Note: This site is no longer being maintained, unfortunately. Most of the pages haven't been modified for years. See the homepage for the only part of this site that is being kept up to date.
jump to bottom of page
The comments here all have to do with articles about CEIA or MJH that have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. Profiles and interviews on TV are included here, too.
Headline News is running a segment today about 'teen-oriented' programming. Featured prominently were 90210, and Clarissa Explains It All. Apparently advertizers are very happy with the shows because they have a viewer audience not well served by other programming. Look for it if you get Headline News.
SNICK is mentioned in a publication called Video Choices, which is a magazine our cable company distributes to tell about their pay per view schedules, etc. There is a quarter page spot about it, with 4 pictures and a paragraph about each of the 4 shows.
There was an article for Snick in Saturday's San Jose Mercury News. In part of the article it talks about ratings for CEIA. It says, `The A.C Nielsen ratings research firm reports that nearly one-third of the audience for ``Clarissa Explains It All'' is 18 or older. The show, which is built around a teen-age girl, appeals to more boys, proportionately, than TV's hottest teen show, Fox's ``Beverly Hills 90210.'' '
There's an August '91 NYT article (``Melissa Explains...'') stating that Ms. Hart was (then) 15. So she's (at least) 16 now. But since they're still labelling the kids as going to a Jr. High then I'd assume Clarissa's nominal age is 14/15. Dunno about Jason Zimbler, but in the first year shows there looked like at least two years difference between them.
[May possibly contain errors:]
``Talking about school makes her weary. She'd rather describe the Violet Femmes concert she'd been to the night before...''
-The New York Times: ``The Melissa inside Clarissa Explains It All for Us'' August 25, 1991, Section 2
Can anybody check this out? (The fellow who posted this seems a bit scatterbrained, IMHO, but you never know...)
Article 1877 of alt.tv.ren-n-stimpy:
>``Broadcasting'' magazine (anyone have it?; 08/17/92 issue on page 20) says
>that in Spring 1993 that Clarissa and R&S will be off the schedule and be
>replaced by ``Tomorrow People'' (mini-series) and ``The Muppet Show.''
In an August 25, 1991 New York Times article, Melissa Joan Hart is quoted as saying of CEIA, ``I always say its main point is 'don't give in to peer pressure. Live your own life.' ''
Well, according to the People magazine article from either June or July 1991, she lives in an 11 room house in Sayville, NY. Another article in early July by Catherine Hinman of the Orlando Sentinel says Sayville, Long Island.
The People article says that MJH and Clarissa like a lot of the same stuff except, Clarissa likes They Might Be Giants more. Melissa's favorite is R.E.M. When not taping Clarissa, MJH stays in a Nickelodeon owned condo with either her Mom or a nanny. She also gets $3 an hour baby sitting and is (in 1991) a ninth grader at Sayville Junior High.
Melissa also has four siblings, Trisha, 12, Elizabeth, 10, Brian, 7 and Emily,5 that are in the acting business. (This is 1991). Her mom, Paula manages them all. Her father, William, is a lobster wholesaler.
However, when MJH was on the show ``Get The Picture'', she said that she had moved to a new house. A NYT article in August 1991 by Alex Witchel says she lives in Manhattan. So she could have moved from Sayville to Manhattan.
Then I would write to Melissa Joan Hart, mentioning some questions that arose from reading the August 25, 1991 New York Times article. One of them is as follows.
In the interview described, when she was asked about whether she has experiences of embarrassment that match those of Clarissa, she mentions that Elizabeth Hess, who plays her mother, presented her with underwear as a present at her birthday party. Surely, if this occurred *after* they did the ``Career Night Nightmare'' episode, this could not have been an innocent mistake! And if it happened before, I want to know if this inspired the incident shown in the episode. It's fishy either way.
Who: Melissa Joan Katherine Hart
What: Feature Story
Where: Nick News W5
When: Tonight at 8/7 central
Why: Because it's what you want to know.
[Warning: This is not a comprehensive report. It does not mention that Ms. Hart said that she prefers mass transit to driving or that she isn't very much into computers. I leave that for others to say.]
They actually claim that Clarissa is fourteen years old. However, I still believe that this has been conclusively contradicted. [...]
In a previous message I warned: ] [...] Remember, in ``What Mom Doesn't Know''
](my title) after her mom realizes that her computerized test was rigged,
]Clarissa tells her, ``I don't even know half the things I like. All I
]know is that I like to change my mind-- all the time.'' [...]
