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Farrah Fawcett's TV special doesn't really tell her story, producer says

May 16, 2009 |  8:25 pm

The executive producer who's suing to regain creative control of the NBC special "Farrah's Story" says he's putting up a fight because "it's not the show Farrah Fawcett wanted."

In an exclusive, in-depth interview with Gold Derby, Craig Nevius says Farrah Fawcett wanted the program to be presented in a diary format — not in the traditional documentary mode with talking heads, as was used — emphasizing urgent medical and legal issues that got downplayed in the final telecast.

Also, Nevius believes Fawcett would not have OK'd the inclusion of her troubled, 24-year-old son Redmond O'Neal, who is shown in prison uniform and leg chains as he climbs in bed with her, crying, "Mommy…Mommy." Fawcett appears to be so sick that she's oblivious to what's going on.

Farrah fawcett 839275143 news article

Nevius says Fawcett refused to permit her son to be seen in her reality series "Chasing Farrah" on TV Land in 2005, which he also produced. Redmond's battle with drugs was becoming public back then. "He was getting it together and going through counseling at the time," Nevius says. "She didn't want a permanent record on film that would follow him throughout his later life." The only time Redmond's existence was acknowledged on "Chasing Farrah" was when he made one phone call to his mother.

Nevius launched a lawsuit last week claiming that creative control of the TV special was yanked from him six weeks ago by junior producer Alana Stewart, Fawcett's onetime boyfriend Ryan O'Neal and his business manager. "They told NBC that Farrah's in such poor health after returning from her last trip to Germany that 'she's not in a position to finish this and she wants us to finish it,' " Nevius adds.

When NBC granted their request, Nevius was surprised because Fawcett had already planned what should happen if she became too ill to continue to oversee the TV special.  "She had foreseen this possibility and assigned creative control to me," he says. "Last April she signed an agreement empowering me to make the creative decisions." "Farrah's Story," originally titled "Wing and a Prayer," was produced by Fawcett's and Nevius' company, Sweetened by Risk LLC.

Originally, Nevius says that the documentary was acquired by NBC's entertainment division, but it was recently transferred to the network's news division, which rushed to feature it as a special during May sweeps. New footage was hurriedly shot over the last several weeks without his consent, Nevius says, mostly interviews with O'Neal, medical personnel and former "Charlie's Angels" costars Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, who are featured in the final edit. "Farrah hates that TV format," Nevius says. "Everybody who works with her knows that."

The prominence of Smith and Jackson seems a bit odd since Fawcett downplays the significance of "Charlie's Angels" during one scene in "Farrah's Story," reminding nurses, "I was only on the TV show for one season." Were her former costars suddenly jammed into "Farrah's Story" at the last minute to add sex appeal and hike TV ratings?

"I think it would've been fine to have Kate and Jaclyn participate in some stylistically appropriate way and Farrah was never against that," Nevius adds. "In fact, we shot Kate a few times for the first version of the show. The girls have remained friends since starring in 'Charlie's Angels' " in 1976-77.

When Fawcett and Nevius initially developed the TV special, "we had numerous offers from the networks," he says, "and one of the reasons we went with NBC is because they said to Farrah, 'This is your story. We'll tell it your way, in your words.' She was adamant about one thing: She wanted this edited like a movie using her diary for narration. She didn't want the talking-head format with its abrupt interruptions. Also, that changes its point of view."

In addition, he says, Fawcett wanted the TV special to stress important medical issues that ended up getting only passing mention in Friday night's telecast. "Farrah wants to know why chemotherapy sensitivity tests are done in Germany and elsewhere, but not here in America," Nevius says. "This is a huge, huge issue for Farrah and she wants to really, really focus on it."

Fawcett also wanted to explore controversial topics such as why certain experimental drugs are approved by the FDA for just one kind of cancer but not another. "She wants to know: Why do some medicines cost 10 times more in the United States than they do in Germany?" he says. "Aren't we limiting cancer treatment to the rich? 'Why aren't we encouraging mad-scientist thinking?' she likes to ask. Farrah wanted this TV special to have an impact. She wanted this to affect change in the medical world."

