Monday, September 17, 2007

Dr. Phil presents a case of "Catch Me If You Can"

Dr. Phil tends to invite people to his shows who have harmed or cheated others, and one wonders why they agree to come on (and go to “Man Camp” or the “Dr. Phil House”). Today, Monday Sept. 17, 2007 his show was dedicated to a couple people who “lie or fake their way through life.” He presented a 52-year-old con artist (“The Great Prentender” or “Master of Deception” who resembles the protagonist of the Dreamworks film “Catch Me If You Can” of Fox's The Flim-Flam Man. He has pretended to be a priest, gotten a job with the Red Cross under false pretenses, and fabricated various identities. He would set up cell phone accounts in different area codes to fake his own reference checks for job applications. This all started when he lived with a sugar daddy celebrity, and was kicked out, and then got a rap sheet for grand theft auto for not returning leased or rented cars.

What’s interesting is his claim to have written a book, and be working on two more books. But the first book “Conversations with God” was actually authored by another party (check Amazon); Dr. Phil’s “guest” only added a foreword and afterword. Dr. Phil invited the man to come back to the show if he gets either of the other books published and has actually written them himself. (According to imdb, “Conversations with God” became a movie from Samuel Goldwyn Films in 2006, as a journey of a homeless man; I just added the film to my own Netflix queue. (The guest had been homeless before pulling of his charades.)

I wondered, what happens if he self-publishes the book? Does that “count”? Or uses a cooperative publisher like Author House (recently merged with iUniverse). Now cooperative publishing companies (with print-on-demand) often provide the imprint and brand like trade publishers, and do have publishing contracts similar in some respects to those of trade publishers (which could include legal indemnification, as for copyright infringement or gross plagiarism).

I suspect that the public won’t be interested in hearing from this gentlemen until he atones more (pays restitution or serves jail time), something not to expect with sociopathy. In any case, it’s easy to prove that a book is your own work, if you keep the manuscript and notes on your hard drive. I did.

On Friday, Sept. 21, Dr. Phil had a segment about a 38 year old woman (who looked like she was 50) having an affair with her son's best friend, who was 18 (so the affair was legal according to California law). Dr, Phil, nevertheless, called the friend a "child" even though he spoke up for himself quite eloquently from the audience. Dr. Phil expressed moral repugnance at this legal relationship. Of course, if there were children from the relationship, there would be issues. But the repugnance seemed more collectivistic: what is supposed to happen to people her own age? That is one thing marriage is for. Dr. Phil did present another (married) couple, where the male was three decades older than the female.

The "Dr. Phil" show is produced by CBS but aired on NBC (at least in the DC area). Go figure.

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