July 23rd, 2024


Hi, I'm William da Vain

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Feb. 13, 2015

Hi, I'm William da Vain Get the remote --- he's baack!
Whenever I watch the Fox News Channel I automatically hit the mute button on the remote as soon as I see William Devane's commercial come on. He's made at least a dozen spots for Rosland Capital, a company that sells the idea of investing in precious metals as a hedge against economic collapse. These commercials are run all the time.

Each and every spot starts the same way, with Devane engaged in some rich guy activity such as playing golf, horseback riding or flying his private jet. Then he turns, looks into the camera and says, "Hi, I'm William Devane." (Or as I like to call him, William the Vain.)

The trick is to grab for the remote and switch on the mute button before he can get past "Hi."

If I hear "I'm William Devane" I'm too damn slow. What makes the commercial so repugnant isn't only because it's on so often, it's because Devane himself is so repugnant.

The man has made a career out of playing nasty, sneering crooks and villains --- why in the world would a company choose that guy as a spokesman for your product?

If I walked into a car dealership and I saw this slick Cheshire cat grinning salesman coming towards me I'd run the other way, as fast as I could.

Nothing personal mind you, but William Devane just looks like a crook. It's his face. I know he can't help it, but his kisser simply screams out "Not only am I out to scam you, pal, but I'm really going to enjoy doing it!"

Then, as if Devane's natural smirk and smarminess wasn't enough, the sponsor makes it even worse by putting this guy in rich-looking environments like country clubs, and gentleman farmer ranches.

But here's the real insult. The whole theme of the spot is to give the viewing audience some hope of protecting their money from the uncertainties of "political upheaval," often showing a national debt tote board spinning like a lathe toward 20 trillion dollars and featuring stock video of unidentified rioters throwing Molotov cocktails.

The idea is, if you buy gold from Rosland Capital you can weather the financial storm of this violent world.

So who is the audience? Well, since the spot airs on Fox News so often it's a pretty good guess that they're aiming at the typical Fox viewers, conservatives who don't have much faith that the Obama administration will fix our economy and lower our spiraling national debt.

Devane, as the pitchman, is reassuring, offering a solution as a tough no nonsense supposedly financially conservative moneyman. Maybe even a Republican.

There's only one problem. He's not really a conservative; he only plays one on TV commercials.

William Devane is a self-described liberal Democrat, a big Obama fan.

In his own words, as quoted by USA Today: "Obviously I'm a big fan of Obama, as a guy who's smart and articulate and supposedly leading all of us."

And he also said, in referring to his role on Knot's Landing, "Personally I'm a left-wing liberal Democrat but Greg Sumner, he's basically a conservative Republican. That's how I played him anyway."

In the Rosland Capital commercials William Devane is portrayed as a man who has made a lot of money. I'm sure he has, but how much of that money was gotten by gold investment, do you think? I'll bet that movies, television, and real estate investing might have contributed to the Devane coffers as much or more than precious metals have.

One thing for certain. William Devane has made a considerable pile of money thanks to Rosland Capital ---doing their commercials, that is. Good for him. If I could, I would do the same.

I have nothing against William Devane personally. Like I said, Devane can't help looking like a crook. It's not his fault. That's his face, his demeanor, his attitude and his screen persona that he has spent years developing at work. Everything about the man says thief, that's all there is to it. I'm sure in real life Devane is a swell guy, a decent chap, and an upstanding citizen. He probably doesn't kick his dog, or beat his wife, or engage in terrorism.

But I still wouldn't buy a car from the guy.

Even if it were gold-plated.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's also a Southern California-based freelance writer.