Plenty of blame to go around
Charges are expected any time now against Richard Heene, the self-promoting lunatic from Colorado who touched off a frantic search last week by claiming that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, had drifted off in a balloon shaped like a flying saucer. There are now suggestions by authorities that Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi, staged the whole thing in order to attract attention for a reality television show. The family is no stranger to the genre, having appeared twice before on "Wife Swap," a program in which two very different women swap families for a period of time. The producer of that program was working on a new show involving the Heenes but has now backed out, which is rather amazing, because it might be the first time that people involved with reality television have shown any concern for their subjects. America has watched as the TLC network has tried to milk every ratings point and advertising dollar possible from the dissolution of the Gosselin family, stars of "Jon & Kate Plus Eight." And even though the parents are in the midst of a bitter divorce, and the family is crumbling, TLC continues to suckle at the teat of misery. There's a reason television producers and networks give us shows such as "Jerry Springer," "Rock of Love" and "Temptation Island." People watch. And those people have to bear part of the responsibility for what has happened to the Gosselin family and what's happening now with the Heene family. Certainly, the Heenes were going to be loons anyway - they reportedly believe they're descendants of aliens - but with no potential audience for their shenanigans, perhaps things wouldn't have gone this far.