Get High On Yourself 1981
In the Fall of 1981, NBC had a 'brilliant' idea. Let's devote a week of our prime-time programming to an anti-drug concept called "Get High on Yourself." The brainchild of Hollywood producer Robert Evans, this excruciating, hour-long "very special program" kicked-off that week-long harangue. Pre-empting CHiPs and crammed to the rafters with pandering celebs, this preachy project was actually part of a court-ordered, community-service probation deal for Evans, after he pleaded guilty to agreeing to purchase $19,000 worth of cocaine! Unfortunately, I missed out on this sanctimonious blast of Reagan-era, "Just Say No" propaganda when it first aired, since I was in college at the time, stoned and drunk out of my ever-lovin' mind. The show was a loosely-structured documentary about the making of an all-star sing-along, and Evans certainly called in a lot of favors for this gig. Several big names turn up (Bob Hope, Carol Burnett, Muhammad Ali, and Paul Newman, whose son Scott died from a drug overdose in '78), but the real fun consists of playing 'Name That '80s Has-Been' (Scott Baio, Robby Benson, Kristy McNichol, Herve Villechaize, Dana Plato, Cheryl Tiggs, Mark Hamill, and a particularly bitchy Cathy Lee Crosby). Their goal was to inform schoolkids that it's not "hip" to take drugs and that nobody in Hollywood actually does them. ('Pay no attention to our egomaniacal-cokehead boss, who's footing the bill.') But its gravest sin was hiring jingle-writer Steve Karmen (who's penned tunes for Budweiser and Exxon, and also saddled the world with "I Love New York") for their dreadfully-insipid ditty "Being Yourself." Watching raw footage of actors milling about isn't the most engrossing way to spend an hour, but it's less annoying than the show's scattered vignettes (artlessly directed by N. Lee Lacy). John Travolta and Burt Reynolds rap with ordinary kids about drugs; Leif Garrett covers The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends"; Al Jarreau leads a gospel songfest; Woody Guthrie's "This Land is My Land" is turned into a lobotomized ode to America's greatness; and as much as I loathe Ted Nugent, I'll give him props for rockin' out with his own version of the show's wimpy tune... Ironically, this diatribe was sponsored by McDonalds, which has probably led to more obesity, illness and early death than any street-corner drug.