Dick Clark, who famously acted as the longtime host and producer of American Bandstand, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, The $10,000 Pyramid, as well as a stint as the announcer on MTV’s short-lived The Jon Stewart Show, is dead at 82. His representative told the New York Times—who noted Clark as an “icon”—that he died of a heart attack.
Over the last decade, Clark’s popularity waned as another new plucky, seemingly immortal Caucasian man named Ryan Seacrest generally took his place at the throne of organizing innocuous television that everybody you know watches, shame factor not withstanding. His most famous appearance in the final decade of his life may have been at the top of it, in Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine, in what is arguably one of the funniest scenes in the film: Dick Clark escaping Michael Moore by yelling at his associates to jump in a van, and then speeding away in it.
The set-up: Moore is describing the story of a Tamarla Owens, whose six year-old son took a gun to school and shot a young classmate with it, killing her. Owens, from Flint, Michigan, worked at a mall in a wealthy suburb 60 miles away from where she lived, for up to 70 hours a week, at two separate jobs. One of those jobs was as a waitress at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill, a chain of restaurants that Clark had a stake in, in exchange for branding use of his likeness and endorsement. The company had applied for tax breaks for taking on welfare recipients as employees; Moore explains that Tamarla Owens couldn’t make enough money to pay her rent, was evicted, and moved into a relative’s home (where he son found the gun he ended up bringing to school).
Plenty of people had plenty to say about the merits of Owens’ case; what’s indisputable was Clark’s desire to avoid the topic entirely, as evidenced by Moore’s movie.
Moore flew out to California to speak with Clark for the film. He doesn’t say whether or not he attempted to contact Clark to interview him prior to rushing him in person, but either way, he gets what he wanted: The moment Moore mentions Tamarla Owens’ name, Dick Clark shouts for whoever is with him to get in the van, which speeds off as soon as humanly possible (clip with Dick Clark begins at 7:08).
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