Muse Reporting on the popular and fine arts

The fruits of labor

Culture | Former Cosby actor shows there’s no shame in hard work
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 9/14/18, 03:17 pm

In the span of two weeks, Geoffrey Owens went from being a B-list actor working at a grocery store to a champion for working people. Owens played Elvin Tibideaux, son-in-law to the Heathcliff Huxtable character played by Bill Cosby, on The Cosby Show from 1985 to 1992. Fast forward 16 years, and he was working at a Trader Joe’s in Clifton, N.J., when a customer recognized him, snapped a photo, and posted it online, mocking Owens. The Daily Mail and Fox News picked up on the story, spreading it far and wide.

“I felt really humiliated,” Owens told People. “The words they used to describe me were so demeaning. It hurt.” Within an hour or two, though, a wave of support came rolling in from across the internet.

“I swept floors AFTER the @NFL,” actor and former professional football player Terry Crews tweeted in response to Owens’ story. “If need be, I’d do it again. Good honest work is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Movie producer and director Tyler Perry reached out to Owens, tweeting, “I’m about to start shootings OWN’s number one drama next week! Come join us!!! I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs. The measure of a true artist.” A representative for Owens confirmed to CNN the actor had accepted a job from Perry on the show The Haves and Have Nots. All of the media attention led him to quit the job at Trader Joe’s, where he worked for 15 months to support his family while still pursuing acting jobs. His income also took a hit after he stopped receiving residual payments for The Cosby Show due to reruns being pulled from the air because of Cosby’s sexual abuse scandal.

“I’ve learned to never give up,” Owens said. “A lot of times I was on the verge of quitting the job at Trader Joe’s, but I didn’t because I couldn’t.”

John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, told WORLD Radio’s Nick Eicher that the world needs more people like Owens.

“The number of young adults, especially young men, who sit around waiting for the perfect opportunity is nauseating and problematic anyway,” Stonestreet said. “So what if he was driving an Uber or what if he was working on a construction site or something like that? … If he was bagging groceries and doing a great job at it, then God was glorified in that work.”

Owens expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with CNN. “What I hope continues to resonate is the idea that one job is not better than another,” he said. “A certain job might pay more, it might have better benefits, it might look better on paper, but that essentially one kind of work isn’t better than another kind of work, that we reevaluate that whole idea and we start honoring the dignity of work and the dignity of the working person.”

Associated Press/Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin (file) Associated Press/Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin (file) Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Artek children’s camp in Gurzuf, Crimea, last year

Pumping up Putin

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings fall at home, a state-owned television channel has unveiled an hourlong weekly program devoted to the leader’s comings and goings. Moscow. Kremlin. Putin. aired for the first time last week with enough heavy-handed, pro-Kremlin propaganda to make Joseph Stalin proud.

Putin’s approval rating fell to 67 percent in July after the government raised the age requirements for pension eligibility, according to the Levada polling organization. That number is high by American standards but dismal for the Russian autocrat, who has enjoyed approval numbers in the 80s for much of his 17 years as either president or prime minister.

The first installment of the program on Rossiya 1 featured interviews with Putin’s spokesman and the Kremlin pool reporter who covered the president’s activities last week, as well as a segment about Putin taking a break in the mountains last month.

Quizzed by the show’s host about Putin’s recent meeting with gifted children and his supposed love for the youth, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “Putin loves not only children, he loves people in general. He’s a very humane person.” —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Richard Drew Associated Press/Photo by Richard Drew Former 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager

#MeToo ousters

The #MeToo movement delivered a day of reckoning to two more media and entertainment names this week. The executive producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes, Jeff Fager, stepped down on Wednesday amid reports he tolerated an abusive workplace, groped women, and allowed a “boy’s club” atmosphere at the newsmagazine. Fager denied the claims. When CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan questioned him about the accusations on Sunday, he reportedly texted her, “Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me. …” Fager’s departure came just four days after CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves resigned amid sexual abuse accusations.

Over at NBC, The Tonight Show canceled a Tuesday appearance by comedian Norm Macdonald after he was criticized for comments he made about the #MeToo movement and fellow comedian Louis C.K. The former Saturday Night Live cast member told The Hollywood Reporter he was “happy the #MeToo movement had slowed down a little bit,” and expressed sympathy for Louis C.K. as well as for his former boss Roseanne Barr for “losing everything in a day.” Barr lost her reboot of the TV series Roseanne, for which Macdonald was a writer, after posting a racially insensitive tweet.

Macdonald’s new David Letterman–produced talk show, Norm Macdonald Has a Show, debuted Friday on Netflix. —Kiley Crossland

Art on the Arab Peninsula

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of Jesus—the one that Saudi Crown Prince Mohmmed bin Salman bought last year for $450 million—isn’t ready for its public debut yet. The Louvre Abu Dhabi had planned to display the painting, Salvator Mundi, starting Tuesday but delayed its exhibition for unknown reasons.

The Renaissance oil painting, whose title in Latin means “Savior of the World,” depicts a blue-robed Jesus holding a crystal orb and gazing directly at the viewer. It’s one of fewer than 20 surviving works of da Vinci.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November 2017 after nearly a decade of construction. Abu Dhabi has agreed to pay France $525 million for the use of the “Louvre” name for the next 30 years and six months, plus another $750 million to hire French managers to oversee 300 loaned works of art.

The museum’s opening represents another effort by Middle Eastern countries to keep tourism and entertainment dollars at home. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia allowed the opening of the first movie theater in the kingdom in 35 years, and in March allowed an Egyptian pop star to hold a concert, though officials required modest dress, separate areas for men and women, and no dancing. —L.L.

Recognizing diversity

The Emmys air Monday night, but the awards are already making history this year. Last week at the creative arts Emmys, which honor guest actors and behind-the-scenes contributors prior to the main awards show, African-Americans swept the categories for TV series guest actors. The winners included Tiffany Haddish for hosting Saturday Night Live, Katt Williams for Atlanta, Ron Cephas Jones for This Is Us, and Samira Wiley for The Handmaid’s Tale. “We’re going forward and moving ahead,” Jones said after winning. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 09/17/2018 05:22 am

    We have so many in our society who are not producing but still expect big money.  If you've ever noticed the non-producers actually get more money.  A quote:  "I didn't have the necessary skill set to do useless things for large amounts of money so I have done useful things for much less money.  I have no regrets."  It's working people who actually keep this society going.  Nothing wrong with producing a product, providing a service, keeping something clean and maintained, protecting people and enforcing law... the list of useful activity is very long.  Such activity is much more important than catching/throwing a ball well or providing entertainment which gently undermines society.   

  • GaryG
    Posted: Mon, 09/17/2018 08:06 pm

    Fast foward 26 years?