Sunday, 26 July 2009

Life on the small screen

When Aaron Spelling died in 2006, he left behind a phenomenal legacy of TV greats that included Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, Starsky and Hutch, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and The Love Boat. He also left behind one of the most dysfunctional families since the Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Having made his name, and a not inconsiderable fortune, as a purveyor of glossy soap opera, there's a poetic justice in the fact that his life started to imitate his art. Weirdly, the whole feud kicked off back in 2006 and when daughter Tori joked about her mother Candy's eBay habit, and was summarily excommunicated. This event also co-incided with Tori's decision to leave her husband of one year and get engaged to someone else.

Shortly after all this erupted, Aaron Spelling died of a stroke aged 83. Tori maintained that she and her father had reconciled their differences before he died, but Candy took longer to thaw out. Despite the fact that Aaron's half-billion dollar fortune was expected to be divided three ways between Candy, Tori and her brother Randy, in fact the two kids only received $800,000 each.

Thankfully, Aaron raised Tori with a great work ethic, albeit one founded on nepotism. So she went out and got herself a reality show about her and new husband Dean McDermott attempting to run a bed and breakfast. At the same time, she and Dean also debuted another new production, baby Liam. Given the reports that Cindy was in the delivery room at the time, it would seem that the pointless feud had run its course.

But just as soap operas love to end on a cliffhanger, this story still had a few more chapters to play out. Coming on like the Lady Macbeth of Beverly Hills, Candy kept the acrimony alive and well by writing a book about the family estrangement and blaming Tori's self-imposed exile for killing her husband. So not the stroke or the oral cancer.

It seems that hell hath no fury like a widowed socialite with bugger-all else to do with her time. Her latest attempt to keep the fires burning is an 'open letter' to her daughter posted on gossip website TMZ. In it, the woman once famed for having a room home used solely for gift wrapping, shows her generosity of spirit by publicly denouncing her daughter for conducting her life in front of the cameras. Which is completely different to airing your dirty laundry on the internet.

Still, as with all of Spelling's TV shows, the plot will run and run until the audiences get tired and find something else to follow. In the meantime, perhaps Candy should follow her own advice, "You're responsible for what you do. Life isn't just a show. And your families can't just be props." Wise words indeed.

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