Here’s What Dr. Phil Should’ve Told John Bolaris
After watching John Bolaris on Dr. Phil this week, I’m wondering why the exiled weatherman’s behavior still surprises me. Maybe it’s my belief that somewhere deep inside the circus that is his life, there’s a decent guy who’s just trying to get his old job back. Maybe it’s knowing that his love of five-day forecasts and severe storm warnings is genuine. Or that caught in the middle of his non-stop drama is an adorable little girl that calls him daddy.
After reading my profile of him in September, Bolaris told me he thought it was a fair and accurate portrait, difficult as it was to read at times. As a journalist, I appreciated his honest assessment and respected him for it. But seeing Bolaris’ story on national television again—for the third time now, including segments on Nightline and 20/20—makes me wonder if he’s learned anything at all. Dr. Phil was uncharacteristically easy on J-Bo for some reason. That’s a shame, since what he needs most right now is tough love and straight talk. In a likely fruitless effort to save Bolaris from himself, here’s some unsolicited advice for how he can get his career—and his life—back on track.
1. Stop Insisting You’re a Hero
Lost in most of the coverage of Bolaris’ weekend of roofies-n-Russians in Miami is that he was ripped off by a crime ring that snared more than 80 other victims. But Bolaris isn’t the only guy who cooperated with the Feds, and if it wasn’t for his lawsuit against American Express, he could have done so anonymously. Bolaris is the face of this case because, as usual, Bolaris chose to put himself out there. We’re in short supply of heroes these days (see Petraeus, David and the guy who “helped” the doomed NYC subway victim by photographing him). Suing your credit card company and testifying against the scam artists who took you for 40 large does not grant you rights to wear a Spandex suit and a cape.
2. Shut Up
This might sound hypocritical coming from a guy who spent hours interviewing Bolaris for a magazine article. But Bolaris said nothing new to Dr. Phil. So why is he still talking? All he accomplished with this latest TV appearance was alerting a national audience that there’s a lot of good dirt on him (and naked pics of his fiancée, Erica Smitheman) on the Internet. If getting back into broadcast news really is his priority, Bolaris should be a ghost—silent and unseen on the air or in local party photos. His column in the Metro—“advice” from a guy who currently describes his life as “an abyss”—doesn’t help his cause, either. If he wants to prove to a general manager that at age 55, he’s finally capable of delivering news, not making it, the best thing he can do is to go away.
3. Enter Twitter Anonymous
The Bolaris gag order should begin on social media, where he seems to have developed a full-blown addiction. In my story, a confidant of his strongly suggests that Bolaris should stay away from Twitter. In the time since that sound advice was given, he’s sent hundreds of tweets; last night, he launched 76 in one hour alone (his total tweet-count stands at more than 15,000; by comparison, One Direction has less than 3,600). Bolaris also thought it was harmless to let his fiancée play around on his account, which eventually led to a Philly.com post of her old topless Playboy photo. Again, if employment is really what he’s after, the only tweets he should send are weather updates. No shout-outs to celebs, no trash-talking “the haters,” and no pics of his blonde babe. The question is, without the notoriety and the constant attention, does John Bolaris exist at all? I’m not sure Bolaris himself could answer that.
4. Beg NBC 10 for a Job
When it comes to finding another on-air gig in Philadelphia, Hurricane Schwartz is to Bolaris what Obi-Wan Kenobi was to Princess Leia—his only hope. Let’s look at the options. Fox 29 won’t hire a guy they fired a year ago. CBS 3 is still recovering from the Larry Mendte/Alycia Lane scandal. And you can bet Jim Gardner would sooner eat one of Adam Joseph’s ties than toss to Bolaris for a StormTracker 6 report. That leaves NBC 10, where the storylines would be soapy and sweeps-ready: Bolaris returns to his old station to re-team with his nerdy sidekick, and weatherbabe Sheena Parveen. Will Bolaris and Hurricane relive their glory days? Will sparks fly between the old hunk and the young hottie? Or will Bolaris look like a creepy uncle next to a woman nearly 30 years his junior? It would be local news meets Bravo reality show and the only must-see TV this NBC station has had in years. It’s also a long shot, but at this point—due to circumstances both beyond and completely within his control—it might be his only chance to stay in Philadelphia.