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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Parenting on TV. ABC News has jumped on top of Tom Cruise's birth announcement. The ABCNews entertainment page has a story today comparing this birth announcement with Lucille Ball's giving birth in 1953. The photo is of the first issue of TV Guide magazine, published April 3, 1953. Lucy had given birth to Desi Arnaz IV three months earlier. The story notes that the Cruise-Holmes pregnancy and birth has attracted media attention around the globe. In 1953 the Arnaz baby was a big story in newspapers worldwide, and on radio, too.

The ABC story notes that

The hugely popular series "I Love Lucy" was thrown into a turmoil at the start of its second season in the autumn of 1952 when Lucille Ball announced she and co-star Desi Arnaz were expecting a baby. The production team agreed the only solution for the show was to have Lucy have a baby, too.

The bosses at CBS were alarmed. No series character had ever been pregnant before. In fact, the word "pregnant" was banned from the network. The early "Lucy" episodes that season brought a scattering of complaints about how showing pregnancy on TV was in bad taste. Aware of a possible backlash, producer Jess Oppenheimer arranged for a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Protestant minister to review the scripts and attend the filmings. The word "pregnant," for example, was substituted in the dialogue with "expecting a baby."
How far we've come! And all in my lifetime (I was born in 1951). ABC News will have an "exclusive" interview with Tom Cruise tonight. As part of the promotion, the ABC site has a display of photos from Tom Cruise's movies with captions comparing his movie roles to his new fatherly duties. For example, there is a photo of Risky Business with this caption:
His star-making performance in 1983's "Risky Business" had him running amok while his parents were on vacation -- driving around in his daddy's Porsche and tangling with Guido the Pimp. With his legendary underwear dance, this introverted kid learns, "Sometimes, you just have to say 'What the f--?'" Now that he's got three kids, will he feel the same way when they cop the same attitude?
The answer to that last question, I can safely predict, is "no." There's not much that Tom Cruise does that I would care to defend, but I would say that many dads regret their own youthful behavior. The standard for measuring a dad's behavior should be how he treats his wife and children, not how he partied as a teenager.

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