After Diff"rent Strokes: if Laughter Stopped (2000)

Director: Ted HaimesCast: Alon Williams, Corey Mendell Parker, Elise Horn

It"s funnyhow there were things in her childhood that you didn"t even want tothink about, yet as you gained older you found yourself gradually not mindingthinking around these points at every or also the opportunity of directlyembracing them. Because that example, as soon as I to be a child, i avoided westerns andstraight dramas choose the plague. But today, ns am definitely an ext opento them, as plenty of of the reviews on this website will certainly show. ~ above the otherhand, there are certainly some points that in your childhood the youthought about endlessly, but as you acquired older the mere assumed of thesethings gradually started to shed its appeal. I"d favor to talk around one ofthose things, something that very likely friend too held onto tightly as achild, but loosened her grip ~ above it as the year went by. I"m talkingabout the dream of being a Hollywood celebrity, particularly an actor.While i am sure some of you in your childhoods liked to imagine beingan actor together an adult - I periodically dreamed of the - personally, Iwanted an ext in my childhood to think about being one actor just as i wasthen - a child. Why should I dream around waiting plenty of years to besomething I want now? earlier then, exhilaration seemed prefer playing a video game tome, and I definitely liked gamings as a child. I also heard around otherperks there appeared to be for boy actors. Because that one thing, you would certainly bepaid a lot an ext than the pin money you were currently getting native yourparents - v money, you could absolutely buy a most toys. Also,while you would certainly be acting on your particular movie or television show,you wouldn"t have to sit though school several hours for five days aweek. Oh, i did learn early that boy actors in Hollywood gettutors while exhilaration in part production, yet from what ns heard abouttutoring sessions, they certainly sounded a lot an ext appealing thanregular college classes.

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But together the years went by, the idea of gift a childactor slowly started to shed its appeal. Certainly, component of the reasonwas that since I to be slowly ending up being an adult, ns was starting to putchildish things and idea behind me. But a bigger reason was that Istarted come learn about child actors who at some point fell right into hardtimes. You"ve most likely heard around some of castle yourself, gibbs likeCorey Haim, Leif Garrett, Edward Furlong, Lindsay Lohan, DustinDiamond, and also quite a few others. The exciting thing around suchactors who loss on difficult times is that there seem to be five chiefreasons that resulted in the poor fortune, with one or more of these reasonshappening. The an initial reason is as result of mismanagement of your earnings.Thanks come greedy parents and/or dishonest reps, the revenue of thesechild actors deserve to be dwindled down to nothing, and also life is difficult withouta jae won cushion. The 2nd reason is that numerous of this formerchild actors suddenly discover themselves unable to gain acting roles oncethey come to be adults. Plenty of people, from pan to casting agents, oftencan"t watch anything in this adults other than for the functions they play asyouths. The 3rd reason is that together you more than likely know, Hollywood is aneasy place to gain hooked ~ above substances, from alcohol come drugs. That"sbecause this substances are almost everywhere in Hollywood, also on studiosets. The fourth reason is type of regarded the second reason - whilegrowing up as a boy actor, the son actors regularly neglect come spendtime acquiring an abilities other than acting that might be supplied as a backupshould castle can"t uncover acting duties once coming to be actors. The fifth andlast reason is the there are a lot of predators in the film andtelevision industries, people who will certainly abuse kid actors any kind of chancethat they deserve to get. This of course leads to trauma that deserve to stay withthe kid actor even once that or she becomes an adult.

Iam definitely not implying the all or also most kid actors autumn intoone or more of those 5 pitfalls eventually. If you were to thinkabout it because that a tiny bit, you would come up v a considerable list offormer famed child actors from assorted movies and also television reflects whohad

