COMMENTARY | This week, Minnesota radio fans of MyTalk 107.1 FM were treated to a special celebrity call-in: Patrick O’Neal, son of actor Ryan O’Neal. On the radio show, they played clips from Ryan O’Neal’s various television interviews and inserted a cuckoo bird sound effect after each O’Neal soundbite.
Patrick found out about this show via Twitter, and angered, called in and defended his father to the radio hosts Jason Matheson and Alexis Thompson. “You’re not going to hear from Griffin because he’s in jail. You’re not going to hear from Redmond because he is in rehab. But I heard your show and I wanted the people in Minnesota to know my father, Ryan O’Neal, is a good man. He did the best he could as a parent. Those kids had some tough moms. My dad is not responsible that those grown-ups cannot take of their lives.”
Although the radio hosts were shocked to hear from Patrick on a Minnesota radio show, I was not so surprised. As Patrick O’Neal is a L.A. based sportscaster, he lives in the direct line of the paparazzi fire. With his father’s loving new book, “Both of Us: My Life with Farrah,” as well as his very public stage 4 cancer announcement, Ryan O’Neal is out on the talk show circuit and once again, his life is up for scrutiny and ridicule.
Instead of focusing on the Ryan and Farrah love story, everyone from Matt Lauer to Barbara Walters are dissecting Ryan’s life, pointing out the substance abuse and legal problems with three of his children.
Patrick, despite his public job and celebrity relationship with Rebecca DeMornay, has managed to live his life quietly without incident. Yet, because he obviously values his privacy, he has not done his own talk show circuit. Instead, he is able to tell his side of the story, to a smaller community, far from the bright lights.
Although he never states it, Patrick seems to ask if we should even be judging if Ryan O’Neal was a good father. In his short phone call, Patrick sums up his frustration that life is a selection of choices and he had managed to create a healthy life, unlike his siblings. Most of all, he obviously loves his father, and as someone who has experienced that moment when I heard that my own father had stage 4 cancer, my whole life was shattered. His father may not be with us too long, and I guarantee you, Patrick realizes this sad fact.
I think it is rather ironic: accusing O’Neal of being a bad parent or even “cuckoo” is as much a sign of dysfunction as the very actions of his troubled children. Then again, we are dealing with the the celebrity media that always looks for the negative and targets the damaged.