Instead, Fawcett has come under severe criticism because NBC edited out lots of original footage that addressed these topics. In its review of "Farrah's Story," the New York Post wrote, "It does not register with her that her wealth and fame, which afford her private jets to Germany and an international team of doctors, are unavailable to the vast majority of cancer sufferers, and that, if not for her station in life, she would not have had extra time. She does not seem to wrestle, at all, with the notion that there may be some experiences best kept private, that the unintended consequences of oversharing can be a cheapening and coarsening of the most meaningful moments."

The New York Times was also harsh, particularly about the absence of more solid medical info: "Nobody mentions anal pap smears, which researchers increasingly cite as a way to screen for cell changes that lead to anal cancer. The film also doesn’t make clear that in many cases, anal cancer can be treated and cured."

The New York Times called the TV special "awful because it was an exploitative portrait of a celebrity's fight with cancer. ... NBC took Ms. Fawcett's candid video diary and allowed it to be packaged as a generic VH1 'Behind the Music' biography — maudlin music, gauzy slow-motion film, and pseudo-revealing interviews with friends, coworkers, doctors and hairdressers reminiscing about a former star. ... She deserves a different, less exploitative television tribute."

RELATED POSTS

'Farrah's Story': Farrah Fawcett's greatest role

Farrah Fawcett faces court battle over 'Farrah's Story'

Photo: Associated Press

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Comments

Farrah's story was just
wonderful and incredible..
I might have had the
same diagnosis 2 yrs ago
but Ididn't..I am so thankful.
she was a beautiful
and brave lady, please
rest in peace, Rose

R.I.P. Farah
You were strong and I am sure God will let you dip your angel wings in the rain you love so much. To Ryan and Red she was brave and it is worse to watch the life get taken from someone you love. Be Brave u r in my thoughts

I just saw the movie and it seems the boys at NBC are doing the same thing that big pharma are doing.

Selling their souls for a buck.

Farrah was brave person and a fighter. I have lost 2 sisters to liver problems, one at the age 14 in 1959, and the other in 2003, I have the same liver disease as they did an will be waiting to be on a transplant list as my liver progresses, I hope I have half the courage as Farrah did, as I saw my sister in 2003 pass away. What a brave women you were

FARRAH FAWCETT WAS A GREAT ACTRESS. GROWING UP I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE JUST LIKE HER. I ASK MY MOM CAN SHE BUY ME THE FARRAH FAWCETT SHAMPOO AND SHE DID ACCEPT ONE THING I HAD TO CLEAN MY ROOM MYSELF. YOU WILL BE MISS, BUT NOW YOU WON'T BE IN PAIN AND YOU WILL BE WITH YOUR MOM AND SISTER LOVE YOU

June 22, 2009

FARRAH
THIS IS IMPORTANT:

Get in touch with Hulda Regher Clarke who is a
Biochemist from Canada.

She has written books on
Cancer and her latest I believe is "The Cure for All
Advanced Cancer". Her
approach is as a biochemist who stipulates
that all cancers are curable.

My best,
Carrole Collins

Would like to have an address for Redmond...my husband and I have been in ministry for 30 years...there are answers...Christ came to free us from addictions and things that would destroy us...Would like to tell Redmond what He can do for him.

I heard drinking distilled water cures most diseases,because it flushes out any inorganic minerals from the body.Please read the book by Dr.Harvey Diamond (Fit For Life).
May God Bless You!

Dear Farrah:
I am one of your biggest fans and pray you get stronger everyday. Whether your story was real or not what you expected, your true fans know your personality and have researched so much about you. You are a true hero to television and will always be an angel! I always hoped I would meet you someday, but have suffered many financial hardships and cannot afford to travel. Be strong and feel proud for your fans love you!

Always in my thoughts and prayers,

Barbara Bates
544 SW KAbot Ave
Port Saint Lucie, Florida 34953

Farrah you have truly showed the world what real courage is and I pray with all my heart you are one of the lucky people to beat this dreadful illness. may god be with you always

To Farrah fawcett, I really am glad you are getting better and can eat regular food. But I would advise you not to eat any meat. I really believe that meat is ONE of the main causes of cancer.

Another great article below about the positive impact of "Farrah's Story."

"Farrah Fawcett’s Private Reality"

By Matt Semino, Esq.

