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Clarissa Explains It All

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By Donald Lancon, Jr.

18 Aug 97

Note: This used to be part of ``The Clarissa FAQ''. I just recently made it a separate FAQ, but didn't add much new information. Don't be fooled by the date above... this FAQ has been in desperate need of some major updating since around Apr 96!

CEIA FAQ contents

1. What should I know before we get started?

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Purpose and scope of FAQ

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This is a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions file) for the TV show Clarissa Explains It All (CEIA), which starred Melissa Joan Hart (MJH).

There are other FAQs that contain in-depth information about Melissa and certain related topics:
The Melissa Joan Hart FAQ -- information about the actress
The Sabrina, the Teenage Witch FAQ -- information about the ABC series in which Melissa currently plays the title character
The Clarissa Mailing List FAQ -- information about the mailing list that is devoted to discussion of Melissa and related topics

Latest version of FAQ

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The latest version of this FAQ is the hypertext version at:

There's an older plain-text version at:

Note: If you're not using a web-browser, the above URL is interpreted in the following way:

  1. use an FTP program of some sort and connect to
  2. if necessary, enter the word ``anonymous'' for your name (or login-ID)
  3. enter your complete e-mail address as your password
  4. change to the directory pub/clarissa/guides
  5. get the file ceiafaq.txt.gz

(The .gz extension means that this is a GZIPped file. See the README file in the same directory for info about decoding GZIPped files.)

For more information about anonymous-FTP, see Zen and the Art of the Internet at:

If you are using a web-browser, just use the link provided (which actually uses HTTP to connect to the site -- don't worry if you don't understand what that means).

A note about the Internet Movie Database

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The Internet Movie Database is referred to many times in this FAQ, but the particular URL is almost never given, because you can easily search the IMDB yourself. The basic URL is:

This page lets you choose to use either the U.S. or the U.K. site. I think when you use the links to the IMDB provided in this FAQ, the site closest to you will automatically be determined. Could be wrong, though...

Completeness and accuracy of FAQ

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The main source of information I used in compiling this FAQ was archived ``clarissa'' list mail (or current list mail for the more recent info). When I say something like ``Adam Lieberman said on 8 Mar 93...'' or ``(Adam Lieberman, 8 Mar 93)'' I am referring to a message that Adam sent to the ``clarissa'' list on that date.

This FAQ is nowhere near complete, as you will soon discover. To collect information for the FAQ, I went through the old list mail and sorted the messages into files covering different topics. Then I excerpted the relevant portions of the messages and put them on my homepage as a ``list mail digest''. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to do this for all -- or even most -- of the list mail. This FAQ covers the list mail from 1992 and Jan-Aug 93 (although you will see some things from later mail). Later revisions will gradually bring it up to date.

To find out more about the mailing list, including how to subscribe and where to find old list mail, see:

I have tried to make this FAQ as correct as possible, but there are bound to be a few mistakes. I've already found and corrected a big one, in which I accidentally stated that they changed the opening titles sequence at the beginning of the second season. [The new opening debuted with ``Total TV'' (#126), the 13th episode of the second season!]

Please let me know if you find a mistake. (My e-mail address should be at the top and bottom of this document.)

New in this version

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When I split up The Clarissa FAQ into this FAQ and the three others mentioned above, I rewrote and reorganized some of question 1.

Other changes:

28 Oct 96
Changed some of the info in the ``Latest version of FAQ'' section of question 1.
5 Nov 96
Changed the links to Eric Last's web-site. Old name: New name:
9 Nov 96
Fixed a stupid HTML error.
3 Apr 97
Updated various URLs.
18 Aug 97
Changed some absolute URLs to pages at my site to relative ones. Also, reformatted this section (``New in this version'').

2. What is Clarissa Explains It All?

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Clarissa Explains It All is a show that originally aired on the U.S. cable channel Nickelodeon from Mar 91 to Oct 94. The show is still being shown in reruns in the U.S., U.K., and a few other countries. For information on airing times, see ``Worldwide airings of CEIA'' at:

Briefly, the show is about a teenage girl, Clarissa Darling (played by Melissa Joan Hart), and her family. She talks to the camera a lot, explaining everything that's going on in her life -- hence the title.

The other main characters are her younger brother, Ferguson (Jason Zimbler), an annoying little suck-up who does everything he can to make Clarissa look bad, especially in the early episodes; her father, Marshall (Joe O'Connor), an easy-going, self-employed, architect; her mother, Janet (Elizabeth Hess), a more high-strung, somewhat gullable, health-nut who works at the local Children's Museum; and her best friend, Sam (Sean O'Neal), who always enters Clarissa's second-story bedroom by way of a ladder. (Well, not always, but you'll have to get information on that somewhere else!)

Clarissa is a free-thinker -- independent, creative and intelligent. She likes to do her own thing -- and get her own way. On the whole she's a kind, sympathetic person, but she can be selfish, petty and downright mean at times, especially when Ferguson is involved.

For much of the series, her passion is driving -- or, more accurately, finding some way of getting around the fact that she's too young to drive. As Clarissa matures through the course of the series, however, this aspect of the character becomes relatively less important, while themes of romance, self-determination, social responsibility, and planning for the future become more dominant in the story lines. The last several episodes are largely concerned with establishing journalism as a future career for Clarissa, something touched on in various ways throughout the series. For more information, see ``The History of Clarissa's Career Plans'' at Bevis King's web-site:

3. How many shows were made in how many seasons?

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Besides the pilot, which was never aired, 65 shows were produced from Mar 91 to Dec 93.

