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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News

June 4, 1999 Edition - D-DAY FOR T-PHILES COMING SOON
(C) 1999 Portland Ice Skating Society


Actually, for Tonyaphiles the 6th of June isn't D-day - it's 
A-day, as in "Arli$$", HBO's top rating comedy about a sleazy 
sports agent. Tonya kicks off the season opener with a cameo 
appearance and what we are informed is a small speaking part. 
Tonya's Godmother, Linda Lewis, accompanied Tonya to the taping 
back in March and gives more details in a special report that can 
be found at:

Additional information can be found at the show's own web site 
( If you get HBO, it's time to program 
that VCR!


Charlie Main ( has added some new photos from 
the Tonya book "Fire on Ice" These have not been seen before on 
line to our knowledge.


Last issue we mentioned that one of Tonya's costumes was being 
auctioned. Unfortunately, that only went for $2750, much less 
than a previous Tonya dress that was auctioned in late 1996 for 

For those with more modest budgets, there is an alternative: 
experience tends to indicate there are typically around 20 to 30 
Tonya items on auction at E-bay at any one time. You can see the 
current list at:

(Note that you may need to paste the URL into the browser as it's 
rather long and may not appear properly in your mail or 
newsreading software). No prize for guessing what the most common 
item on offer is, of course, but there are some genuine Tonya 
collectables there; amongst the items recently for sale have been 
a videotape of "Attack of the 5'2" Woman" (a Tonya parody done by 
Julie Brown back in '94), an issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY 
magazine from Feb 7, 1992 that has a CBS Olympic advert featuring 
Tonya, plus a t-shirt, collector's cards and even rubber stamps. 
We recently bought a tape of "Breakaway" there for the princely 
sum of $5:50 - versus around $70 for a new copy - so it's well 
worth checking out.

Results from recently completed Tonya auctions can also be viewed 


This classic Tonya telemovie was screened out here recently, so 
we thought it might be time for a review for the benefit of those 
who haven't seen it. 

And what is it like? Actually, it isn't as bad as I expected, 
though it's a fairly safe bet that no-one is likely to think it 
was robbed at Emmy time.

Firstly, the good bits (which I'll deal with first because there 
aren't many of them):

a) The casting of the main characters. The resemblance of 
Alexandra Powers to Tonya is so close it's almost spooky, 
especially when dressed up in her skating costumes (which someone 
has done a good job of replicating). And Heather Langenkamp 
actually looks more like Nancy than the real Nancy! Most of the 
other main characters (Gillooly, Eckardt, Stant) are also very 
similar to their real life counterparts, which helps alot.

b) It's mostly about Tonya, which is good as she's more 
interesting. And it does come across as reasonably sympathetic to 
Tonya, trying to portray her as a human being. In fact, Tonya is 
probably the only person in the thing that comes across as being 
real. Many incidents in her life are portrayed, from her bustups 
with Jeff to the now infamous road rage incident with a baseball 
bat (though her second separation from Jeff isn't mentioned at

c) Surprisingly, for a quicky TV movie of this nature, it seems 
to be reasonably well researched, with no serious errors that I 
could spot. The writer clearly did his homework and pays 
attention to details, right down to Smith's black Porsche parked 
in the Eckardt's driveway and the dialog when the attack was 
plotted (it's obvious he's read Swifty's SI articles and I 
suspect probably the Oregonian "Fire On Ice" paperback as well). 
There are a couple of things that stand out: the police are 
depicted as saying Tonya got Nancy's address from the USFSA, when 
it was from journalist Vera Marano. And since when has Kristi 
Yamaguchi ever been known as "Yama"? In three years of hanging 
out on r.s.s.i.f. I've never heard this used as a nickname for 
her. It sounds like something the writers just made up.

Now for the bad stuff:

a) The skating: there's too little of it, and most it is done in 
an arty MTV-type style (blatantly ripped off from "The Cutting 
Edge") in order to disguise the use of stunt doubles. Even 
Tonya's legendary 1991 Nationals Triple Axel is fudged in this 
manner. Surely NBC could have dug up SOME stock footage of the 
real Tonya and Nancy doing their thing?

b) The casting of some of the minor characters is sloppy. The 
actress playing Dody Teachman looks nothing like her, which is 
odd because Teachman is credited as "Technical Adviser". 
Likewise, Nancy's agent looks nothing like Jerry Solomon (and is 
never mentioned by name; he's just "an agent"). Were they perhaps 
afraid of some legal trouble with him if they used his real name?

c) Most of the characters apart from Tonya never get above the 
cliche level. Tonya's drunken half-brother is portrayed as the 
standard "Deliverence" type white trash redneck. Agents are just 
shown as slick money grubbing marketing types, LaVona as a nasty 
bitch. Most of the dialog is more corny than a trip to 
Disneyworld, full of skaters falling over, throwing whiny 
tantrums and being given inane "win one for the Gipper" type pep-
talks by their coaches. Gillooly comes across as a jerk rather 
than oozing evil like he should.

