Schwarzenegger Fathered A Child With Member Of Household Staff

We live in tough emotional times, for sure.  First on my list of news that has made me genuinely sad, the one prompting this cathartic column, that Arnold Schwarzenegger has confirmed to the L.A. TImes that his marriage broke up after he told his wife, Maria Shriver, that he fathered a child over a decade  ago with a member of the “household staff” who continued  to work for them until she “retired”  this January.

update: The feeding frenzy has begun.  And at 7:49  this evening Radar Online.com, in a joint investigation with Star magazine, has identified 50-year-old Mildred Baena (seen in their exclusive photo) as the mother of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child,. 

For her part, Maria Shriver released a short statement saying she is heartbroken and said, as a mother, she is concerned for her children.

Today, there’s also been  a warmed-over story from 2003 percolating: a British tabloid alleged that a former stewardess who worked on the family’s private jet, Tammy Faye Tousignant, had Schwarzenegger’s “love” child, a boy who would now be around 18 years old.

That article, along with Tammy Faye, were  widely ignored in America in 2003.  But now, with the L.A. Times revelations, she is being hounded.  She’s denying Schwarzenegger is the father of her son, and has changed her phone number. Her lawyer now says she has a DNA test to prove she’s telling the truth.

For his part,  the boy,  described by an on-line gossip column as having a familiar toothy grin, reportedly told one reporter not to waste his time; this was a politically motivated story invented eight years ago.  Riddle me this: was Tammy Faye an intentional red herring?

Why does the woman named in the British press as one of Schwarzenegger's "baby mamas" look like John Edwards' baby mama (R)?

If there’s any strange resemblances to note, it is that Tammy Faye has a striking similarity to Rielle Hunter, the woman who had John Edwards child while his wife, Elizabeth, was battling terminal cancer.  (Mildred Baena looks a little like “Octomom,” don’t you think?)

On this occasion, I am happy to let others investigate and they will continue for a long time.  I am sad because I know Maria Shriver and admire her greatly.   Working closely with her I learned she is a caring journalist, an original thinker,  and a person with a free enough spirit to marry a Republican body builder-turned-movie star and help guide him into the California governor’s mansion.

With her new role as First Lady of California came the forced ending to her hard-earned career at NBC News.  But still determined to carry on her family’s mission to make our world a better place, she launched an annual gathering which grew and morphed. By 2010, The Women’s Conference®   became the nation’s premier forum, empowering women to be Architects of Change ® in their own lives, their communities and the world. More than 150 extraordinary speakers came together with 30,000 women,  one million if you include the global online community she established as well.

I first met Maria Shriver in 1989  during the launch of NBC’s 16th attempt at a news magazine, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”   On the premiere show, she followed a childless Greenwich, CT couple who underwent state-of-the-art fertility treatments, only to learn too many embryos had taken hold.  They were then told if they did not “selectively terminate” some, none would survive.

Maria and I then worked on her incredible discovery of a woman who’d been in a state hospital since birth, seemingly in a vegetative state until one nurse was convinced she saw her communicate with a blink and fought to have her properly tested.  It turned out, there was an incredible mind locked in a non-functioning body.  Maria deftly told this woman’s story which included her new life outside the hospital,  a marriage and finally a book in which she recounted being tossed like a sack of potatoes around the hospital where she grew up.

I would learn that before Maria Shriver went over her scripts with me, she had already gone over them with her mother.  It is extremely sad that in addition to the turmoil in her marriage, she recently lost two extraordinary parents: Eunice and Sargeant Shriver, who founded the Peace Corps for his brother-in-law, President Kennedy.

Back in 1989, the premiere of  “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,”  incited  reviews that were blistering.  Maria gathered the entire staff for a pep talk and ended with (in perfect Schwarzenegger accent,)  “… and as Ah-nold would say, ‘Fock ’em!’ ”

I know as mis-matched as they seemed, he brought as much to her life as she did his.

I can’t imagine how conflicted she must be, given the history of “those Kennedy women” and the men they put up with.  I hope she doesn’t think she is just the latest chapter.  In fact, I hope once the anger subsides she finds the courage to evaluate the state of her marriage on its own merits, along with the possibility of forgiveness and repair.

