Rich Hatch's Appearance with Son on Sally Clears Up Nothingby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
Friday’s Sally show – the talk show hosted by Sally Jesse Raphael – featured “Celebrity Dads” for Father’s Day. Some of the dads were rock stars or actors. But one was Survivor winner Rich Hatch. In fact, not only was Hatch on, but his son Chris was on as well, marking the first time the two of them have appeared together on TV.
Sally brought on Rich to “clear the air” about “recently” being charged with child abuse. Recently? It was almost a year ago. But it soon became obvious that she didn’t know what she was talking about anyway, even as she introduced him.
She began by noting that he returned from whatever island he was on (the real question is what island she was on) to face child abuse charges just a few days later. As he was about to explain, she interrupted with, “Wait, wait, wait, wait – there’s a lot I don’t understand.” Yes, that’s pretty obvious. “Number one: Aren’t you the gay one on Survivor?” Wow, she’s quick.
Rich responded, “That’s me. Fruitcake extraordinaire.” Then he explained to her that he adopted Chris and started in with the whole story. He said after being gone for seven weeks – the longest he’d ever been away from his son – Chris had started to get out of hand again. (Chris had been in seven or eight family or foster homes before ending up with Rich, and was something of a troubled child. As Rich later noted, he knew how to control people and situations.) He had gained a lot of weight and when Rich tried to get him back to his fitness regimen, including jogging, Chris rebelled. So Chris created a “brilliant story” that Rich said people should have known better than to believe. According to some versions of the story told to teachers, the school nurse, and the principal, Rich had kicked him in the head, dragged him by his hair, shoved his face into the concrete, etc.
Rich was called to come to the police station and told only that his son was there. He went, figuring Chris had hit or bitten somebody. But when he arrived, he was immediately arrested and thrown behind bars, without any questions or investigation.
Sally then jumped from that story – without any discussion of its resolution – to Survivor. Again making it obvious that she didn’t watch even one second of the series, she said she feels she’s a good judge of character and Rich seemed to be a nice guy, but she was told that on the show, he was a “fat-ass.”
Rich laughed and agreed that he did indeed have a fat ass. But Sally corrected herself and said she meant it as in a know-it-all or whatever. Rich still agreed, saying he was there to play a game and he won it. He repeated his tired line about how he “played the game as ethically and morally as I possibly could.”
Then they brought out Christopher to sit on the couch between Rich and Alan Thicke (another one of the celebrity dads). Chris definitely looked good – he was thinner and in better shape than he’d been on the videotape sent to Rich during episode 8 of Survivor. He said hello, and then Sally told him that she would not be interviewing him – his father would.
Rich began by asking him if he was more or less nervous knowing he would be asking the questions. Chris responded, “More, I think.” Alan Thicke jumped in and warned him to be careful or he could be voted off the couch. Funny guy, that Alan Thicke.
So, on with the questions. Rich asked him how he felt about being on TV. Chris responded that it was nerve wracking. Why? Because of the audience. So, what does he want everybody to know about him? “Nothing.” So why did he want to come? Chris finally opened up and said, with amusement in his voice, that he wasn’t the one who got himself up this morning, gave himself breakfast and put himself on a plane!
Rich laughed and asked how many times did he ask to come on TV and even to get Alan Thicke’s autograph? Chris showed some more humor by responding, “Whose autograph? Oh, oh – okay.”
Rich continued by asking what has been different for him because of Rich’s fame – or infamy. Chris couldn’t come up with an answer, so Sally intervened and asked if Rich had changed. Chris responded, “Definitely.” She continued, “Is he a fat-ass?” Chris again responded in the affirmative. So she asked what it meant and he said that, as she noted earlier, he is a know-it-all and never admits when he’s wrong. As one example, Chris talked about when they had played a bunch of games of “Connect Four” and Chris had won most of them. When Rich won his few, he taunted Chris, but when Chris won, Rich kept calling him lucky. Rich nodded and, as if he were proud of this childish behavior, said, “It’s true” and that it was a great story.
It seemed like he was proud that his son was smart enough to see and describe this behavior – which is, indeed, pretty good. But how he could be proud to have his child describe him this way on national television is a bit of a mystery to me. Most people would not want to be known for such behavior; but I guess Rich isn’t “most people.”
Sally ended that segment to bring on some heavy metal singer who took his kids on the road with him. But later she asked each of the fathers for their favorite fatherhood memory. She repeatedly said it didn’t have to be of their own fathers, but Rich was the only one who didn’t use a memory like that – instead using one from Chris (readers may recall that Rich and his father were estranged for quite some time). He said that two days after Chris first came to live with him, he asked Rich if he could call him “Daddy.” Rich knew it was purely manipulative, but he said he remembered the first time Chris actually used it, and he could see that he really meant it.
A touching story – and much better than the Connect Four one earlier – but the stories that people would probably have really been interested in hearing were left out. One thing they didn’t discuss was why Rich sent Chris to boarding school before the Survivor finale even aired – as reported in Peter Lance’s The Stingray (click here for full review). Furthermore, Chris did not tell his side of what happened with the child abuse charges. Basically, by handing the reigns over to Rich for the interview, Sally made sure nothing controversial – or worthwhile – would come out. I am forced to wonder if it was done that way at Rich’s request. He does, after all, like to control any situation he’s in.
Even with that control, he couldn’t stop himself from talking about his own ego. It does appear that he was never guilty of the child abuse charges leveled against him, and he probably had a valid complaint against those who filed them. But he did himself no favors by acting proud of his childish behavior. More importantly, he does Chris no favors by acting that way in general.
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