It's the End of the World As We Know It (And, I Don't Know, Maybe I'll Go)

I've been looking for an excuse to go back to Nashville, but I'm not sure this is it. From http://www.realitytvconvention.com:

Nashville, Tennessee might be best known for country music, but early this Summer the city will get a new claim to fame. On June 3 & 4, 2006, the world's first ever Reality TV Convention will be held in Nashville, Tennessee. The Reality TV Convention looks to be the largest gathering of reality TV stars and reality TV fans ever...

With American Idol setting ratings records and shows like Survivor entering their twelfth season, the organizers of the Reality TV Convention felt that the time had come to put on an event that would allow reality TV fans to gather to discuss their favorite reality TV shows and to meet some of their favorite reality TV stars.

The Reality TV Convention will feature approximately 100 reality TV stars from shows such as The Apprentice, Amazing Race, American Idol, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser, Forever Eden, Kept, Real World, Road Rules, The Real Gilligan's Island, and Survivor. A partial listing of over sixty of the reality TV stars already scheduled to appear at the event can be found at www.realitytvconvention.com.


The list, for what it's worth, is full of people that even I don't recognize. But if they add some "good" names (e.g., cast members from "The Joe Schmo Show" and better "Real World" and "Road Rules" people) and there's a decent lineup at the Opry that weekend, I just could be suckered into this. And if the readers of Tinsel and Rot want to take up a collection, that wouldn't hurt my chances of going, either. Step up to the plate, dammit. Think of the stories I could share on this very blog!


Nothing beats a strike from the Brooklyn side

Saturday afternoons with Chris Schenkel, Nelson Burton Jr., and my dad. That's how the bowling thing all got started for me.

A few hours removed from wrestling on Channel 9 (and later Channel 5) and just before "Wide World of Sports," my dad would turn the TV to Channel 7, and we would sit down and listen to Chris and "Bo" talk about guys like Mark Roth, Johnny Petraglia, Earl Anthony, and the always colorfully dressed Guppy Troup. They weren't as flashy as Hulk Hogan and the Junkyard Dog, and they were probably a little doughier around the middle, too, but to my dad, they were just as exciting. It took me a little time to come around, but I made it.

So those two Saturday afternoon hours that I initially found deadly boring soon became something to look forward to. And every difficult split made and flirtation with a 300 game was something to see, even though it wasn't like I could go to school on Monday and sidle up beside someone in the schoolyard and say, "Hey, did you see that game Mike Aulby threw on Saturday?" It was hard enough making friends.

No, the Professional Bowlers Association tour was pretty much just between me and my dad. And those Saturday afternoons I spent with my dad still stay with me (and were briefly memorialized in an article in the New York Times a few years ago--look it up). Which, I guess, explains why I headed out to North Brunswick, NJ, last week to see the PBA U.S. Open Pro-Am. Or, at least, it's as good an explanation as any.


Another reason to go also had something to do with those Saturday afternoons. I remember one such day when I was in high school. This was one of those Saturdays where neither me or my dad was able to stay awake for the whole show (surprising, I know). He had headed out off to the bedroom to take a nap and I fell asleep on the couch, probably somewhere around hour 1 of that year's U.S. Open.

But I woke up just as Pete Weber--son of the Babe Ruth of professional bowling, Dick Weber--was completing his run to the championship. I think my eyes creeped open just as Pete was wrapping up his win, so I was still a little groggy during the trophy presentation, which was usually crammed into about 10 seconds so that no time would be taken away from "Wide World of Sports."

As I came to, I saw Pete Weber lift the U.S. Open trophy--a bronze eagle--over his head, relishing a hard-earned victory in one of the tour's major events. And then I watched as that eagle fell off the pedestal and smashed into a thousand pieces. Pete Weber looked down. The announcer looked down. And then it was off to commercial and then onto "Wide World of Sports."

Did I just see that? Am I still asleep? And, if so, why am I dreaming about Pete Weber?

Luckily, I was in fact awake and I was pretty sure that what I had seen was real. I woke my dad up to tell him and try to explain, and I kept hoping that they'd show a replay, maybe break into "Wide World of Sports" or something.