There were four official seasons:

  1. Episodes 101-113: 13 shows produced 3/91-6/91 and shown 3/91-??/91.
  2. Episodes 114-130: 17 shows produced 1/92-6/92 and shown 2/92-10/92.
  3. Episodes 131-154: 24 shows produced 9/92-6/93 and shown 11/92-11/93.
  4. Episodes 155-165: 11 shows produced 9/93-12/93 and shown 11/93-10/94.

For more information on production dates and airdates, see my CEIA episode guide:

4. What was the ``pilot episode'' of CEIA?

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The pilot episode was taped in Nov 90, but was never aired. It was directed by Henry Irving. (I don't know anything else about this person.)

It was reportedly identical to the first aired episode, ``Revenge'' (#101), but with different actors in every role except Clarissa and Ferguson (``urien'', 3 Mar 94).

Nancy Youngblut, who later played Mrs. Cheesebrow (the guidance counselor from hell) in ``Misguidance Counselor'' (#123), was cast as Janet. According to the Internet Movie Database, Nancy Youngblut played ``Barbara Rice'' in the 1991 TV movie Absolute Strangers, which starred Henry Winkler, Patty Duke, and Richard Kiley, among others. She was also ``Dunleavy'' in the 1992 movie The Finishing Touch, starring Michael Nader and Shelley Hack.

Terry Layman was cast as Marshall. Again, according to the Internet Movie Database, Terry played a CIA agent in Spike Lee's 1992 film Malcolm X. (There are two ``CIA agent'' roles listed in the credits. Terry appears 81st in a cast of 293, apparently listed in order of ``importance'', so it was probably a speaking role.)

Although Sean O'Neal originally auditioned for the role of Ferguson (and, of course, ended up as Sam), he played neither role in the pilot. Daren E. Higgins took that role. (I know nothing else about this person.)

5. What's with all the changes to the set in the second season?

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This is a big topic. For now, just see my list mail digest page about this:

6. What's this I hear about an ``original'' opening title sequence?

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Sorry... once again, I haven't had time to write up something about this. For the time being, you can see frame-grabs from the original opening at either of the following FTP sites:

7. Where did the various character names come from?

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There has been some discussion on the mailing list about this, although it has mostly been limited to the names ``Sam'' and ``Clarissa''. The main theories that have been put forth are that they come from:

  1. the 18th-century novel Clarissa
  2. two characters in an episode of the TV show Remington Steele
  3. some other TV show(s), movie(s), or book(s)
  4. the actors' names (Sean->Sam, Melissa->Clarissa)

Jim Davis brought up the first theory when he said on 6 Apr 94:

It's a distinctly old-fashioned name. There's an 18th century novel by Samuel Richardson, called ``Clarissa'' -- there was a TV adaptation on PBS's Masterpiece Theater a couple of years ago. (Rather gruesome story, BTW.) Checking for `Clarissa' in our library's online catalog only turned up that, and something from 1899 called ``Clarissa's first party: a musical comediette for young ladies''!

As for the second theory, Philip Chang said on 14 Apr 94:

BTW, if people are searching for Clarissa name references, the tv program Remington Steele has a couple of them. There are a couple of episodes with a Clarissa who is a prostitute.

However, the more interesting Clarissa reference is the episode called ``Love Among The Steele'' which introduces an antique roadster called an Auburn into the series. It deals with the owners of the Auburn and some jewels which have been buried somewhere. Two of the main characters in the episode are a couple who's names are Clarissa and Sam.

Richard Fernandes said on 16 Apr 94:

Clarissa's name did not come from Remington Steele. Though very impressive! I have to let Mitchell know about that one.

Some other possibilities...

Gerald E. Peck said on 6 Apr 94:

Virginia Woolf also has a book with a main character whose name is Clarissa.

Steve Melisi said on 7 Apr 94:

and clarissa is the name of Jean Arthur's character in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Everyone calls her by her last name Saunders but Jimmy Stewart is determined to guess her first name and he goes through a long list of names until finally she breaks down and tells him ``It's Clarissa,'' to which he smiles and then goes back to calling her Saunders.

I said on 30 Jun 95: [entries after 1991 have been removed]

just for the record, I searched the Movie Database and came up with the following movie & TV characters named ``Clari*'':