NBC aired the heart-wrenching documentary “Farrah’s Story” to nine million viewers bringing sharp public focus to Farrah Fawcett’s private and courageous struggle against terminal cancer. This moving documentary, filmed in collaboration with and featuring Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal and best friend Alana Stewart, serves as both a brutally honest and deeply touching account of the severe impact that this deadly disease has on its victims and their loved ones. Fawcett, through control of the reality medium, bravely narrates a story demonstrating her hope, personal introspection, intense emotion and tenacity. The “Charlie’s Angel” star has successfully used her international fame and this poignant film to raise global awareness of the disease, the urgent need for alternative approaches to treatment and interestingly, salient legal and ethical issues concerning patients’ privacy rights. Fawcett has become her own personal messenger.

A shocking segment of the documentary depicts Fawcett discovering that information contained in her confidential medical records had been leaked and sold to the National Enquirer by UCLA Medical Center employee Lawanda Jackson. The leak led to the National Enquirer printing the headline “Farrah’s Cancer is Back!” Authorities claimed that Jackson had also improperly accessed the medical records of other celebrities, including Britney Spears and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife Maria Shriver. Jackson , 50, pleaded guilty to violating federal medical privacy laws for commercial purposes in December but died of breast cancer in March prior to being sentenced. This breach of Fawcett’s privacy led to an onslaught of tabloid and paparazzi attention on the star during a particularly vulnerable period of her illness. The coverage was so intense that she referred to the National Enquirer as being “as invasive and malignant as cancer.” As a consequence of this experience, Fawcett began aggressively advocating for greater legal protection of patients’ privacy rights. Her strident advocacy efforts have resulted in tremendous media and political attention being brought to an important issue impacting not only celebrities but also the general public.

Is your privacy at risk? Medical records can contain highly personal information about an individual including social security numbers, dates of birth, insurance records and diagnoses. Compromising such records creates the potential for identity theft and other fraudulent activities. Therefore, it is essential that strong legal mechanisms and institutional policies be set in place to prevent violations of patient privacy. Political support of patient privacy initiatives has been quite strong. In response to the public outcry that has been generated greatly in part by Fawcett, California passed legislation in early 2009 permitting the state to fine health care providers for breaches of a patient’s medical records. Governor Schwarzenegger has spoken out publicly on this issue, warning of the legal ramifications that will result from the violation of medical privacy by health care institutions and their employees. Additionally, a provision of President Obama’s stimulus plan is geared toward better securing the privacy of patient medical records.

While Obama supports greater patient privacy, his ambitious goal to digitize all medial records raises serious questions concerning how sensitive patient information will be protected as it is moved onto electronic systems. Is it possible that important patient medical data could be lost during the transition from paper to digital? Who will be viewing the information contained in these records as they become digitized and how can we ensure that the information will be protected in the process? Ultimately, how can we balance the multiple benefits of electronic medical records with the multiple risks that such modernization can pose to personal privacy and perhaps even to public health?

Fawcett, a 70’s sex symbol whose iconic swimsuit poster helped shoot her to international stardom, has boldly altered her persona and message to raise international awareness of cancer and the timely issue of patient privacy rights. She has forcefully pushed open the doors of dialogue. The public’s acceptance, for the most part, of Fawcett’s current image and circumstances illustrates the positive transformative power that new forms of “reality” media can have in a society inundated by the steady stream of YouTube and TMZ. It is also reflective of the perceptual changes that the media consuming public has developed of celebrities and celebrity culture. The public is now just as much enamored by the real person behind the image and all of their inner triumphs and tragedies as it is with traditional Hollywood iconography and glamour. Real human events and emotion have always existed within the celluloid machine. Perhaps now we are just more comfortable facing their elements of truth and “reality.”


Matt Semino is a New York attorney and legal commentator. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School , Cornell University and is a Fulbright Scholar.


Contact Matt Semino at [email protected]

As an RN with a special interest in oncology, I have seen the incredible battles people have fought with cancer. Farrah Fawcett's battle is incredible as well. What really bothers me though, are that people's entire life savings, their homes, everything they have worked for in their lives is whisked away by the astronomical costs of treatment. This is so wrong! "The Haves vs. the Have Nots" equals survival vs. death! I commend any healthcare professionals that provide low-cost or no-cost treatments to patients in need, regardless of their illnesses, or financial status.

