Synopsis by Hal Erickson
At the age of 14, star wannabe Michael Essany launched a cable-access talk show from the living room of his parents' home in suburban Valparaiso, IN. Deliberately patterning his on-camera image after that of his idol Johnny Carson, Essany was by age 20 a nationwide celebrity, and his homegrown TV series was attracting genuine, gold-karat celebrities like Tom Cruise as guest stars, who worked for no compensation other than the pizza and doughnuts laid out in the kitchen by Essany's doting mother (his dad served as the series' cameraman and "talent coordinator" and also manned the machine which provided the canned laughter and applause). Undeniably brash and full of himself, Essany was also charming and likable -- and besides, he was a good son and an excellent student at Valparaiso University, so why not indulge his showbiz aspirations? Inevitably, The Michael Essany Show was picked up for commercial-cable exposure, beginning March 2, 2003, on the E! Entertainment network. Essany's first "national guest" was singer Kelly Rowland -- who managed to show up with entourage in tow despite getting lost in the wilds of Indiana suburbia.