Barbara Bel Geddes was ``Clarissa Winner'' in By Love Possessed (1961)
Joan Bennett was ``Lady Clarissa Pevensey'' in Disraeli (1929)
Sandahl Bergman was ``Clarissa'' in Body of Influence (1993)
Karen Black was ``Clarisse'' in Squeeze, The (1978)
Debby Boone was ``Clarissa Hope'' in Sins of the Past (1984) (TV)
Sarah Bork was ``Clarice Greenway'' in Love Crimes (1991)
Gail Brown was ``Clarice Hobson'' in ``Another World'' (1964)
Phyllis Calvert was ``Clarissa Richmond'' in Man in Grey, The (1943)
Carole Caplin was ``Clarissa'' in Accident (1967)
Marge Champion was ``Clarisse'' in Lovely to Look At (1952)
Julie Christie was ``Linda/Clarisse'' in Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Gladys Cooper was ``Clarissa Scott'' in Valley of Decision, The (1945)
Judy Cornwell was ``Clarine'' in Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1971)
Christine Delit was ``Clarissa'' in Juliette de Sade (1969)
Devin DeVasquez was ``Clarisa'' in Society (1989)
Arielle Dombasle was ``Clarisse'' in Well-Made Marriage, The (1981)
Ann Duggan was ``Clarisse'' in Devil at 4 O'Clock, The (1961)
Patricia Durham was ``Clarissa'' in Two Jakes, The (1990)
Sally Ellers was ``Claribel'' in Strike Me Pink (1936)
Mimsy Farmer was ``Claris Coleman'' in Spencer's Mountain (1963)
Jodie Foster was ``Clarice Starling'' in Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Lee Grant was ``Clarisse Ethridge'' in When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? (1979)
Ethel Griffies was ``Clarissa Van Steed'' in Saratoga Trunk (1945)
Melissa Joan Hart was ``Clarissa'' in ``Clarissa Explains It All'' (1991)
Miki Hood was ``Clarice'' in This'll Make You Whistle (1936)
Hilde Jennings was ``Clarissa'' in Dirnentragoedie (1927)
April Kent was ``Clarice'' in Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957)
Harriet E. MacGibbon was ``Mrs. Claridge'' in Fluffy (1965)
Harriet Medin was ``Clarice'' in Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Michele Mercier was ``Clarisse'' in Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
Ruth Miller was ``Clarissa'' in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
Liza Minnelli was ``Clarie'' in Lucky Lady (1975)
Laura Morante was ``Clarisse Lethuillier'' in Femme Fardee, La (1991)
Doris Packer was ``Clarie Armitage (1959-60)'' in ``Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The'' (1959)
Vanessa Redgrave was ``Clarissa'' in Charge of the Light Brigade, The (1968)
Linda Regan was ``Clarissa'' in Adventures of a Private Eye (1977)
Pascale Rivault was ``Clarisse De l'Esperance'' in Bete, La (1975)
Penelope Service was ``Clarissa'' in Frightened City, The (1961)
Masha Shorobogatov was ``Young Clarice'' in Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Jean Simmons was ``Clarissa Main'' in ``North and South II'' (1986) (mini)
Jean Simmons was ``Clarissa Main'' in ``North and South'' (1985) (mini)
Ione Skye was ``Clarissa'' in River's Edge (1986)
Elke Sommer was ``Clarissa'' in It's Not the Size That Counts (1974)
Dorottya Udvaros was ``Clarissa'' in Colonel Redl (1985)
Thais Valdes was ``Clarita'' in Demasiado Miedo a la Vida o Plaff (1988)
Virginia Vestoff was ``Clarice Sloan'' in Wedding, A (1978)
Ethel Wales was ``Clarissa Peters'' in Bar 20 Rides Again (1936)
Harriet Walter was ``Clarice'' in ``Rebecca'' (1978) (mini)
Saskia Wickham was ``Clarissa'' in ``Clarissa'' (1991) (mini)
Ruby Wilson was ``Clarice'' in Heart of Dixie (1989)
Nicola Wright was ``Clarita'' in Christabel (1989)
Loretta Young was ``Clarissa Standish'' in Key to the City (1950)

Later, on 30 Jun 95 and 2 Jul 95, I posted similar lists for ``Ferguson'' and ``Fergus*''. Below is the combined list, minus the entries after 1991.