They didn't, but I did actually see it again (probably on George Michael's Sports Machine, which I used to think was the coolest show in the world) and it did really happen. And because of that moment, and his later rebirth as the trash-talking, sunglasses-wearing, crotch-shot-making "PDW," I'd always kind of wanted to meet Pete Weber. I had plans to go to the U.S. Open last year to see him, but his father passed away the week before, so he withdrew from the tournament. I saw no reason to go if he wouldn't be there.

But when I saw that the U.S. Open was headed back to North Brunswick and that Pete would be taking part in the Pro-Am on Monday evening, I had my second chance. And there was a bus route reasonably close to the bowling alley. Game on.


Mere seconds after I walked in the door at Carolier Lanes (which was minutes after I finally came to the conclusion that I would not be able to walk across the highway, so I would have to suck it up and take a cab), I started looking around for where Pete Weber might be. But I got distracted on the way by the PBA merchandise area, particularly the shelf holding the bowling pin. Could I buy a bowling pin? Could I get it signed by the bowlers? Could I really justify spending money on that?

Well, to make a long story short, I now have a bowling pin signed by 15 bowlers. And a bowling jersey. And a Pete Weber t-shirt. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

I briefly considered only getting Pete Weber to sign the pin, but that idea was quashed when he signed the pin and immediately smeared the signature. Curses. I actually tried later to get him to sign a U.S. Open brochure, but then he smeared that, too. But I've come to grips with that.

Back to the pin. So, after getting PDW, I thought about just getting the guys whom I remembered watching with my dad. So I got Brian Voss and Johnny Petraglia, and then spotted Parker Bohn III, so I added him to the pin. After scanning through the lanes looking to see who else was around, I didn't see anybody else that I thought was worthy of adding to the pin (all-time money leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. was sadly nowhere to be seen).

But then I looked at the pin, and there was just too much white space. And that's why Tom Baker, Mike DeVaney, Dino Castillo, Steve Jaros, Jack Jurak, Mika Koivuniemi, Chris Loschetter, Mike Machuga, Ryan Shafer, Robert Smith, and Randy Weiss got added to the pin.

I'll pause briefly to allow your jealousy to run its course. But before I do that, here's a picture of me and Pete Weber.

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.


I stuck around for a few hours, watching the pros do trick shots whenever tough splits popped up or, in the case of Mike Machuga, whenever he felt like it. And then as the Pro-Am wrapped up (and as I wondered if I should actually take part in the Pro-Am next year instead of just watching), I called in an offer from the Esa Tikkanen Fan Club president's better half, who lived a few minutes away and had indicated a willingness to give me a ride back to the train station in New Brunswick. And soon enough I was back on the train to Newark and on the way back to Disgraceland.

As I was sitting on the train, thinking about the night, I was having a hard time not smiling (which probably frightened the other passengers, but I'm used to that reaction). And I wasn't necessarily smiling at the thought that I'd met Pete Weber or bought a bowling jersey or now owned a pin signed by 15 PBA Tour professionals. No, I soon realized that I was smiling because I was thinking about those Saturday afternoons with my Dad, watching as the ball flirted with the gutter before impossibly curving into the headpin, paying close attention to Nelson Burton Jr.'s tip of the week, tensing up as a bowler's string of strikes continued and hoping he'd make his way to 300. And I was thinking about my dad and me at Ten Pin Lanes in Windham, NY, as he tried to show me where to line up to get a better chance at a strike and me being a typical kid, not wanting any help, but secretly knowing he was right.

I don't have a physical picture of any of those moments, and even though it would make for a pretty lame photo, it's still too bad that I don't. But when I look at that picture of me and Pete Weber and when I stare at the bowling pin that now rests comfortably in Disgraceland, I can see those moments clear as day.

And that's why I like bowling.


100 Greatest Teen Stars: The Aftermath

OK, so I've had some time to think about this. And after careful study and comparison with VH-1's 100 Greatest Kid Stars, here are the highlights of those thoughts:

***Some random teen stars with a legit gripe: Valerie Bertinelli, New Edition, New Kids on the Block, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, and Todd Bridges.

***Shannen Doherty was 19 when "90210" started. 19! So she was the fifth greatest teen star for one year in West Beverly (a pretty bad season if I recall) and for two seasons on "Our House"? That's rich.

