Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Movies and Television (page 2 of 8)

The Pure Imagination of the Golden Ticket

Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this golden ticket, from Mr. Willy Wonka!  I shake you warmly by the hand!  Tremendous things are in store for you! Many wonderful surprises await you!  For now, I do invite you to come to my factory and be my guest for one whole day — you and all others who are lucky enough to find my Golden Tickets.  I, Willy Wonka, will conduct you around the factory myself, showing you everything that there is to see, and afterwards, when it is time to leave, you will be escorted home by a procession of large trucks.  These trucks, I can promise you, will be loaded with enough delicious eatables to last you and your entire household for many years.  If, at any time thereafter, you should run out of supplies, you have only to come back to the factory and show this Golden Ticket, and I shall be happy to refill your cupboard with whatever you want.  In this way, you will be able to keep yourself supplied with tasty morsels for the rest of your life.  But this is by no means the most exciting thing that will happen on the day of your visit.  I am preparing other surprises that are even more marvellous and more fantastic for you and for all my beloved Golden Ticket holders — mystic and marvelous surprises that will entrance, delight, intrigue, astonish, and perplex you beyond measure. In your wildest dreams you could not imagine that such things could happen to you! Just wait and see!  And now, here are your instructions: the day I have chosen for the visit is the first day in the month of February.  On this day, and on no other, you must come to the factory gates at ten o’clock sharp in the morning.  Don’t be late!  And you are allowed to bring with you either one or two members of your own family to look after you and to ensure that you don’t get into mischief.  One more thing — be certain to have this ticket with you, otherwise you will not be admitted.

(Signed) Willy Wonka

(from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Who has never hoped for that Golden Ticket that will gain him entrance to the places of his wildest dreams? 

On Saturday, I was walking along the street in Long Beach when I notice that a new candy store had opened down the block.  It was one of those upscale candy stores that was geared as much for adults as kids, with a large selection of exotic and nostalgic candies from the past.  Outside the entrance, a few adults were online waiting to get a signed headshot from some “celebrity” who was there to promote the store.   I’m pretty good at recognizing those in the public eye, but I had no idea who the celebrity was at first, even when someone told me that this was “Mike Teavee.” 

“Who?” I wondered. 

Then I saw a poster for the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and immediately remembered the obnoxious kid in the cowboy outfit, one of the winners of the Golden Ticket to the factory.  Sitting here was Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teavee in the film.  I stood on line.  The woman in front of me was next.  She was thrilled to meet a character from her favorite movie.

“Can you please write “To Meg, Martin, and the two girls — Mike Tevee says, “I love TV, Willy Wonka Candy, and I love YOU!”

The actor quickly scribbled the message.  It seemed as if he’d done this countless times before at other candy stores and movie conventions.

Next, It was my turn.  I had never stood in line to get a signature before… well, other than for Crazy Aunt Purl’s book signing in LA, who then promptly stopped coming to this site after I told her to sign my book “Neilochka, I’d knit you a pair of socks anytime, anywhere.”

“Hey, how ya doing?” asked Paris Themmen, the former Mike Teavee.  I’m a big fan of the original Willy Wonka, and the books of Roald Dahl, but I wasn’t really prepared for this random meeting with the former child star. He seemed like a cool guy, and seeing that I was a little down in the dumps over things with Sophia, I saw this as a pick-me-up.

“Uh, great,” I said.  “Thanks for coming here.”

“What would you like me to write for you?” he asked.

I really had no idea.

The result:

After he handed me his signed photo, some pretty girl handed me a free “Willy Wonka” brand candy bar.  Now, if I were Mike Teavee or a character in Willy Wonka, I probably would have ripped open the packaging to see if there was a Golden Ticket inside.  Unfortunately, my first destination was to read the back of the wrapper for the nutritional information, where I discovered that this candy had more saturated fat than a pastrami sandwich at Canter’s Deli. 

“Hell, I should at least try it and see if Willy Wonka would approve.” 

I took one bite of this grainy, milk chocolate pseudo Nestle Crunch bar and I knew immediately that Willy himself would drown the producers of this monstrosity in a vat of chocolate (I later found out that the “Willy Wonka” brand is licensed to Nestle). It tossed most of the candy, which is probably the best thing for my cholesterol.

Besides, there was no Golden Ticket inside.

One day, I’ll get that Golden Ticket.  But it won’t be in a candy bar. 

Thanks for the photo, Paris (Mike Teavee)!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Lillies of the Valley

Movies Based On Comic Books

I’ve never done this before, but this post is really for just one person, my childhood friend, Tuck, who I know reads this blog.  I went to the movies today and the studios are already promoting their summer movies.  It seems as if every other movie now is based on some comic book adventure hero.   

