Remember Gary Coleman?
You know, the child actor who became famous as playing Arnold in the TV show “Diff’rent Strokes.”
No doubt you’ve been unable wondering whatever happened to him.
Well, if you live in Utah County, you don’t have to wonder. The local media has a Gary Coleman obsession.
For some unknown reason, Gary Coleman ended up moving to the small town of Santaquin, Utah. Ever since, he’s become Utah County’s celebrity.
He’s become Utah County’s ONLY celebrity.
That means every time the guy does something, you can count on a breathless article in the local paper about it. The article is then fed to the Salt Lake media market and is then passed on to the national media.
For example, approximately two weeks ago, Coleman apparently hit a man with a truck at a local bowling alley. According to the Salt Lake Tribune:
Coleman, 40, was backing out of a Payson bowling alley around midnight Friday when his truck hit another car and a pedestrian identified as Colt Reston, 24, [Payson Police Lt. Bill] Wright said.
Witnesses said Coleman became irritated after Reston photographed him. The two argued in the bowling alley and then moved outside, Wright said.
Reston was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident because neither Coleman nor Reston were cooperative at the scene, Wright said. Police didn't issue citations to either man.
Wright said there are "indications" that alcohol was a factor in the incident.
The next week we learn that Coleman was criminally charged and is now the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit filed by than man he hit.
Former actor Gary Coleman was criminally charged today in an incident that occurred 11 days ago in Payson; and the man who says he is the victim filed a lawsuit against Coleman this afternoon.
Reckless driving and disorderly conduct are the criminal charges against Coleman. It will be handled in Payson's justice court.
Coleman is also being sued by the man involved in the altercation, Colt Rushton, who is seeking damages for medical bills, pain and suffering and also wants punitive damages from Coleman. His attorney, Dustin Lance, says his client hasn't been able to work because of his injuries to his back and knees. The lawsuit names Gary Coleman, his wife, Shannon Price, and Paul Rohbock as defendants.
Lance said, "This wasn't a situation of paparazzi or stalker-razzi, this was a fan snapping two photographs with a cell phone."
Rushton, of Spanish Fork, alleges that the former star of the TV show "Diff'rent Strokes" became upset at him after he took photos at the bowling alley they were at in Payson on Sept. 6. Rushton says Coleman demanded $20 to take his picture, and when he tried taking another as they left the bowling alley, Coleman's wife and friend took away his cell phone.
If these were the only Gary Coleman stories that have local journalists, I’d just shrug. But over the last few years we’ve also been subjected to stories about:
• A fight with a girlfriend
• His role in an (awful) local B-movie
• His "suprise" marriage to someone nearly half his age
• He and his wife's subsequent appearance on Divorce Court.
There are other stories too. But why bore you with them. You all know who to use Google.
To be fair, Coleman appears to bring a lot of this unwanted attention on himself. That’s rather odd considering he apparently moved to Utah to get away from “the 'red carpet' scene in L.A. and all the paparazzi.”
Maybe one day the Osmond family will return and the Utah media can find more worthwhile celebrities to obsess about.
Until then, every time Gary Coleman walks out of his house, we’ll be subject to countless stories where he ate lunch, where he bowls on Friday nights, and what he buys at the local grocery store.
It’s enough to make you want to pack your bags and move to Houston.