Here's the Scoop: July 8, 2009

“Facts” are checked
Once again, this column has been a lightening rod for controversy. Rumor has it that at least one reader took exception to the fact that I may have hinted last week that the late (apparently VERY great) actor John Ritter garnered a wee bit too much attention when he died.
I’m sure that this reader who called to voice her displeasure over my comments simply misinterpreted what I wrote. I meant no dishonor to John Ritter. It’s just, for my money, Don Knotts was the real star of “Three’s Company.” I’m sure we’ll never see another character quite like Ralph Furley.
But that’s just my opinion.
That hurts
The really upsetting part of the complaint call — and I’m getting this info secondhand from the person who took the message — was that my column research apparently “isn’t worth a hill of beans.”
The caller reportedly stated that “John Ritter and Johnny Cash died on the same day.” In my column, I may have hinted that ongoing tributes to John Ritter seemed to be due to the fact that not much else was happening in the news world.
Normally, I must admit, my research for this column is nonexistent. I make up stuff. Especially facts. However, when my imagination is challenged, I must react.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find a flaw in the complainant’s theory. My extensive research (approximately 15 seconds) revealed John Ritter passed away on September 11, 2003, while Johnny Cash died on September 12, 2003. Here’s another fact from me: those dates are not the same day.
Still, in my mind, Johnny’s death should have steamrolled the news of John Ritter’s passing. I’m not casting judgment here, just telling it like it is from a news perspective. Johnny was cool. Way cool. With John Ritter, well, “cool” is probably not an accurate description.
Never-ending tributes
But, as noted last week not so eloquently, John Ritter’s death had a life of its own. The story simply would not die.
Again, I’m sure that John Ritter was a fine man and beloved by many. I just didn’t think he was all that famous.
My guess is that there’s a bunch of pent up sympathy for a guy who made his mark on a TV program by living with two hot females for eight years and never really scoring with either one. Ouch. Making matters worse is the fact (another one) that “Jack Tripper” actually was 0-4 because four different actresses served as his roommates during that period. That has to sting.
But everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just not in this space. In this location, it’s my voice alone. Any others would be “Two’s Company.”
Of course, folks are welcome to express their reactions. As long as they don’t want to challenge my facts — because they’re made up. For a writer, that makes things much easier.
— Brian Sweeney