The Bad Guy Rarely Thinks He's the Bad Guy: Of Celebrity Enemies and Mea Culpas
film / tv / lists / guides / news / love / celeb / video / think pieces / staff / podcasts / web culture / politics / dc / snl / netflix / marvel / cbr

The Bad Guy Rarely Thinks He’s the Bad Guy: Of Celebrity Enemies and Mea Culpas

By Seth Freilich | Think Pieces | November 15, 2013 | Comments ()


This is a long one folks, but bear with me. I think it’s worth the journey.

You know who Adam Goldberg is, right? He was Chandler’s crazy roommate Eddie on Friends when Joey moved out:

He was in Saving Private Ryan:


He was The Hebrew Hammer:

And he is my life-long sworn celebrity enemy.

When I was a young lad, my folks forced me to go to Hebrew School to get ready for my bar mitzvah. And there was this kid in my Hebrew School class who I didn’t otherwise know, a kid who was a real asshole. His younger brother had been in a famous TV commercial a few years back and while he had nothing to do with that commercial, he talked about how he was going to move to L.A. and become a famous actor and blah blah blah. And that asshole was Adam Goldberg.

So my entire adult life, I’ve despised Adam Goldberg. Not just because he was a kid asshole, but because that kid asshole ended up being right. He did become a famous actor. Every time I’d see him in something, it would get under my skin just a little bit more. That hair. That nasally voice. That … that … that everything. God damn it and god damn him.

In fact, the only time I’ve actually been happy seeing him? This moment:

Still makes me giggle.

Anyway, for years I’ve told tale of my hatred of Adam Goldberg. I’ve told folks what an asshole he is. I don’t care that he was in Dazed and Confused or the wonderful, under-appreciated The Unusuals. That Adam Goldberg, he’s a right and proper asshole and don’t nobody forget it.

And then earlier this year, a new show premiered from Adam Goldberg, The Goldbergs. It was basically The Wonder Years only set in the ’80s and outside of Philly, just like where we grew up. I wanted to hate it. But damn it, the nostalgia roped me in hard and fast. It’s not the funniest show, but I kinda adore it. And I hate myself for this. Because fuck that guy.

Cut to this week’s The Station Agents podcast (you do listen to the podcast, right?):

Joanna: So the creator [of The Goldbergs] is Adam Goldberg and I thought it was Adam Goldberg as in The Hebrew Hammer and that’s why I wrote you that e-mail about it. I was like “why didn’t you tell me it was Adam Goldberg” and you were probably like “I dunno, because who’s that guy?”

Dustin: Well I literally looked it up six times to make sure it’s not that guy and every time it’s still not that guy. … Cause Seth has this, I think Seth went to high school or something with the Hebrew Hammer and hates him for some reason because he was a total dick to him at some point.

See? Toldja that I tell lots of people about how much I hate that fucking dick Adam Gold— wait a minute. Wait. The Goldbergs guy isn’t the Hebrew Hammer guy? So I don’t have to feel guilty about liking the show? Well that’s just fantastic. The universe is right again and all is well with the world.

Only, something begins to nag at me. Clearly, the Adam Goldberg of The Goldbergs grew up somewhere around me. His brother’s a Flyers fan, they drive into Philly, they shop at the King of Prussia mall. Could there be two Adam Goldbergs of the same age from the relative same area who are now both Hollywood successes? That seems highly unlikely.

To the internet!

Wherein I quickly learn that the Hebrew Hammer did not grow up in the suburbs of Philly. He grew up where I live now, lovely Santa Monica … and he’s six years older than me.

Well. Fuck. I’ve hated this Adam Goldberg for about two decades and he’s not the guy. So I’ve hated this dude for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. Worse yet, here I’ve been telling everyone I knew what an asshole that Adam Goldberg guy is. Yet I’m actually the asshole for casting aspersions on this guy who’s never done a goddamned thing to me. I am the one who sucks.

So let me publicly offer my deepest apologies to Adam Goldberg. Sir, should I ever bump into you in a bar here in the City of Angels, I shall do my best to act the part of an angel. Which is to say, the first beer’s on me.