Today I was inspired, Tuck.  I finally discovered the reason I moved to Los Angeles.  It is a spiritual reason.  It is my duty to write the screenplay to OUR favorite comic book!  Of course, there will have to be a few changes to make it work as a summer film.

Imagine this trailer at your local movie theater —

EXT. HIGH SCHOOL -DAY

The camera zooms in on a typical American high school.  Everything seems normal, the same as it is every day.

V.O. — “A typical day in suburbia.  A typical day in school.”

INT. CLASSROOM – HIGH SCHOOL -DAY

We find ourselves in a chemistry class as Dr. Dolbell is showing a group of students an experiment in making dry ice.

V.O. — “But today is not a typical day.  Because today, this peaceful bastion of education will change forever….”

One of the students, a practical joker, turns on his bunson burner.

Dr. Dolbell:  “No!!!!”

There is a huge explosion.  The entire school is engulfed in flames.

EXT.  HIGH SCHOOL – DAY

A CNN reporter is standing in front of the fiery chaos.  Stretchers are being rushed out to waiting ambulances and emergency choppers.

CNN Reporter:  “Casualties are high.   The local hospital is filled.  The state has called for a state of emergency.  This is the worst event that has ever happened to this quiet little community.”

 A paramedic is quickly wheeling one of the injured. 

Paramedic:  “We need to get this one out now!  He’s serious.  I don’t know if he can make it.”

Although bloodied, we can see the young man on the stretcher, his red hair still neatly-coiffed.  On his shirt, is written his name, “Archie Andrews.”  In the background is the name of the school, “Riverdale High School.”


This used to be an illustration of the Archies, but now I am using this lame photo instead so I don’t get sued by Archie comics. 

INT.  RIVERDALE HOSPITAL – NIGHT

A large group of surgeons are at work, rushing back from one victim to the next.  Five students are unconscious, side by side, each barely alive.

V.O. — “Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones.  We can rebuild them.  We can change them from typical high school students who are only interested in drinking sodas at the malt shop into a TEAM OF HIGHLY TRAINED KILLING MACHINES for a secret department of the United States Government.

EXT.  RED SQUARE — NIGHT

V.O. — “Archie Andrews — is now THE FIREMAN!”

Archie, now as muscular as a boxer, extends his hand in the direction of a group of Russian renegade military officers.  Fire shoots from his hand and incinerates the bad guys.

INT.  TIMES SQUARE — DAY

V.O. — “Reggie Mantle is now DOCTOR PUNISH!”

Reggie stretches his body like rubber completely around the TKTS ticket both, lifts it from cement and tosses it at a meteor about to hit New York, knocking it away and saving the day.

INT.  SAN BERNADO HOTEL – BUENOS AIRES – NIGHT

V.O. –“BETTY COOPER is the BLONDINATOR!”

Betty is making love with an Argentine drug dealer, when she sees him reaching for his knife.  She wraps her thighs around his head and cracks his neck.  He dies with a smile on his face.

EXT.   FISH MARKET — SHANGHAI – DAY

V.O. –“Veronica Lodge is GOLDBITCH!”

Veronica is surrounded by three martial artists swinging nunchucks. 

Veronica:  “Well, hello boys.  I always wanted a threesome.”

She whips out two golden revolvers.

“Daddy always told me that everything is better in gold.”
 
She blows them all away.

EXT.  DESERT AREA – PAKISTAN – NIGHT

V.O. –“Jughead Jones is DJ Crown!”

Jughead is leading a team of Marines in to find Bin Laden while doing some impromptu rapping for the entertainment of the others.  Jughead, looking through a nighttime telescope, catches a glimpse of Bin Laden trying to escape.

“Not this time, sucker!”

Jughead takes off his metallic crown and flings it like a frisbee, pinning Bin Ladin to the rock.

EXT.  HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD – NIGHT

The five ex-high school students, now superheros, swagger down the street, towards the camera, each carrying their weaponry.

V.O.  — “For these five high school students, school is definitely out for summer.  It is out… forever.  Riverdale, Riverdale, rah, rah…

A bus blows up behind our heroes.  Flames and metal fly into the sky.  They keep on walking to Jughead’s new rap hit “Sugar, Sugar, Sweet Bitch, Sugar.”

Note:  This post is a parody and this blog is not affiliated or associated with Archie Comic Publications, Inc.