John Agar was ``Dr. Clete Ferguson'' in Attack of the B-Movie Monster (1985) (V)
Don Alvarado was ``Roberto Ferguson'' in Rio Rita (1929)
Louis Armstrong was ``Willie Ferguson'' in Man Called Adam, A (1966)
Robert Armstrong was ``Gene Ferguson'' in Public Enemy's Wife (1936)
Irving Bacon was ``Ferguson'' in At Gunpoint (1955)
John (I) Beal was ``Paul Ferguson'' in I Am the Law (1938)
Ramon Bieri was ``Jack Ferguson'' in Honkers, The (1972)
Humphrey Bogart was ``Martin Ferguson'' in Enforcer, The (1951)
Lloyd Bridges was ``Senator Homer Ferguson'' in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
James Brown was ``Private Ferguson'' in Springfield Rifle (1952)
Jimmy Butler was ``Paul Ferguson'' in Boys' Town (1938)
Frank Cady was ``Ferguson'' in Let's Make It Legal (1951)
Jack Carson was ``Joe Ferguson'' in Male Animal, The (1942)
Kim Charney was ``Eddie Ferguson'' in At Gunpoint (1955)
Michael Cisney was ``Fred Ferguson'' in Undercover Man, The (1949)
Chris Claridge was ``Ferguson's Gang'' in Society (1989)
George Cleveland was ``Willie Ferguson'' in Johnny Come Lately (1943)
Joseph Crehan was ``Mr. Ferguson'' in Junior Army (1943)
Daniel Day-Lewis was ``Dr. Fergus O'Connell'' in Eversmile, New Jersey (1989)
Charles Denner was ``Fergus'' in Bride Wore Black, The (1967)
John Diehl was ``Ferguson'' in Ambush Murders, The (1982) (TV)
MacIntyre Dixon was ``Ferguson'' in Secret of My Success, The (1987)
Robert DoQui was ``Ferguson'' in Diplomatic Immunity (1991/I)
Noel Drayton was ``Fergus'' in Court Jester, The (1956)
Clifford Earl was ``Ferguson'' in Human Factor, The (1979)
Chris England was ``Fergus'' in Man Called Sarge, A (1990)
Clarence Felder was ``Dick Ferguson'' in Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)
Jon Finch was ``Mr. Ferguson'' in Death on the Nile (1978)
James Fox was ``Colonel Ferguson'' in Farewell to the King (1989)
Clark Gable was ``Dr. Ferguson'' in Men in White (1934)
James W. Gavin was ``Ferguson'' in Coogan's Bluff (1968)
Peter Gawthorne was ``Ferguson'' in His Lordship (1932)
Peter Gawthorne was ``Fergus Arkell'' in Last Adventurers, The (1937)
Will Geer was ``Ferguson'' in Executive Action (1973)
Charles Goldner was ``Captain Ferguson'' in Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948)
Cary Grant was ``Dr. Eugene Norland Ferguson'' in Crisis (1950)
Roger Gray was ``Sandy Ferguson'' in Barbary Coast (1935)
James Griffith was ``Ferguson'' in Eight Iron Men (1952)
Murray Hamilton was ``Fred Ferguson'' in If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)
Riley Hill was ``Junior Ferguson'' in When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? (1979)
Hal Holbrook was ``Sen. Johnny Fergus'' in Wild in the Streets (1968)
Don Hood was ``Ferguson'' in Obsession (1976)
Alex Hyde-White was ``Jim Ferguson'' in Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986)
Norman Kaye was ``Baldwin Ferguson'' in Where the Green Ants Dream (1984)
John Kelly was ``Ferguson'' in Poor Little Rich Girl (1936)
Mark Keyloun was ``Jeff Ferguson'' in Separate Vacations (1986)
Otto Kruger was ``Eugene Ferguson'' in I Am the Law (1938)
John Le Mesurier was ``Fergusson'' in Lady Is a Square, The (1959)
Edward Le Saint was ``General Ferguson'' in Oregon Trail, The (1936)
Herbert Lomas was ``Fergus'' in Ghost Goes West, The (1936)
Michael Margotta was ``Jimmy Fergus'' in Wild in the Streets (1968)
Al Matthews was ``Ferguson'' in Rough Cut (1980)
Bruce McGill was ``Brian Ferguson'' in Hand, The (1981)
David McKail was ``Ferguson'' in ``Five Red Herrings'' (1975) (mini)
Michael McKnight was ``Fergus'' in December Bride (1990)
Ben Meyerson was ``Ferguson'' in Society (1989)
Thomas Mitchell was ``Fergus Passmore'' in Craig's Wife (1936)
Dennis Morgan was ``Angus Ferguson'' in Three Cheers for the Irish (1940)
Tom Noonan was ``Ferguson'' in Wolfen (1981)
Dan O'Herlihy was ``Fergus Stephenson'' in Tamarind Seed, The (1974)
Bradley Page was ``Ferguson'' in Six of a Kind (1934)
Harrison Page was ``Ferguson Bruce'' in ``Love Thy Neighbor'' (1973)
Frank Pettingell was ``Ferguson'' in Term of Trial (1962)
Daniel Pommereulle was ``Fergus's friend'' in Bride Wore Black, The (1967)
Purnell Pratt was ``Hector Ferguson'' in Trespasser, The (1929)
John Qualen was ``Mr. Ferguson'' in Jackpot, The (1950)
John Rae was ``Ferguson'' in Great Gilbert and Sullivan, The (1953)
William Redfield was ``Sergeant Ferguson'' in Duel at Diablo (1966)
Robert Ridgely was ``Ferguson'' in Life Stinks (1991)
Edward G. Robinson was ``Arthur Ferguson Jones/`Killer' Mannion'' in Whole Town's Talking, The (1935)
Michael Schipper was ``Ferguson's Gang'' in Society (1989)
Dick Shawn was ``Lieutenant Ferguson'' in Love at First Bite (1979)
William Shirley was ``Private Ferguson'' in Three Little Sisters (1944)
Marc Singer was ``Paul Ferguson'' in Watchers II (1990)
Robert Sorenson was ``Ferguson'' in Arizona Heat (1988)
Bob Steele was ``Jeff Ferguson'' in Powdersmoke Range (1935)
James Stewart was ``John `Scottie' Ferguson'' in Vertigo (1958)
Nigel Stock was ``Ferguson'' in Russian Roulette (1975)
Philip Terry was ``Ferguson'' in Yellow Jack (1938)
William H. Tooker was ``Ferguson'' in Soup To Nuts (1930)
Martin Walker was ``Ferguson'' in Sanders of the River (1935)
Robert Warwick was ``Ferguson'' in Timber War (1936)
John Wayne was ``Duke Fergus'' in Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945)
James Whitmore was ``Dr. Sanford Ferguson'' in First Deadly Sin, The (1980)
Jason Zimbler was ``Ferguson Darling'' in ``Clarissa Explains It All'' (1991)

More recently, Kevin Mac Heffner said on 14 Jan 96:

Did anyone notice that in Bradbury's classic ``Farinheit 451'' the name of the dreaming, inspired young girl was Clarissa? Hmm...

Jason Jones followed-up on this on 16 Jan 96:

The young girl's name is Clarisse, not Clarissa, but I did find some similarities in character. Clarisse is a dreamer, a free thinker, a non-conformist who isn't afraid of what others think of her, just like Clarissa. And I wouldn't be surprised if Mitchell Kriegman was a fan of Bradbury's -- what, with all the Star Trek, parallel universe, `Lost in Space,' sci-fi references scattered through the show.

And what about the fourth theory? Adam Lieberman said on 6 Apr 94:

Of course, ``Clarissa'' is similar to ``Melissa,'' but we've read that they auditioned many people for the part, and they couldn't have the auditions without a name, could they?

Richard Fernandes apparently had the last word on the subject when he said (on 14 Apr 94):

P.S. Mitchell says Clarissa's name is a very dark secret, but was impressed with the thoughts you guys came up with..

See also the `` `Interview' with Mitchell Kriegman'' at my homepage:

8. What have the various cast members done besides CEIA?

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For information about Melissa Joan Hart's extra-Clarissular activities, see The Melissa Joan Hart FAQ.