They actually repeated this scene-fragment on W5, and Melissa confirmed my suspicion. She says her tastes are constantly changing; [...]
As for the name, while Linda Ellerbee introduced her as simply ``Melissa Hart,'' Melissa herself used a longer form.
Interesting stuff -- though fairly short, about 4 minutes:
- Melissa Joan Katherine Hart -- hadn't heard of the other middle name before.
- Prefers riding subways to driving!
- ``Clarissa likes computers, and I'm not very into computers.''
- ``My tastes change all the time, same as Clarissa.''
- Shots from pre-CEIA stuff: some sort of energy-conservation spot (very young), a snippet from ``Another World'' and ``The Equalizer'' (about 8-9?).
- Shots from a ``Lovely Advice'' rehersal.
- Post-CEIA? ``My ideal part after Clarissa would be I guess some role in a movie. I don't know how I'd do in drama but I'd like to try it. I also would like to get some kind of directing or producing.''
Well, I am almost crushed!
She looks a little different ``in person'' than on the show.
She is quite different from CD. She has a 6'2" tall boyfriend, ``Mike''. He is like a surfer, or so she says.
This is taken from the Feb.27-Mar.5 issue of TV Guide that discusses TV shows for children. It put CEIA in the 12-17 age bracket with shows such as Life Goes On, The Wonder Years, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman (??), and Star Trek: TNG. Quite a list. Anyway...
4. Clarissa Explains It All
Worldly-wise and whimsical, Clarissa is the Annie Hall of 10- to 12-year-olds.
WHY THEY'LL WATCH IT: ``This is where preteen girls set their fashion sense.'' -- David Bianculli, New York Post
WHAT THEY'LL GET FROM IT: ``She's strong, resourceful, but never intimidating. A great role model.'' -- Diana Huss Green, Parents' Choice
Not a bad review at all.
> America's 15 year old boys have a new heartthrob.
> And that's why 15 year old boys are in love with Clarissa Darling.
> --Cathernine Hinman, the Orlando Sentinel
> (according to Philip Chang)
Those are the first and last lines of the most positive newspaper article I've ever seen on CEIA.
The title of the article is ``Nickelodeon's got a new Darling for teen-age boys'' and was published in early July 1991. I've seen this article reprinted in the ``San Jose Mercury News'' and the ``Sacramento Bee'', so it has probably appeared in a number of regional papers.
Perhaps I'll type in the entire article when I've got some time since it is harder to find at the library than the NYTimes articles.
Just before Snick started, there was an article about it in the San Jose Mercury News. It had a line in that said, `The A.C Nielsen ratings research firm reports that nearly one-third of the audience for ``Clarissa Explains It All'' is 18 or older. The show, build around a teen-age girl, appeals to more boys, proportionately, than TV's hottest teen show, Fox's ``Beverly Hills, 90210.'' '
In the Nick News W/5 segment [...] MJH says the secret thing in the show is that Clarissa has locks on all her shoes. They were first on Melissa but then showed up on Clarissa. I've only seen the little locks on her various pairs of Doc Martens, but none of her other shoes. Has anyone seen them on her other shoes?
I saw the Nick News thing on Melissa and Clarissa today. Did you know that Melissa has freckles and Clarissa doesn't? They just white them out. It certainly makes her look younger. Melissa looks much older than Clarissa does.
There's an interesting article in Monday's Wall Street Journal; Nick is taking its research efforts online:
``The children, who aren't paid, can go online and chat informally with each other or with Nickelodeon researchers three afternoons a week. Sometimes, they post jokes on a bulletin board or contribute a sentence to a fantasy story started by one child. When Nickelodeon wants reaction to a new show or the magazine, it sends videos or a prototype to 20 kids and asks them to sign on to a special conference at a set time for one to two hours.'' (p. B2)
Incidently the magazine mentioned above is the ``Nickelodeon Magazine'', in beta test.
There's a little blurb in the April 12th issue of ``Broadcasting and Cable'' magazine. It says that Nickelodeon has renewed all four Snick shows for another season, so we'll be blessed with more Clarissa episodes.
The average ratings for the first quarter of 1993 for Snick are 1.6 million households. This is a ratings increase of 154% from what was being shown during the first quarter of 1992.
New episode for SNICK Saturday night, and it gets a plug on the ``This week for children'' page of TV Guide:
Clarissa Explains it All is an engaging prime-time episode Saturday on Nickelodeon. After years of taking the same old predictable vacation at the same old boring lakefront cabin, Clarissa and family decide a change of venue is in order. So this year they're Grand Canyon bound. That is, if they can get their acts together long enough to finalize their travel plans.