good lives in theiradult years. Plus, think the the thousands ofchild actors in Hollywood that never became famous - i am sure that ifmost or even a far-reaching number the them dropped on tough times, wordwould spread out, and couple of parents then would have their youngsters enterthe world of Hollywood. Yet yes, the story of former child actors whofell on hard times constantly seem to stick out an ext prominently than thosewho had happy stays as adults. And also I need to admit that when I comeacross such a sad story, something constantly makes me salary close attentionto it. It may be a "There but for the grace of God walk I" type of thing,but i think also such stories make me interested come know exactly whatcaused the failure of the previous child actor, or negative lifeexperiences the they had no manage over. Regardless of that, when After Diff"rentStrokes: as soon as The Laughter Stoppedaired on TV in 2000 for the very first (and additionally last) time, initially Ididn"t arrangement to clock it. It was aired on the FOX network, and also it onlyran because that an hour v commercials, leaving me come think the thiswouldn"t be an extremely good. However I chose to watch the first few minutes toconfirm my feelings. As it rotate out, I found the first few minutes socompelling, the I finished up the town hall the whole thing. A hard-hittingdrama that rang true, you might be thinking? Well, review on to check out howit play out.

For those readers who space too young and/or don"t live inNorth America, Diff"rent Strokeswas an American sitcom the ran from 1978 to 1986. The premise the theshow was about a wealthy Caucasian widower named Philip Drummond (playedby Conrad Bain) who had a young teenaged daughter called Kimberly(played by Dana Plato). As soon as his African-American housekeeper died, headopted her two orphaned children, twelve-year-old Willis (played byTodd Bridges) and eight-year-old Arnold (played by Gary Coleman). Theshow was not just a ratings hit, Plato, Bridges, and also (especially)Coleman became the idols of numerous youths. From just that, friend mightthink life for all three kid actors was sunshine and also roses throughout theshow"s run, and also maybe also afterwards. After Diff"rent Strokes: if Laughter stopped tells otherwise.

It stars off v adisclaimer stating, "The complying with program is based upon events in thelives that the cast of Diff"rentStrokes.The chronological bespeak of some events has to be changed, and certainlocations and individuals shown have been fictionalized fordramatic purposes." When any type of Hollywood manufacturing starts off through sucha statement, that usually means a lotof an imaginative license has actually been provided for "dramatic purposes". Then over apicture that the genuine Plato, Bridges, and also Coleman, we space told thatstarting in 1978, Diff"rent Strokeshad, "A remarkable seven year operation as one of America"s favoritesitcoms." Seven?Uh, execute the math from the start and end dates I listed at the beginningof the previous paragraph. Assumption: v the producer of this unique took morecreative license than I to be expecting.

Anyway, the opened narration go on to say thatthirteen years after the cancellation that Diff"rent Strokes,Dana Plato pass away, i beg your pardon was only one year previously than the airingof this docudrama. So there will be less of a surprised of howeverything ends for the three boy stars. In fact, the first scenetakes place according to onscreen captions on may 8, 1999, the dayPlato died. In a motorhome piloted by her then husband and also managerRobert Menchaca (Sean Bridgers, GetShorty),a distraught adult Plato (played through Elise Horn) stumbles about in adrug-fueled stupor, finding and swallowing various prescription pillslike they to be candy. Falling on the motorhome bed, us hear hernarrate, "My surname is Dana Plato. Deserve to you think I finished up here?" Withthe real Plato dead in ~ this point, are we come think the thisproduction"s use of her narration was perhaps an homage to Sunset Boulevard?

Then there is a remind to she wedding day back in 1984, wherein shereminisces top top how great things as soon as were for her, Bridges, and Coleman,and just how she feeling she to be headed come superstardom. Flashforward earlier tothe motorhome, whereby she"s quiet on the bed and also barely moving, yetMenchaca is snapping photos of her. "Told girlfriend you to be snoring!" hejokes. Plato"s narration then says blandly, "I"m not snoring, I"mdying."

Dying, she thinks ago at the previous again, this time at a1986 press conference through Bridges and Coleman wherein they are allcheerful and also have great hopes because that the future... I beg your pardon we learn fromtheirspeech, since director Ted Haimes doesn"t bother to offer us a look atthe trio"s encounters in this scene. Cut ago to 1999 wherein the drugged Plato narratesupon reflection,"We didn"t have actually a clue...", while her mouth exudes a huge amount offoam.

