Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2001 / 4 Teves, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
The self-help PBS shopping
WHAT's the difference between the Home
Shopping Network and the Public Broadcasting
PBS stations get taxpayer money.
Then PBS stations use tax dollars to cater to a very
In the past month, PBS stations in New York,
Boston and Washington scheduled "The Wrinkle
Cure." San Francisco's KQED ran the show 13
times during a three-week pledge period. That gave
viewers several opportunities to watch two hours of
dermatologist Nicholas Perricone discussing his
anti- wrinkle diet and how to fight wrinkles with
what he calls "cosmeceuticals."
Go to the KQED Web site and you can click onto
Perricone's online store, where you can buy a
30-day supply of his nutritional supplements for
$120. Or a $33 half-ounce tube of "alpha lupoic
acid lip plumper." Or the $45 half- ounce tube of
"Vitamin C Ester Eye Area Therapy wNTP
Your tax dollars at work. (KQED gets about 10
percent of its funding from government sources.)
It probably would be going too far to call
Perricone's suggestion that people who don't want
to age eat salmon's fatty acids a modern snake-oil
His prescription for health -- eat more fish, fruits
and vegetables -- is common sense.
Other Perricone tenets, however, defy common
sense. As the New York Times described his
thinking: "Twenty years of study and published
research have persuaded Dr. Perricone that
wrinkles are not the inevitable outcome of aging, but
a reversible result of inflammation -- not the familiar
red and swollen inflammation, but a more insidious
kind caused by free radicals, renegade atoms that
wreak havoc on the body's cells."
Perricone told the Washington Post, "Wrinkled,
sagging skin is not the inevitable result of growing
If PBS still had an ounce of its old "educational
television" bent, it would have aired other views on
Instead "The Wrinkle Cure" came across as a
highbrow infomercial. Perricone addressed what
certainly appeared to be an uncritical audience of
affluent white folk. The audience didn't provide
quite as much support as a Home Shopping
Network anchor, but then the pledge break anchor
all but gave a personal testimonial.
I know folks at KQED who see self-help shows
such as Perricone's as the equivalent of public
television's Most Embarrassing Videos.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the Bay Area
has four PBS stations. If there were fewer public
stations competing for local pledge dollars, maybe
KQED wouldn't be reduced to turning into a
self-help network to stay afloat.
When asked about "The Wrinkle Cure," KQED
spokesman Brian Eley replied, "We're only giving
out the book and the video. Other PBS stations are
giving out the wrinkle-cream kit. And certainly, after
all the publicity, I don't think that we'll be doing it."
No wonder Jon Carroll slammed "The Winkle
Cure" in his San Francisco Chronicle column yesterday.
But it's not just "The Wrinkle Cure." PBS pledge
drives have turned into self-help guru marathons for
unhappy people with money. Stations also air "Dr.
Wayne Dyer's 10 Secrets for Success and Inner
Peace," "Barbara Sher's Live the Life You Love,"
and "Suze Orman: The Road to Wealth." This stuff
KQED aired "The Wrinkle Cure" Sunday night
because it netted donors.
Next you can expect: How to attain harmony with
your navel while keeping your teenager out of the
Anything but hard
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate