From Michael Shermer

MORE ON VAN PRAAGH Those of you following the never-ending saga of James Van Praagh, will love the following story.

About two months ago I was contacted by KOMO TV, the ABC affiliate in Seattle, to appear live, on stage, with James Van Praagh. It is a confrontational show, like crossfire, called Town Meeting. They officially booked me for the show, arranged for the airline tickets and hotel room, I set aside the day, etc. (This is the same station for whom I did the reading on the same woman Van Praagh did, and I did just as well as he, described in an earlier posting to this group.)

It now looks like Van Praagh has taken over Town Meeting. The producer, unbelievably, instead of TELLING Van Praagh the rules of the show, was foolish enough to ASK him, "Is there anyone you would object to having on the show?" He said, "You can have anyone but Michael Shermer." When asked why, he told her: "Michael Shermer is evil incarnate." The producer, instead of saying "too bad, this is our show and if you want to be on it you will abide by our rules," caved into his demands and told him that he could pick who he would like to oppose him. Really unbelievable.

These producers and bookers are the most spineless and unprincipled people I've ever met. But when I suggested she have me on the show anyway and just not tell Van Praagh, essentially sandbagging him just like these shows do to skeptics all the time (most recently when Charles Grodin sandbagged Randi in a show about Van Praagh), she said, "Oh I couldn't do that. That would be unethical." (The irony of all this is when she originally called me she had already spoken to a local skeptic in Seattle, who was hesitant about doing the show and told her that skeptics usually get shafted on such shows. She assured him that they would never do such a thing!)

When I suggested that she take control of her show, call Van Praagh back and tell him that they control the show and not him, and that if he wants to be on the show these are the terms, she mumbled something about how that sounds like the right thing to do, but then hung up. She did not do this. Instead she booked a grief counselor. I'm sure he'll do as fine as he can, but I suspect Van Praagh will take over the show and run it the way he wants. James Van Praagh tells the media to jump and they ask "how high?" Really pathetic.

Reminds me of when Uri Geller was last on the Leeza show. When I heard he was going to get a full hour, unopposed, I called one of the producers, whom I know from being on the show numerous times, and she told me that "Mr. Geller will not allow any opposition." Further, he demanded that he have control of the microphone, that he directs the cameras and audience members, and so on, and they were happy to give him all control. Yet when I ask for things like having a microphone so I cannot be cutoff by other guests or the host, I am often told, "we make the decisions here, not the guests." Right, unless the guest is some media-darling psychic, then they bend over backwards. Shame on KOMO and ABC.

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