According to the Internet Movie Database, one ``Joe O'Connor'' wrote the story and screenplay of the 1994 Irish movie Ailsa. However, I seriously doubt that this is the same person who played Marshall Darling!

Joe has definitely been in several commercials since CEIA ceased production, including ads for First Alert (?? -- can't find message now), Pop Secret popcorn (Dave Harris, 31 Dec 94), Total cereal (Jim Davis, 16 Jan 95), Correctol (Dave Harris, 31 Jan 95), K-Mart (Noel Alfonso, 27 Mar 95), and French's French Fried Onion Rings (Dave Harris, 4 Jul 95).

More recently, he appeared in an uncredited role as ``Knuckles'' in the 1996 Weinerville Election Special, which debuted on Sat, 17 Feb 96.

Elizabeth Hess (Janet) was reportedly on the soap opera Another World around Dec 95 or Jan 96. I said on 13 Feb 96:

Don Ferry sent me a message from someone on AOL (I think) saying:

] Hess, was on the Daytime show Another World.[...] Anyway, she played a
] minor role and only aired in one seen. She played Michael hudson's partial
] doctor girlfriend. I'm sorry I don't remember her name, because it didn't
] mean much to me until I realized it was her.{I do know it was in 95 though
] probablyinDecorJan}

I asked about this on the '' newsgroup and got the following response: (I don't know if he knew Elizabeth Hess or just recognized the character.)

] She played the role of Carol. Her and Michael went out a few times.

As for Sean O'Neal (Sam), Jim Davis said to the list on 14 Mar 93:

Sam's going to the movies! I saw an ad for `Cop and 1/2', starring Burt Reynolds as a cop with a small kid sidekick. Sam, err, Sean O'Neil, was one of the bullies giving the kid a hard time at school.

The entry for Cop & 1/2 (a 1993 movie directed by Henry Winkler) in the Internet Movie Database lists Sean Evan O'Neal as playing the role of ``McNally''.

Nicole Leach, who was Clarissa's friend Olivia DuPris in ``ESP R US'' (#141), ``Boy Thoughts'' (#145), ``Don't I Know You'' (#150) and ``The Cycle'' (#153), played ``Margaret'' in the 1990 movie Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, ``Baby Dee'' in the 1994 TV movie The Vernon Johns Story and ``Chris'' in the 1994 TV movie Summertime Switch.

Noel Alfonso said on 21 Jan 96:

If you want to see more of Nicole Leach, the actress who plays Olivia, she plays Jessi Ramsey in ``The Baby-sitters Club'' (TV series), Sundays at noon EST on the Disney Channel.

Heather MacRae, who was Clarissa's touchy-feely Aunt Mafalda in ``Haunted House'' (#106) and ``The Return of Mafalda'' (#118), has been in many films. Until I have time to write up this section, you'll just have to look up Heather MacRae in the Internet Movie Database.

Bob Noble, who was Dr. Festerspoon in ``Sick Days'' (#113) and ``The Flu'' (#140), has also been in many films. I'm not sure if ``Robert Noble'' is the same person, so until I can investigate further, see the pages for Bob Noble and Robert Noble at the Internet Movie Database.

9. What else can you tell me about the CEIA cast members? (biographical info)

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Mark L. Fendrick said on 17 Jan 95:

Jason Michael Zimbler was born on 7/27/77, the first of two children. (He has a younger sister - Judi) At the time of his birth, his parents were living in Far Rockaway (Queens, NY), and later moved to Canarsie (Brooklyn, NY) before moving to their present home in NJ. His first big break was when he was cast on the soap opera, The Edge of Night. This was his first acting job other than some inconsequential commercials. He remained on that sopa opera until it went off the air at which time he did what most unemployed actors do - commercials. He also did an After School Special entitled Buddies. His next big job came in the road company of Shenandoah, with Hal Linden. When that show came to Broadway for a limited run, Jason appeared with John Cullum - now of Northern Exposure. CEIA came shortly after that. Jason now attends Notre Dame where he is putting all of his efforts into his studies - non-acting related.

A week ago yesterday, while I was at Jason's house for his parent's 20th wedding anniversary, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Joe O'Conner (Marshall) for the first time. (He was aware of the mailing list - btw.) He is doing commercials now, as most are aware. He is originally from the SF Bay area (we were watching the SF game at the time I found this out), but since he has been in NYC for more than 12 years, he now consideres himself a New Yorker. He has lost some weight since CEIA, and looks quite slim right now. He seems to be quite comfortable with who he is at this point of his life, and is fun to be around.

10. Who is Mitchell Kriegman?

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He created CEIA and was executive producer of the series. He also was story editor and writer for some of the episodes.

According to Catherine Hinman in an article in the San Jose Mercury News (9 Jul 91, page 4F):

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 Night Live, the animated series Alf Tales and the Disney Channel series Mousterpiece Theater.

His name has also been sighted in the credits of Rocko's Modern Life (Jim Davis, 29 Sep 93), Ren & Stimpy (?? -- can't find the message now!), and Rugrats (me, 8 Dec 95) as story editor and/or writer.

He also co-wrote (with Mollie Fermaglich) the first Clarissa book, Clarissa's All-In-One Perfect Complete Book of Everything Important (Until I Change My Mind). See 13. What Clarissa-related merchandise is available? for more details.

