The Crazy History of “Fashion Police”

Fashion Police fell apart when we lost Joan Rivers. Two weeks after Joan died in September 2014, it was announced that the show would continue without her. It returned in December with love-her-or-hate-her Kathy Griffin as host. Kathy had adored Joan and had been a protégé of sorts, even if she alone made herself one.

But let’s back up. Starting in 2002, Fashion Police appeared on the air the day after red carpet events, to skewer – uh, critique – the fashions appearing at the events. Thanks to Joan, it was deliciously frank. Joan said what she wanted to say, and she was freely bleeped, because of the way she said them … not permitted on basic cable.

In September 2010, Fashion Police became a weekly show, and it expanded from 30 minutes to 60 minutes in March 2012. Joan was accompanied by panelists Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne from E! and George Kotsiopoulos, a Hollywood stylist.

Joan Rivers’ death was sudden and shocking. Melissa Rivers was not just Joan’s daughter, but also the producer of the show, and she was the person who announced the continuation.

Kathy Griffin relaunched the show following the January 2015 Golden Globes, accompanied by Giuliana, Kelly and stylist Brad Goreski, replacing George Kotsiopoulos, with an audience of 912,000. The episode following the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 26, 2015, had 686,000 viewers. Whoops.

In February, Giuliana made one joke about singer Zendaya, that her hair smelled of “patchouli oil and weed” at the Academy Awards. Kelly took great offense at that and announced her decision to leave the show, after having tweeted “you guys do realize that @Zendaya is my friend right?”

Subsequently, Rancic profusely apologized. Groveled. Sorry. So so so sorry.

Please. Joan regularly got away with things that would land other people in court.

But this wasn’t the end of the troubles. In March Kathy Griffin announced she was leaving the show after filming only seven episodes, because her style of humor “did not fit well” with the series’ creative direction. The network then put the series on hiatus until September. It returned in August for six episodes with Melissa Rivers hosting, along with Rancic and Goreski, searching for a fourth panelist. And now – finally – it returned on Monday, November 23 to rip up – uh, critique – the American Music Awards.

Melissa Rivers is a pro. She’s produced the show, and she’s no lightweight with humor. Just watch. She’s not Joan, but she has the gene. Hollywood? Watch out.

The Perfect Guy

It’s been a long time since 1987’s Fatal Attraction, but this movie turns it on its head.

Our heroine Leah (Sanaa Lathan) is a successful lobbyist in a two-year-long relationship with Dave (Morris Chestnut). She notices how great he is with kids after visiting friends and reiterates how much she wants to marry and have a family. He doesn’t. She breaks it off and he leaves.

She meets dreamy, polite Carter (Michael Ealy), who seems … here you have it … too good to be true. He works in corporate espionage. Hmm.

Her friends are jealous, he wins over her picky parents, and he’s devoted to her. But soon she sees a scary side. When a guy talks to her in a gas station, he brutally assaults him.

Not her style. She’s had it. The handsome prince is pretty darn scary.

Leah reconciles with Dave (OK, he doesn’t want to get married, but come on, he’s Morris Chestnut) while Carter becomes obsessed. He acts out by stalking, planting cameras, hacking her e-mails and credit cards, and breaking into her home. Meanwhile, the police can’t do much for her. We all know how effective restraining orders are.

No spoilers here. I’ll just tell you there are no boiling bunnies.


We meet Elle (Lily Tomlin), a poet, a feminist in her 70s with a cult following, cruelly breaking up with her younger girlfriend Olivia (Judy Greer) after their relationship of a few months, then crying in the shower. That isn’t the one that mattered. Violet is the one that mattered. It lasted 36 years, and then Vi died.

Elle is wearing an honors cap and gown and going over old photos when her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) arrives with a problem. She’s pregnant, she needs $630, and she has an appointment for an abortion in eight hours.

Why wouldn’t she think her independent, successful grandma would be the one to turn to? Well, she’s not. She was sick and tired of being in debt for Vi’s medical bills, so she paid off all her debts and she now has $40. And she cut up all her credit cards and made wind chimes out of them.

