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From the E-Mailbag…

Regarding the Kevin Clash matter, someone who may not want me to quote them by name (so I won't) writes to ask…

Aside from my disgust at people who glory in the tragic events in life, I have to ask, why would a person behave in such a fashion when they are wealthy, or powerful or influential knowing that the person they are with is almost certain to tell people the dark and sordid details?

Well, I suspect there are some — certainly a minority — who almost want to get caught and punished…or who want it enough that they don't care if they do. I'm often reminded of that Twilight Zone episode where David Wayne plays a man who cannot die and he becomes obsessive with putting that to the test. There are folks in this world who "get away" with something they know they shouldn't have gotten away with, then start seeing how much they can push that.

In what is probably a slightly healthier vein, a lot of wealthy/powerful/famous people see others around them getting away with errant behavior and perhaps they themselves get away with it a few times. And what results is a kind of "the rules don't apply to me" sensibility. They start to feel not only lucky but somehow magically protected in that way…like a gambler who's winning and starts madly upping his wagers.

I do not know Kevin Clash beyond that brief handshake I described and what's going on with him is surely more complex and unknown to us than the brief things we glean from press reports. Most of it is also none of our business. But it would not surprise me if he "got away" for a long time with what he is now in trouble for doing, and knew others who had done even worse without getting caught.

No, not everyone tells the dark and sordid details. I casually know an actress who had (past-tense) a very long, very steamy affair with a very famous (and married) male star. She never went public with it. She never asked him for money or, she says, for anything. The guy "got away" with it. Would we be shocked if he did it again? And again and again?

By the way: I did not mean to suggest, as some correspondents have inferred, that it's impossible for anyone else to replicate the voice and performance of Elmo. I assume there are already plenty of folks working for the relevant company who can and do. Mr. Clash could not have made all the personal appearances required of the highly-lucrative property known as Elmo. If and when they want someone else to be Elmo on Sesame Street, they'll presumably promote from within.

The question is whether Elmo is in any way despoiled by this. It was announced a few months ago that they were cutting back on the character's presence on Sesame Street. Maybe someone saw this scandal coming or maybe there were other reasons. They have thousands of hours taped of Clash as Elmo and I assume they'll rerun that material and at some point, fold in new material with the replacement. But they also may decide to downplay Elmo for a time. No one knows yet quite how this whole thing will play out.