***Kim "Tootie" Fields deserved to be on the list, and a case could be made for Lisa "Blair" Whelchel and Nancy "Jo" McKeon. But I can't go too deep into that, because then you would know that I've watched too many episodes of "The Facts of Life."

***Maureen McCormick was #9 in the Kid Stars but fell all the way to #86 in Teen Stars. Forget about Cheney for a bit and focus on this tragedy. For the record, she was either 12 or 13 when "The Brady Bunch" started filming, so she was most definitely a star in her teens. And a bigger star than the kid from "The Last American Virgin," a movie that I don't think anyone I know has seen. But at least she made the list. Chris Knight (#20 Child Star; 12-?17 when on "TBB"), Barry Williams (#22 Child Star; 15-?20 when on "TBB"), and Eve Plumb (#61; 11-?16 when on "TBB") got the big Sam's meat-locker freezeout. I want a formal apology, VH-1.

***Look, maybe you hate Urkel, but there's gotta be room for him. Jaleel White was in his teens for the whole run of "Family Matters." His exclusion is an abomination, though it's a boon for Screech, who takes the King Teen TV Nerd title (even though he went from #16 in Child Stars to #32 in Teen Stars).

***Did you people ever watch "The Wonder Years"? No Fred Savage or Danica "Winnie Cooper" McKellar? But the kid from the Encyclopedia Britannica commercials, yeah, he's freakin' timeless. VH-1 is run by soulless, brain-dead monsters.

***Corey Feldman placed #8 on the Child Stars List, and none of the people above him on that list made the Teen Stars cut. So how does he slip to #25, ass clowns? The vast majority of his work was done in his teens ("Gremlins" and "The Goonies" are on the cusp, and all that's before are a smattering of TV appearances and voice work). So explain how he drops 17 slots. And lands behind Jennifer Love Hewitt! Please. That's just poor listmaking. And Molly Ringwald jumps from #17 in Child Stars to the Top of the Teens, while Anthony Michael Hall goes from #41 to #4? Is John Hughes running VH-1 now? And is he pissed that he never got to work with the Felddog?

I could go on (as you've probably guessed), but maybe it's best to just let this go.

But, seriously, one Brady on the list? One Brady?!


And now for something completely different...

Shifting radically from last week's in-depth coverage of 100 Greatest Teen Stars (epilogue TK), let me bring down the mood a little, and also grovel.

Kirk Rundstrom, guitarist and singer for speed-bluegrass band Split Lip Rayfield (the first band ever mentioned on Tinsel and Rot), was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer. And while it always sucks to get cancer, it sucks even more when you are a working musician with no health insurance.

So, while I'm reasonably confident that the readers of Tinsel and Rot don't have a lot of disposable income (and even fewer have ever heard a Split Lip Rayfield song), if you can spare anything, please consider sending a donation, a kind word, or, ideally, both to Kirk. I don't know him off the stage and have never spoken a word to him, but I like his band, and no one--good band or otherwise--should have to go through a cancer diagnosis without a lot of support.

Send a check, money order, words of encouragement to:

Kirk Rundstrom
314 N. Volutsia Ave.
Wichita, KS. 67214

You can also send donations via PayPal.

More information is available at http://www.splitliprayfield.com

And if you need extra incentive, I'll send you a Split Lip Rayfield CD free of charge. Just let me know.



