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John C. McGinley Talks About The Most Fulfilling And Challenging Role In His Life: Being A Father to Max

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October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time to educate and advocate as well as celebrate those individuals with Down Syndrome. I had a chance to speak with John C. McGinley today about one of the most challenging yet rewarding roles in his life.

It isn’t Dr. Cox from Scrubs or Stanley Miller from his new horror comedy series Stan Against Evil. This particular role was one that hit close to home, the father of a very special young man named Max.

That’s My Entertainment: Let’s go over the story of Max. When you first discovered that diagnosis, what were your original thoughts?

John C McGinley: I had no idea what Down Syndrome was, certainly not clinically. Emotionally…I didn’t know anything. We went to the hospital…the clear diagnosis from the blood protein and the sonogram was that this was going to be a beautiful little girl. We did not have the amino because we were discouraged from having the amino because Max’s mom (Lauren Lambert) was very healthy and I was healthy and there was no history of challenges in either one of our families, and so it was all supposed to be a Norman Rockwell painting and then Max came out, he was not a girl and his twenty-first chromosome had tripled so it was the equivalent of being smashed over the head with a cosmic hammer and the disorientation of it all.

The first person in the room as Max was in the neonatal intensive care unit was a representative of the state of California who said “the state would be more than willing to take charge of this individual if that’s what we wanted.” And I kicked him out of the room. I still don’t know what he was talking about never had the spine to look into it. Then you kind of bury your head in the sand for a while.

There is a trajectory that involved a woe is me component and sooner or later you get your head out of the sand and you see this little kid looking up at you and his need for help and intervention transcends any other pity party that you might invite yourself to and you start to get involved. You start to get second and third and fourth opinions from a medical community that would largely advocate for over medicating that population.

TME: One of the things you talked about in your 2014 interview on Hallmark’s Home and Family about raising a child with special needs is Integrated parenting and an integrated family. Can you tell me a little more about that concept?

JCM: I found that the parenting trap there is to lean into one side or the other. Billie Grace and Kate are the politically correct term is typical kids and Max has Challenged. To lean too hard into accommodating Max’s challenges and compromising Billie Grace and Kate is tricky and then to lean too hard into the Billie Grace and Kate capacity to learn and leave Max behind is a trap. So there is a sweet spot in the middle there that you can only find when you are in it. There is no guide; You can only find it when you are in it.
This is something that you did through trial and error? Did you have had from medical professionals? How did you discover this?

I would say between Max’s mom who is a phenomenal advocate, my sensibilities and connections to the medical communities, and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, mixed with Nicole’s influence; that’s a lot of incredibly clear thinking, an objective adult intervention that if you can assimilate all that input you have a chance.
In raising a typical teen/young adult there are social issues that can arise in their development. What were some of the social challenges you had raising a teen/young adult with down syndrome?

The hardest thing to wrap your head around and the three dirty little secrets of overall with down syndrome is that its hard as a teen going forward to have age-appropriate friends. I can’t be a hypocrite on this. I didn’t have any friends who were born with Down Syndrome when I was 16 or 17 years old. It’s heartbreaking and it’s very hard to see this community largely left to fend for themselves largely in a friendship trajectory and so you rely on family, a lot. Max depends on Billie Grace, Kate Max’s mom, and Nicole. You have to generate friendship and that’s a really hard one to swallow because you certainly can’t force a teenager to be your son’s friend, nor would you want to but that one is a really hard man.

TME:  Do you feel now that Max is 21 and do present-day medical care and medical professionals better equipped to care for individuals with special needs, specifically down syndrome?

JCM: No. Certainly not. Not unless you have the web of resources to get a second, third and sometimes fourth opinion until you arrive at a caregiver in the medical community who is at least peripherally versed in how to treat someone who’s 21st chromosome has tripled. Since that is such a low priority in any medical program, it’s on the parents or on the caregiver’s shoulders to find someone who is appropriate for their son or daughter. It’s really hard and it’s profoundly disturbing.

John involved himself with an organization that is to significantly improve the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education, and advocacy. This organization was led by CEO and founder Michelle Sie Whitten who also has a child with Down Syndrome. John recalled how he got involved and became one of the members of the board.

TME: Tell us about your history with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

JCM: The groups I had been with have largely been Kumbayaa let’s hold hands and make pamphlets. I wanted to be more proactive and more aggressive. I saw my friends who were working with aids advocates and breast cancer advocates and wondered why aren’t we doing something like this.
Michelle Sie Whitten and I met, and told me “we have all four lobbyists on staff in Washington D.C., and we’re building a wing down at Children’s Hospital in Denver in the Linda Cyrnic institute as well as the Sie Center for Down Syndrome.
We’re a researched and medical based organization who just want to improve the people with Down syndrome lives through research and medicine.” Then I was in. I wanted to be with people who are aggressively attacking how to make these people’s lives better and that is what happens at Global.

TME: Global also does a be beautiful be you a fashion show that you just came back from. Tell me a little bit about that.

JCM: It is a now a five-year tradition with my family. It is the single biggest fundraiser for people with down syndrome and down syndrome research on the whole planet. And everything that could have possibly gone right this year did. At these type of events, it’s a had thing to authentically say. From Jamie Foxx to Colin Farrell and some of the other celebrities that we were lucky enough to have joined us, and the lineup of models all of whom are people born with down syndrome, it was one of the great nights of my life.