Dancing with the Stars Recap

Did you all see Dancing with the Stars on Monday night? What did you think? The show just gets better and better.  (note:  read with sarcasm)

Here’s my weekly recap:

Tonight on Dancing with the Stars, Marlee Matlin’s Samba was only so-so. The music was too fast, and Matlin, who is deaf and counts the steps in her head, was falling behind.

Last year, the gimmick contestant was Heather Mills, who has an artificial leg. This year, it is a deaf actress.

“Who will it be next year?” I asked Sophia during the commercial. “How can they outdo themselves after a contestant with an artificial leg and then someone deaf?”

“Maybe someone who is blind.” she answered.

“I think it is probably harder to dance being deaf than blind.” I said.

“You’re probably right. Being blind doesn’t really “up the stakes” for the show next year.”

“Maybe someone deaf AND blind.”

“Someone in a wheelchair.”

“That would be cool.”

“Someone not very bright.”

“They’ve had plenty of those before.”

“Someone with even more plastic surgery than Priscilla Presley.”

A promo came on for this ABC comedy, “Samantha Who” about a woman with amnesia.

“Someone with amnesia!”

“That’s good. Someone with recurring amnesia who forgets the dance routine minutes before the performance…!”

“…and also has a wooden leg!”

“But really… is it that much better than someone who is deaf?”

“Maybe not. A midget?”

“Eh… it’s been done.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere.”

“I got it. A transvestite!”

“That’s stupid. A transvestite can still dance.”

“What if the transvestite is also deaf… and not very attractive.”

“Ok, I buy that. Let’s see if ABC does.”

Tomorrow: The “elimination” show.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Married Couples

Oprah’s Big Give

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I watched this show on Sunday:  Oprah’s Big Give.   The very concept of the show made me uncomfortable:  An Amazing Race reality show where contestants compete by seeing who can give away the most stuff to poor, miserable, and disabled individuals in need.  It is a bizarre meshing of Oprah’s “My Favorite Things,” “Extreme Makeover Home Edition,” and “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Good Samaritan:   “Mr. CEO, I want to thank you so much for your generous donation.  This money will go a long way for opening a school for homeless children who lisp, and for hiring the finest in speech pathologists.”

CEO:  “Hold on, hold on.  Let’s wait until the cameraman shows up.”

Good Samaritan:  “What cameraman?”

CEO:  “Isn’t this donation for Oprah’s Big Give?  Aren’t you a contestant on the show?”

Good Samaritan:  “No, I told you on the phone I wanted to ask you for a donation for a school for homeless children who lisp.”

CEO:  “You’re doing this on your own?”

Good Samaritan:  “When I was younger, I lisped, and well, kids laughed…”

CEO:   “You mean you just called up and I let you in — and you have nothing to do with Oprah?”

Good Samaritan:  “Well, I saw how generous you were on her show last night and –” 

CEO:  “Get the f**k out of here!  I don’t just let anyone walk into my office.  I thought this was another donation for Oprah’s show.  I thought this was going to be on TV.”

Good Samaritan:  “Oh, I’m sorry.  But what about the donation?”

CEO:  “Give me that check back.  You’re an idiot.  Why are you collecting money for charity for NOTHING when you can be doing it on Oprah’s show and winning a million dollars!”

Good Samaritan:  “A million dollars!?”

CEO:  “My father always said, “Charity begins at home.””

Good Samaritan:  “Hell, yeah.  Can I borrow your computer for a second.  Let me sign on at Oprah.com.  I’ll come back here next time with Oprah’s camera crew.”

CEO:  “Now we’re talking charity!”

If I Was Married to Hellga from American Gladiators

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I’m waiting… for that apology…

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Does this joust go with my shoes?

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You know I don’t like green peppers in my kung pao chicken!

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Why must you always flirt with Fury in my presence?

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I thought your mother was staying at a hotel this time?!

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I don’t care what you got from Netflix.  Tonight we’re watching Grey’s Anatomy.

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Stop fooling yourself, Neilochka.  It’s not even close to Titan’s.   That one time we… it was… it was… like this…

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:   How Jack Bauer Has Ruined My Life

Vote for Me… Or Else

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I woke up this morning and saw a large manila package outside our door.  I opened the door, still in my underwear, and took it.  It was for Sophia.  Since she was still sleeping,  I took the initiative to open the package myself.  Out came a huge brochure, a press kit, and a free movie pass for a Paul Thomas Anderson-directed movie for Miramax.  I laughed to myself. It was for the SAG awards.  It was that time a year again, despite the Writers’ Strike. The Weinsteins must really want to win and Oscar this year.   Did they really send this to each and every SAG member?

I heard Sophia rustling in bed upstairs.

“You got a package!”

“A package? From whom?” she asked, half asleep.

