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October 8, 2015

TV's Top Declarations of Independence

by Jane Murphy, posted Jul 4th 2010 2:00PM
Mad MenLiberty, sweet liberty -- it's a value at the heart of the American spirit. But when a TV character or personality asserts their right to be free in the sometimes predictable world of the tube, it can come as a serious shock.

From Simon leaving 'American Idol' to Conan bidding adieu to NBC, let's celebrate the moments when TV stars boldly declared their independence. Sometimes the results were revolutionary, sometimes they were disastrous, and for some, the jury's still out.

1. The 'Mad Men' incorporate. Parrying a takeover attempt, four distinguished gentlemen caucus like midtown Founding Fathers and emerge calling themselves Sterling Cooper Draper Price. With Joan back as office manager and Peggy enlisted to write copy, what could go wrong? Well, note the date of SCDP's declaration, December 13, 1963 (yes, ahem, that's a Friday the 13th).

2. Conan bolts NBC. In January, Conan O'Brien accepted an NBC buyout after refusing a proposed move to midnight designed to return Jay Leno his old time slot. The revolution will now be televised on TBS, as Conan moves his company to cable. Students of late night history will note that 'Tonight Show' hosts have often grabbed control of their own destinies. In the early '60s, Jack Paar literally walked off the show over a censorship dispute. He retired from the show, still popular, two years later. After leaving on top in 1992, Johnny Carson's legend endured until his death in 2005.

3. Simon Cowell departs 'American Idol.' It was just a matter of time before Britain's grouchiest media mogul left the American institution he built into an empire. Restless to find the new Carrie and Kelly, Cowell will begin the stateside edition of his UK hit 'The X Factor' beginning in the fall of 2011. Simon may be less than hot right now, given the weak ratings of the last 'American Idol' season. Then again, leaving while the wave is still cresting can leave you all wet (ahem, David Caruso). What's next for 'Idol'? Back in May, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest didn't seem concerned over losing their cantankerous captain.

Randy and Ryan say goodbye to Simon

4. Maya flees 'Project Runway.' A heartbeat away from earning her own show at Bryant Park, 22-year old Maya Luz bailed on the competition. Vilified by some viewers back in April, Maya explained to Entertainment Weekly that she's pursuing career longevity, not fame. "When I thought of having my life back, it seemed appealing to me." There is nothing less fashionable than too much, too soon and Maya knew it (see her video blog below).

'Project Runway': Maya's video blog

5. 'Glee's' Beyonce play. Welcome to Ohio, where football is no laughing (or singing) matter. While losing badly to crosstown rivals, quarterback Finn and the McKinley High team reluctantly reach into their inner gleeks FTW. A performance of 'Single Ladies' at the line of scrimmage confounds the opposition, charms the cheerleaders and ends with a Hail Mary touchdown. Still, no member of New Directions does 'Single Ladies' like Kurt (see below). Now put your hands up!

'Glee': Single Ladies

6. Felicity cuts her hair. In 1998, Felicity (Keri Russell) -- she of the beautiful tresses and a beautiful mind -- turned her back on a spot at Stanford to follow high school crush Ben (Scott Speedman) to New York. But her most daring act came the next year; she chopped off her signature locks, turning her head into something resembling a putting green. It took fans and pundits a tragically long time to stop talking about Felicity's new look, and the show was never able to fully recover ratings-wise. This fall, Russell might be TV's darling yet again, when she stars with Will Arnett in the Fox comedy 'Running Wilde'.

7. Charlotte divorces Trey on 'Sex and the City.' Their union once seemed like a match made in heaven (if your idea of heaven is the Upper East Side). Smith College debutante Charlotte (Kristin Davis) wed blueblood Dr. Trey McDougal (played by Kyle MacLachlan) in the big wedding she always dreamed of. But Trey didn't want children and couldn't handle intimacy, and Charlotte eventually realized her enhanced social standing came at too high a price.

8. Elvis Costello goes rogue with 'Radio, Radio.' The year was 1977, and nothing was hotter and edgier than 'Saturday Night Live.' Network censors, however, being substantially less cool, ordered Costello to avoid his controversial song 'Radio, Radio.' Seconds into a performance of 'Less than Zero,' Costello halted the band then restarted, launching into the banned song. It seems like much ado about nothing now, and years later, the show's producers would acknowledge as much by enlisting Costello to "interrupt" a Beastie Boys performance on 'SNL's' 25th Anniversary show to thrash out 'Radio, Radio' again. We hope both episodes are freed from the archives and appear on Hulu soon.

9. Greg Brady IS Johnny Bravo. A young wannabe star in bellbottoms falls under the spell of an older impresario and his leggy companion. 'Boogie Nights'? No, silly, it's 'The Brady Bunch,' when Greg broke from the family singing group to strike out on his own as heartthrob "Johnny Bravo." Greg's attempts to break free always ended with a whimper (remember when he turned Mike's den into a teen bachelor pad?) Would this bold statement be any different? Nope. Squeamish over the lack of wholesomeness in Bravo's material, Greg scurried back to Alice's milk and cookies. Hipster fail. Years later, the Bradys would get into the Independence Day spirit on their own variety show.

'Brady Bunch Hour': Yankee Doodle Dandy

10. 'Freaks and Geeks' Lindsay freaks out. Lindsay (played by Linda Cardellini) was both freak and geek, a Mathlete medalist hiding behind a totally cool khaki army jacket. In the classic show's final episode, she joins America's first slackers, ditching a University of Michigan orientation (c. 1980) to see the Grateful Dead with bad influence friend Kim Kelly (Busy Phillips). Did Lindsay ever make it to Ann Arbor? Well, where's our 'F&G' reunion show, Judd Apatow? (Until then, we'll have to make do with repeats on IFC, sigh!)

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Matthew Green

What about when Buffy tells the Watcher's Council to go stuff it. That was absolutely epic!

July 05 2010 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matthew Green

What about Buffy telling the Watcher's Council to go stuff themselves. That was epic.

July 05 2010 at 6:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

seems like a dull year

July 05 2010 at 5:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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