d) At some point, some genius apparently thought it would be 
incredibly clever to make the whole thing into some profound 
comment about the media and celebrity in our 10 second soundbyte 
type society. Thus, we are greeted with intermittent voice-to-
camera shots of some guy pretending to be a writer working on a 
Tonya/Nancy TV movie, philosophizing about Tolstoy (and who is 
even shown pitching the whole idea to a bunch of network 
executives "in time for the May sweeps"), and another of an actor 
pretending to be a grizzled Lou Grant type newspaper editor 
saying "we're all whores". Profound? Give me a break! In fact, 
the whole thing is peppered with these phony "interviews" with 
various characters, some supposedly specific individuals (like Al 
Harding), others meant to be generic "people in the street", 
giving their two cents on the T&N affair. Some of these seem
totally irrelevant - a "Tonya supporter" or a "former skater" 
makes sense, but a "60's activist"? Who cares what some middle 
aged hippy thinks? What's next - the producer's secretary's 

e) Most significantly, the whole kneewhacking plot is just 
whizzed over too quickly, despite the fact this could have been 
the most interesting aspect of the whole film. A guy like Eckardt 
is a gift from God to a scriptwriter, but in this film he's just 
wasted, thrown away by a writer who would rather indulge in 
pompous self-indulgent pseudo-intellectual posturing than tell a
good "whodunnit". In fact, if you don't know the details of the 
plot (or have forgotten them in the intervening five years), 
you'll probably find it all very confusing.

In short, this film represents a wasted opportunity to tell the 
story of one of the most bizarre incidents ever seen in the 
history of sports. The fact is that this is a quicky TV movie, 
made under the time and budget constraints of television, and 
based on mostly public domain material. It's not (to bring back 
Tolstoy again) "War and Peace " on ice. It is impossible to do a 
complex character like Tonya justice under such circumstances, 
unless you are prepared to pay for Tonya to tell her side of the 
story, and the networks were loathe to be seen as rewarding a 
convicted felon. Attempts by the writer to turn the film into 
some big important "statement" about the media and celebrity in 
general come across as facile at best, especially given the fact 
that this scandal is now yesterday's news. On the other hand, the 
main details of the Kerrigan kneewhacking plot are well 
documented in publicly available material like articles and 
police reports. In the hands of a better writer that aspect of 
the affair could have made a fascinating (and probably more 
durable) tale, and would have been a wiser area to concentrate 

Overall, I'd give it 2 out of 4 stars, or one thumb up. Hey, at 
least it's better than "The Oksana Baiul Story". But then again, 
what wouldn't be (apart from maybe "The Pasha Grishuk Story")?


Most of our readers will be familiar with such well-known skating
moves as the lutz, axel, toe-loop and flip. However, the USFSA 
has now invented another one: the sideways duck-shuffle. In a 
move so agile that even the world's top skaters would be hard 
pressed to duplicate it on ice, the governing body of U.S.
eligible skating has quickly skated out of the Callaghan mess, 
dismissing Craig Maurizi's allegations on the technicality that 
they were not filed in time.

To refresh everybody's memory, back in April skater Craig Maurizi 
accused top-level skating coach Richard Callaghan of sexually 
abusing him on numerous occasions during the 1980's. Callaghan 
denied the accusations, and Maurizi subsequently filed formal 
complaints with both the USFSA and the Professional Skaters 
Association. Now the USFSA has dismissed the complaint, saying 
that their rules require grievances to be filed within 60 days of 
the alleged incident occurring.

It may be argued by the USFSA's apologists that they have taken 
the right decision in view of the extreme length of time that has 
elapsed since these incidents were supposed to have occurred, and 
that Maurizi should have come forward sooner. However, this 
ignores the realities of sexual abuse and the reactions of the 
victim, who may often feel that they themselves are somehow 
responsible for the abuse. The USFSA's decision is entirely 
unsatisfactory and will help no-one. Clearly it won't satisfy 
Maurizi, but neither is it good for Callaghan who has missed out 
on an opportunity to have his name cleared of what he claims are 
false charges. For the rest of his life he will have to live in 
the shadow of this incident, with inevitably many people refusing 
to give him the benefit of the doubt and wondering whether the 
accusations are true. And it certainly isn't good for skating, as 
it leaves an image of a sport that is more concerned with 
avoiding an unseemly public fuss than in the welfare of its 

Once again the USFSA has shown it lacks the backbone to deal with 
difficult issues and show moral leadership when it counts. 
Perfectly prepared to pillory abused women like Tonya, they 
quickly wash their hands of anything that looks messy and which 
they can't sweep under the ice out of sight. To add insult to 
injury, there is a good argument to be made that the USFSA's 
interpretation of its own rules is wrong - only Article 27, 
Section 3(a) of the rules (which deals with non-ethics matters) 
makes any mention of a 60-day time limit. Article 27, Section 
3(b), the appropriate section in this case, has no time limit 
specified at all.

The good news is that the PSA has decided that the allegations 
need to be investigated further. Hopefully the PSA will save the 
day for the image of skating and treat this matter with the 
seriousness it deserves, unlike the bureaucrats in Colorado 


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