100 Greatest Teen Stars: 20–1

20. Debbie Gibson--Oh, I can see the production meeting now. Debbie: "So, I have to be higher than Tiffany but not by a lot." VH-1 Exec: "How about one spot above her?" Debbie: "Brilliant! No one will catch on!" Only in your dreams, Gibson.
19. Scott Baio--Willie Aames says Scott Baio was "incredibly funny" on "Charles in Charge." I also get the impression that Willie Aames sits by his phone praying for the "Charles in Charge" big-screen adaptation phone call.
18. Sarah Michelle Gellar--Sorry, nerds. I never liked "Buffy." She is undeserving of a place so close to Scott Baio.
17. Donny Osmond--More unnecessary hyperbole, this time from that shrewish whore Debbie Gibson: "There's not a person on earth who just doesn't love him." Wrong. I imagine the people of, say, Somalia are decidedly indifferent to Donny Osmond.
16. Kirk Cameron--Who would've thought Mike Seaver would grow up to be a righteous bore? And, seriously, no room for Boner in the countdown?
15. Brooke Shields--Described as a "bankable beauty." Who's banking anything on her these days?
14. Michael J. Fox--Another guy who wasn't really a teen at the time of his stardom. But you couldn't have a list without him. Praise Marty McFly.
13. Alicia Silverstone--She did one good movie. One. And she gets to be 13? This list was put together by psychopaths.
12. N'SYNC--At least it's not the top 10. And here's a question: why no New Kids on the Block on the list? And here's another: do you think that the N'SYNC guy that no one remembers is happy or sad about that?
11. Lindsay Lohan--This is a million times worse than Alicia Silverstone. I'll let her be on the list, but not 14 spots ahead of Corey Feldman. What a joke.
10. Matt Dillon--Fine. As I said, his "Wild Things" performance creeps me out, and in fact sullies his whole catalog. And please, no more rhetorical "who doesn't love?" questions.
9. River Phoenix--I won't speak ill of the dead. But this does seem awfully high. When Corey Feldman talks about how River's early death "iconicized him," you get the sense that he thinks he's better than River Phoenix and his continuing life is the only thing that keeps the world from recognizing that.
8. Corey Haim--I'm a big Haimster supporter, but even I'm shocked that he's this high up. But I do enjoy that even in his own segment, they don't let him talk for more than 5 seconds. I would love to see the unedited Corey Haim interview for this list.
7. Winona Ryder--In what is one of his longest soundbites, Corey Haim says he thinks she's a wonderful actress. She must be knocked out by that.
6. David Cassidy--Had him pegged for the top 5. A little surprised. Hey, I just realized Barry Williams isn't going to make the list at all. And only one Brady made it. That's a big bucket of wrong.
5. Shannen Doherty--Are we trying to keep some sort of gender equity in the top 20? She's fine, and she can be in the top 20, but she's no top 5.
4. Anthony Michael Hall--I can't knock a Griswold. My fingers wouldn't even let me type the words. And the other day I realized that Zabka was in "European Vacation." Yet another reason why he belongs higher than 97.
3. Britney Spears--Let's redo this list in ten years and we'll see about this. I like how Brandy calls her "a beast" and then quickly asserts that she means that in a good way.
2. Rob Lowe--If Corey Feldman calls him the world's greatest teen star, then I won't argue his runner-up position. But I bet that the Felddog secretly thinks he's better.
1. Molly Ringwald--Five hours of buildup for this? Yawn.

So ends Tinsel and Rot's five days of instant recaps. Hope you enjoyed. And I am glad that I will never have to hear Glenn Scarpelli and that guy from Teen People ever again.

By the way, the final count on teen stars met: a disappointing 8. I will need to be busier in 2006.