And that’s that.

Only, something begins to nag at me. There’s this other Adam Goldberg who I assume, based on the show, is from the Philly area. So he must be the asshole Adam Goldberg I’ve been mistaking the Hebrew Hammer for for all these years.

To the internet!

And look at that. This guy. Adam F. Goldberg. He’s from Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, which is totally just outside of Philly. And. And.. He’s my age. The “F” is clearly for “fucking” and this is the Adam Fucking Goldberg who is my sworn celebrity enemy. Ok then, fuck this guy and … oh, but shit, that means I have to go back to feeling bad about liking The Goldbergs. Damn it, I thought the one good thing to come out of all this would be being guilt-free over the show.

Only, something begins to nag at me. Jenkintown is outside of Philly, but a different outside of Philly than my outside of Philly. I used to date a girl who lived there, and it was a good 40 minute drive. Why would his parents drive him so far to come to my Hebrew School? That makes no sense.

To the internet!

Wherein I need to find that damned cereal commercial and figure out how it ties together with this Adam Fucking Goldberg. Only, I don’t remember a damn thing about this commercial. Which means I’m going to have to spend an hour watching some of the worst 1980’s cereal commercials you can possibly imagine until — there it is. That weird Jimmy Durante puppet, I recognize it immediately:

Crispy Critters. “Indubitably.” That’s him. This kid:


This kid:


…he’s the heart of it all. Who is he? How can I determine that he’s Adam Fucking Goldberg’s younger brother, closing the loop on this sordid tale?

I can’t.

Because after diving further down the internet’s rabbit hole, I finally come to this interview with the star of the Crispy Critters commercial. And his name is … Rhett Creighton. Creighton. Not Goldberg.

Well. Fuck. I’ve hated this Adam F. Goldberg for about ten minutes and he’s not the guy. He’s not the indubitably kid’s brother. Et cetera, et cetera, I suck.

So let me publicly offer my deepest apologies to Adam F. Goldberg. You too, should we bump into each other, a beer on me.

Maybe I can figure out a way to sit down with both Adam Goldbergs. Buy ‘em each a beer, tell them my sordid tale and beg their forgiveness. Sure, they don’t know me. But it would be a good coda to this story , and they’re both story tellers so they should appreciate the art of a good ending. And that would be that.

Only, something begins to nag at me. What’s the deal with this Rhett Creighton? Why did I think he was the younger brother of any Adam Goldberg? What the hell is going on with this twenty-six year old memory of mine?

To the internet!

Wherein I learn that Rhett Creighton grew up in Havertown, Pennsylvania, which is totally just outside of Philly, and it’s the same outside of Philly as my outside of Philly. And he would’ve been seven or eight when I was in Hebrew School, so he fits into the story as the younger brother of a kid I went to Hebrew School with. But, I can’t find anything about his brother. If he has one. Damn it. I need closure.

Maybe I should just take all that Adam(s) Goldberg hate, and pour it Rhett’s way. After all, if he hadn’t have made that damn commercial, I’m sure none of this would’ve never happened. Plus, I mean, look at those eyes:


Only, in researching Rhett Creighton I find out that he’s a pretty good dude. Including that he was a physics major. I was a physics major. All physics majors are awesome people. That’s scientific fact.

Well. Fuck. I can’t even hate this dude. Again, I suck.

So let me publicly offer my deepest apologies to Rhett Creighton. I haven’t really wronged him, aside from disparaging his childhood eyes, but still. He lives in Austin so maybe at next year’s South by Southwest, beer. Not to apologize as much as just to talk about physics and the time he tried to set a world record for crawling.