Then things shift to Coleman"s life 6 months after the endof Diff"rent Strokes, whereColeman (Alon Williams, Sid TheScience Kid)discusses assorted (and demeaning) possible brand-new projects through hisparents. There are two interesting things about this scene, the firstbeing that Coleman"s dad is play by Sy Richardson native the X-rated soft-core erotic movie Cinderella.The second is that in this scene, Coleman is completely surrounded byhis electrical train platform, no doubt to shot to hide the reality thatactor Williams is nowhere as reduced in height as the genuine Colemanwas. It doesn"t work, and also the truth that Williams"s confront looks nothinglike Coleman"s makes swallowing this representation very challenging (butfunny all the same.)

Todd Bridges (Corey Mendell Parker, Spider-Man),on the other hand, is displayed to be partying on, if friend can call havingthree women and an unidentified guy all crammed in addition to Bridgesina very small space "partying". Yet the cocaine they are all snorting ismaking them happy every the same, and also we discover Bridges got addicted todrugs through pulling up a carpet in his house and finding a huge stash ofcocaine. When we space trying come understand how that could havehappened, we reduced to the next morning, where Bridges" father/agent comesin to lecture the on lacking auditions and also various otherirresponsibilities. Bridges just dismisses him, though due to the fact that he"s stillhigh on cocaine, maybe we should say Bridges blowshim off.

Meanwhile, a currently married with son Plato has end up being analcoholic for unclear reasons, maybe in component due to not being ableto get any acting offers (also because that unclear reasons.) Things simply getworse because that her once her adoptive mommy ends increase in the hospital (forunclear reasons), and Plato"s husband Lenny decides come divorce her (forreasons a small less unclear, but still no clear enough.) "Faced withreal life," drones Plato top top the soundtrack, "we were shed andunprepared."

Meanwhile, Coleman has actually made friends v a MichaelJackson impersonator named Dion (Catero Colbert, Zombie Strippers), who doesn"t yes, really look much like Michael Jackson.We see the 2 of them talk in Dion"s fancy car, and in anotherattempt to do actor Williams watch as short as Coleman, Williams isslumped way down in his seat.Coleman asks Dion, "What go it median to "bounce a check"?... The bankkeeps calling, castle keeps saying I"m law it." Dion answers maybe Garydoesn"t have sufficient money, yet an uncomprehending Coleman says, "Istill have actually checks left!" Colman adds the his parents room taking careof what needs to be his so-called "$30 million" fortune, but Dionillustrates exactly how not just does Coleman"s parents take it a reduced of hisearnings, but various lawyers, agents, and also managers. Coleman justshrugs this off, gets out of the car, and leans his head right into thepassenger window to to speak goodbye, having actually suddenly get an impressive bigger through atleast numerous inches.

After she mother"s death and her divorce, Plato decidesto pose because that Playboymagazine come earn part bucks and also to advertise that she is currently a newwoman and not the kid sitcom star she formerly was. The Playboy photographer, bythe way, is play by David Yost, the actor who played the originalBlue Ranger in the Mighty MorphinPower Rangersseries, and also if various reports top top the Internet around his exclusive life are true, that may describe to you why thedisplay of Plato in former of his camera doesn"t watch the least biterotic.

In the following scene, we cut earlier to Coleman, who is greeting a lawyer the Dionhad dubbed on Coleman"s behalf. The lower fifty percent of Coleman"s body isblocked by furniture, no doubt come hide the feet in the floor that actorWilliams is stand in to make him look shorter. The lawyer tellsColeman the he and his team have found "irregularities" right into Coleman"ssavings.

"Whatchatalkinabout?" exclaims Coleman at this news.

Thelawyer then reveals that Coleman"s savings have been drained by two-thirdsby his parents for negative investments and also other financial mischief, andsays Coleman will need to sue his parental to acquire his money back.