This role seemed created for Lily Tomlin. That’s because it was. Writer and director Paul Weitz (“Admission,” “Being Flynn,” “About A Boy”) had the story idea for many years, but it never really fully formed until he met and worked with Tomlin on the film “Admission,” saying that “After meeting Lily, the voice and the character really clicked. I had thought about it for years, so I had a lot of it worked out in my head, and then I just went to a coffee shop and wrote it longhand.”

Elle asks Sage whether she’s really thought it over…Yes. What about the father… No. Well, he has to take some responsibility. He’ll be the first stop on this intergenerational buddy movie.

Off they go in a temperamental 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer (Tomlin’s own car) to see Cam (Nat Wolff), the father, a total idiot who makes the mistake of insulting not just Sage, but Elle. He’s more interested in playing living-room hockey than being polite or responsible. Elle’s had enough, and the hockey stick ends up in, well, a very uncomfortable place on his body. (Why didn’t the audience applaud?)

Elle decides to sell some valuable first editions – Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer and Simone de Beauvoir. She can’t believe Sage has never heard of “The Feminine Mystique.” (Neither could I. I said “She wasn’t raised well.” I think I said it out loud.)

Deathy (Laverne Cox) at the store owes Elle money – but doesn’t have it, and offers tattoos. And the books aren’t worth anywhere near what Elle thinks.

Next stop is a visit to Karl (Sam Elliott), whom Elle hasn’t seen in a very, very long time. There’s a bit of awkwardness considering Elle lived with him on a boat then left without a word in the dead of night many years ago.

Oh no, now they have to see Judy – Elle’s daughter and Sage’s mom. Superachieving, judgmental, negative. Played perfectly by Marcia Gay Harden. When they arrive, Judy is working in her office – at a treadmill desk.

The movie is not political, but it is about strength and resilience, mixed with a lot of humor. It is unapologetic because it doesn’t need to be. It’s among the best of Lily Tomlin, and it’s not to be missed.

Robert Klein’s Advice To The President

It might have been five years ago, but it’s funnier than today’s politics … if possible.

This stays pretty current. Is it available at your corner pharmacy yet?

This was all part of a 2010 performance at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s worth seeing. Robert Klein just gets better.


Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll premiered on July 16. FX gave the green light to five episodes. Hope there will be more.

Denis Leary stars as the broke, burned-out, coked-out, former 90s lead singer of The Heathens, with the prosaic rock star name Johnny Rock. Leary is making fun of himself and his leftover bad hairdo, because he created the show, writes it, directs it, stars in it and writes all the songs.

He opens the first show by doing lines of powdered laundry detergent, getting it mixed up with the pile of cocaine sitting next to it. “Best blow I’ve ever done. It’s got little green flakes in it, man.”

The band was the Heathens, a great stage success in the late 80s and early 90s. Their lead guitarist was Flash (John Corbett), drummer Bam Bam (Robert Kelly), bass player Rehab (John Ales) and backup singer Ava (Elaine Hendrix). They had to struggle for the spotlight (literally)“>shining on Johnny at all times. They’ve all left the drugs behind, except Johnny. Flash is now Lady Gaga’s guitarist. Rehab and Bam Bam are doing fine in other bands.

They broke up because of infighting, all because of Johnny and his ego. Oh yes, and because he slept with everyone’s wife and girlfriend. (SO much he doesn’t remember!) And the timing wasn’t the best – the band broke up the day their record was released.

Right now Johnny’s agent has nothing for him. How is he supposed to work, 9 to 5?

Ava and Bam Bam have stuck with Johnny. They’re all out in a bar when Johnny sees a young woman coming on to him. After he trips on his way over to her – smooth – her greeting is not a smile, but a well-placed knee.

She’s his daughter he never knew he had. (It can happen. Remember Liv Tyler and Steven Tyler?)

Her name is Gigi. She’s a singer. She wants Flash and Johnny to write songs for her. His eye-rolling stops with her one statement – “I’m rich.”