As a Registered Nurse, my thoughts and best wishes extend to Ms. Fawcett and her family during this difficult time. While watching this television special, I was quite surprised to see the level of care and choices she was able to receive - and the show left me with the impression that her extraordinary care was due to her connections and wealth. How I wish our American healthcare system could allow that same level of care to others suffering from this horrible form of cancer; unfortunately, it seems wealth prevails, and the 'common' folk are only offered traditional treatments and have less opportunities in the healthcare realm. At the conclusion of Ms. Fawcett's story, I was left feeling both saddened by the plight of her and her loved one's suffering, and angry that we, as a society, are more and more tightly bound by the financial constraints so vividly documented in the end. Again, best wishes, Ms. Fawcett.

DEAR FARRAH.U SHOULD HAVE THE COLOSTOMY BAG.U WOULD
ABEL TO LIVE LONGER.AND WORK AND MAKE MONEY.

Farrah is a pop culture icon. god bless her, she is dealing with a terrible cancer...why don't we give her the opportunity to deal with her situation with dignity.

FARRAH FAWCETT : DE LA BEAUTE A LA POURRITURE ?

Pathétique, poignant, cruel comme un miroir renvoyant l'image de notre propre condition : Farrah Fawcett, ex-beauté incarnée, est en train de s'éteindre quasi en direct sous les caméras de télévision américaines. Cependant elle croit encore à un miracle, priant avec ferveur pour que la vie triomphe de son cancer alors qu'elle est en phase terminale.

Sur son visage, le masque de la maladie, de la vieillesse, de la hideur : notre masque potentiel.

Le plus effrayant : savoir qu'un humain peut passer de la gloire la plus complète à la misère la plus totale. Tout n'étant qu'une question de temps. Ce qui arrive aux êtres "immortels" peut nous arriver à nous aussi, simples mortels que nous sommes...

A travers son agonie nous assistons à notre propre fin.

Madame Fawcett ou l'histoire de la beauté qui devient décrépitude. Quand un destin de gloire finit dans la déchéance. Lorsque les sommets insolents de la jeunesse éclatante se concluent par le plus noir abîme... La maladie.

Avant la mort.

Mais éloignons-nous de ces vanités hollywodiennes, ne nous arrêtons pas à la souffrance, à la tristesse, allons à l'essentiel : au lieu de la pourriture promise par la Camarde, derrière ces apparences immondes du cancer, moi je vois l'éternité.

La mort prochaine de Farrah Fawcett : fin d'une étoile ?

Oui.

Ou pour être plus exact, la lumière retournant à la lumière.

Raphaël Zacharie de IZARRA
[email protected]

This might sound crazy but I have heard that cancer can not be where frankinsense is. I guess it would not hurt to try. Any way I have been believing with farrah and I just wanted to share this information. All I know is Gods ways are not ours. Sometimes He chose crazy ways to win the battle.

Hello Mr. Ryan O'neil,

I hope that you will read this message. I was trying very hard to get your phone number because I need to talk to you in regards to Farrah fawcett's health. When you read this message, please contact me at [email protected] Doctors do not try to give you the other alternative treatments. Because they know you have money and they were just trying to get your money. Before it is very late please conact me ASAP. I'll wait for your e-mail. I know you would think it is late but to be late than sorry for not trying something that will work. And I am not looking for your money. My informations will be free. And believe me she would come back to life.

Farrah's Story becomes the top topic on the largest STD dating STDslove. com . I think the story
can encourge more than 500,000 members with STD on the site.

I don't understand why our government won't approve treatments that cure all diseases. Our governmet has a fear of lost money to our pharmacutical companies. I believe if more people believed in theDr. Raymond Royal Reif treatment , more people would be alive today. Dr. Reif made a wonderful discovery and our government approved it than distroyed it. Why? Because it was a treatment that cured all diseases, the only thing the government disapproved of was a lose in money by pharmacutical companies. We survive in frequencies only to avoid the use of the "frequency machine" invented by Dr. Reif

I am now 49 years old and was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in March of 2004 (5 years ago), I was given mega radiation at St. Clair Hospital for about 2 ½ months by Dr. Warner (very nice, professional and up to date on the latest methods doctor), my tumor was the size of a baseball and Dr. Warner got it down to the size of a quarter at which time he sent me to Presby to have the Cyberknife done (which is actually a laser procedure) which blasted the remainder of the tumor. I then had chemo for 2 months to make sure they had gotten all of the cancer but then I acquired a brain tumor the size of a nickel and was sent again to Presby to have the Gamma Knife done (again a laser procedure) it took my tumor down to the size of a pea and has not grown since.

