Friday, January 23, 2004

Richard Grayson's "I Love Scrushy" at YANKEE POT ROAST

Richard Grayson's "I Love Scrushy" appears today (January 23, 2004) at Yankee Pot Roast:

This unforgettable sitcom lasted six seasons, during which the wacky, dictatorial but lovable star, HealthSouth CEO Richard M. (“Red”) Scrushy, stole millions and delighted millions more with his corporate shenanigans and auditing antics. The shows featured Scrushy’s zany attempts to satisfy his dreams of being a country music star, to meet celebrities, to make himself look important to the people of Birmingham, Alabama, and to surround himself with as much luxury as possible.

The four major players employed brilliant comic timing in plots involving the screwball Scrushy, founder and head of a chain of rehabilitative hospitals; his shopaholic third wife, Leslie; Scrushy’s best pal, former child star Jason Hervey (Wayne on “The Wonder Years”), HealthSouth’s inept vice president of communications; and Jason’s ditzy spouse, Shannon.

Classic shows include:

Episode 7: “Scrushy’s Band”
Leslie and Shannon are annoyed that Scrushy keeps hogging the spotlight at work-related functions by performing with his new band, which he’s named “Proxy.” They disguise themselves and convince Jason to hire them as musicians to play alongside Scrushy’s band at the annual shareholders’ meeting. The resulting “battle of the bands” creates such chaos that Scrushy’s plan to fill the board of directors with his stooges almost fails to pass.

Episode 19: “The Accountants’ Party”
Leslie’s correspondence course in hypnosis seems like an utter waste to Scrushy until Jason tells him they need a new ploy to inflate the company’s earnings. Scrushy arranges a party for HealthSouth’s outside accountants and hires Leslie to be the entertainment – in the guise of “Marcella the Mesmerizer,” who will hypnotize the audience and order the auditors to cook the books. Unfortunately, the Ernst & Young employees take that command a little too literally and Scrushy must work fast to prevent his private library from going up in flames.

Episode 26: “The Museum”
After Leslie waxes enthusiastic after a trip to Atlanta’s Coca-Cola Museum, Scrushy decides that she will be impressed if he creates his own museum – dedicated to the creation of the HealthSouth Corporation – just beyond the main elevator bank in the company’s headquarters. But when Jason is busy schmoozing Wall Street analysts, Shannon misreads the message on Jason’s BlackBerry and assumes that the Scrushy wants them to start an art museum and use corporate funds to buy pricey paintings by Picasso. Unaware of the switch, Scrushy calls a press conference and unveils what he says is a picture of himself at the opening of HealthSouth’s 1,000th rehabilitation center – only to discover that it is a Cubist painting of a woman with three breasts.

Episode 35: “Scrushy’s Highway”
When he finds out that a stretch of highway near Birmingham is being named for “Gomer Pyle” star Jim Nabors, a jealous Scrushy schemes to have another part of the highway named for himself. After plying local politicians with food, drink, and campaign contributions, Scrushy gets his highway. Jason relishes the positive publicity, but the plan backfires when Leslie thinks the road named for Scrushy is a private drive like the one he uses to get to his offices at HealthSouth. Scrushy and Jason end up in a mad rush to stop Leslie from racing her Lamborghini against Shannon in Scrushy’s Rolls Royce Corniche.

Episode 47: “Scrushy’s Bathroom Adventure”
Delighted by his successful plan to tap the phone of a female executive and blackmail her into faking invoices, Scrushy celebrates by building a 14-by-8-foot bathroom in his executive office. But when a claustrophobic Scrushy finds himself locked in the loo, Leslie is too busy with a fashion show for her pajama company, Uppseedaisees, to get him out. So Leslie gives scatterbrained Shannon the special elevator pass to the fifth floor of the HealthSouth HQ. Unfortunately, Shannon loses the pass in the building’s lobby, where it’s found by the very employee who’s mad at Scrushy for making her a white-collar criminal.

Episode 54: “Copter Caper”
The girls want to use “Bonus One,” HealthSouth’s corporate helicopter – bought in a year in which the company stopped paying bonuses – for a spur-of-the-moment shopping spree in Atlanta. But Scrushy and Jason want to take the chopper to Scrushy’s luxury family compound on the shore of Lake Martin so they can speed on Scrushy’s 38-foot cigarette boat and enrage the locals in their tiny vessels. When Scrushy and Leslie give the spaced-out copter pilot (guest star Cheech Marin) conflicting flight plans, pandemonium ensues.

Episode 69: “Scrushy Meets Bo Jackson”
Scrushy uses some of the millions he’s pocketed in stock options to build a statue of himself in front of Birmingham’s HealthSouth Medical Center. When Jason gets native Alabaman Bo Jackson to help dedicate the sculpture, Scrushy’s bragging to the superstar about his own athletic prowess leads to a bet that forces Scrushy to put his beloved 22-carat diamond-and-platinum ring in jeopardy. This episode features a song by “3rd Faze,” a girl band of Britney Spears look-alikes that Scrushy created for his “Go For It” corporate roadshow.