Noel Alfonso said on 6 Feb 96:

I set a program on the VCR to record Flash Forward (the Disney Channel) when I was away. When I played the tape there were the end credits of the show prior to FF scrolling by. The ``executive producer'' and ``opening sequence created by'' credits were Mitchell K. The show was from 1983. It might have been ``Chip & Dale'', but I'm not sure. I didn't catch any part of the actual show.

Adam Lieberman said on 23 Sep 93:

A check for Mitchell Kreigman in the CUNY online catalog turns up exactly one reference:
Title:          Sugar, alcohol, & meat <sound recording> / Dial-A-Poem Poets.

Publisher:      New York : Giorno Poetry Systems, c1980.
Publisher no.:  GPS 018--GPS 019 Giorno Poetry Systems
Description:    2 sound discs (119 min.) : 33 1/3 rpm., stereo. ; 12 in.

Contents:       Peter Gordon (2:48) -- John Giorno (9:44) -- John Cage (6:00)-
                  -Tom Carey (4:09) -- Andrei Vosnesensky (5:55) -- Miguel
                  Pinero (7:40) -- Miguel Algarin (1:43) -- Mitchell Kreigman
                  (3:02) --  William S. Burroughs (8:15) --William S.
                  Burroughs, Jr. (5:15) -- Charlie Morrow (2:43) -- Ted
                  Berrigan ( :52) -- Charlotte Carter (1:33) -- Patti Smith
                  (6:07) -- Cliff Fyman ( :33) --Robin Messing (1:05) -- Paul
                  Violi (1:52) -- Bob Holman (2:58) -- Allen Ginsberg (4:00) -
                  - Anne Waldman (1:45) -- John Ashbery (4:43) -- Beth
                  Anderson (2:22) -- Rene Ricad (2:53) -- Barbara Barg (1:50)
                  -- Ned Sublette ( :50) --Kathy Acker (2:30) -- Eileen Myles
                  (3:22) -- Barbara Barg (1:45) -- Didi Susan Dubelyew ( :55)
                  -- Rochelle Kraut ( :37) -- Gary Snyder (3:36) -- Daiela
                  Gioseffi (5:07) -- Regina Beck ( :12) -- Bernard Heidseick
                  (3:25) -- Charles Bernstein (2:48) -- Steve McCaffery (3:12)
                  -- Ron Padgett ( :24)

Notes:          Giorno Poetry Systems: GPS018--GPS019.

Additional authors:
                Dial-A-Poem Poets.

Additional titles:
                Sugar, alcohol, and meat.
 LOCATION:              CALL NUMBER                STATUS:
 Brooklyn Audiovisual   PS615 .S84x 1980           Check Shelf
   - Audio

Subjects:       American poetry--20th century.
His name appears at the end of the third line of the ``contents.''

Finally, ``urien'' speculated on 28 Feb 94:

Mitchell Kriegman (the creator) may be working for the new Nickelodeon Pictures division to produce feature length children's movies.

See also the `` `Interview' with Mitchell Kriegman'' at my homepage:

11. Who is Rachel Sweet?

previous / next question

Rachel Sweet co-wrote the CEIA theme with Anthony Battaglia and Willa Bassen. She also sings it.

Despite her young age (around 32 in 1995), she has had quite a long career as a singer, producer and actress. What follows is a brief summary, based on a message to the list by Don Kramer on 24 Dec 94 (which, in turn, was based mainly on the liner notes of her ``Best Of'' album):

Rachel Sweet's career began at age 6 when she started singing commercial jingles for products such as Pepsi, Dole Pineapple, and Snak-Pak Pudding. She released her first album, Fool Around (1978), at age 15, then went on to release three more [Protect the Innocent (1980), ...And Then He Kissed Me (1981), and Blame It on Love (1982)] before disappearing for a while to complete a double-major in college.

John Waters brought her out of her early retirement to record the title songs to his movies Hairspray (1988) and Crybaby (1990). Rachel also played ``Cecelia'' in the 1989 movie Sing.

In the first few years of the 1990's, she co-wrote and performed the CEIA theme, had a show on the Comedy Channel called the The Sweet Life, appeared in episodes of Seinfeld and Dream On, and appeared on stage in Chicago starring in Theda Bara and the Frontier Rabbi.

Rhino Records put out the excellent Fool Around: The Best of Rachel Sweet in 1992. It contains all of her first album plus additional songs from other projects.

Rachel played ``Agnes'' in the 1993 TV movie Gypsy and a character whose name I don't know in the 1994 movie All Tied Up. She co-produced and co-wrote (with Anthony Battaglia) the Clarissa and the Straightjackets album This Is What `NA NA' Means in 1994, appeared in one episode of Dabney Coleman's latest series Madman of the People and had a recurring role as the wardrobe girl ``Sabine'' in the NBC show Hope and Gloria during the 1994-5 season.

For more information, see The Wildwood Saloon: The Rachel Sweet Homepage at:

12. What have the various other crew members done besides CEIA?

previous / next question

I haven't had time to work up a ``proper'' answer to this question, but for the time being I'll just quote three messages I sent to the list about this.

I said on 29 Nov 95:

I was scanning through Nick Jr today (I taped it to see if maybe I could catch the Jazzy Jewelry commercial) and I saw that a _lot_ of CEIA alums are now working on ``Gullah Gullah Island''. I think this has been said before on this list, but I've never seen an actual list of names.

So here are the names of CEIA people I saw in today's GGI credits. (I didn't record what they did on GGI -- maybe someone else can check this? -- but I'd guess most are probably the same as their jobs on CEIA.)