100 Greatest Teen Stars: 40–21

40. Andrew McCarthy--Helen Slater says he's "sorta like Jimmy Stewart." Um, sure.
39. Tracey Gold--Well, based on the hundreds of soundbites she'd been providing, I figured she'd make the list. But, well, I don't know. This seems way too high. Maybe she got pity votes because of the anorexia.
38. Tom Cruise--A stretch. His first big role was in "Taps," and he was 19. Plus, everyone knows the only movie he's done that's stood the test of time is "Cocktail." On a side note, I'm getting very tired of hearing Glenn Scarpelli.
37. Brandy--She shouldn't have mentioned that Kim Fields was her acting coach, 'cause now I'm wondering why Tootie hasn't been in the countdown yet.
36. Willie Aames--Dear, dear Willie. From "Eight is Enough" to "Charles in Charge" to "Bibleman" to "Celebrity Fit Club," he never disappoints. And it turns out he's also a horrifically bad singer, too. Bravo.
35. Jason Priestley--Thought he'd be higher up. The top 20 has the potential to be very interesting.
34. Ally Sheedy--Often overlooked, but a solid choice and in just about the right spot here. She should win an award just for that scene in "Short Circuit" where it looks like she and Johnny Five might have sex.
33. Ricky Schroder--The second Staten Island native on the countdown. Where's the respect for the forgotten borough, people? I'm still holding out hope that I might someday have a train that runs through my house.
32. Dustin Diamond--Zoinks! There are no words. Should be in the top 25, no doubt about it. And he sat down for an interview, so I don't get it. Maybe it's anti-Semitism. In his interview, he mentioned that, as a standup, he's now "living and dying by his jokes." Well, he's half right.
31. Leonardo DiCaprio--Bo-ring. Nowhere near the talent of Dustin Diamond. Or Zabka. To be honest, I don't think I've seen him in anything other than "Growing Pains." Seriously. I think I may have watched "Romeo and Juliet," but I can't remember.
30. Alyssa Milano--Miss Teen Steam. Good placement, I think.
29. Leif Garrett--Before my time, and I wouldn't have even known who he was if it weren't for that "Behind the Music" special. But just on that alone, I'll allow this.
28. Matthew Broderick--Another guy who wasn't a teen when he was in teen movies. So I don't know. But I guess you can't deny Ferris Bueller, even if he was well into his twenties.
27. Backstreet Boys--Well, at least they weren't acknowledged separately. I hope this doesn't mean NSYNC makes the top 10. I fear it does
26. Joey Lawrence--Whoa. I mean, for that alone, he's golden. Plus, there's nothing his love can't fix for ya, baby.
25. Corey Feldman--Whaaaaaaaat? I had him as a sure top 10. And ahead of the Haimster (I'm assuming he's coming up). This is straight-up bullshit. I'm tempted to stop watching. But if I did, I would've missed him saying, "The purpose of Corey Feldman is to bring a little laughter, a little peace, and a little love." Mission accomplished, Felddog.
24. Jennifer Love Hewitt--Right—she's better than Corey Feldman. Sure. Did enjoy her work in "The Trojan War" and "House Arrest," though. And "Can't Hardly Wait" wasn't bad. But none of those can top "Dream A Little Dream." Fact. Chris Atkins talking about how hot she is made me very uncomfortable.
23. Tori Spelling--"Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!" Way too high for her, and the fact that she has a reality series coming up on VH-1 makes this stink of conspiracy. But her work as Violet Bickerstaff on "Saved by the Bell" will keep me from getting too upset about this.
22. John Cusack--Eh. I don't really think of him as a teen star. He seemed to be in better stuff after his teens. "One Crazy Summer," though, that's a gem. And he might have been a teen in that. So, OK.
21. Tiffany--Though I wasn't really fond of either of them, I did prefer Tiffany over Debbie Gibson. Apparently, Debbie will be getting a higher ranking though. I wonder if it's because she's the host of the special. I want a federal investigation started.


100 Greatest Teen Stars: 60–41

60. Christina Applegate--Would've thought she'd crack the Top 50. So I'm guessing David Faustino is not making the list. Tough luck, champ.
59. Justine Bateman--Not a bad spot. Sort of the most expendable of the Keatons. Though without her, there's no Nick or Skippy. So maybe Tina Yothers was the most expendable. Speaking of which, will she make the cut? If so, she'll be way too high up.
58. Mark Paul Gosselaar--Now we're talking. This seems a bit low in the list, but I'll have to hold judgment on this until the end. If there aren't at least three "Saved by the Bell"ers on this list, heads will roll.
57. Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary on "Little House on the Prairie")--Donny Osmond apparently "kinda had a crush" on just about every teen star, because he keeps popping up and saying as much.
56. Mackenzie Phillips ("One Day at a Time')--Sure, OK. Never paid much attention to the show to be honest.
55. Phoebe Cates--"Fast Times" strikes again. That's four in the first 45. It is indeed a classic. Because I'd only seen the edited version on regular TV when I was younger, I didn't understand the big deal about the pool scene until I saw the DVD. It made more sense after that.
54. Ilan Mitchell-Smith ("Weird Science")--Guess who was available for an interview? This sucks. Mark Paul Gosselaar and Zabka should get together and kick this guy's ass.
53. James Van Der Beek--Out of his teens when he started "Dawson's Creek." So he should've been saved for "100 Greatest Teen Stars Who Were Not Teens When They Were Stars."
52. Neve Campbell--"Party of Five" made her famous, the "party of three" in "Wild Things" alternately made her hot and disgusting. Matt Dillon's face in that scene...I have nightmares.
51.Chad Allen--Apparently, I missed it when he came out of the closet. Or maybe I just didn't care.
50. Kristy McNichol--Before my time, so I will not judge
49. Claire Danes--Midway through the segment, they showed an autograph collector I know who used to be obsessed with every young female actress and singer who came around. Haven't seen him in awhile. I wonder what prison he's in. Or maybe he'll pop up on the next "How To Catch a Predator" special on "Dateline."
48. Usher--Brandy asks, "Who didn't have a crush on Usher?" Uh, me.
47. Jason Bateman--Wow. Should be much higher, just for sheer volume. Predictably, no interview. Dirty politics, VH-1.
46. Christina Aguilera--I suppose it had to come at some point. And she was born in Staten Island. So there. At least she didn't crack the top 40.
45. Zach Galligan ("Gremlins")--Another one-hit wonder. But, according to the highlight of his segment, it's not all his fault. And I quote Mr. Galligan: "Reality television came along and it hurt a lot of us." Riiight. Reality television ruined your career. OK, chief.
44. Shaun Cassidy--Once more, before my time. But, damn, that music hurts my ears.
43. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen--OK. Again, let's see how the rest of the list pans out. Trying to be open-minded here. And at least she cracked the Top 50. Screech better be Top 25.
42. Irene Cara ("Fame')--According to Debbie Gibson, Irene Cara "defined a generation." Really? She at least gets bonus points for being in a band called Hot Caramel.
41. Jennie Garth--I get the feeling we're gonna see a flood of 90210ers in the top 40. And I guess I can't argue with that. As long as Ian Ziering doesn't make it. He was, what, 40 when the show started?

