by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments


Thought I’d parachute into this column.

And now, sticking with that theme, allow me to parachute into your charitable thoughts, the way “Fan Man” — that’s what he’s calling himself — came parachuting into the ring Saturday night in Las Vegas. (In the old days, by the way, a guy interrupts a big fight, they beat him up and leave him in the street. Today, he goes to the hospital and gets a Movie of the Week.)

I will say this about the floating buffoon: when I saw him land, my first thought was this: my boss has once again found a way to attend an event for free.

My second thought: I bet he shows up on Bernie’s Blooper’s.

Which brings me to the point of today’s column. Bernie Smilovitz has been in this town long enough that, whenever you see something stupid happen, you think of him.

Wait. That didn’t come out right.

Well, you get the drift. And so has Bernie. In fact, after seven years on WDIV-TV, seven years of trading jokes with Mort and Carmen, seven years of trying to understand what the hell Sparky Anderson is talking about, he will soon be drifting off to New York City, to take his unique brand of sportscasting to an audience that could use a laugh.

Actually, they have a permanent blooper supply in New York. It’s called the Mets.

But Bernie is leaving, and he will be missed. If you don’t believe me, check out this list: Joe Dumars, Rodney Peete, Steve Yzerman, Cecil Fielder, Chuck Daly, Bo Schembechler, Jeff Daniels, Maury Povich, Lomas Brown, Chris Spielman, Scott Hastings, Calvert & Kelly, Carmen Harlan, Brian Williams, Frank Beckmann, Eli Zaret, L. Brooks Patterson, Mike Ridley, Eric Williams.

Those are just some of the people who be live, on the dais, next Thursday night, Nov. 18, at the Westin Hotel, ready to say good-bye to Bernie in the most manly of fashions: by roasting him.

You guessed it.

This is a pitch. Don’t hang up

But a good one. And a worthwhile one. As regular readers of this column know, once a year, I ask for your help, when we host a charity roast to raise money for The Dream Fund, which provides scholarships for needy area kids to study the arts at Detroit’s renowned Center For Creative Studies.

Think about it. The next great painter, sax player, tap dancer or sculptor could be right here, in our city, unable to feed his or her talent because there’s no money for lessons. Instead, the kid sits around, grows restless, ends up on the streets.

Or worse — lying in front of the TV . . .

. . . watching Bernie’s Bloopers.

And we don’t want that! We need to save those brain cells!

Which is why I would like you to attend this gala function, called “Bye Bye Bernie,” by calling 872-9463. Are those numbers big enough? The details will follow in a moment.

First, a word about Bernie.


Now, where were we?

Actually, to be honest, I have known Bernie since he arrived in Detroit. I remember meeting him at Tiger Stadium back in 1986. He was new in town, and people were making fun of his strange name, and his strange style on TV. It was a rough few months, and I felt bad for the guy. I remember putting my arm around him and saying, “Listen, you stink.”

After that, things began to look up. Eventually, Bernie’s style caught on, and he became our most popular sportscaster, which only proves, once again, that showing little doggies running across a baseball field beats serious news every time. Watching Bernie get ripped is worth it

All kidding aside — and I think I was kidding — Bernie is a terrific person, a family man and a consummate pro. I used to butt heads with him in a bit called “Point-Counter Point” on Channel 4. Naturally, I showed up with profuse notes and research. Bernie showed up with his makeup kit.

So I know what he’s like in the trenches. And I can hardly wait to see him ripped to shreds by not just me, but Schembechler, Daly, Fielder, Peete — you know, the pros.

It should be some kind of evening — never to be repeated, unless New York blows up. Bernie, I and the children who could use your help would love to see you at the Westin, Thursday, Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m, call 872-9463.

Are those numbers big enough?

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with special private cocktails with all the roasters. Dinner follows, and then the roast. Tickets are at several levels:
$150 for the cocktail reception, dinner and roast; $85 for the dinner and roast only. Corporate tables are also available. Call for information.

Of course, contributions are tax deductible.

Did I mention the phone number? 872-9463.

Thank you for helping us. By the way, for those of you who missed Bernie on Saturday night in Las Vegas, the doctors say he’ll be fine and should be able to parachute again real soon.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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