“Someone really wants you to vote for them! — “There Will Be Blood“.”

“Oh my God.” she replied, her voice cracking nervously. “What did you say?!”

“Someone really wants you to vote for them! — “There Will Be Blood”.”

“Who would do such a thing? Is this a threat?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Sophia stepped out of the bedroom, looking like she spent a little bit too much time on Facebook last night, particularly the US politics application. She heard me say: ” Someone really wants you to vote for them or there will be blood!”

I assured her that Hilary Clinton would never send her a manila package with a threatening message.   She would put a horse’s head in the bed.

Dancing with the Stars – Live!

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“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” — dancer and choreographer Martha Graham

“The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.”  — writer Ray Bradbury

Sophia and I showed up at CBS Television City, where, ironically, they shoot ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”   It was the final dance-off of the season, and we were excited to see the show live.   The two of us were decked out in our finest clothes, as if we were going to a reception for Queen Elizabeth.   An email explicitly told us to “dress up” as if it were an elegant affair.  There were others waiting to get in, dressed in the same manner — glamorous and beautiful. 

Then reality struck us in the face like a bead flung off Mel B’s sequined dress.  This was not a fancy event.  We were not a paying audience.  We were going to see the taping of a TV show, which means being treated like sheep. 

First up — figuring out which line you are on. 

There was the line for the “celebrities” like the Spice Girls and Ryan from All My Children (yes, Danny, we saw him!).   They went in first.

There was another line for VIPs, mostly agent-looking dudes. 

There was the pseudo-VIP line.  These were the assistants to the agent-looking dudes. 

There was the I-know-someone-but-someone-not-very-important line.  This is where you would stand if your former roommate’s sister is now the makeup person on the show. 

There was a “priority” line for those who didn’t get in last time, and were given a special pass this time, putting them on a line one step before the total nobodies with tickets.  You see, the networks, like Southwest Airlines, overbook — even if you have a ticket — and then leave those unlucky enough standing on the street with a “priority ticket,” and walking back to the bus stop in their dresses and suits with dashed dreams of sitting next to Donny Osmond. 

Everyone, except the Spice Girls, waited… and waited.   A college-age production assistant with a clipboard, humorlessly checked our tickets.  A homeless guy wandered along the line, looking for cans of soda left behind by ticket-holders. 

Hey, ABC — why not send a warm-up guy OUTSIDE and entertain us why we wait forever?   It took almost three hours from arrival to getting inside the studio.  Think about how they do things at Disneyland!  Sure you moved us from spot to spot like you do at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but where’s the music?  The fun?  The audience was half asleep by the time we took our seats (crammed in so you can hardly move. I’ve never seen such tiny chairs.)

Most of the public guests were women, and Sophia thought since I was a man, this would help us get a better seat, especially since I was looking good in my blue suit.  She pushed me to be at the outside of the line, so the show ushers would notice me and put us in a visible spot.  On TV, it looks as if the audience is filled with distinguished-looking men.  In reality, the audience was 3/4 women, mostly drooling over Maxim.  Some of these fans are fanatics.  These are women who remember every single judge’s score since season one.

Sophia and I actually got decent seats in the second-tier VIP section, but later we realized that it is probably better to be in the balcony with the average Joes.    The camera was constantly blocking our view.  We were also on the wrong side of the stage.  Later, when we came home, we searched for ourselves on the screen, and all we can find was a one second shot of the back of my head.  We didn’t even bother to call my mother to tell her. 

The real star of the show is — the editing.   Everything is low-key on the set.   The excitement only begins when the warm-up guy jumps up and down, giving us the Pavlovian sign to stand and cheer as if Jesus had just walked in.   The minute it was commercial time, all became silent.  Then, boom — screams of ecstasy!  No wonder so many women in Los Angeles fake their orgasms. They must all work on TV shows, and get in the habit of showing false enthusiasm. 

We cheered, we stood, we booed — everything on cue.   Why did we give everyone a standing ovation, even the bad routines?  Because we were told to!  Why did we boo the judges when they made some intelligent, but constructive comment?  I didn’t boo once.  How impolite!  And why does the audience have to be the toadies for the dancers?  

Tom Bergeron looked pretty sullen and unfriendly during the commercial breaks, and only smiled and became witty when the camera turned on.

Finally, I had enough.  I stood up and spoke my mind.

“Hey, Tom!  What is this with all the fake frivolity?  It’s so much more fun on TV.  Here you all look bored!”

“Yes.  That’s TV.   Boring to make.  At least this a better gig than that dumb “America’s Favorite Videos.”  And  since we’re shooting at CBS, we’re closer to the Farmer’s Market.   I love those donuts at Bob’s.”