And now. Finally. We come to the end. Memory is a helluva thing, ain’t it? The best I can figure it, I did go to Hebrew School with Indubitably’s older brother. Or, hell, maybe it was just a kid who knew Indubitably and was an asshole braggart about knowing a commercial star. And at some point around that same time, I must have somehow bumped into Adam F. Goldberg someplace. Probably when I was up visiting family in the Northeast, around his part of outside of Philly. And these two disparate snippets of memory somehow wound up percolating in my stupid little hormone-addled mind, probably getting unnecessarily riled up by the shortly thereafter death of my mother, mixing and mashing together until, in the mid ’90s, they coalesced into this unfounded but loathing disdain for the other Adam Goldberg. The one who wasn’t from Philly. The one who had just as much nothing to do with Crispy Critters as middle initial F. The one who was just a dude trying to make himself into a Hebrew Hammer.

Some villains know they’re the villains. But most do not, because they’re self-deluded, because they’re willfully blind, because they blame someone or everyone else, or maybe just because they don’t stick around long enough to reach an epiphany. But every once in a while, a bad guy can learn. He can see the error of his ways and turn things around. And so I put down my black hat and replace it with a white yarmulke. Now I shall walk down the path of light and besmirch the good name(s) Adam Goldberg no more.

…But I’m still going to giggle at that Saving Private Ryan scene. I’m only human.

The Next Stop on Tom Hiddleston's 'Please Love Me' Tour? Singing Karaoke in a Car | The Heart Squishiest Moment From Last Night's 'Parenthood'

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Dean Gorby

    It's very rare that the printed word can make me laugh out loud. This was one of the exceptions. Thank you for a hilarious story. Plus I have liked the Hebrew Hammer ever since that brilliant character on Friends, so I'm glad he's not an asshole (at least not that we know).

  • BizzyBzz

    I was going to be sad if we had to start hating Adam Goldberg because it turns out he's a total dick. I just saw him last night in the re-run of "Will and Grace" where he plays Will's ex-bully who ends up bullying Will at work and thought he was so damned hot.

  • Sydnea Newland

    There are more plot twists in this article than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

  • khaleesoy

    My key takeaway from this article. The amount of people named Adam Goldberg is too damn high.

  • Walt Jr

    It wasn't until the end, that I realized I wasn't reading a modern day Shakespearean play. Hebrew school sounds like a helluva mind fuck....

  • BlackRabbit

    All I took away from this was "Enemy" and "Bad Guy" and "Andy Dick."

  • Kate at June

    This is beautiful.

  • DarthCorleone

    I loved this.

  • ellcoolj

    When I saw a movie called "The Hebrew Hammer" advertised on the side of Manischewitz my Matzo ball mix I knew it was something I had to see. I was not let down.

    A few years later it was showing as part (and the best part... well the only part I went to) of Portland's Jewish Film Festival, complete with the director coming to speak. You know I was there and it was fantastic.

    Ever since then I have been a fan of Goldberg and am always pleasantly surprised to see him pop up in small roles... and I loved the Unusuals...

    I went, on MLK day 1998 to see this movie starting the younger brother from that GIlbert Grape Movie...Leo something... It was supposed to be a big blockbuster, I got shut out of the first 2 screenings and had to wait around for 2 hours until I could get into a show... of a stupid ship sinking slower on screen than in real life... Ever since then I have hated Leo for ruining my long weekend.

    And then I see him in something that he is great in (Djengo) and I'm like...damn, he can act... then I see him in some thing ok (Shutter Island...close but no) and I'm like "what a pretentious asshole.."

  • kirbyjay

    I was coerced into seeing Madonna back in the 80's. The concert was cancelled and I got my money back but did not get the $10 in handling fee ( or whatever it was) and I hold Madonna personally responsible. Whenever anyone mentions her, I say " bitch owes me 10 bucks". I will never forgive her, that and the underwear exposure, the crappy singing, marketing replacing talent, the faux British accent, being BFF's with Goop, handing her 16 year old daughter a business, and her general douchiness. But it all started with the 10 bucks.

  • Jamie Tye

    jeez, to laugh at that scene in Saving Private Ryan. That takes a special kind of hatred.

  • L.O.V.E.

    My high school girlfriend went on to date Mario Lopez from Saved By The Bell after we broke up and I went off to college. this was early 90's. he played no role in the breakup. but still, fuck that guy.