And to round out the weekend, Nick News W5 ran the 'Melissa explains' interview again Sunday night.
TV Guide has another magazine at a checkout stand near you: ``Parent's Guide to Children's Entertainment''. In the ``Rest (and Best) of Kidvision'' section (p.67) we read
Clarissa Explains It All
Melissa Joan Hart stars as a precocious teen who is this generations's female Dobie Gillis: She talks to the camera, has fun, and tries to cope with the insecurities of adolescence. Kid Appeal: Absolute. This is where preteen girls get fashion tips. Learning value: social lessions, but little else. And if Clarissa's parents were any dumber, they'd be pets. B+
(Some other B+ shows: Manic Mansion and MST3k; Nick News got an A. [...] )
Here's an article that I typed in from an old issue of the San Jose Mercury News. This has got to be the most positive article I've seen about CEIA.
Published in the July 9, 1991 issue of the San Jose Mercury News. Page 4F. Reprinted without permission.
Nickelodeon's got a New Darling for teen-age boys
By Catherine Hinman Orlando Sentinel
America's 15-year old boys have a new heartthrob. She's a gap-toothed, freckle faced, blue-eyed blond bombshell. She has a pet alligator named Elvis, a love-hate relationship with a little brother she calls ``Ferg-face'' and a quirky best friend named Sam. He's a boy but not a boyfriend.
The object of this adolescent desire is a girl named Clarissa Darling--the title character of the Nickelodeon series ``Clarissa Explains It All.'' She's 14; she's hip; and she's hot.
Since the series made its debut in April, it has become Nickelodeon's top-rated show. If fan mail is an accurate reading, the passion felt for Clarissa by 15 year old boys is surpassed only by that of 8-year old girls who dig not only her attitude but her funky leggings and layered tops.
You might call her an Annie Hall for the ``way cool'' generation. She's no paper-cutout kind of girl, and that creates tremendous empathy from her young audience, according to those involved with the show.
``She's not bad; she's not goody-goody; she's real'' says actress Elizabeth Hess, who plays Clarissa's mother Janet Darling.
``Clarissa'' wrapped production of its first 13-episode season two weeks ago at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando. Although a deal hasn't been struck for the show's renewal, the odds are certainly in its favor. Brown Johnson, Nickelodeon's vice president for production, says the show has managed remarkably good ratings even in a period in which the cable network must compete with the great outdoors for kids' attention.
``Clarissa's'' star, 15-year old Melissa Joan Hart, was recently featured in People magazine and Seventeen. Critics have found the show to be refreshing and intelligent standing out from the conventional sitcom fare found on network television. The show also represents an advancement in original programming for Nickelodeon, which has been working hard in the past two years to get beyond the goofy game shows that have become its trademark.
``Clarissa'' is basically a situation comedy about, the producers say, ``the only abnormal child of two perfectly normal parents.'' She alternately despises and protects her bothersome younger brother, Ferguson, and she tolerates her parents, who are caricatures of June and Ward Cleaver.
But ``Clarissa'' is more than a sitcom, says Mitchell Kriegman, the show's creator and producer. The story is told from Clarissa's point of view using an unusual mix of live action, computer animation and special effects. She talks to the TV audience at home. She has the ability to stop the action and roll it forward or backward at will.
Kriegman, a former video artist, is a writer and producer of varied experience. He has written short stories for the New Yorker and material for ``Saturday Nigh Live,'' the animated series ``Alf Tales'' and the Disney Channel series ``Mousterpiece Theater.''
``She is a participant, a narrator, and a confidant of the audience,'' says Kriegman. ``And it gives another dimension to her story.''
Central to carrying this off, of course was the casting. Nickelodeon auditioned hundreds of girls from New York to Los Angeles to Orlando. An in-your-face kind of actress would have been obnoxious to viewers, Kriegman says.
``Melissa was perfect,'' he says, ``because besides being an excellent actress who observes every little beat-- when you watch her, everything she does is precision. She has an idea for everything she does-- she also draws you in.''
``She lightens up the screen,'' he says.
Melissa, 15, lives in Sayville, Long Island, with her father, an entrepreneur, and her mother, who manages Melissa's show business career, as well as those of her four younger siblings. She began performing at age 4 and has appeared on ``Saturday Night Live,'', ``The Equalizer,'' a number of network movies and commercials. Last season, she made her off-Broadway debut in ``Beside Herself'' as the flashback young love of actor William Hurt.