At this point in time I decided to check out alternative methods, I felt the cancer was just going to move around and come back when and wherever it wanted. I found out about Protocel from a friend and after reading the booklet ordered it the following morning. Ironically the Protocel arrived the same day I had an oncology appointment in which my doctor told me my CT scans revealed a 2 inch tumor in my neck and he wanted to put me back on chemo. I told him about the Protocel ,I had the booklet with me and wanted him to read it but he said if it really worked why would they have chemo clinics. I guess I really can’t blame him, all he was ever taught in school was chemotherapy. I turned down the chemo and started taking the Protocel, I was afraid my oncologist (by the way is Robert Volkin, out of St. Clair Hospital) wouldn’t want to be my doctor but he said he wanted to test me in a month (which I wanted him to, I felt like I was playing with fire (well actually, my life))!!

I took the Protocel faithfully every 6 hours and in a month I had a CT scan done and the tumor was completely gone, I couldn’t believe it!!! Dr. Volkin would not give the Protocel any credit but that was ok, the tumor was gone and I felt I had found a life saver. I continued to take the Protocel every 6 hours for 1 ½ years then I went down to once a day (to discard pre-cancerous cells) and I still take it daily and will continue to do so until the day I die (which hopefully will be a long time)!

I have had numerous PET and CT scans since the neck tumor and all have been clean for 5 years, I will continue to get test done and take the Protocel. The cost of the Protocel is around $160.00 a bottle and if you take it every 6 hours a bottle should last you around 2 ½ months. It does not taste bad, a little like wheat and you only have to take a ¼ teaspoon mixed with any beverage you want, I use water.

To order the booklet go to www.outsmartyourcancer.com and hit the “page down” button 11 times, you will see “ORDER eBOOKLET”, click on it and you can download it onto your printer for around $10.00, it is very informative and tells you how it works on all cancers types.

Feel free to call me if you would like to talk, I would be more than happy to answer any questions I can for you.

Terry Murphy

724-746-3053

God Bless!


Farrah's story, at least for me has been very helpful, moving and personally motivating. So, her story certainly has helped one family and I am sure many more. However, this friend of hers, Alana, seems to have really exploited Farrah. How in the world does one try to convince their ailing friend (who specifically asked her not to video her with out her hair and asks her to turn off the camera,) the video back on to tape her so that people can see what cancer and chemo is. We all know that occurs, did she really convince Farrah to let the world see her balding for the greater good of mankind?, or for greater, dramatic publicity? It is so sad to me, I just hope that at least her son, will try and pull himself together, and does not allow the media and hunger for gossip get the better of him, he can do it...so that people do not just remember that last half hour of the documentary. Farrah's story has also resulted in many Americans questioning the healthcare research and adequacy in a way it was not publicized. Thank you Farrah for how you touched my family personally...I only wish you didn't have to be on so much pain medication, so you could understand how helpful your documentary was to me, I ignored the celeb factors, and truly viewed you as , strong and perservering, through out the program. God bless you and your son.

Farrah I felt so bad i had cancer when i was 18 i am now 62.my sister has cancer they just operated they say they got it all her problem that she smokes so that is bad .my mom had cancer 2 times she is 91 mean as ever.and as for me well dear i beet it & you can too! so remember your one of the angels .
you can too! i seen all your movies my favorite was the burning bed.boy ,I'l tell you i seen your story all i can say you are one very strong lady.
God bless you
our prayers are with you
your friend
shirley brown
ps if you like my poetry go to xlibris.com:shirley brown book of poetry

a poem for Farah Fawceit
monkey the cat

monkey see.
monkey do
monkey is always
in a stew
when she comes
and when she goes!
monkey is always on ..
tippy toes.
written by:shirley brown
copyright 5)20)2009

Roses are red.
violets are blue
when the lord made
charley's angels
he was thinking---
of you!
written by:shirley brown
copyright
5)19)2009
God bless you Farrah Fawceit

 

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