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Embarrassments of the Moment

   Baddest Dads

The B
est Life website, sponsored by MSN, rated the ten worst fathers in the world in 2008.  Here's a summary:

10. Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman:  This dad in the United Arab Emirates has fathered 78 children by 15 women.

9. Michael Lohan:  The father of Lindsay, an ex-con turned Christian counselor, has thrust himself into the limelight through secret-daughter rumors, custody battles, talk-show appearances, and tabloid tell-alls.

8. David Hasselhoff:  Having an alcohol problem and dealing with it: honorable. Getting your kid intimately involved in the process by videotaping your drunken displays: creepy.

7. William Ligue Jr.:  34-year-old Ligue and his 15-year-old son jumped out of the stands at Chicago’s Comiskey Park and beat up Kansas City Royals coach Tom Gamboa.

6. Eliot Spitzer:  You thought you’d mortally embarrassed your daughter when you wore socks and sandals to the mall. Imagine her shock if you were caught with a Girls Gone Wild alumna who is now a high-profile hooker.

5. Johnny Eric Marlowe:  In 2005 and 2006, he circumcised his two sons with a utility knife.

4. Woody Allen:  In 1992, stepfather Woody Allen took up with Soon-Yi Previn, 35 years his junior.

3. Thomas Beatie:  This bearded, transgender Oregon man is pregnant again.

2. Byron Keith Perkins:  Awaiting sentencing on gun- and drug-possession charges, he received a temporary prison release to give his ailing son a kidney but, instead, he split for Mexico with his girlfriend.
And the winner is…

1. Ryan O'Neal:  He fired a “warning shot ” during an argument with his son, Griffin, in 2007.  He once put his daughter, Tatum, on a cocaine diet to help her lose weight, and he also told her, “You cut the wrong way” after her failed suicide attempt.

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   A Royal Pain in the Butt

 As portrayed by actor Gene Hackman with flair, flummery and a flourish, Royal Tanenbaum was born at select movie theaters on December 14, 2001, and then went into wide release on January 4, 2002.  The Royal Tanenbaums is a great movie, but Royal Tanenbaum is a terrible father. 
    Broke, homeless and estranged from his oddball family for 22 years, Royal shows up at the door of Etheline, his ex-wife played by Angelica Houston, lying that he’s dying of stomach cancer: “I’m as sick as a dog. I’ll be dead in six weeks.”  It turns out that his cancer pills are just Tic Tacs in medicine bottles.  He lies, he steals, he treats his children inconsistently and without affection.  During the course of the film, he grows from a manipulative and selfish absentee dad to a manipulative and selfish dad who is embarrassingly present.  A few examples:
         ~ He intentionally shoots young Chas, his obsessive son played by Ben Stiller, during a BB gunfight.  Royal sneaks up behind Chas and aims his gun at him.  “What are you doing?! You’re on my team!” exclaims Chas.  “Ha, ha!” laughs Royal, “There are no teams.”
         ~ After the premiere of a play by his teenage daughter Margot, played by Gwyneth Paltrow,
Royal informs Chas and Margot that the play “didn’t seem believable to me. It was just a bunch of little kids dressed up in animal costumes.”
         ~ Whenever he gets the chance, he reminds Margot that she was adopted.
         ~ He confides in Etheline, “Thank you for raising our children.”
         ~ Once a prominent litigator, he is disbarred and briefly imprisoned, in part for stealing bonds from his 14-year-old son. 
~ He admits, “I’ve always been considered an asshole.  That’s just my style.”
    Royal finally dies – not from “being a shit my whole life” but from a heart attack at the age of 68.  He composed his own headstone, which reads: “Died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship.”