  Name (job title on CEIA)
  Steve Bunnell (utility)
  Michael Koegel (casting)
  Brown Johnson (executive producer / executive for Nickelodeon)
  Shawn Jorge (?? electrician - I have his name as Shawn/Sean Torge!)
  Ed Lopez (video tape)
  Joseph Prewitt (video)
  Frank Rohrer (audio)
  Michael Sherwood (assistant editor)
  Wayne Spoor (props)
  Don St. Mars (paintbox artist / graphics)
  Frank Vila (utility)
  Chuck Vinson (director)
  Jody Walker-Gordon (production assistant)
  Dick Weiss (lighting designer)
  Rich West (props)

Then I said on 2 Dec 95:

I saw _lots_ of ``CEIA-people'' (which I now realize are just ``Nick-people'') in the credits of various shows this morning. Here they are in approximately chronological order by show production date (as far as I can tell -- I don't really know).
  Name (job on "Show" / job on CEIA, if different)


"Salute Your Shorts" -- (C) ??
  Michael Koegel (casting)

"Wild and Crazy Kids" -- (C) 1991
  Karyn Finley Powell (script supervisor / offline editor)
  Michael Koegel (casting)

"Hey Dude" -- (C) ??
  Karyn Finley-Powell (Paltex editor / offline editor)
  Brown Johnson (exec. in charge of prod. / exec. for Nick)
  Michael Koegel (casting)
  Rich Ross (casting)

"Weinerville" -- (C) ??
  Jennifer van der Molen (casting)

"My Brother and Me" -- (C) 1994
  Kris Barnes (boom operator)
  Steve Bunnell (utility)
  Rudy Carames (cameras)
  Bob Van Dorn (cameras)
  Barbara Drago (cameras)
  Karyn Finley-Thompson [was Finley-Powell] (videotape editor / offline ed.)
  Bill Giglio (boom op. / utility & boom op.)
  Michael Koegel (casting)
  Ken Krause (cameras)
  Colleen LaBaff (hair)
  Joe Lallement (lead stagehand / (lead) stagehand)
  Sean Mallon (master electric / lighting board op. & electrician)
  Jerry Meibos (utilities / (boom) utility)
  Jennifer van der Molen (casting)
  Joseph Prewitt (video)
  Frank Rohrer (audio assist / audio)
  Michael Sherwood (videotape / asst. editor)
  Dave Sonnenberg (electrician)
  Judi Thomas (wardrobe supervisor)
  Darrin Tindall (electric / gaffer & (master) electrician)
  Ryan Tindall (stagehand)
  Shawn Torge (electrician)
  Jim Van Winkle (audio)
  Frank Vila (utilities / dolly grip & utitlity)

Finally, I said on 8 Dec 95:

"Legends of the Hidden Temple" (Darn, I forgot to record the year!)
  Kris Barnes (audio / audio, boom operator)
  Steve Bunnell (utility)
  Marjorie Cohn ("special thanks to" / executive for Nick)
  Albie Hecht ("special thanks to" / executive for Nick)
  Ken Kraus (camera)
  Jerry Meibos (utility / (boom) utility)
  Jennifer van der Molen (talent relations / casting)
  Coby Ann Pruzanski (unit manager / (post) production manager)
  Kasha Rafkin (booth P.A. / script supervisor)
  Herb Scannell ("special thanks to" / "special thanks to", exec for Nick)
  Jim Scurti (camera / associate director, camera)
  Mike Sherwood (videotape / assistant editor)
  Chris Silveira (production manager for Nick / unit manager, prod manager)
  Don St. Mars (graphics / paintbox artist, graphics)
  Darrin Tindall (electrician / (master) electrician, gaffer)
  Alex Robinson (electrician / electrician, lighting board director)
  Sean Torgue (electrician) -- the 4th way I've seen his name spelled!
  Jim Van Winkle (audio)
  Robert Zonfrelli (talent relations / production assistant)

  Mitchell Kriegman (story editor for Nick / creator, (executive) producer,
                                             story editor, writer)

13. What Clarissa-related merchandise is available?

previous / next question

Here are some things I know of:

For information about the Clarissa videos and CDs, see

at Bevis King's homepage.

Sony On-Line has a page about the ``Peter and the Wolf'' CD at

More info about the books will be coming later.

For information about the board game, see

at Eric Last's homepage. (By the way, I saw the board game in an Oct or Nov 95 Toys-R-Us catalog for $12.99.)

As for the t-shirt, it is described by Dave Harris as follows (22 Nov 94):

It is black with the St. Mars title graphic in the usual pink and blue; the title is surrounded by various squiggles, which are colours such as blue, green, and yellow. The back is a reflection about a vertical axis of the front. There is a spiky orange Nickelodeon logo on the front only.

This comes from Dave's transcript of Melissa's appearance on the British TV show Chroma Zone, which is available on Eric Last's homepage at:

Melissa provides on-screen help for Nickelodeon's Director's Lab CD-ROM. For a review, see

at Eric Last's homepage.

By the way, this CD-ROM was voted one of the Top 100 CD-ROMs of 1995 by PC Magazine. See:

The episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that Melissa was in is now available for purchase on a video called Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Ghostly Tales.

14. Why does ``Hero Worship'' (#146) look so bright and washed-out?

previous / next question

I said on the list (10 Sep 95):

If you were wondering why ``Hero Worship'' (#146) looked so bright and washed-out last Saturday, it looked the same the last time it was aired, in June. I guess it looks like that on the tape they use. [...] So when did ``Hero Worship'' start looking so terrible?

Noel Alfonso responded (11 Sep 95):

My copy of ``Hero Worship'' looks washed out too. I've always thought something was wrong with the cable that day. BTW, mine was recorded when it was on SNICK (sometime in summer 1994 (?)), not from the daily repeats.