While having fun in her job, Melissa also takes seriously her newfound responsibilities as a role model. She believes it is Clarissa's energy and openness that is so appealing to her fans.
``The No. 1 thing I think she's (Clarissa's) saying is `Don't give in to peer pressure and don't miss life' '' she says.
One of the show's underlying themes is indeed the power and pleasure of creativity. Clarissa's bedroom is nothing if not a personal statement. Above her bed is a picture of a pink Thunderbird and on her bedside table is a telephone covered with glued on buttons and knickknacks. She has painted a black checkerboard pattern over the floral wallpaper because it was too frilly and feminine.
But Clarissa is creative with her solutions as well as her style. In one episode, she faces off against a bully who is blackmailing her little brother. In another, she tries to figure out how to persuade her parents to allow her to take a job at a carnival. She tries everything from whining to being weird.
``This is a really active girl who solves things not by saying no, but by being creative'', says Johnson, Nickelodeon's vice president of production.
And that's why 15-year old boys are in love with Clarissa Darling.
I was reading an article about interactive television today by Charles Haddad from the Cox Newspapers. One of the things it talks about is the Soap Box, in which a video image of Clarissa asks you for your opinion on a topic. This thing must be very new, as I've never heard of it before. Has anyone seen this thing? I've enclosed the Clarissa related excerpt.
At Universal Studios in Orlando, home to Nickelodeon's creative shop, the network has a working interactive TV display in a kiosk that hundreds of children from around the world play with every day.
Called the Soap Box, the kiosk program works like this: A child enters, and turns it on by touching a button on a TV screen. A video image of Clarissa, a Nickelodeon character, comes to life and asks the child to give his or her view on a topic such as the environment. Children are taped as they talk. Viewers can play back and see themselves or other children talking.
The New York Times, August 25, 1991; ``The Melissa Inside Clarissa Explains It All for Us'':
``She says that girls who come to audition at Nickelodeon now all dress like Clarissa. Doesn't that miss the point about individuality? She shrugs. 'You just shouldn't worrry about what other peolple think,' she repeats.''
Here's a rundown of CEIA stuff from the first issue of Nickelodeon Magazine:
- That Dog and Cat made the cover but Clarissa isn't far behind -- a small pic on the 'Contents' page and a couple of larger ones as part of 'Clarissa Explains Car Trips to You', a two page article, starting on page 16. (One picture has her sitting on the hood of a yellow sports car and the other holding a toy police car.) More of which later...
- The Afraid? episode is called ``The Frozen Ghost'', listed for August (no precise date). The item says 'She'll be playing a brave babysitter named Daphne.'
- There's an interesting snippet about Jason Zimbler:
While taping Clarissa Explains it All, Jason Zimbler (Ferguson) and Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa) attend school in a trailer behind the soundstage. During the other half of the school year, Jason is just like any other kid going to school in his hometown. Except that Jason goes to an all-girls school. [Logic alert -- if Jason goes there...]
Jason used to go to the town high school in his home state of New Jersey, but the schedule didn't give him the flexibility to also film Clarissa in Orlando. Luckily, a family friend is assistant principal of an all-girls school that would allow Jason to be both an actor and a high school student. So, Jason is now the only male in his school--except for the chemistry teacher.
- Now Clarissa's article starts out
Here's the deal with car trips: Adults sit in front, arguing about exits and adding up the tolls. They change the radio station station the second a good song comes on and read all the signs out loud (``Hey, Janet, look at that one: 'Paul Bunyan's Bountiful Barbeque Buffet and Bowl!' ''). _Your_ turf is the backseat, with the pretzels, the puzzle books, the carsick siblings (Ferguson is as regular as Old Faithful--every time we hit a dip in the road, he spews). The point is, you're trapped. You have to rely on your parents to get you where you want to go, and it's up to them to decide when it's time to stop for burgers and souvenir spoons. In my never-ending search for the real lowdown on life, I've discovered that there are four basic kinds of drivers. To find out which kind _you're_ stuck with, take my handy quiz. [Which fills up the balance of the two pages.]
Anyway, I have a free trial subscription to ``Total TV'' magazine...