“And wait a minute.  Who’s writing this show anyway?  Don’t tell me that Bruno is coming up with those witty comments by himself?”

“Oh, uh, yeah.  We are “ad-libbing” everything during the Writer’s Strike.  Why?  Are you a writer?”

“Well, actually I am.” I said.

“Hmmm… because I really could use someone to help me ad-libbing tonight’s lame jokes.”

“Well, I would, but I don’t want to be a scab.”

“Well, I couldn’t pay you union scale, but I could introduce you to Cheryl Burke.”

“Cheryl Burke, the hottest dancer on the show?  Call me scab.  You got a deal!”

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Well, of course that never happened, but thinking about it kept me amused while waiting in line.

On the way home, Sophia and I stopped at the 99 cent only store to pick up some batteries.  I wish we had taken pictures.  It must have looked funny as we walked down the aisles of cheap detergent in our best clothing.   When we went to pay, the checkout girl gave us the once over, and asked us if we are coming back from “our prom.”  That was the best part of the night.

We’re Dancing with the Stars

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Sophia got us the hottest tickets in town — today’s taping of the finale of “Dancing With the Stars.”  We need to dress up, first, because they make you, and second, because we notice that only the good-looking people get the seats next to Donny Osmond.    I’m still deciding between wearing a suit or going barechested with suspenders, like Maxim Chmerkovskiy.   Either way, keep your eye out for a banner that reads “Go Marie” on one side, and “2007 Blogger Chrismahanukwanzaakah Holiday Concert — December 10th, on the other.”  Hey, they’re always plugging ABC’s shows, why not me?  You notice that “The Bachelor” just happens to be in the audience the week before the show’s finale? 

Look for us in the audience.

They Watch Desperate Housewives in Manila?

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I am so glad that the producers of “Desperate Housewives” have apologized for the racial slur against Filipino medical professionals that was on the show’s first episode of this season.

In the season premiere that aired Sunday on ABC, Teri Hatcher’s character, Susan, goes in for a medical checkup and is shocked when the doctor suggests she may be going through menopause.

“Listen, Susan, I know for a lot of women the word ‘menopause'” has negative connotations. You hear ‘aging,’ ‘brittle bones,’ ‘loss of sexual desire,'” the gynecologist tells her.

“OK, before we go any further, can I check these diplomas? Just to make sure they aren’t, like, from some med school in the Philippines?” Susan fires back.

There was an uproar in the Philippines.

The TV episode even became an international incident, with reports on it topping Philippine news shows and drawing newspaper headlines as officials there registered their displeasure. Filipinos could judge the scene for themselves when it was posted on YouTube.

In Manila, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he was writing the producers of the show to seek an apology and note the country’s “vehement protest.” Senior cabinet member Eduardo Ermita told reporters that an apology should be sought “on behalf of our Filipino professionals.”

“The producers of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere,” cable news channnel ANC quoted the statement as saying.

“There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines,” they said.

I immediate called my family doctor, Dr. Mark Guinoo, a 1985 graduate of Manila Medical School, to hear his reaction. He was stunned.

“When will the negative stereotypes ever end?” he said.

Dr. Guinoo has truly been a lifesaver to me. Last year, during a bout with pnemonia, he prescribed “Dr. Scholl’s Foot Lotion” for me, and three months later I was cured.

ba-ba-boom!

Sorry, Leese, for the mediocre gag! I owe you some Puto Bumbong for Christmas!

P.S. — Do you know who really deserves an apology? Women with menopause! Teri Hatcher’s character acted as if she had just gotten a death sentence when she heard the news.

P.P.S. — I will keep my comment promises!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Donut Shop Redux

Stereotypes about African-Americans: True or False

1) All black people say “M-Fer.” True or False?

From the Huffington Post:

During the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, discussing his recent trip to have dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s, a famous restaurant in Harlem, Bill O’Reilly reported that he “had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful,” adding: “I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O’Reilly asserted: “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’ You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.”

Answer: False. All Black People do NOT say “M-Fer.”

2) All black men are either athletes or rappers. True or False?

Season One, Dancing with the Stars: Evander Holyfield

Season Two, Dancing with the Stars: Jerry Rice and Master P

Season Three, Dancing with the Stars: Emmitt Smith

Season Four, Dancing with the Stars: Clyde Drexler

Season Five, Dancing with the Stars: Floyd Mayweather

Answer: True. If all I did was watch “Dancing with the Stars,” all black men are either athletes or rappers. Aren’t there any black actors in Hollywood to invite to be on the show? It’s getting to be a cliche.

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