Bridges by now has actually fallen on tough times, life in a badpart that South central and being addicted to crack. We watch his crackdealer technique him one night, and also the crack dealer is played by - getthis - the realTodd Bridges! walk Bridges think that was including symbolism by saying hegot "himself" addicted come drugs? One can only wonder. Shortly after thetransaction, a confusing step plays out as soon as Bridges make the efforts to enter ahouse (why?) however is manhandled out of the house by an occupant (why?).Seconds later, that hears eight gunshots in the house, prompting him toleave the area... And also then all of sudden he"s in a police terminal gettinghis mugshot bring away by the cops. Exactly how was that tracked down? Why go theauthorities doubt he remained in on the murder? us don"t know, also duringthe unavoidable scene whereby he"s grilled through the police. But then alawyer come in and also the questioning is stopped. The lawyer is theinfamous Johnnie Cochran (who later protected O.J. Simpson), andexplains to Bridges that he"s beenretained through Bridges" mother to represent Bridges. Wherein Bridges" motherwas all this time (or for that matter, whereby his father to be after thatearlier scene) is never answered. Pertained to think the it, Bridges" fatherisn"t lugged up again any type of time after ~ that previously mentioned scene withhim.

Shortly afterwards, Plato appears on a talk display withneither the female hold or the name of the display identified. Among thestagehands kindly suggests to Plato to wipe the cocaine off her nosebefore she go on stage, and once she is there, she shares the stagewith the woman host and also a tv broadcasting Bridges native behindbars. If Bridges frets around being under the general public microscope,Plato (sniffing her sleep a couple of times) cases that she hasn"t hadany problems because Diff"rent Strokesended. Of course, we instantly cut come Plato back home downing anentire party of difficult liquor, narrating that the money from Playboyjust fueled her drug and also alcohol habit, and also had done nothing for heracting career. Actually, in genuine life, after ~ the photo shoot, she wasoffered one gig - to appear in a hard-core pornography film. Yet thisisn"t stated at all here, which makes you wonder if the equipments ofthis production had actually a temporary lapse into an excellent taste.

Anyway, afterbeing fired from dry cleaning and janitorial jobs, Plato the end of theblue decides to commit equipped robbery. Donning a pathetic disguise, andgetting a gun (from where?), she decides to walk rob a video clip store. Thevideo store has actually posters native this era (1991) such as Predator 2, though ns didnotice somevideocassettes of Pokemon(a franchise i m sorry wasn"t developed until 1995) prominently displayed.Plato through her pistol robs the video store, i beg your pardon prompts the video clip storeclerk to breath tell her mom on the telephone that she was robbed through the girlfrom Diff"rent Strokes.Actually, something choose that didhappen in genuine life, and also so did the subsequent scene whereby a curiousPlato returns to the scene of the crime a couple of hours later, and ispromptly arrested. (A most cops investigate the scene of the crimeare shown, which provides me wonder if video stores were an ext popular andmore important services than I initially thought.)

As a quick aside, Plato narrates the Bridges" firsttrial was deadlocked, and his second trial top top a lesser charge ended upwith him asserted not guilty. Small comfort for Plato, that is sittingin jail. V the help of Wayne Newton, Plato is bailed out, andeventually is sentenced to a month of medicine rehabilitation. Duringrehab, Plato manages to telephone come the outside people (correct me if I"m wrong, yet isn"t the kindof thing really, really, reallyfrowned upon in rehab?) "a friend", that agrees to interview her, plustrack down her biological mother. And pay Plato $8000. At the airport,waiting for her biological mother to arrive, in which method she misses theannouncement her mother"s airplane has simply arrived and has to be toldthat. Then a couple of seconds later, her mom walks into the arrival area(I"d really choose to know what airline uses such speedy service.)There are tears and also hugs, naturally, however the good feelings in Plato areminutes later washed far from her inner narration urging she to getin the spotlight again.

Eleven months later, Plato and also her mommy are (youguessed it) estranged because of Plato"s bad behavior, one point being thatthough she kicked cocaine and booze, she is currently hooked top top Valium, anddown to writing prescriptions because that herself. Plato is arrested and also put ontrial again, and also while Bridges tries to be a character witness at hertrial, soon he is rearrested self (while listening come "Wild Thing"by tone Loc, for those who don"t get what Bridges state of mind is at)for weaponspossession and also drugs. Bridges goes to rehab himself, and also while he"sfrantically talking to his mommy on the call (uh...) to obtain him out,the camera shot of this starts much away and rapidly zooms in really closeto him. Well, at the very least the director tried to perform something novel.

