Few are so lucky as to be on the Vidiot mailing list that lurks behind the innocuous firstname.lastname@example.org address. True, we have to see all the mail from people trying to save Freaks and Geeks, Roswell and the rest. But we also get to witness brilliant repartee and banter among the Vidiots -- stuff you at home never get to see.
But this week -- a week in which we're cleverly not writing about television, in case we haven't beaten this lame premise into you already -- is different. This week, you get to peer behind the curtain.
It began, as it always does, with a reader letter, this one from Erika Dery.
I just wanted to let y'all know who's tops in my personal
standings. Peter Ko used to be my favorite TeeVeer, but since
he's dropped off the face of the planet, Philip Michaels slid
into his place through sheer volume I believe. But, I wanted to
warn him that I think he's about to lose his number one spot in
my heart. James Collier has been making me giggle entirely too
I would like to make it clear that in no way do I mean to slight
any of the other writers, I love you all. But unlike a parent,
I'm honest about choosing favorites.
Thanks for being funny and stuff.
How sweet, Erika! It's nice to know that you like the site. No matter
who your favorite is, we're just glad you read us regularly, enjoy
our work, and even recognize us by name.
But what's this? A letter from a Philip Michaels.
It should be noted that James Collier is a
completely unsavory character who is cruel
to both children and puppies.
I, on other hand, have been known to send
out crisp one dollar bills to TeeVee readers
who do right by me.
Just something to keep in mind the next time
you read so-called "funnyman" James Collier.
-- P. Michaels
The Vidiot Who's Not Above Tearing Others Down If It Means He Holds The Top Spot In Erika's Rankings
Apparently Michaels is offended that he had zoomed to #1 on
Erika's charts merely because he's been churning out the pieces at
an ungodly rate while Pete Ko's on the side of milk
But to write such untruths! To say such lies to such a lovely
young lady as Erika Dery! That's an outrage! Because as anyone
who knows will tell you, Phil's a cheap bastard who would never,
ever give dollar bills to anyone.
However, the stuff about Collier is true.
Matthew Robinson, who is inexplicably on the Vidiot list despite having
only written a couple of pieces, chimed in:
I think what will interest her is where you stuff those $20 bills when James does his special dance for you.
We can't emphasize this enough: it's just not true. Michaels would never stuff $20 anywhere except his own damned pocket. He won't even rent porn until it's on the bargain rack.
But perhaps we've said too much.
Proving that all our non-Freaks and Geeks-loving fans are okay, Erika Dery kindly replied to Phil's offer:
Unfortunately, due to your response, I'm now especially torn. I
feel all tingly and special having received a response so
promptly from *the* Philip Michaels. But, what's that I see up
at the top? AOL?! Now I just don't know what to think. About
anything. My whole world has crumbled.
But if you send out some of those crisp bills you mentioned, I
just may be able to get over the trauma. So how about it?
Yes, it's true. Philip Michaels has an AOL account, and uses it as his primary e-mail
address. You may be asking yourself, "How could such a groundbreaking Internet publisher
still be using an online service that's currently targeting lower primates with a mass
CD mailing campaign?"
Here's a hint: the answer has something to do with Michaels being a cheap bastard.
But enough of this nonsense. It's time for the ultimate Vidiot letter-writer,
James Collier, to jump into the fray. Here's the thing about James: his grip on the
truth is tenuous. Here's the other thing: he's an evil, evil man. Put those two together,
and you've got someone who tends to reply to reader letters personally, with a great deal
of care -- and tell incredible lies.
Why, just the other day, he responded to the avalanche
of "Save Freaks and Geeks" letters with a note pointing out that Freaks and Geeks has actually been renewed by The WB, so they can stop writing.
A total lie. That's our Collier. Our cruel, evil, brilliant Collier.
And so James wrote back to Erika:
Thank you for your wonderful comments. Reading them
made my morning. You like so many other Teevee readers
are finally begining to see that I am the TRUE genius
of Teevee, not that bastard Phil Michaels.
The bad blood goes deep between Phil and I. Many years
ago he and I were like brothers. I can still remember
it like yesterday:
Summer in San Francisco. 1992. We were an up and
coming comedy duo known as The Danville Brothers. He
played the banjo, I sang country songs with racy
Things were going for us. But there was trouble on the
horizon, in the form of sultry redhead named Susan.
Susan was, for the lack of a better description, a
comedy groupie. She had caught our act at a club
Sausilito, and attempted to seduce me. I rejected her
out of hand, I could see she was trouble.
But Phil, he fell for her in a hard way. Soon not only
was she his lover, but she was his confidant. Telling
him that I was out to sabotage his career, that I was
holding him down.
Soon Philip was making outrageous demnads: not only
did he want to sing more, he wanted to ditch the banjo
in favor of the sitar, and he wanted to change the
name of the duo to Philip Michaels and Friend.
I was of course was outraged. And I quit the duo. And
didn't speak for years, hearing only stories of each
other through mutual friends.
I would later find out that Susan dumped him for an
acordian-playing comic who go on to some limited
succcess on the Hollywood Squares.
And of course we would end up working together on the
Teevee site. But the bad blood still remains.
Anyhow, thank you again and take care.
The Vidiot Who Knows That Bastard Michaels is Spreading Slanderous Lies About Me
This, of course, is total bunk. Philip never learned how to play
an instrument, on account of him being a cheap bastard.
But before we close the book on this little saga, it's important to remember
that Erika's original #1 Vidiot was the great Peter Ko. What does Ko have to
say about this little pissing match between Michaels and Collier?
Not a damned thing. Frankly, we've got no idea where Ko is. But he's still
on the mailing list. And you're not.