Hey Hey Hey
Star Dates, Episode 7
Featuring: Fred Berry
Star Dates’ premise is to combine Blind Date, Elimidate, Disgusting Date, and any other dating show you can think of. The twist here is to set up dates between a B list actor and a normal (read: not famous, but probably trying to be) citizen.
This second season of the show brings us a new host, Reggie Gaskins. Apparently the season one host, Jordan Black, moved on to bigger and better hosting gigs, probably something along the lines of Deal-a-Meal infomercials, or any number of Ronco products.
Fred Berry is best known for his role as Rerun on the 70’s comedy, What’s Happening!!, that debuted in 1976. Yes, that is two exclamation points for those of you scoring at home. Rerun’s “real name” was Freddie Stubbs, but no matter what you called him, Fred was probably the most memorable character of that series.
The entire story of What’s Happening!! could not be told in those few seasons, and we needed the follow on sitcom, What’s Happening Now! (note only one exclamation point), in 1985, in order to finally finish this epic tale.
Fred’s career didn’t really take off after the final installment of the What’s Happening!! series, and he settled into the predictable post sitcom career decline, logging appearances on Battle of the Network Stars, and playing the role of Sugar Pimp in Vice Squad. I think once you have played a role named “Sugar Pimp”, you ought to be reconsidering your current agent representation.
Berry eventually decided to go a different route with his life, and became a Baptist minister. He has also been married, and presumably divorced, six times to four different women. I wonder if he performed his own ceremonies to save money? That is a lot of marriages, even by Hollywood standards.
How would that diverse background translate in his two dates?
The “Normal” Folks
Flora is originally from the Philippines, and her friends call her Tootie. One of the things that seem to be different this season is the relative lack of any information on the participants. The second date will be with Kim, a Massage Therapist, originally from New Jersey. Both women appear to be younger than Fred, and are attractive dates.
Date #1 – Flora
Reggie shows up at her door, white envelope in hand. Flora pulls Fred’s headshot from the What’s Happening!! days, and Flora immediately recognizes him. That would normally be considered a good thing. However, I am going to go out on a limb and say that laughing out loud at his picture is not such a good thing.
Meanwhile, on the drive over, Fred is reviewing the file on Flora. He likes her, and notes that her ex-boyfriend says she is “crazy”. Fred says “that’s normal”, and with six failed marriages, I am guessing he knows all about crazy.
Fred arrives at Flora’s apartment, and he brings roses. Flora is suitably impressed when they meet, and they hug. She is being polite, but confesses in private that she was disappointed, mainly due to the age difference.
Off to something called Sushi Girl they go, where a sushi instructor teaches them how to make… wait for it… sushi. How do you get certified to be a sushi instructor? Do you just run down to the beach and grab raw fish from the ocean? I wonder if you get a nice parchment and wallet sized card to note your accomplishment? Probably makes a nice resume bullet point too, but I digress…
For a minister, Fred is pretty open sexually. He let us know on the drive over that he wants a woman that will have “sex with his mind first.” Okay then, but how then does that relate to Fred checking out every part of Flora, except for her mind, during the sushi session. Fred is not known for his subtlety, and he is flirting so much that he says in reference to Flora, “Baby’s got back and rack!”
Flora isn’t liking Fred’s ‘playa’ approach, but he keeps laying it on thick in the Escalade on their way to the second date. Let’s see…
Cheesy comments? Check!
Sexual innuendo? Check!
Random combinations of adjectives and nouns to create compliments? Check!
What’s missing? Oh yes, astrology!
Flora mentions she is a Taurus, and Fred brags that every woman he cares about being a Taurus. Gosh, this is a perfect match! Right? Sadly no, as Reggie notes that Fred is crashing and burning. This date may not survive the entire evening unless he turns it around quick.
You don’t work on hit TV shows without learning a thing or two about adapting to situations. Fred gets Flora to talking, and the floodgates open. She goes on, and on, and on, describing what happens in her relationships.
Finally, Fred lectures her on something called “real love”, and someone who has walked down the aisle six times would undoubtedly be an expert on that. It sounded like a bunch of gibberish to me, but Flora bought it. Suddenly I realize that Fred isn’t acting like a ‘playa’, he IS a ‘playa’.
They head for home, and the date ends with both of them saying how much they like each other, and how they will get together again. A hug and a peck on the cheek close out the evening.
Flora has changed her mind from disappointment, to now thinking that romance is possible.
Fred is dancing the dance of someone who thinks he just scored. He says that he “made love to her mind. We had intercourse.” Further prompting from Reggie brings out some very un-minister like comments including, “I can get that (Flora) if I want it” and “I could hit that”.
The first date was a success, so how would the second round go?
Date#2 – Kim
Kim confesses to us that she is looking for a God fearing man. Well Fred may be perfect then, as after the previous evening’s festivities, he has good reason to fear God. Kim opens the door for Reggie and immediately notes that he is cute. She shares the same reaction to Rerun’s headshot as Flora did. Open laughter. Sadly, it seems that Kim’s What’s Happening!! crush was always on Raj.
I think Fred’s key to success with women is two fold. First, he is a fun guy, always willing to toss out a “hey hey hey” at any opportunity. Secondly, he brings gifts. In this case, a large blue teddy bear. Kim loves it, and hugs ensue.
They head out for their afternoon date, which consists of tango lessons. Both Kim and Fred seem to genuinely enjoy the lessons, and they get along well. Fred has learned from yesterday, and is not coming on quite so strong. At the end of the lesson, Fred takes the lead, and teaches everyone moves that he used as a member of the Lockers dance troupe.
They go to dinner, and Fred says “grace”, followed by saying grace. Kim toasts Fred, and comments on how she is enjoying the date.
After dinner, they share some ice cream at the local DQ, and Fred goes into listening mode again, letting Kim spill her guts. Later, he commiserates with her, claiming that she “has been hurt” and is covering it up.
Kim confesses that she loves his “wisdom”.
I confess that the BS alarm went off on my TV, and I was reaching for the sickness bags. I tip my hat to you Fred, you are the master.
On the drive home, Kim compliments Fred, saying the date was a breath of fresh air. Fred asks if he can “have some sugar”. Kim isn’t that taken with him, and says no. The date ends with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Kim says that Fred is attractive and charming, but that she is looking to be friends first.
Meanwhile, Fred and Reggie are comparing notes back at the Escalade, and they are both convinced that Fred could have gotten past that pesky no-kiss-on-the-first-date rule. Regardless, it appears that this date was a success as well.
Fred looks like a fun and happy guy to be around, and I think that attitude rubbed off on the ladies. Congratulations Fred, you had the most successful showing on Star Dates yet.
Danny Terrio is the next celebrity on Star Dates. Who is Danny you ask? Well, he was the host of Dance Fever for six years beginning in 1979. Get your disco shoes on, and join us here next week. Comments are welcome. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org