Bevis King said (11 Sep 95):

That's interesting. Hero Worship was an episode that Nickelodeon UK kept missing out on for quite a while. I remember that when I spoke to them about it, they said that they'd had problems with the master and had had to get another copy sent over from the US for standards conversion.

The replacment copy was apparently OK. Maybe the dub sent to the UK originally was off the duff copy, and they noticed but the message didn't get back to Nickelodeon US to pull the current ``play'' copy and remaster it from the masters.

15. Why are there two versions of some of the episode titles?

previous / next question

Actually, there are many versions. Before anyone knew the official titles, people just made up their own titles. See my ``Alternate episode titles'' page at:

On 1 Mar 94, a CEIA editor who went by the name ``urien'' posted the official titles and episode numbers to the list. Since then, we (on the list) have been using these as the official titles. They're also used throughout my CEIA web-site:

Recently, however, it has been noticed that some of these titles differ from the titles used at Nickelodeon's AOL web-site.

I said on 19 Jan 96:

WELL... I've been looking through CEIA episode descriptions from Nick On-Line (on AOL) that a fellow list-member sent me. Some of them totally give away surprise endings and a few are just plain _wrong_!

But the most distressing thing to me, personally, is that some of the episode titles differ from what we have been using as the official titles -- as you may have noticed in Don Ferry's recent posts.


Here's a list of the differences with what we have been using since ``urien'' (an editor on CEIA) posted the titles to the list in early 1994:

###. Title according to Nick On-Line     Title according to "urien"
---- ----------------------------------  --------------------------
105. "Clarissa News Network"             "CNN"
110. "Clarissa Makes A Cake"             "Bake a Cake"
114. "Clarissa's Crush"                  "Crush"
116. "Sam Darling"                       "Sam.....Darling"
118. "The Return of Aunt Mafalda"        "The Return of Mafalda"
123. "The Misguidance Counselor"         "Misguidance Counselor"
125. "The New Look"                      "A New Look"
127. "Janet's Old Boyfriend"             "Janet's Boyfriend"
128. "Darling Wars"                      "The Darling Wars"
138. "Marshall's Parents Come to Visit"  "Marshall's Parents Visit"
141. "ESP R Us"                          "ESP R US"
143. "Roadtrip"                          "Road Trip"
150. "Don't I Know You?"                 "Don't I Know You"
155. "Editor in Chief"                   "Editor-In-Chief"
163. "U.F.O"                             "UFO"
165. "The Last Episode"                  "The Final Episode"
Granted, some of these differences are more significant than others... (BTW, except for #141, I haven't counted differences in capitalization -- e.g., ``Urge to Drive'' vs. ``Urge To Drive''.)

Anyway, someone should probably try to contact Nick about this. _I_ think some of the ``new'' titles are mistakes -- for example, ``U.F.O'' missing the last period and ``Roadtrip'' being one word.

I'm still waiting for word from Mitchell Kriegman about this.

(Note: I have removed two sentences in the above message that referred to the Los Angeles Times using the same episode titles as Nick On-Line. I was mistaken when I said this -- the LA Times did not give any episode titles in their CEIA descriptions. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.)

16. What happened to the Clarissa series (the ``CBS series'')?

previous / next question

Clarissa was to be a follow-up series on CBS dealing with Clarissa's life in New York, going to college and working for a newspaper.

We first found out about this from list-member Danny Z. Clark on 10 Nov 93 (from an article in USA Today):

Prime Time Bound: Viacom says it'll produce ``Clarissa'', a version of Nickelodeon's sitcom Clarissa Explains It All, for CBS's prime time. The show will expand upon the adventures of Clarissa (Melissa Joan Hart), the small-town girl who's growing up and moving to New York.

A Jun 94 article in Teen Beat magazine talked about the series -- see

on Eric Last's homepage.

The pilot was finally shot in Dec 94 (Richard Fernandes, 9 Dec 94).

In a surprise move, Nickelodeon finally aired the pilot, ``Clarissa, Now'' during the Big Help-A-Thon on 1 Oct 95. They replayed it during the regular CEIA time-slot on 15 Dec 95, the day after they showed ``The Final Episode'' (#165).

Nick U.K. has apparently aired it once, on 23 Dec 95 (Andrew Shaw, 31 Dec 95).

Apparently, neither CBS nor Nickelodeon has plans to produce the series.

For more information, see my page about ``Clarissa, Now'' at:

17. Where else can I get information about CEIA?

previous question

Sources of additional information about Clarissa Explains It All include:
My CEIA homepage. Lots of info about the individual episodes; contains this FAQ and an episode guide.
Bevis King's CEIA homepage. Contains Bevis's episode summaries, actor bios, Clarissa CD and video info, an interview with Melissa, Clarissa's career plans, Where do they live?, etc...
Eric Last's ``Clarissa/Melissa Info and Links'' page. Contains articles about CEIA and MJH, description of CEIA board game, audio clips from the show.
The ``clarissa'' archives. Contains ``clarissa'' list mail, CEIA guides, etc.
The ``melissa'' part of the archives. Contains thousands of Melissa-related images.
CEIA entry at Internet Movie Database.
CEIA entry at Ultimate TV List.
My ``Melissa Joan Hart sites around the net'' page.

This FAQ is Copyright (c) 1996-1997 by Donald Lancon, Jr. Permission is granted to copy and redistribute the information contained herein provided that this copyright notice is included and provided that it is not redistributed for financial gain. This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the author.

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