be mayor. SOTC humor usually revolves around mayors poking fun at
themselves. Laurell's video didn't stray from that ... until after
the first minute or so. Indeed, at Laurell's suggestion, this
columnist played a small, curmudgeonly role in that, lecturing
Laurell to abandon plans to substitute the usual video with a long
In retrospect, where the video went from there provided many hints
we probably should have recognized as clues that Laurell saw the
production as his farewell. I don't recall any previous SOTC
production including a lengthy digression into a biography of the
mayor, complete with childhood photos. Laurell's voice-over detailing
his boyhood dreams of Hollywood and show business put his customary
thick layer of sugary meringue on the tangent.
The SOTC video walks us through a process that began with
Laurell's showbiz fantasies, to his stint as a local TV sports
reporter, a career that then followed the usual path. As is explained
in another voice-over, one tragically sincere and free of irony or
sarcasm, "It was on to Arkansas, where he worked for the state,
writing and producing a wildlife documentary for the Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission!"
I don't care how many entertainment giants get their start
producing films for game and fish commissions, the story never fails
to stir me.
As the video offers obscure clips and photos from Laurell's climb,
one also can't help wondering, "Weren't ANY photos or videos
destroyed when Laurell's house burned down in 1998?" The loss of
treasured snapshots and irreplaceable mementos is a tragedy suffered
by many who endure a disaster like the one that befell the Laurells.
But the SOTC video leads one to realize we weren't so lucky. We have
to imagine Laurell and his wife frantically dragging albums and tapes
out of the house, even before dialing 911.
The SOTC's A&E-like self-biography serves as a segue to introduce
Laurell's SOTC guest star, Dick Clark. As the video explains, it was
a job on Clark's "American Bandstand" that brought Laurell to Burbank