Only met one out of this batch (Mark Paul Gosselaar). But I'm sure I'll see Zach Galligan at a convention someday.


100 Greatest Teen Stars: 80–61

80. Ralph Macchio--Not just the Karate KId, he was also the New York Islanders' celebrity captain during the NHL's 75th anniversary season. I feel very confident that you didn't know that.
79. Lynn-Holly Johnson (from the movie "Ice Castles")--Well, I guess Zabka got the shaft because he wouldn't sit down for an interview, because this chickie got a real long segment. And I have no idea who she is. All I know about "Ice Castles" is that whenever Keith Slattery plays "Theme from Ice Castles" during a Jimmy Sturr show, it always brings things to a grinding halt. Man, I hate that song. But good luck to Jimmy and the gang as they go for another Grammy tomorrow night.
78. Brian Austin Green--Deserves to be on the list just for that "90210" episode when his awful rapping defuses the racial tension at West Beverly.
77. Jason London--"Dazed and Confused" is a good movie, so I'll allow it.
76. Christopher Atkins (from "The Blue Lagoon")--My mom and dad used to watch "Dallas" (and "Falcon Crest") every Friday, so I remember when Chris Atkins moved into Southfork. Never saw "The Blue Lagoon," though. I have no other thoughts, except those are some really bad boots he was wearing in that clip.
75. Neil Patrick Harris--About a decade ago, when Neil Patrick Harris was doing nothing, some autograph collectors told me he refused to sign pictures in which he was dressed as Doogie Howser. That was just about the funniest thing I'd ever heard. Should also be remembered for his fine work in the movie "Clara's Heart."
74. Lisa Bonet--I would've thought higher for a Cosby kid. I hope Tempestt Bledsoe doesn't make the list.
73. C. Thomas Howell--Ample time devoted to "Soul Man." Nice. Such a ridiculous movie.
72. Jon Cryer--Never a big fan. Sorry. Good in "Hot Shots," though.
71. Jennifer Jason Leigh--Nice to see she wasn't overlooked. Met her once and was slightly upset that she wasn't as hot as I'd hoped. Crappy signature, too.
70. Helen Slater (from "Supergirl" and "The Legend of Billy Jean")--The only thing I've ever seen her in is "Ruthless People." She's no Zabka.
69. Jami Gertz--Has actually gotten hotter with age. Almost makes me want to watch that sitcom she's in. And almost makes me want to learn the name of it.
68. Lawrence Monoson (from "The Last American Virgin")--You're kidding, right? Apparently, all you need to do is sit down for an interview to get on this list. After they finish being ashamed for "Flavor of Love," VH-1 should start feeling ashamed about this. And invite Billy Zabka onto "The Surreal Life."
67. Hilary Duff--Lee Curreri (#99) says he enjoys watching her. I bet, ya perv. For the record, I prefer her over Lindsay Lohan.
66. Will Smith--Apparently started rapping at 19, which makes this a stretch. But if the guy from "The Last American Virgin" is gonna make it, I guess everyone's welcome.
65. Meredith Salenger--I didn't think she'd actually make the countdown. Interesting. Also interesting is that Corey Haim is never allowed to be on screen for more than five seconds. And I think that's a wise call on VH-1's part.
64.Christian Slater--I stopped thinking Christian Slater was cool when he did "Untamed Heart," where he played a guy with a baboon's heart. That might have been worse than "Soul Man."
63. Glenn Scarpelli (from "One Day at a Time")--He was the emcee at the Miss Richmond County Fair pageant that my sister was in back in the 1980s. We've got pictures. I guess he must've performed. And, based on the clip from "American Bandstand," I wish someone had videotaped that.
62. A.J. Langer (from "My So-Called Life")--Never got into "My So-Called Life," even though I thought Claire Danes was cute. So I have no opinion here.
61. Susan Dey--Thought "The Partridge Family" was stupid; I'm a "Brady Bunch" man, as you may have guessed. But Susan Dey was hotter than Maureen McCormick (and Eve Plumb and Susan Olsen. And Florence Henderson. And Ann B. Davis).