TME:  Where did the Spread the Word to End the R-Word Movement originate?

JCM:  It started almost ten years ago now, Tim Shriver invited me up to the Special Olympics World Winter Games hosted in Boise Idaho and I went to events and then Tim invited me to a youth leadership activation conference which is a component of every world games.

In this Youth Leadership Activation conference, there are about 200 of the athletes were also self-advocates. It was a whole nother concept I had to wrap my head around in a copious way. All these self-advocates in this auditorium and they tabled different ideas and different conflicts that were impacting them all around the world. And to a person from South Africa to England, to Australia, the kids from South America… a lot of the athletes said they were fed up with the word retard/retarded.

And we started to craft this campaign and then the athletes shaped it and we made it viral and all of a sudden it became a movement. Understand it’s baby steps. The r-word retard and retarded are used as much today as ever. And so it’s baby steps for us, but we feel we are moving in the right direction.

 TME: People feel awkward when they have to interact with someone with special needs. Whether it’s their parents or the individual themselves. As a parent how would you suggest an individual approach you or individuals with intellectual disabilities?

JCM: There is no real pragmatic answer to that. I would approach them with kindness and compassion. Try not to put them on the spot.

That’s how I approach people with the r-word because if you tell people how to talk their emotion and spiritual fists are gonna go up and so I invite people and just ask people if there isn’t a better way to say what they just said. For example, if someone says “… the party was retarded” and they say “what?” and I just say “you just said the party was retarded”. And they say, “Oh I didn’t mean anything by it” and you just say.” Well, that’s really offensive to us.” Now all of a sudden we are having a conversation. It’s born out of the entre into..” isn’t there a better way to say that?” Then the person invariably says what? They will never say F-you. And I just find that in engaging in dialogue especially when you want to shape language which people are entitled to use any way they want unless they say a fire in a movie theater. When it comes to people using the r-word the fact of the matter is that they are liberally allowed to use it, so you gotta meet people halfway on that one.

John is an international spokesperson and board member of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation as well as for the Special Olympics and the End the Word movement. Currently, he stars as the reluctantly retired sheriff of Willard’s Mill on IFC’s horror comedy Stan Against Evil premiering on October 31st 10 pm E/P.

You can follow him on twitter @JohnCMcGinley

There are many more questions that were left unanswered but there is a lot of information available on the organization he mentioned for those parents and caretakers who are seeking more information on what options are available for people with Down Syndrome for care, education as well as support groups that are available all over the world. There are even downloadable .pdfs in multiple language formats for educational purposes.

Global Down Syndrome Foundation: https://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/

Twitter @GDSFoundation

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/GDSFoundation/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/globaldownsyndrome

For those wanting to get involved and participate to create communities of inclusion, there are two sites, the Special Olympics as well as the Spread the word to end the word site listed below.  Both are great informational resources.

Special Olympics: https://www.specialolympics.org/

Twitter:@SpecialOlympics

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/SpecialOlympics/

Spread the Word to End The Word:

Twitter @Endtheword

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/EndtheWord/

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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Netflix’s Upcoming Thriller ‘Trigger Warning’ Promises Action-Packed Intrigue”

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Get ready to buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled ride as Netflix prepares to drop its latest original thriller, “Trigger Warning,” on June 21, 2024. Directed by Mouly Surya and boasting an all-star cast, including Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Tone Bell, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso, Anthony Michael Hall, Kaiwi Lyman, and Hari Dhillon, this film is set to keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The plot centers around Special Forces commando Parker, portrayed by the talented Jessica Alba. Parker’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives the heartbreaking news of her father’s sudden passing, prompting her to return to her hometown. As she steps into her new role as the owner of the family bar, Parker quickly realizes that there’s more to her father’s death than meets the eye.

Reconnecting with figures from her past, including her former flame turned sheriff, Jesse (Mark Webber), and his volatile brother, Elvis (Jake Weary), Parker finds herself embroiled in a dangerous web of deceit and violence. With the influential Senator Swann (Anthony Michael Hall) casting a shadow over the town, Parker must navigate treacherous waters to uncover the truth about her father’s demise.

As tensions rise and alliances shift, Parker taps into her elite commando training, determined to unravel the mysteries plaguing Swann County. Assisted by her covert ops partner and hacker, Spider (Tone Bell), and the enigmatic local dealer, Mike (Gabriel Basso), Parker embarks on a perilous journey filled with twists and turns.

Penned by John Brancato & Josh Olson and Halley Gross, “Trigger Warning” promises to deliver a gripping narrative packed with action, suspense, and unexpected revelations. With a powerhouse cast bringing the characters to life and a talented creative team behind the scenes, this Netflix original is primed to captivate audiences worldwide.

Produced by Erica Lee, Basil Iwanyk, and Esther Hornstein, “Trigger Warning” offers a thrilling glimpse into the murky depths of small-town politics and criminal underworlds. With its pulse-pounding action sequences and compelling storyline, this film is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Mark your calendars for June 21, 2024, as “Trigger Warning” arrives on Netflix, ready to ignite your senses and keep you guessing until the credits roll. Don’t miss out on this adrenaline-charged cinematic experience that promises to be the ultimate summer blockbuster.

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