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 Still a Monstrous Betrayal of Fatherhood

Back in May when it was released in theaters nationwide, we chastised the producers and writers of Shrek 3 (see our critique, way towards the bottom of this page).  In the movie, Shrek’s wife Fiona told him that he was about to become a father, and all he could think about (and dream about) was the food that the baby was going to eat and the big messes that the baby was going to make.  Shrek had a nightmare about his life being made miserable by obnoxious baby ogres. 
        Did DreamWorks and Disney learn from the Dad backlash?  Noooo.  Shrek 3 comes out on DVD on November 14, and the brains behind the flick still think terrified future fathers are funny business.  Shame on them.  They had a chance to make Shrek something more than a
stereotypical cartoon character, but they let him remain an uptight monster.

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  Great Santini, Bad Dad

The Man:  Lt. Col. Bull Meechum, aka The Great Santini.  As portrayed by Robert Duvall, The Great Santini was born, cinematically, on
October 26, 1979.

Father of:  Pat Conroy, who wrote the semi-autobiographical novel on which the film was based, and a bunch of other kids.

The Story:  The Great Santini was a brave fighter pilot – italics on fighter.  He was a terrible father, physically and mentally attacking his family in drunken rages or just for the joy of establishing his dominance.  The Colonel drilled his children mercilessly and demanded way too much of them.

Whaaa?  When they disobey or talk back to him, Bull slaps his kids.  Great Santini, but bad dad.
        In one scene, Bull and his teenage son Ben (the Pat Conroy character portrayed by a young Michael O’Keefe) are playing one-on-one basketball.  The entire family watches and cheers for Ben.  Ben wins.  Bull doesn’t like that one damn bit and teases his son into crying.  Great Santini, but bad dad.

        In another scene, Bull comes home drunk and yells at his wife Lillian (played by Blythe Danner).   Ben and his siblings attack him to protect their mother, and Bull bolts into the night.  Lillian makes Ben go after Bull. Ben tells his profane, arrogant, abusive father that he loves him and walks him home. Good kid, Great Santini, but bad dad.

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  Bad, Bad American Dad

On  September 5, 2007, the Parents Television Council, an uptight watch group worried about sex and violence on TV, released its sixth annual report.  It found that violence, profanity or sexual content pop up every 3.5 minutes during the first hour of prime time (formerly designated as “family hour”).  The worst series?  American Dad, with 52 instances of objectionable content per hour.
      Produced for 20th Century Fox Television by creators Mike Barber, Seth MacFarlane and Matt Weitzman, the series stars Stanley Smith as a CIA agent more devoted to his work than his own family, which includes trophy wife Francine, 18-year-old daughter Hayley, geeky son Steve, a talking fish and a hermaphrodite alien named Roger.  In an episode that aired two years ago on September 11, 2005, Stan, desirous of a promotion, permits his boss, the deputy director of the CIA, to have a sexual relationship with Hayley.  In one scene the boss, wearing Hayley’s underwear, talks to Stan about a sexual position he enjoyed with his daughter.
      Since the group’s first report (the 2000-2001 season), violent content during the family hour has increased by more than 52 percent and sexual content is up by 22 percent.  Fox was the most egregious network, with 21 instances of violent, profane or sexual content each hour.     
      The third season of American Dad
premieres September 30, 2007, at 9:30 pm on Fox.


  Is Paris Burning? 

On June 26, 2007,  Paris Hilton finished serving her time for violating her parole and was released from the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California.  She went directly to her parents’ mansion in nearby Bel-Air (they also maintain a home in The Hamptons), where the towels and bedsheets were soft, warm and fuzzy, not like those “thin prison sheets” that chaffed her skin, said her mother Kathy Hilton.  Although her father, Richard Howard Hilton, chairman of the Hilton hotel chain, had originally planned a big jail-release party for his 26-year-old daughter in Las Vegas, her first night out of jail was a low-key, stay-at-home affair.   
      On August 17, 2007, Rick Hilton turned 52. The celebrations went unreported.  
      Happy birthday, Mr. Hilton.
      Rick Hilton is the father of four pampered children – Paris, Nicky, Barron and Conrad – but Paris takes the cake.  Paris is a high school dropout famous not so much for the family name but for a porn video (One Night in Paris), getting drunk, an insipid Fox series (The Simple Life), and more videos in which she smokes marijuana, answers the door naked for an ex-boyfriend, and makes out with various celebrities of both sexes.  You got to wonder where the father is when Paris is doing all these, these, these … things.
Rick visited his daughter on Father’s Day when she was locked up in Lynwood.  On his way into the jail, Rick was asked if this was a particularly hard Father’s Day. “It’s not ideally my best,” he said.  Asked how he felt, he said: “I feel alright.”  You got to wonder what it would take to make him feel not alright.


