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Dear Friends,

Every now and then, something annoys me to the point where I cannot push down my impulse to talk about it. As a writer, I have an inborn bias against reality television, though I still admire SURVIVOR. Last season, the targets of my ire were TEMPTATION ISLAND, FEAR FACTOR, and SPY TV, all of which we'll likely be enjoying again soon. (In fact, I just heard TEMPTATION ISLAND 2 is already promising even sexier prostitutes and gigolos on the show, so set your VCRs.).

This week, something peeved me even beyond all of those - it's called CROSSING OVER WITH JOHN EDWARD. Edward claims to have the ability to talk to the dead - specifically, the dead friends and relatives of members of his studio audience.

It's a sideshow trick from the old days of Spiritualists and Mediums. Edward accomplishes the illusion by asking enough general questions to garner a response, then expertly guesses things about people. But this doesn't sound very offensive, right?

This week, Edward and the CROSSING OVER gang announced that they were going to be airing some special shows this november sweeps period - episodes in which Edward purported to have communicated with victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. (The original article appeared in BROADCASTING & CABLE -- website http://www.tvinsite.com/broadcastingcable/53130.htm)

To those of you who haven't seen John work his special brand of magic, it goes something like this:

JOHN: "I'm seeing an 'R' or a 'C'"
SUCKER: "Well, my cousin's middle name was Kevin. That's like a 'C'"

Then John works his way down through questions and generalities, thusly:

JOHN: "I'm seeing someone with ten fingers"
SUCKER: "Well, Kevin only had eight fingers. But wait, YES! Before the combine accident he had ten! You're right, you're right! This is getting really creepy."

And so John continues until the stunned audience member is completely convinced that John is channeling Kevin. In fact, if audience members disagree, John will often tell them that they're wrong, and they're not thinking hard enough about who it is that's being channeled. The intellectual deficiencies are quite alarming.

Anyway, not only does The Great Edward spout his "readings" on his show, but also, for a few hundred bucks (and the price of a flight to New York), he'll give you a private session. Sign up now, because according to his website, he's booked ahead three years in advance. Even if you don't have any dead friends or relatives right now, you never know when you'll need to contact the netherworld.

What really put my mind at ease about the BROADCASTING & CABLE article was how the head of Studios USA syndication promised that the show would be "done tastefully and won't be exploitative."

See, that really helps me, because now I know that Studios USA will likely be applying the same standards of taste it does to its other talk show, which is, of course, the Emmy-attending JERRY SPRINGER SHOW.

In fact, I'm such a fan of both shows that I've written Studios USA asking them to have Jerry and John co-host a two-hour special together. I'm hoping that, with their combined powers, they can get in touch with some dead cross-dressing coprophiliacs.

Despite my annoyance, I hope to someday meet this parasitic sociopath. I just hope it's not when I'm dead and talking to him through his show.

Crossed over,


P.S. Epilogue:

In the less-than-24 hours since the first announcement, the WTC segments were cancelled due to overwhelming protest. It's gratifying to know that others were equally disturbed over this thing.

What's even more disturbing, however, is that now, John Edward can go back to bilking and defrauding everyday people again. (And, in turn, helping to legitimize thousands of other scam artists [e.g., psychics, mediums, astrologers, faith healers, holistic medicine practitioners, and cults] around the country so they can defraud people in their neighborhood without the unfair stigma that was once attached to stealing money from people.)

I've got an idea -- Edward should charge his fellow Spiritualists a franchise fee. Maybe open up little stores called "McSeance" around the country. ("Contact three dead relatives and the fourth one's free.")

As always, I'm at EmailGrady@aol.com


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