After what seems favor a an extremely very an extremely longtime without seeing him, we lastly return to Coleman and also his troubles.He goes come court come sue his parents, who countersue, declare he"sincompetent with handling money. In fact, the referee asks him severalbasic financial questions, which the answers v ease. Psychic thatColeman previously didn"t understand what even a bounced check was, one of two people helearned a lot around financial matters over the succeeding years, or thewriters the this drama weren"t thinking really clearly. Plato narratesthatColeman did well in his lawsuit, getting over $1 million indigenous hisparents, however most the that visited legal fees.

Flashforward come 1996. Plato is clean again, and also offeredthe command of a movie... Despite the movie turns out to it is in an exercisecalled Diff"rentStrokes: The Story the Jack and also Jill... And also Jill. "I mean," Platonarrates over some filmed "lesbian scene" (reallytame stuff, simply Plato and also another woman in a swimming pool holdingeach other softly... But remember this docudrama was produced TV in2000), "they dubbed it soft core, but I guess in the end, erotic isporn." Ofcourse, the movie doesn"t lead to much better things, but prior to getting tothat, us cut back to Bridges in rehab. Angry a fellow addictscreaming and knocking over furniture, Bridges unexpectedly sees the light(literally) in a vision, and has a spirituality awakening. That calls backhis mommy to apologize.

The following year, Coleman is seen sitting in alimousine (another excuse come not show the actor"s real height), and isjoined by Bridges and Plato to be required to a reunion special thatstarts in 15 minutes. (Wow, makeup people and other behind the scenesprofessionals in Hollywood need to be much faster than i thought.) ~ theexpected hugs and also well wishes, Plato drops her purse and also out rolfes alittle brown bottle with white flour in it. Both Bridges and also Colemanare upset by this, and also within secs all 3 are arguing with eachother. Plato jabs in ~ Coleman for now working as a low rent securityguard, and also Coleman jabs back that he"s "together" v himself, unlikehis previous co-stars.

And climate the movie immediately cuts to Coleman onduty at hisjob, swiftly beating the utter crap out of a female autograph seeker ina clothes store, a keep that looks choose the ago of an emptysoundstageother 보다 a couple of racks of garments hugging the wall. While us arewondering why Coleman is using fisticuffs to that woman in the firstplace (it"s never defined why), his inevitable arrest comes secondsafter us seeduring the wrestling in between Coleman and the woman on the floor justhow tall the actor playing Coleman really is.

Shortly after Coleman"s arrest, we discover that Plato madea new friend dubbed Jennifer while functioning on a wire of short budgetmovies. "I necessary a roommate... It to be perfect," recalls Plato. We thenget a step of Plato and Jennifer having actually a familiar chat, i beg your pardon soonleads to Plato kissing Jennifer (on the side of her challenge not encountering thecamera) and lying down on bed together... And also that"s just how explicit itgets, sadly, for factors I lugged up earlier. "What happened... Well, just happened. Ns wasn"t walk tobecome a lesbian or anything prefer that."

While this connection isblossoming, we easily learn the Bridges has totally turned hislife around, gaining saved and also subsequently marrying and having achild. However when we return to Plato and Jennifer, we find out theirrelationship has actually gone top top the rocks. There"s a blow-up, and Plato runsaway. A tho seething Jennifer then goes come the push to report top top thestory in between her and Plato, and things hit the fan. ~ above a televisionnews transfer reporting top top Plato"s once-fame and also now disappearance,the news anchor suddenly claims with a straight challenge to the city hall audience, "We talked toPlato"s lesbian lover, Jennifer, to hear what she had actually to say."