    Sumnertime, and the Living is Fractious

Sumner Redstone
, 84, is engaged in a summer feud with his daughter Shari Redstone, 53.  They are fighting over control of an entertainment empire worth $50 billion, which includes the CBS radio and TV stations, Paramount, MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and Showtime.  Sumner controls these assets through National Amusements, holding an 80 percent stake.   Shari owns the rest. 

      Thirteen years ago, when Sumner was building Viacom and needed help running the family’s theater chain, he turned to his daughter, who was home raising her kids.  Shari expanded National Amusements into Russia and Latin America. She helped pioneer the upscale cinema concept, with gourmet food, bar lounges and valet parking. Sumner knighted her as a vice chairwoman and director of Viacom and CBS Corp. “Your life is not complete until you have met Shari,” he said in 2005. 

      But their relationship now sucks. Dad and daughter have been estranged for months because of disagreements about succession, corporate governance and the future of the theater business. They are no longer speaking. 
      “If Shari desires to be bought out, I will consider this as long as the price is acceptable,” Sumner wrote in a letter faxed to Forbes at the end of July, 2007. “It must be remembered that I gave to my children their stock, and it is I, with little or no contribution on their part, who built these great media companies.”  
Ironically, Viacom once sold reruns of the game show Family Feud.  Earlier this year, Sumner bought out his son Brent’s interest for $240 million, resolving one of several family lawsuits. Others, still pending, include suits filed on behalf of nephew Michael and brother Edward.
      Sumner’s new wife Paula, one of the few family members he is not feuding with, is half his age and lives with him in a mansion with two swimming pools, a tennis court and a screening room in a gated community off Mulholland Drive in L.A.  Sumner views his collection of exotic fish from his favorite chair in the den, where he compulsively watches the stock ticker on CNBC.


   We Put Everything on the Internet

On June 22, 2007, 48-year-old Mohd Nasher of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, went gunning for his daughter’s fiancé.  He and his son Mohammed Nasher accosted the fiancé at a local diner, grabbed him, pulled him outside and began choking and beating him.  They pushed him into the back of an SUV but he jumped out a window.  As he ran for his life, daddy Nasher yelled at him, “I’m going to find you, and I’m going to shoot you.”

     Both Nashers have been charged with assault and kidnapping.  The fiancé told Middletown Township police that his potential father-in-law was upset that he and his girlfriend had moved in together.

    According to local TV station NBC 10, a woman at the Nasher home in Newton said that this was not a criminal case but a family matter and threatened to sue the station: “That’s the problem with this country – we put everything on TV.”

    The father's daughter and the alleged victim (her boyfriend) are still together, but they are living several states away.


       The Dopey Dogma of Father Dombroski

For 35 years Linette Servais served as organist and choir director at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in rural New Franken, near Green Bay. But she was discharged of her duties by Father Dean Dombroski because she sells spa products and “romance enhancers” at Tupperware-like home parties for women.  Father Dombroski told Linette she could no longer lead or sing with the choir.
       Father Dombroski sent a letter to the members of his congregation: “Linette is a consultant for a firm which sells products of a sexual nature that are not consistent with Church teachings.”  On May 29, 2007, Linette told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she feels “called as a Christian to help women, especially those who have sexual problems resulting from cancer….  Father Dean made it sound so sinful.  There is so much more to this business than toys.”
       We’ll forgive you, Father, because you’re the one who has sinned.  Says Linette, “It’s about empowering women and helping them strengthen their relationships.”  Her greatest reward, she told the Sentinel, is when women tell her she helped improve their marriages.  Come on, Father, get with times and lighten up.  You’re focused on the wrong organ.


