What Next for Ken Stafford?
To find out, we snuck into the smoldering ruins of Paulie’s former tent and borrowed a small cracked crystal ball we found on the floor. Conjuring up the spirits, we chant “by power of Mark Burnett and all that is holy…please spirits, show us what awaits Ken!”
BANG! And a cloud of smoke…
At first I thought the spirits had responded in an impressive Technicolor display…but alas, it was only Paulie’s mini-fridge in the corner. It seems that the earlier fires had affected his electrical wiring, and the fridge had exploded, spilling the contents all over the charred floor.
Wow… we were surprised to find out that someone still drank Tab….
Focus dammit! We’ve got a job to do here, and it will not be long before someone hijacks this story with a Sup! Sup! Time to get to work…we stare into the depths of the crystal ball…
Going forward 50 years into the future…I can see some kind of television looking contraption, but it is a 3-D hologram. It is difficult to make out the picture…hmmm…wipe some of the soot off of the crystal ball…there, that’s better. It’s a TV show…we settle down on our Erin sized sitting pillows and begin to watch.
(There is a diminutive man sitting in what would pass for a den, we recognize that face…so that is how Gary Coleman finds work in the future!)
Hello, and welcome to Biography on A&E 5…
Today we look at the life of a true American renaissance man, Ken Stafford.
Ken had led a normal and quiet life for someone who claimed to enjoy Greco-Roman wrestling, tulips, and actually owned animals named Bubba and Thumper. He worked for the New York City Police Department, but, 30 year old Ken’s life took a turn for the dramatic when he was selected out of thousands of applicants to be on Survivor 5 – Thailand.
Yes, back in those days, before Mark Burnett overthrew the UN and took over control of our everyday needs, citizens used to actually have to apply for the privilege of serving as your nation’s entertainment. It’s not like today where you simply get swept up off the streets at random in the dark of night. On the other hand, losing the game in those days simply meant being subject to ridicule (or more derision than the winner even), and not the instantaneous executions that we enjoy so well today.
In any case, Ken lost the game and joined the jury as the first person voted off, post merge. Many speculated that Ken’s single days would end shortly thereafter, as he and the now infamous Erin Collins shared several days together at the losers lodge and Erin had indicated that she was good friends with him. Besides, Erin reportedly had many banana-like qualities, and Ken was normally attracted to that.
Surprisingly, those who speculated that Ken would find love with Erin were wrong. For Ken’s love was not to be found on an archipelago riddled with dead bat burial grounds, no, he found it instead on a sidewalk just outside of the CBS studios in Manhattan.
That crisp November morning began innocently enough for Ken, he didn’t expect to find the love of his life that day, but the fickle hand of fate tapped him on the shoulder… there! On the sidewalk, holding a bright yellow neon sign that said, “Ken! Will you marry me?” was a vision of a woman the likes of which he had never seen. She looked like Julia Stiles…only better!
Ken felt his heart beat quicken…his palms began sweating…at first he thought he was reacting to someone threatening the bananas he had stashed in the limo for the drive.
But this was somehow different…could it be?
The guys back at the Precinct had told him about this feeling…and while his wrestling buddies had encouraged him to always ignore such feelings and come back to the mat…he suddenly felt that perhaps it was!
No he thought to himself, it couldn’t be that….
He looked up again at this lovely vision…my God; it is that…it has to be LOVE!
Ken was beside himself during the mandatory post eviction interview. He had planned for months on what to say, and how to behave, during this moment…but his mind was blocked…he could only think of one thing and one person. He had to meet her, to know her…
After the interview, he ran up to the woman and asked her name. Kylie she said…and the rest is dating story history, as Kylie and Ken were married within a year, and outside of Ken’s seemingly strange preoccupation with all things banana related, by all accounts, both he and Kylie were fully content…and just happy as all “git out”, to quote Clay, best man at the ceremony.
Ken spent the next several years working as a Police Spokesperson and appearing at all the celebrity Survivor reunions. His collection of banana peels from famous persons around the world continued to grow.
He was also quite the philanthropist.