Actually, Jennifer hardly has actually a point to say in spite of having bombshellmaterial, and also when the news story following moves to get comments fromBridges, he states "Naw, i haven"t heard from her for a while, however I"dlike to hear indigenous her... Dana, if you"re watching, I"d favor for friend toget in touch with me." Instead, Plato move to Oklahoma, wherein shemeets and marries the aforementioned Robert Menchaca, whereby they livein her motorhome.

Seemingly happy, Plato plans when again to resurrect hercareer, including showing up on the radio present of Howard Stern. "I knewthat walking on Howard Stern would lug me back on top," Plato narrates.(Although i haven"t listened to much Howard Stern being that I"m inCanada, I have actually heard sufficient of that to recognize you have to be really all set for being put on the spot worrying just around anything... Which Plato somehow apparently didn"t consider.) What adheres to is the work thatPlato showed up on Stern"s show, and the an initial sight that the actorplaying Stern is extremely unintentionally amusing. Attract a really obvioussloppygigantic wig, the actor play Stern appears towant to disguise his true identity. (Note: as it transforms out, the actor play Stern, aswell as the actress playing his sidekick Robin Quivers, space notcredited in the web Movie Database. Anyone recognize who castle were?)

Getting come the interview, things start pretty well v Stern"s typicalrapid-fire but comic-tinged speed of direct questions, which Platopretty much laughs off. Then Stern invites the general public to phone call in, andthings conveniently turn south. The very first two callers say things like, "Ican tell from her voice that you"re complete of it!", and "Dana, ns thinkyou"re a junkie lez has-been who belongs in a psychological hospital!" Plato"spretty uncomfortable by all this, which may describe why the interview endsabout a minute later. (Mr. Stern, why did you also botherto have Plato if it was for just three or so minutes?) before Platoleaves, she requests the a hair indigenous her had actually that to be taken by Stern"screw to be tested for traces of drugs be went back to her.

We reduced to the following day, once Plato overdosed in hermotorhome and was unsuccessfully revived. She body on the gurney, thecamera hovering over her slowly rises while we hear Plato"s spiritcommenting, "I can handle the booze, the drugs, losing my career, butthat job the callers top top the radio do me realize ns was just a joke.Twenty-four hours later, i was dead."

Then at she funeral in the nextscene, as the mourners pass by her open coffin, she further comments,"Disappointedly, there were only around a dozen civilization at my wake. Buttwo weeks later there would be a big service in Hollywood, andeverybody came.... And I would finally finish up top top the cover of Peoplemagazine. She then concludes the story by saying, "Did I mean to carry out it?Well, i took enough pills to kill a 108-pound actress 3 times over.Looking in ~ the train wreck, it was our lives. I have the right to say with allsincerity the being well known young is the worst thing that could happento me. They to speak there room no 2nd acts in America.. Or is it,"Everybody loves a comeback"? Hm, i don"t know, i guess you would certainly haveto questioning Todd or Gary."

The end.

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Well... After finishing watching ~ Diff"rentStrokes: when The Laughter Stoppeda second time 21 years after my very first viewing, like the an initial time Iwatchedit, ns was for the first few seconds afterwards completely stunned byall of what I simply watched. Then individual words started to form slowly one by one in mymind, and also those words to be (among others) "sleazy", "tasteless","incompetent", and "cruel". Harsh indigenous indeed; I can imagine anytelevision doubter who bothered to clock this "docudrama" earlier when itfirst aired offered those indigenous (or even harsher words) to describe whatthey had seen. But while ns may have used those very same words, I must alsoadmit that I can view this routine with a dfferent perspective. If girlfriend canmanage come temporarily put aside any thoughts that the disastrous eventsdepicted in AfterDiff"rent Strokes,it is a important unintentionally (and hysterically) hilarious experience, making friend laughwhen her jaw is no dropping down through utter amazement and also shock withwhat you space seeing. I don"t think I have to say any much more in thatconclusion, because I"ve written practically everything you"ll see in it.Now that i have illustrated the complete experience, you should knowone way or another if girlfriend think you"d be repulsed and also call that anew low point for the docudrama genre, or find it pure gold. Pertained to thinkabout it, since you have just read this whole review, my guess isleaning towards you emotion the latter option.

(Posted September 6, 2021)

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