Found in the ``Wired'' blurbs section of the aforementioned rag is a story entitled ``TROUBLE BREWING?'':
``Explain THIS, Clarissa. Recently, New York-area residents viewing SNICK (Nickelodeon's family-targeted Saturday-night programming) were subject to several showings of a colorful, hip beverage ad. Coke, maybe? Gatorade, perhaps? Try Rolling Rock BEER. A call to a Nickelodeon rep elicited the following response: ``We never program alcohol ads. However, there are local ad spots available to cable companies. We ask that they be sensitive, but we have no control over them.'' ''
The article goes on to describe similar incidents and mentioned that it was probably a ``computer error'' that put the beer ads in children's programming.
There was a question about MJH in my local paper, in a syndicated column by Dick Kleiner.-------------------------------------------------------------- Q. Please tell me more about Melissa Joan Hart, who plays Clarissa on Nickelodeon. - A.K., Orange, Calif. A. Melissa Joan Hart -- her friends call her Half Pint -- is 17, still going to school. She comes from New York and began acting in commercials when she was 4. --------------------------------------------------------------There was a tiny picture of her, which I didn't even notice until I started typing this. She looks much older than Clarissa in the picture.
I didn't get a chance to see the paper this weekend, but my friend told me that the U.S.A.(or was it, Floridia?) Today had an article/interview with Melissa, and they mentioned that Nick is going to film 65 more episodes.
USA Today, August 13th, page 3D:
``Star Melissa Joan Hart Explains All About Clarissa''
Clarissa Darling, the darling of Nick at Nite [sic], starts her fourth season Saturday night with a kiss she can't explain.
_Clarissa Explains it All_ flirts with romance as the 15- or 16-year old character faces a new dilemma:
Will Sam the boy friend become Sam the boyfriend?
There's no dilemma for star Melissa Joan Hart, 17 and maturing fast. She'll shoot 65 episodes to keep the hit alive even if she ages out of the part.
``Clarissa knows what she wants but sometimes she gets confused about things. She's not a cardboard cut-out cheerleader. She's a real teen-ager,'' Hart says.
Just like Hart, despite a resume many adults would envy. She's played Broadway in _The Crucible_ and is the youngest member of New York's Circle Repertory Lab Company. Since age 4, she's logged dozens of commericals and TV guest spots.
Saturday, Hart plays a lead role in _Who's Afraid of the Dark_ [sic!], the last show in Nick at Night's [sigh] lineup.
But Clarissa -- spouting advice, dashing off lists and games on her bedroom computer, sweetly herding her hapless parents and smarty-pants Ferguson -- is Hart's star vehicle.
Eve Grossman White, age 7, is regular viewer of Clarissa and chatted with star Melissa Joan Hart about Clarissa and the new book, _Clarissa's All-in-One Perfect Complete Book of Everything Important (Grosset & Dunlap, $2.95) by Mitchell Kriegman and Mollie Fermaglich.
Q: What did you contribute to the Clarissa book?
Stuff in 'Words to Live By' that is signed 'Unknown'. A sampling: ``As I grow to understand life less and less, I learn to live more and more''. ``Embarassment is my least favorite emotion.''
Hart adds Shirley Temple to the list of ``All-time Cool Girls''. She collects memorabilia and, ``I watch a lot of Shirley Temple movies but I can't tap dance as well as she could.''
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
``I only get one day off a week. I try to sleep in and go to the movies and the beach and the pool.'' During winter months shooting at Universal Studios in Florida, her buddies come from the cast of _The Mickey Mouse Club_ and off-camera crew of Clarissa.
Q: Do you want to be an actress when you grow up?
``Yeah. Hopefully, I can work my schedule around college,'' says Hart, who's eying New York University. This year she's doing a Nickelodeon internship in TV and film production.
Q: What happens if you don't agree with your scriptwriters?
So far, no problem, she says. But Hart spoke up once about Clarissa's look. ``Once Ferguson stole Clarissa's diary and ...she had to go to a yatch club to get it. The producers and wardrobe decided she should go in fancy dress. But I didn't think Clarissa would dress up. She's not trying to impress anybody. She just wants her diary back. So we compromised on jeans and a fancy shirt.''
Clarissa always cuts up her jeans or ``paints tick-tack-toe signs on them or flowers or question marks. She likes to be different.''
[There's a small headshot photo of Melissa with the caption HART: The 'Clarissa' star is a big fan of Shirley Temple.]
See Alternate episode titles for help with an unofficial title or other episode reference you don't recognize.
jump to top of page
Current section: Info Archives / Mailing List / Digest
Previous page: Digest: Show info
[Info Archives] [Melissa] [Sabrina] [Clarissa] [Mailing List] [What's New?] [E-mail Me]