Critic’s Corner

By Charlotte Bruce Harvey '78 / November / December 2003
June 21st, 2007

With The O.C., Fox’s newest Southern California teen soap opera, executive producer Doug Liman ’88 has plotted a culture clash: a well-intentioned, well-heeled, public defender brings home to his Orange County estate a troubled kid from Chino, home of the California Institute for Men. Critics seemed loath to like this latest addition to the Melrose Place–Beverly Hills 90210 genre (“Someday Fox Television is going to run out of nice Southern California locales in which to set a series,” lamented the San Diego Union Tribune). Still, the San Francisco Chronicle called the show’s plot “superb.” The Village Voice observed that “The O.C. isn’t just an extended music-video soap opera that hinges on the sex lives of pretty, privileged kids in designer clothes—though it does that with extreme gusto.... It’s also a series about something else rarely discussed on slick TV dramas: the wounds of class.” The Voice noted that the rich O.C. girls find taciturn poor boy Ryan “totally hot. Some of them also give him extra Brownie points for being working class, equating poverty with moral superiority.”

—Charlotte Bruce Harvey ’78

» Being behind bars hasn’t kept former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci out of the literary limelight. In August Providence Journal reporter Mike Stanton published The Prince of Providence: The True Story of Buddy Cianci, America’s Most Notorious Mayor, Some Wiseguys, and the Feds. Edited by Random House vice president Jonathan Karp ’86, the book includes such vintage Cianci showdowns as a heated 1980 phone call during which then-admission director James H. Rogers ’56 told Cianci that one of his two nephews applying to Brown would be rejected. As Stanton tells the story, Cianci chewed out Rogers, who in turn called the mayor a jerk. After Cianci threatened to hold up Brown’s zoning applications until the boy was admitted, president Howard Swearer reportedly reminded the mayor that this was not a wise tactic for a man who would be governor. » Also in August, Jonathan Van Gieson ’96 debuted his “Buddy” Cianci: The Musical at the New York Fringe Festival. The play features tunes like “The Ass You Have to Kiss,” which was inspired by the Cianci gem: “The toe you stepped on yesterday may be connected to the ass you have to kiss today.” » And Buddy will surface in a third literary genre in April: a novel by creative writing instructor Robert Arellano ’91, ’94 M.F.A.

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November / December 2003