For this challenge alone,  I am really sad for the Shriver-Schwarzenegger family.

KATIE’S “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE” CARD

I’m also sad for the way Katie Couric was treated at CBS.  If anyone ever wondered what broadcast news executives really do, you can figure out this riddle by the damage done when they “don’t” do “it” well.  Did Katie Couric suddenly become less talented?  I think not.  In fact, the most recent Nielsen ratings  show Katie’s Evening News at CBS is just one tenth of a rating point (A 25-54 ) behind Diane Sawyer’s World News at ABC.  

Broadcast Evening News Weekly Average Ratings (week of May 9, 2011)
NBC:   2.0/8 and 2.47 million A25-54 

ABC:    1.5/6 and 1.91 million A25-54 
CBS:    1.4/6 and 1.69 million A25-54 

The good news: she gets her “get out of jail free card”  from CBS this Thursday.  (It’s like monopoly money at this point, isn’t it?)  Just remember, in network news they don’t blame you for leaving, but after you’re gone they’ll blame you for everything else!  Finally, if Katie’s seriously thinking of joining ABC after CBS, I suggest she first ask Connie Chung how that worked out for her.

FOX ENDS THE RUN FOR “AMERICA’S MOST WANTED”

My Hero: John Walsh has helped capture 1151 fugitives and counting.

After 23 years, John Walsh’s AMW has been cancelled.   During that time,  Walsh’s broadcasts, airing Saturday nights on Fox since 1988,  have resulted in the arrests of 1151 fugitives world wide. That’s a lot of rapists, child molesters, drug lords and murderers.

John Walsh is one of my all time heroes. As is well-known, in the summer of 1981, his 6-year-old son, Adam, was abducted and later found murdered. Walsh then turned his grief into advocacy and truly changed the world around him.

In 1983 he let NBC make a television movie, Adam, and a 1986 sequel, Adam: His Song Continues. Following the airing of the broadcasts, a roll of missing children was featured, leading to the recovery of 65 youngsters.

Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Entertainment, explained that the weekly fixture, America’s Most Wanted, had been losing money for a quite a while. I suspect Reilly has a heroic role in keeping in on the Fox schedule for as long he did.

I’ll be sad until AMW finds a new broadcast or cable home.

Do we have an honor great enough to bestow on Jerry Lewis

JERRY LEWIS TO END TELETHON HOSTING

Five years ago, for his 80th birthday,  France bestowed upon Jerry Lewis  a medal and induction into the National Order of the Legion of Honor, that country’s highest decoration in recognition of merit.

At the time, the award seemed  to be one more reason for some to criticize the French.

At the ceremony, Jerry Lewis apologized for not speaking french, then stuck his tongue out for the cameras (R).  You gotta love him for that!

I wasn’t born to see  his first show business incarnation: Martin and Lewis. But I was around for “The Nutty Professor,” a film that became was my introduction to comedy outside of cartoons and  The Three Stooges.

By 1982, when I’d become a student of comedy, in a workshop for professional writers, I was awestruck by his role in Scorcese’s King of Comedy in which he plays late night talk show host who, while craving privacy, is stalked, and kidnapped by a stand-up comic wanna-be played by Robert  De Niro.

His legacy in comedy, however grand, doesn’t touch his legacy for charity.  Over the 43 years he’s hosted his annual telethon for Muscular Dystrophy, he’s raised $1 billion and an awareness on which you cannot put a price tag.

Jerry Lewis came before Live Aid,  Farm Aid,  the Concerts for Bangladesh, 9/11 and Haiti and long before Bill Gates and Warren Buffet decided to pledge their fortunes to their foundations instead of their heirs.

Year after year, Jerry Lewis pulled a blood-sweat-and-tearful all-nighter, singing and dancing and begging viewers to send in their spare change.  And in all this time, he’s never revealed a single detail why he chose this cause, or even how he came up with the idea for a telethon, one of the greatest fundraising stunts in history.

So again, I’m sad Lewis’ Labor Day telethons are over.  And I’m sad the French were the only ones to get  it right.

I heard the news today, oh boy. Next week: the final Oprah Winfrey Show.

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