Fred Willard (Photo : Reuters)
Actor Fred Willard's arrest on Wednesday for a lewd act in a public theater may not be the career-ending episode that it was for Pee-Wee Herman.
First about the episode itself.
According to E! Online, Willard - whose age varies between 72 and 78 in press reports - visited the Tiki Theater Xymposium in Hollywood and bought a ticket that entitled him to see three movies - Follow Me 2, a parody of The Client List, and Step Dad.
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Willard's supposed offense has been referred to in vague terms by most media outlets, but TMZ went into detail about it.
The gossip blog states that Willard is accused of......well, doing what you'd expect a man who visits a porno theater to do.
Thankfully, as ABC reports, Willard won't be prosecuted if he takes part in a "diversion program" designed to make him a better citizen.
TMZ cameras caught up with Willard while he was entering and exiting his lawyer's office, before it was announced that he would be let off the hook. He told the cameras that the episode hadn't happened and that it was a "strange situation" that had taken him to the theater. When asked if the police treated him nicely, he replied, "I have a great respect for them. They just - there's just a difference of opinion and it's all being straightened out as we speak."
I'm sure we'd all love to have it proved that Fred was in the Tiki because he was troubled by joint pain while walking the streets of Hollywood and there wasn't a Starbucks around for him to take a load off.
But, if not, it probably won't stop him from getting work in Hollywood.
Yes, the circumstances surrounding his arrest have got him fired by PBS as narrator of the collectibles show "Market Warriors". E! Online says that narration for the show will be re-recorded by Mark L. Wahlberg, host of "Antiques Roadshow".
And, yes, the kind of semi-recurring father-in-law roles on family shows such as "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Modern Family" - both of which won him Emmy nominations - are probably going to dry up for him.
But we predict that we'll continue to see Willard in front of the camera.
Here are three reasons why:
First, he has work coming out. He hosts ABC's improv comedy show "Trust Us With Your Life"; and as The Wrap reports, all episodes have already aired and there are no plans to reshoot.
His IMDb listing shows a long list of other projects already under his belt for the year, including a TV movie with Martin Short, an episode of "Raising Hope", and a feature film with Morgan Freeman called The Magic of Belle Isle.
There is no word yet as to whether he will be replaced in the yet-to-be-filmed The Yank (yes, media is noting the irony of the name).
Another reason Willard probably won't disappear the way Pee-Wee Herman seemingly did for twenty years is that he is joining a longer list of celebs with sex-related arrests. Since Herman unzipped in a porn palace, there has been Hugh Grant's 1995 backseat tryst with a paid companion, Eddie Murphy's 1997 drive with a tranny prostitute, and George Michael's 1998 men's room romp.
None of these stars saw an interruption in their careers.
The third reason is the nature of Willard's usual work. Since coming into his own in the 1990s after years of improv and episodic television, Willard has specialized in oily, unctuous, out-of-touch characters - the kind of characters, in fact, who might get arrested for committing lewd acts in porn theaters.
Christopher Guest took advantage of Willard's easy smarm when he casted him in Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman; and then there was his role as Aslo, the crudest part in the quite crude Epic Movie.
And so seeing Willard arrested is not like seeing Sir Anthony Hopkins arrested for being in that theater. If Willard can laugh at himself a little about it, then many of his fans will probably laugh with him.