     Oh, Grrrr

The brains behind Shrek 3, released
May 18, 2007,ought to be ashamed of themselves.  So should Shrek himself.  When his wife Fiona tells him, justifiably apprehensively, that he's about to become a father, all he can think about (and dream about) is the food that the baby will eat and the big messes that the baby will make.  Shrek has a nightmare about his life being overrun and made miserable by obnoxious baby ogres. 

       DreamWorks and
Disney still think terrified future fathers are funny business.  Shame on them, and shame on Shrek. They're acting like cartoon characters.  How two-dimensional!

     Here's One Book Oprah Will Not Recommend

When Oprah Winfrey was 14 and pregnant, she left her mother's house in Milwaukee and went to live with her father, Vernon Winfrey, in Nashville. Her baby died a few weeks after it was born, but Oprah stayed on with Vernon.  On May 22, 2007, the actress and talkshow mogul told the Daily News that she was "shocked" and "disappointed" to discover that her 74-year-old father was writing a book about her. "I won't say I'm devastated, but I'm stunned," she said. "The last person in the world to be doing a book about me is Vernon Winfrey. The last person."  
      Oprah heard about the tell-all book from the Daily News, not her dad.  "I would have preferred to have known my father was working on this. It would have been a nice gesture, a courtesy."    
       Vernon has titled his tome Things Unspoken. He has been quoted as saying he should have been tougher on his daughter because Oprah was "out of hand and an unruly child." According to the gossip site, Vernon regrets that he didn't beat his daughter enough. "Children need roots, limits and discipline, and I don't mean time in, time out.  I mean the rod of correction, swung hard and often."

    When Ireland's Eyes Aren't Smiling

On April 18, 2007, actor Alec Baldwin left this voicemail for his daughter Ireland, age 11:

... I want you to know something, okay? I’m tired of playing this game with you. I’m leaving this message with you to tell you you have insulted me for the last time. You have insulted me. You don’t have the brains or the decency as a human being. I don’t give a damn that you’re 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you’re a child, or that your mother [Kim Bassinger] is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn’t care about what you do as far as I’m concerned. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone.
" ... And this crap you pull on me with this goddamn phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother and you do it to me constantly and over and over again. I am going to get on a plane and I am going to come out there for the day and I am going to straighten your ass out when I see you.
    "Do you understand me? I’m going to really make sure you get it. Then I’m going to get on a plane and I’m going to turn around and come home. So you’d better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me. So I’m going to let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, okay?” 

       Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner Maren Nelson listened to the tape and, in a closed hearing on May 4, 2007, reviewed Baldwin's visitation rights. After the hearing, Bassinger's attorney commented, "Kim is very, very happy with the judge's decision." Oh oh. 

       "There's nothing wrong with being frustrated or angry about something," Baldwin said during an April 27 appearance on The View. "It's the way you do it and, as people often do in this world, I took it out on the wrong person.” Baldwin says he wants to concentrate on the problems faced by divorced parents and their children. In 2008, he penned a book about custody and divorce, A Promise to Ourselves.


     Baby and Butthead

On April 10, 2007, photographer, former boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith and all-around nincompoop Larry Birkhead discovered that he was the father of Smith's baby. This is the guy who posted side-by-side baby photos of himself and Dannielynn on his website to demonstrate that he really is the father.
    Within days of his dramatically televised
"I told you so," Birkhead and baby were posing for OK! magazine for $2 million.
    At what point will Dannielynn learn the meaning of the word exploitation? Is yesterday too soon? As Jon Stewart murmured on The Daily Show, "Kato Kaelin, I owe you an apology."

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