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Friday, September 10, 2004


Call Me Cynical
Presumably you've heard the eHarmony.com commercials. They feature this nice, friendly, folksy guy who speaks in a nice, friendly way about all these people falling in love and getting married and having wonderful lives. He sounds like a nice guy.

In the past, there have been other people who sounded like really nice guys. Fred Rogers was one of them. Eddie Murphy described his first meeting with Mr. Rogers, and was surprised to learn that Mr. Rogers really was as nice as he appeared to be on TV.

There's been at least one person who was reportedly very different from his public persona. Christopher Nance used to do the weather at Channel 4, always wearing a carnation, smiling like a really nice guy, going to schools, etc., etc. After he disappeared from the airwaves, the truth came out:

But while everyone has been mesmerized by his panache, Nance has amassed a long record of personal and professional misconduct. He projects warmth and trust into millions of Southern California homes, but his life away from the camera is almost unrecognizable.

At NBC4, according to numerous current and former employees, Nance has developed a reputation for profane and menacing off-air behavior, marked by sexual innuendo and violent outbursts. In an incident now legendary at the station, he once called a technical director a "cunt" in front of the morning crew, reducing her to tears. He had the same effect on a well-known anchor, telling her "fuck you" as she sat at the news desk. On yet another occasion, he shouted down the station's vice president--also female--vowing to "shove my foot so far up your ass you're going to taste shoe polish." The most frightening allegation involves a woman who became romantically involved with Nance near the beginning of his NB[C.sub.4] tenure, sometimes meeting him at the station for their trysts. She later accused Nance of attacking her, first with punches and kicks, then by squeezing his hands around her neck....

In 1982, as a young TV reporter in Monterey, Nance was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after showing up at the home of an ex-girlfriend and slashing her with what appeared to be his car keys. The 30-year-old woman, who alleged that Nance had beaten her on three previous occasions, had a swollen right eye, a bruised upper lip, and numerous cuts on her hands and arms--wounds suffered while trying to "ward off his repeated blows," according to a Monterey County Sheriff's Department report. "She was really beaten up by someone," Nance conceded to investigators after viewing photographs of her injuries. He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of assault. A judge fined him $300 and ordered him to stay away from the victim....

His resentment, for instance, of Fritz Coleman, the station's beloved primetime weatherman, has been an open secret for years. "If it wasn't sexual harassment, it was I-hate-Fritz issues," a former colleague says. Nance let everyone know that he thought he should be the station's top weatherman, arguing that he was funnier, perkier, and harder-working than Coleman; the only explanation for his continued morning servitude, he would insist, was the color of his skin. "He refused to even fill in for Fritz," says another former NB[C.sub.4] employee. "Lots of people there have huge egos, but Christopher always seemed to make everything personal." When Nance shared the anchor desk with the long-running team of Kent Shocknek and Kathy Vara in the late '90s, the atmosphere on the Today in L.A. set was frequently so tense that some colleagues spoke, only half jokingly, about coming to work in a bulletproof vest. The clash was ugliest between Nance and Shocknek, a strong personality himself. During the weathercast Shocknek would sit with a watch--at the request of management--and calculate how much of Nance's airtime was spent promoting his school visits. Just to irritate Shocknek, Nance would use the commercial breaks to trumpet his latest publishing exploits. "God told me to go out and make a million dollars writing books for kids," he would announce. Vara, described by several people as the "marshmallow" of the group, usually tried to stay out of the way But once, Nance lit into her, too, unleashing a string of obscenities; by the end of the newscast, she was in tears....

Last year, in a blunder more unseemly than threatening, Nance missed his cue during a cut-in from The Today Show. When Al Roker gave the signal ("Now here's a look at what's going on in your neck of the woods"), NB[C.sub.4] was supposed to jump to a tape of the local forecast. Instead, the screen went dark for about 20 seconds. Nance's voice, recorded earlier, was unmistakable. "All right," he could be heard saying, apparently in reference to some footage of small children, "let's do this one for the pedophiles." The station issued an apology but Nance skated without even acknowledging the incident.


From another article:

Popular Los Angeles weatherman Christopher Nance was fired shortly before the new year after developing "a reputation for profane and menacing off-air behavior, marked by sexual innuendo and violent outbursts," reports Los Angeles magazine.

KNBC President and General Manager Paula Madison fired the station's only African American weekday anchor over what Nance claimed in the Los Angeles Times were unfounded allegations of sexual harassment involving an intern.


So is Neil Clark Warren a nice guy, a raging maniac, or a bit of both? I have no idea; I couldn't find any personal accounts of the guy. But his system is ripe for satire (by Scott Ott):

(2004-03-06) -- In an early attempt to quell the questioning about whom he will pick as a running mate, Sen. John Forbes Kerry, the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, said today that he has hired Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony.com, to screen potential vice presidential candidates.

"Traditional veep-search processes give you a picture and paragraph," said Dr. Clark Warren. "We go much deeper, comparing the candidates on 29 dimensions of compatibility. The first step is for Sen. Kerry to understand himself. Once he knows what he believes in, it will be easier to find a political relationship that works."

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