Almost halfway there, and I'm starting to get worried. We'll see what tomorrow night at 9 p.m. brings.

For those keeping score at home, I've "met" (i.e, obtained autographs from) only three out of the first 40 (Patrick Dempsey, Maureen McCormick, and Jennifer Jason Leigh). I've seen Neil Patrick Harris, C. Thomas Howell, and Glenn Scarpelli, but only glimpses, although I guess I might have talked to Glenn Scarpelli when I was 9. I doubt it, though.


100 Greatest Teen Stars: 100-81

100. Patrick Dempsey--I'm thinking this is too low, but we'll see how the rest of the list pans out. "Can't Buy Me Love" is one of the best teen movies of all time. Fact.
99. Lee Curreri (Bruno from "Fame')--If I remember correctly, my sister had a crush on him. Based on what he looks like now, I'm guessing the crush is over.
98. Helen Hunt--Not sure she belongs
97. Billy Zabka (Johnny from "The Karate Kid"; also in "Just One of the Guys" and "Back to School)--Way too low. I call bullshit, VH-1.
96. Robert Romanus (Mike Damone from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High")--Good call. And, good God, Jennifer Jason Leigh was hot in that movie. Sure, you remember Phoebe Cates, but don't overlook JJL.
95. Jessica Biel--Speaking of hot. I watched most of the first season of "7th Heaven" in Ithaca College's Terrace 2 TV Lounge. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. Then that Gear magazine came out, and I knew. It was a little uncomfortable thinking she was hot back then, but no qualms anymore.
94. John Francis Daley (Sam from "Freaks and Geeks")--Nice. Based on one of the clips shown, you apparently can't say "queer" on VH-1. That's odd.
93. Jack Wild (from "H.R. Pufnstuf")--Whatever. Never been a big Pufsntuf guy. Give me "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" any day.
92. Deborah Foreman (from "Valley Girl')--Right. She should be higher than Zabka? Please.
91. Melissa Joan Hart--One of the talking heads said "Clarissa Explains It All" "put Nickelodeon on the map." Wrong. "Double Dare" put Nickelodeon on the map. Learn your history.
90. Wilson Cruz (Ricky from "My So-Called Life')--According to him, he's primarily played gay characters, but, when looked at individually, "they couldn't have been more different." That's a dumb phrase. What if one of them had no right arm, used his prosthesis as a golf club, and was a violent self-hating Nazi Jew with an unhealthy addiction to Nutella? That would've been more different, no?
89. Nicole Eggert--Oh, sweet Nicole. It's not just anyone who can make a softcore porn film with a naked Corey Haim and a naked Corey Feldman worth watching, but Nicole did it in "Blown Away" just by being hot. Or at least she did for me. Your mileage may vary. In fact, I'm pretty sure it will. Those were lonely days. Speaking of Corey Haim, he has been on screen twice, and it's clear that he is morphing into the Amazing Jonathan. Maybe you don't know who that is. Just trust me, OK?
88. Kenan Thompson--No disrespect--huge "Good Burger" fan here--but if he wasn't on SNL now (in his post-teen years), would he have made the list?
87. LL Cool J--Right on, right on.
86. Maureen McCormick--Boy, that's awfully low for a Brady.
85. Ralph Carter (Michael from "Good Times")--Not a big "Good Times" fan (good theme song, though), so I can't comment much.
84.Ione Skye--I was in the middle of getting upset that a one-hit wonder like her made the list when up popped Meredith Salenger from "Dream A Little Dream" on the screen. Where in the hell did they find her? Nice work, VH-1.
83. Donavan Freberg (the kid from the Encyclopedia Britannica commercials)--OK, now maybe VH-1 is trying to earn hipster points by even remembering this guy, but, what a joke! Ahead of Marcia Brady? Patrick Dempsey? Zabka? This is the worst thing VH-1's done since, oh, yesterday. But the segment was redeemed when Freberg's current job was described as "the webmaster for an amateur porn-based blog."
82. Katie Holmes--Yawn.
81. Sean Penn--I'll allow it.

