journey, I have started every day with the ladies of “The View.” In fact, if you look on either side of my much larger TV, you will see every single “View” mug.
Last week, Barbara Walters left not only “The View,” but television. She left with a caveat – “If Fidel Castro or a former president dies, I would do something for ABC News, where I’ll keep an office.” Her penultimate installment of “The View” was particularly memorable. Cleverly called “Déjà View,” it featured each and every co-host of the show. Not only that, but chronological seating dictated that sworn enemies found themselves side-by-side (Debbie Matenopoulos and Star Jones, Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck). The show was short on sparks, but high on nostalgia, culminating in a memorable final segment. Coming full circle, the original cast was once again sitting around the original table (with, I should add, their original mugs). For better or worse, these ladies together changed daytime talk shows forever.
Since I’m in Hollywood this week, I was thrilled to be invited to a special reception thrown by Debbie Reynolds to get a last glimpse of her movie memorabilia before it hits the auction block. This is the last of three auctions for Debbie’s collection and it was a bittersweet moment for the film icon. As she told me, “On one hand, it’s been my life’s work to gather and protect all of these treasures, so I’m sad to see them go. On the other hand, I can’t take them with me!” I was quick to note that Reynolds appeared positively youthful next to some of these ancient tchotchkes. Daughter Carrie Fisher was there, as were Ruta Lee and Alex Trebek. There’s something Debbie didn’t have in her collection – the big dice from “High Rollers”. Frank DeCaro was given a mission from his hubby, TV Guide correspondent Jim Colucci – get a quote from Alex Trebek. Since DeCaro is known for his popular “Dead Celebrity Cookbook”, I told him he should really be asking the people assembled for recipes. It’s never too soon to plan for volume two!
Meanwhile back in Florida, a judge in the Keys abruptly announced his retirement once his Manhunt profile became public knowledge. Judge David Audlin made it clear that no one pushed him to leave his post four years early. “I’m looking forward to my constitutional rights being restored – my right to privacy and to be left alone in my private life.” That’s all well and good, but when a judge is promoting 6.5 inches on a gay hook-up site, the gloves are off.
This leads perfectly to a story about Clay Aiken – a man who is inching towards a life in politics and has also had his private inches exposed online (you can check them out on BillyMasters.com). The “American Idol” also-ran got a bit closer to his goal of Congressman from North Carolina when his closest opponent in the primary suddenly died! Keith Crisco, 71, died after a fall in his home. Clay, who was only ahead by a few hundred votes, issued a statement calling Crisco “a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant.” Privately, I suspect Clay’s grief sounded more like this: “Why, God, why? Why didn’t this happen to Ruben Studdard?”
When Clay is talking about Crisco and it doesn’t have anything to do with sex, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. Some weeks, this column just writes itself – as you’ll see on www.BillyMasters.com, the site where you can find my writings alongside a healthy collection of celebrity nudes. If you have a topic you’d like me to tackle, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Cheri Oteri replaces Barbara Walters and nobody notices! So, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.