Colorado's image has taken a beating over the past several years, what with the eternally unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey, in which Boulder's law-enforcement types compare unfavorably with Mayberry's, and then the Columbine killings, which continue to inspire Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone's excellent impersonation of Barney Fife (even if he looks more like Warren, Barney's replacement), posing as the sort of rube who can't handle Time magazine reporters, much less rampaging teens.
Boulder has been savaged in print, on the Web and on TV, most recently in Larry Schiller's Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. And while Columbine has yet to become a TV mini-series, a Littleton Fire Department captain did see fit to make that MTV-style video of footage taken inside the school after the massacre (neglecting to obtain the most rudimentary permission for the music he used). In Colorado, we just keep proving that truth is stranger than fiction.
And then on Sunday came Take Me Home: The John Denver Story, the most embarrassing look yet at our state, this time through the alleged life of one of its adopted sons. If you had no affinity for Henry Deutschendorf -- and few under forty did -- this movie did little to explain his appeal as the reincarnated John Denver. As played by the mop-top, prepubescent Chad Lowe, the singer had all the appeal of one of the Muppets he used to cavort with on Sesame Street -- when he wasn't cavorting with other master puppeteers, like Werner Erhard. Denver's work on the self-actualization guru's Hunger Project earned him the label "esthole," a fact the movie overlooked. It also ignored Denver's underground gas tank buried up in Aspen, and the extreme ugliness of his second divorce, and that pesky second drunk- driving arrest (which inspired ace Denver attorney Walter Gerash to new heights of legal creativity). The Denver movie filled up the senses, all right, leaving a distinctly bad taste in viewers' mouths -- and worse sounds in their ears.
Some nouveau Coloradans have done better by their adopted state. Claudia Lamb, for example, who was just eleven when she played Heather Hartman on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, another big hit in the '70s. A recent issue of the Globe (the supermarket tab almost banned in Boulder!) offers a look at where the former residents of Fernwood -- including Louise Lasser, Martin Mull, Mary Kay Place and Dabney Coleman -- are today, 25 years after the wacky spoof debuted.
Lamb finished college, landed in Boulder, then hosted a local radio show in Denver. "No longer on the air," the Globe reports, "she devotes her time to raising her 12-year-old son."
Not quite. You can also catch Lamb weekends at the Colorado Department of Transportation, where she's a spokesperson. A backup, she points out -- not a replacement for the voice of Dan Hopkins, who's soothed the jangled nerves of Colorado drivers for decades.
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And now, a few words from a major fan of another '70s sitcom star: Lori Marie Muha, recently featured in this column because of her undying love for John Travolta (Off Limits, April 13), was front and center when the movie star and Scientologist came to town for Starfest 2000, April 15-16. "Dreams do come true," writes Muha, an entertainer who specializes in impersonations not only of Travolta, but also Elvis (she plays him as "Shelvis"). "There were 10,000 people there, and because I was in the newspaper, I got two free front row seats. They picked ten people at a time to go up to the microphone and ask Mr. Travolta a question. I was the first person to get that chance to talk to Travolta. Mr. Travolta wasn't so sure how he was to answer the questions so he came off stage and came over to me where I was standing by the microphone, everybody went wild. Security was right by his side and he came over to me and shook my hand. I just about died!
"Security officers were telling me and other fans questions that we needed to stick to. We weren't allowed to ask any personal or religious questions, so I was really cool about that. I asked Mr. Travolta what is his favorite kind of acting? Travolta never gives you a straight answer, he just said he loves all his roles but this one was special to him because he's worked on this for seven years to get this picture made."
You can catch Travolta in Battlefield Earth, a new movie based on the L. Ron Hubbard book, beginning May 12. In the meantime, Muha has more concrete evidence of her encounter: She taped her moments with Travolta, an action that led to a little scuffle with a security guard. "I'm not really at liberty to say about the outcome of this situation, but I got what I wanted...Welcome back, Lori Marie Muha, your dreams are your ticket out!"
If you have a tip, call Jonathan Shikes at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.