He helped Penny get back on her feet after her second failed business and seventh divorce, he wrote the forward to Helen’s Survivor Recipe Book (which incidentally sold more copies than Keith’s book), and he served on the third Search and Rescue team that returned to the island in the summer of 2005 to search yet again for Jan. (You might recall that Jan disappeared in the Thai jungle after being voted out in the 12th episode. It is still a mystery as to what happened to her, though rumors abound.) He even spent hours each week volunteering as Robb’s Big Brother.
The Chiquita Company came calling in 2006 with an interesting proposal.
A joint marketing and TV series effort, and they wanted Ken to star! David E. Kelly would be writing, and while his new series Boston McBeal in Practice had recently been cancelled (reportedly due to having no plot, consisting only of inane musical numbers, and mindless humming), everyone was excited about this new combination.
The show was called Banana Vice and you know it also as the most successful show in television history.
The story line has evolved significantly over the years, but in the beginning the premise would be the story of a NY cop, with an edgy side, and willingness to walk around with bare chest any time the writers could think of a reason to do so.
This cop was known on the streets for not carrying a gun…no, this cop didn’t need a gun… when times got tough he went to his shoulder holster and whipped out his trusty banana.
His partner had to have the same qualities. Edgy… willingness to be bare… obsession with bananas, or the like… The producers knew where to look in casting… for the perfect candidate could be found by looking back on footage from Survivor Thailand. There she was, and she was available, as surprisingly her movie career had stalled.
And so it came to pass that CC Costigan (now Senator Costigan) became Ken’s first partner.
Given the success of Banana Vice, many are shocked to learn that it was almost cancelled after the pilot episode.
Most observers felt that something was missing that first season. Sure Ken used his banana effectively… everyone commented on how he seemed a natural with it… and it rarely was not in his hands.
The ratings demographics for women 15 – 34 were outstanding, but even after one show; the writers knew that banana hi-jinx would only carry them so far. They needed an arch villain to stand up to the hero Ken.
Yet, no amount of brainstorming and focus groups revealed the answer. Tempers were short, and the fruit was flying, in many of these meetings. Everyone knew what was at stake, for the network wanted these changes in place before they would pick up Banana Vice for the fall season.
It was during a luncheon, over a Banana Julius with Robb one afternoon that Ken stumbled upon the answer that saved the show. While reading the newspaper, he came across a story involving his old nemesis Magilla.
“That crazy monkey!” he blurted out “I always hated him”. But then he knew the very enemy of his beloved bananas, that he so despised, would also serve to be his professional salvation. “That’s pretty ironic eh?” Ken commented to Robb.
“Dude…there’s no iron in these drinks at all…as if!” Robb replied.
Yes, the solution to his problems was swinging its monkey bum right in his face.
Off to Thailand he and the producers rushed. There they learned that Magilla was serving hard time in prison for a conviction involving VCR’s, teapots, and unsightly primate related bodily functions.
“Ahh…just like back at the cave Ken thought to himself.”
A few bribes later, Magilla was on the charter jet to Hollywood.
From there, everything fell into place for Ken. Magilla became the head of the notorious Magilla crime family on the Banana Vice, and the show shot up the ratings, staying at number one for 230 consecutive weeks. There were five movies made with the characters from the show, and even the now infamous Ken action figures.
It seemed that Ken had everything he ever wanted. A loving wife, great career, and all the bananas he wanted…
But it wasn’t all it seemed…
(The scene changes back to the warm den, and Mr. Coleman continues)
When we return to Biography – The Ken Stafford Story, we’ll explore Ken’s addiction to bananas, and his eventual cry for help, when he checked in to the Sean Hayes Home for the Fruit Addicted…that’s after these important messages.
We are startled out of intense concentration by the sounds of a figure approaching. The darkness prevents us from clearly making out the shadowy figure at first, but soon there is little doubt who it could be…
No normal human was that tall…
We scrambled away from the dilapidated tent, just as Paulie bursts through the other side.
“Who’s been drinking my Tab!!!!” he bellowed into the night sky…
We continued running, for what seemed like hours, afraid of incurring the wrath of that giant man. We were excited by what we had learned of Ken, and his future, yet saddened because so much of the story had not been told…
Perhaps someday we would return…