There are a lot of TV personalities that seem warm, fuzzy and approachable. You totally want to be on their show. Heck, these are the type of people that you might want to invite over for dinner. Alton Brown in my kitchen … awesome idea. Bryan Williams asking me to pass the gravy … fantastic. Conan O’Brien looking for extra hair gel in your guest bathroom … odd, but entirely acceptable.
However, many media personalities are people you never want to meet … especially on their TV turf. These are the type of people who only appear on your doorstep if you’re accused of a crime, standing in a war zone or about to be swept into the ocean. If you end up on their show you are screwed.
Totally. Royally. Screwed.
Based on a conversation with my friends, here are my top five TV personalities you never want to meet.
5. Joey Greco – Cheaters
Getting caught cheating on your significant other is easier than ever before. The gumshoe detective across the street with a zoom lens has been replaced with digital cameras, text messages, GPS-enabled cell phones and instant messenger transcripts. But nothing says “why you down with OPP” like a syndicated TV host meeting you in the parking lot with a pissed-off partner in tow.
Cheaters is like C.O.P.S. crossed with a portable version of The Jerry Springer Show.
If you sought out the services of Cheaters, this means you have evidence that your relationship is not everything it is supposed to be. If you get bum rushed by the Cheaters production crew leaving a restaurant with your date, I hope you have some spare cash … your date will soon be asking you for cab fare.
Good relationships are defined by open and honest communications. Bad relationships are defined by signing a photo/video release form so Cheaters doesn’t need to blur your face in post-production … they really want to use that shot of you getting bitch-slapped with a bedazzled handbag.
4. Christiane Amanpour – CNN
When you plan to visit a foreign country, it’s good to ask a few basic questions. What’s the weather like? Is it safe to drink the water? Has Christiane Amanpour ever reported from there?
For years, Christiane has gone to places that Wolf Blitzer would only visit if he was assured he could spend the entire trip hiding in the bathroom. That travel advisory produced by the CIA … it’s based on Christiane’s frequent flyer account.
When Dick Cheney retires from his current job as War in The Four Horsemen, Christiane is first in the line for the job. Her horse will be replaced with a bulletproof Mercedes Benz SUV, but everything else will basically remain the same.
Trust me … if this woman ever offers to share a cab with you from the airport, just go back inside and buy a return ticket. It’s safer that way.
3. Nancy Grace – HLN
The American justice system is famous for the image of Justice as a blindfolded woman, using her scale to weigh the facts and a sword to dispense impartial justice. Nancy Grace dispenses with the blindfold and scales, wielding the sword of live camera feeds like a brutal Spartan warrior.
Nancy Grace spent years in Georgia as a prosecutor, with all of those annoying rules of due process. Wouldn’t it be easier if one could just berate the accused on national television, corrupting jury pools from sea to shining sea like a shrieking villain from a John Grisham novel ghostwritten by Stephen King.
Nancy has become famous for ranting about current cases, often attacking people who are not accused of the crime in the pursuit of “the truth” … or high Nielson ratings, it’s hard to tell. She’s one of many who jumped the “innocent until proven guilty” gun on the Duke Lacrosse team and declared Richard Ricci guilty of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping even though he was not connected to the case.
Nancy’s most momentous television moment was the 2006 interview of Melinda Duckett after her two year old son was kidnapped. Melinda committed suicide the day before the interview aired, which the family claimed was due to the emotional trauma of being accused of her son’s murder on a national news show with two weeks of her son’s disappearance. Despite Melinda’s suicide the interview was still aired on the show. Nancy stayed connected to the court system after Melinda’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
It doesn’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty, Nancy Grace will accuse you of everything from shoplifting to dumping a coed’s body off the coast of Aruba. Even her guests should be concerned … showing up on her show as a legal expert for a three minute segment may result in you being tied to the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby.
2. Chris Hansen – Dateline NBC
Nancy Grace will grill you on live television with or without just cause … Chris Hansen tries to show up with the “To Catch a Predator” crew after taking the time to figure out that you might actually be a child molester. This is not a good thing. It’s a sign you’re very guilty, you have bad online dating habits or you really need to secure your home wifi connection.
Walking into a stranger’s house after you’ve chatted for months on the Internet is always nerve wracking. You never know if they’ll turn out like image you created in your mind. Are they really a redhead? Have they gained weight since that last photo they sent you? Do they look like an investigative reporter with a full camera crew? Will they ask you to “have a seat over there” and point to a well lit bar stool in the kitchen?
Yes, using the Internet to troll for underage trim is very wrong. Innocent or guilty, you do not want to be in the same room with a guy who has heard the phrase “you have the right to remain silent” more often than the producer for the last season of C.O.P.S.
1. Jim Cantore – The Weather Channel
Jim Cantore is the reason this list exists. You may not immediately recognize his name, but you’ve probably seen him in a wind breaker getting assaulted by gale force winds on some storm-laden coastline. Jim is the man who made his name on basic cable by doing what every federal agency tells you not to do … head into an area where a hurricane is about to make landfall.
Good thing he wasn’t head of FEMA under the Bush administration.
I have long referred to Jim Cantore as “The Fifth Horseman.” He may be in line for Famine’s job if McDonald’s ever gets a foothold in Africa.
Local weather reporters are scientists with personalities and great hair who get off on Doppler radar images. Jim Cantore is a human weather rock … if he’s wet it’s raining, if his hat has blown off it’s windy and if he’s reporting from your hometown YOU NEED TO F**KING RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
Several years ago I was in San Jose on business, watching The Weather Channel in a sports bar while waiting on dinner to arrive (it was a slow sports night). There was a hurricane moving into North Carolina so they cut to Jim Cantore in New Bern, NC.
My mom lives in New Bern. This is not good. I give her a call to check up. This is a summary of that call.
Me: Hey Mom, how’s it going? Is the hurricane going to affect you guys?
Mom: No, I don’t think we’re going to get more than a little wind and rain. Why?
Me: Well, I just saw Jim Cantore broadcasting from New Bern and …
Mom: OH S**T! Tom, pack the car! Jim Cantore’s in town. *click*
Fortunately the storm turned north and spared my mother’s town … but it shows the sheer terror that one man can generate just by choosing to bring a video camera along as he roams the coastline. I expect Jim Cantore will be ritually sacrificed if he ever chooses to vacation near a panicky island tribe.
When not watching cancelled FOX TV shows on Hulu.com, Brian Richardson pays the bills by working for a computer company near Atlanta, Georgia. Brian is also a photographer, drummer, podcaster and video producer. Check out his other random works of nonsense at whatthecast.com and dragoncontv.com.