I’m sure you’ve all heard about Fred Willard’s arrest a few weeks back for unspecified “lewd conduct” and an adult movie theater in Hollywood. Willard maintained on Twitter that the reality of the situation was “much more PG” than reports were making it out to be, and on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” he assured the audience that the whole thing is being sorted out by police and that he did nothing wrong. He also let Fallon ply him with a string of jokes about the embarrassing turn of events, which, honestly, seems to me the best thing a person can do with a situation like this. Whether he was actually indulging in “lewd behavior” or not, he got caught at an adult movie theater (who knew those still existed!), and that’s pretty blush-inducing. But the great thing about his conduct after the supposed lewdness is that he hasn’t gone through a long apology, he hasn’t denied that he was there, and he hasn’t started the typical “I can’t help it, I’m a sex addict” and now off to rehab with you song and dance we so often see from public figures in situations like this. He’s laughing about it and trying to shrug it off, as I really think he should.
I also really think it’s fucking ridiculous that he’s been fired from both of his TV shows, ABC’s “Wipeout” and “Trust Us With Your Life.” I don’t know much about the shows, but does ABC really think it’s protecting itself or its viewers more than it’s looking like a terrified asshat? I don’t. I think Fred Willard is a fucking class act, and he’s an adult. He’s treating this whole situation like an adult should, and he’s damn funny about it. He’s been getting away with doing lewd things in all kinds of situations on TV and in movies for decades, and I say more power to him. Hell, I watched Faerie Tale Theatre as a kid and it wasn’t until I remembered he played “Paul, Paul, the pig on the ball” in that series’s (absolutely hilarious) version of “The Three Little Pigs” that I realized just how insanely funny and, yes, kind of lewd, this guy can be. My hat’s off to him for sneaking this little slice of salacious sleaze into a children’s program on PBS:
(By the way, that whole episode is on YouTube, and it is amazing. Jeff Goldblum as the Big Bad Wolf; Billy Crystal as the third little pig, Larry; and Doris Roberts as the mamma pig. I highly recommend it.)
As far as I’m concerned, Fred Willard deserves better treatment from the entertainment industry. I hope he gets cast in more of his infamous cameo roles in movies and on TV, and I hope he makes as much fun of this whole situation as possible. I agree with Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams: “Whatever his personal recreational habits may be, when he’s on-screen, he’s a goddamn treasure, a one of a kind wit.”