Not a bad first installment. Someone from "Freaks and Geeks" and two entrants in the all-time James Sigman hottest girls list. I'm still pissed about Zabka, though. He got hosed.

Another plus to the special so far--Mo Rocca's not on it. Someone might want to consider shutting up Joel Stein and the Sklar Brothers though.


The week ahead...and a contest

Just a brief note on this Super Bowl Sunday to let you know about two exciting developments in Tinsel and Rot territory.

First, Tinsel and Rot is the place to be this entire week for in-depth coverage of VH-1's "100 Greatest Teen Stars" countdown (not to be confused with their "100 Greatest Child Stars" or the inevitable "100 Greatest 14-Year-Old Child Stars Who Ended Up Doing Crystal Meth" countdowns). Tinsel and Rot will recap each episode of the countdown, critiquing the selections and throwing in personal anecdotes from in-person enocunters with those on the countdown (I'm confident that I've met at least one or two).

Second, as I'm sure you all know by now, this Tuesday is the official release date of the Avett Brothers' new CD, "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions." And to celebrate, Tinsel and Rot will be holding a special contest. See, I like to scour the used CD bins of New York City record stores and liberate (i.e., purchase, not steal...stealing is wrong, kids...and don't do drugs, either) CDs that I already own but that I want to share with others. I am concerned that these CDs will either be completely neglected or else be bought by some random goon who will not properly appreciate them. In this way, I am a lot like Angelina Jolie, which makes our lack of a relationship all the more tragic.

Anyway, I will send a recently liberated copy of "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions" to a lucky TInsel and Rot reader. All you have to do is craft a cogent, elegantly crafted response that completes the following:

"I deserve a free copy of "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions" not only because I am a cheap bastard unwilling to support the Avett Brothers, but also because..."

The contest is open to everyone. Of course, if you have already been to an Avetts show, it will be a much more difficult climb for you, because I am expecting that you will want to actually support the band by paying full price for the CD from a reputable merchant.. Still, feel free to enter. You'll just need to bring your "A" game. The winner is also highly encouraged to support the Avett Brothers at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The decision of the Tinsel and Rot judges is final. All responses become property of Tinsel and Rot Inc., and may be used on this blog. Entries can be sent to aimlessjames@yahoo.com, and must be received by 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, February 8. The CD will be mailed out to the winner on Wednesday morning.

Best of luck to all who enter.


What I liked about January

The first in a twelve-part series...

*Bowling in Maryland
*"Marky Ramone" on "The Best Show on WFMU"
*Katie Doyle's recaps of "The Gauntlet" on insidepulse.com
*The Avett Brothers and BR549 at the Ram's Head Tavern, Mohegan Sun, and Bowery Ballroom
*The Surf and Turf at the Ram's Head Tavern

*Maybe Pete at the Stone Pony and Maxwell's
*Marah at the Stone Pony and the Iota
*Meeting another Brady
*Jim Gaffigan
*Meeting Bobby Bare Sr.

*Dan Baird at Scenic
*George Takei on Howard 100
*Bingo at Foxwoods
*Those free oatmeal raisin cookies at the hotel in Connecticut
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places
*"#1 Single" (Shhhhhh....)