Now Johnny’s determined to make this happen. But Flash hates him. Their conversation goes nowhere until he shows Flash her picture. Suddenly he’s in. Time to get the whole band – who hate Johnny—together.

Here’s where Denis Leary lets loose as caustic, pathetic Johnny about how bad it is for rockers to be sober:
About John Lennon: “He’d gotten so boring that if Mark David Chapman hadn’t shot him, Yoko probably would have.”

About bands in general: “Name one great band or rock star that doesn’t get high,” he asks the band in a mini-intervention. They respond: “Coldplay, Morrissey, Radiohead …” Johnny: “I rest my case.”

Enter Gigi, (Elizabeth Gillies, from “Victorious” and “iCarli” on Nickelodeon), not looking shy, not acting shy, in the recording studio. Johnny cringes when she declares she’d sleep with Flash. Then he (and everybody else) are amazed. The kid can sing.

That’s why there should be more than five episodes.

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

It’s not too often that I photocopy certain pages of a book before I return it to the shelf. But this book contained magic tricks and cocktail recipes. So I did.

Neil Patrick Harris enjoyed the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books of his childhood, so his autobiography was written by you … entirely in the second person. There are choices at the end of chapters to skip ahead to a new favorite page. (But you don’t want to.)

From his description, you will get your big break at acting camp, decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D., spend years struggling with your sexuality, and decide what kind of caviar you want to eat onboard Elton John’s yacht.

But it was Harris, not you, who was a successful child actor who didn’t mess up his life, continued working in TV, movies and stage, and dealt with the confusion of dating women and why he was unhappy with that.

“You” grow up in show business, eventually winning 19 various awards among 41 nominations. You star in 10 seasons of TV’s “How I Met Your Mother” as the womanizing Barney Stinson. You host the Tony Awards four times. In 2011, your opening number, “It’s Not Just For Gays Anymore” ( wins an Emmy! You’re the host of the Emmys twice. (The book was written too early to say that you’d host the Oscars in 2015.)

You share some pages with friends who write about you – Kelly Ripa, Nathan Fillion, and Sarah Silverman. Fun. The most fun, and the most touching, is the evolution of your relationship with your husband, David Burtka, and the birth of your twins. You’re the luckiest person in the world. That’s clear.

Have you shared everything? All the ups and downs? We’re not sure. After all, there is some magic involved.

The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers

We lost Joan Rivers on September 4, 2014, following a minor throat procedure at an outpatient clinic in Manhattan leading to serious complications, further leading to a medically induced coma from which she never awakened. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said she died from brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen, and the details of her surgery would be investigated by officials. On January 26, 2015, Melissa Rivers filed a malpractice lawsuit against the clinic and doctors performing surgery on her mother.

I miss Joan Rivers. I want Melissa Rivers to own that clinic – or to shut it down. But that’s just how I feel. That’s not in the book.

Know what else is not in the book? Did you know that Joan earned a Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College? No, she never bragged about that. Let’s talk about what was in the book. Melissa’s words are a lot better than mine.

How about the dedication:

For my Mother,

Whom I think about every day,

And for my Father,

Who, as of this past September,

Is no longer resting in peace

Melissa preceded some chapters with stories or quotes from Joan, which are irresistible.

“Missy, I don’t understand why celebrities think it’s okay to make out in restaurants and theaters. It’s a public place. Who else behaves like this? Did you ever see a chiropractor sucking his wife’s toes in a Taco Bell? I think not.”

“Realize how lucky you are. Fame is not a burden.”

“Your father didn’t care if I went to bed mad. He cared if I went to Bergdorf mad.”

“When it came to my boyfriends my mother had no middle ground; she either liked them or hated them. The ones I liked the most she liked the least. Oddly, she seemed to prefer the rich ones.”

Joan Rivers was fearless. She surprised plenty – by saying what they were thinking but wouldn’t dare say. At age 81 she was coming out with comments on “Fashion Police” that would land others in court. Too bad. She was Joan Rivers.

She got away with it.

We miss her. Melissa brings her back to us, a little bit.