Episode 80: “The Scrushy Network”
Scrushy orders Jason to start an in-hospital TV channel for HealthSouth that will deliver programming to patients at HealthSouth outlets. Jason assumes that the network will feature shows related to medical care and rehabilitative therapy – only to learn that Scrushy is more interested in appearing in his own music video, “Honk If You Love to Honky Tonk,” from a CD that Scrushy made with his former band, “Dallas County Line.” Furious with her CEO husband for refusing to buy her a fourth home, Leslie tricks Jason into letting her put the lyrics on cue cards. When an unwitting Scrushy sings the words Leslie has written, he finds himself rapping about the adultery, embezzlement and suicide of his chief financial officer.

Episode 88: “Bad News Bear”
Jason and Shannon fret over how to tell Scrushy the bad news that eleven former HealthSouth finance and accounting executives have pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to inflate the company’s earnings over many years. The Herveys concoct a plan to take Scrushy and Leslie on a rugged camping trip and fake an attack by a vicious bear (really Jason’s former “Wonder Years” co-star Fred Savage in an animal costume), after which Scrushy will be so grateful to be saved from death that his imminent indictment on won’t seem so bad. Unbeknownst to Jason, his old cast-mate never shows up, and the bear he’s about to “rescue” Scrushy from is very real.

Episode 95: “Scrushy in Court”
Because Scrushy is so nervous about his next day’s appearance at a hearing in federal court, Leslie gives her husband a double dose of Xanax. Unaware of this prior medication, Jason gives Scrushy some Valium, and then Leslie gives the embattled ex-CEO a few of her Klonopin pills. When the judge orders Scrushy to answer questions about HealthSouth’s accounting scandal and his lavish lifestyle, Scrushy is so calm that instead of pleading the Fifth Amendment, he pleads the Twenty-First – the amendment that repealed Prohibition – and declines to testify on rounds that he might “incinerate” himself. Look for Leslie’s “Slowly I Turned” burlesque comedy routine when the judge refuses Scrushy’s request to unfreeze his assets and get $10 million in emergency living expenses.

Episode 119: “The Comeback Attempt”
Despite Scrushy’s indictment and dismissal, his madcap lawyer (Donald Watkins) announces a plan to line up financing to buy HealthSouth, using Scrushy as an adviser. When Leslie reads in USA Today that this just adds to a “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding Scrushy’s battles, she decides to get even with the press by hiring a posse of clowns with seltzer bottles to spray lye on reporters. But Leslie’s scheme goes awry when a bad cell phone connection causes Jason to think she wants the clowns to “spread lies” instead.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Richard Grayson's "Girl With Pearl Drops Toothpaste" at YANKEE POT ROAST

Richard Grayson's "Girl With Pearl Drops Toothpaste" appears today (January 12, 2004) at Yankee Pot Roast:

Girl with Pearl Drops Toothpaste (1978)

One of the finest of Ed Kligenstein’s commercials for Doyle Dane Bernbach, this sixty-second spot creates a mood defined by the radiant, all-American glow of the girl as she turns toward the viewer to hawk the tooth-whitening product. Her ash-blonde hair and the blue blouse that clings to her ample teenage bosom enhance her completely disarming row of glistening teeth.

In a departure from the time-honored practice of TV toothpaste ads, Klingenstein has eschewed the usual white background, instead placing the girl in front of a plain black wall that suggests the blackboard of a high school classroom. Instead of the traditional headshot (as in the classic Close-Up commercial featuring a young John Travolta), the money shot here presents a bust-length portrait of the girl, her body accentuated by the three-dimensional effect of the receding dark background.

In its immediacy and image, “Girl With Pearl Drops Toothpaste” demonstrates how different Klingenstein’s approach was from other commercial directors’ of the period. Avoiding an extreme close-up, the camera relies on the actress’s subtle gaze to suggest an altogether fresh but somewhat bratty demeanor that could indicate that we are in the presence of a girl who would not be caught dead with Marlboro-stained teeth.

Also evident is the patient manner Klingenstein must have employed doing the shoot; here, the TV does not merely delineate the forms of youthful bleached incisors but instead embodies and defines them.

Klingenstein’s lines are even more freely executed, as when the girl asks the viewer, “How do your teeth feel?” and, barely waiting for the reply, suggestively flicks her tongue over the top row of her spotless teeth and intones the timeless Pearl Drops slogan, “Mmmm... It’s a great feeling.” The composition of these five words, coming immediately after the flitting tongue movement, creates an unforgettable icon, complete with fresh breath, a sparkling smile, and an invitation to a kiss.

While the girl’s pose suggest a portrait, the features here are purified so that the viewer does not think the actress represents a specific female; instead she is presented as an idealized version of the American teenage girl. This refined figure of Klingenstein’s mature work for DDB stands as an eternal reminder of his place in 20th Century advertising.