  • oilybohunk7

    I'm pretty sure he deserves your hatred.

  • apsutter

    I've heard a lot of bad shit about that guy being a major creep.

  • Universal Ash

    Beautiful! I'll be giggling about this for days. There's nothing funnier than misguided, self-righteous loathing.

  • pissants_doppelganger

    God, I feel like I'm offering a drink to someone I know is an alcoholic...

    Adam F. Goldberg and Rhett Creighton could be brothers who just had different last names (stepbrothers, half-brothers, etc.). Perhaps Goldberg's father married Creighton's mother after both children had already been born. And maybe mom thought little Rhett went to the best Hebrew school around, and convinced Mr. Goldberg to ship Adam 40 minutes across town just to attend.

    I'm just sayin', man, this ain't over.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I don't know how you can giggle at that scene in Private Ryan. The fact that it's Dickey Bennett there on the stairs, unwilling to act to save his friend only adds to my loathing of the Dickey Bennett on Justified.

    That, plus the curb stomping scene in American History X haunt me to this day.

  • Justin Kuhn

    That scene is horrifying. The scene that comes after it, where Tom Sizemore and the other dude throw their helmets at each other, fumble with their guns and shoot each other, is kind of funny, but also horrifying, in a different way--because it's a funny scene, but also so desperate.

  • I'm reminded of a Seinfeld joke re what racehorses must think when they reach the finish line: "That was the longest possible route to get where you wanted to be."

    I do thank you, Sir, for clearing the name of Santa Monica Adam, who is - to borrow from the great Miranda Kerr - "a being of light and love and [he] radiate[s] that to everyone [he] meet[s]."

  • BlackRabbit

    I used to work at a racetrack, and once in a while a horse would throw off his jockey and just take off. It always warmed my heart (as long as the jockey was ok. Tough folks, they were).

  • emmalita

    I've been to one horse race ever - a steeplechase event. One horse tossed his rider and raced through the course swerving around the jumps and looked like he/she was having the best damn time. I figured it would never get better, so I haven't gone again.

  • BlackRabbit

    And then there were the brave few who actually escaped the racetrack. I've no idea how long a racehorse could survive in the woods of PA, but I like to imagine them making their way down the coast to Chincoteague Island, there to live as gods among the ponies.

  • emmalita

    If they can make it to the Eastern Shore and then down to Chincoteague they deserve to be as gods.

  • L.O.V.E.

    This week in review:

    Dustin can't tell a hispanic from a caucasian
    Dustin doesn't know a Kiwi from an Aussie
    Seth - a Jew - thinks all Jews named Adam Goldberg look alike

    Am I missing something?

  • Buellie413

    A lot, I think.

  • L.O.V.E.

    You're right. I missed the sarcasm font. cheers.

  • emmalita

    Too be fair, you probably did miss a lot this week.

  • Sean Whaley

    Rhett was a couple of years older than me at MIT (his future wife lived across the hall from me). I wanted to post a video of the Junkyard Wars episode he was in ("Sand Yacht"), but can't find anything.

    It is super weird to find out that he grew up outside of Philly 12 years after I first met him.

  • That level of unreasonable hatred towards a faint memory of a person...I am in awe, sir.

  • kushiro -

    I know for a fact that there is a guy who grew up in a nearby town, whom I've never met nor had any contact with, even though we have friends in common, who hates me with the white hot fury of a supernova. And nobody knows why.

  • sjfromsj

    This post makes me pine to be back in the Philly suburbs (I grew up on the Jersey side but worked in Lower Merion for a year). I'm probably one of the very few freaks that prefers Philly to NYC.

  • DeaconG

    Havertown? Jenkintown? Now those bring back memories! I remember ripping through Havertown on West Chester Pike many a time, and remember going to Jenkintown Mall once as a wee lad (they had a Strawbridge and Clothier's store there). And living in Wynnefield you become quite familiar with Lower Merion township.

    I often pine to be back home in the Philly area (grew up in the city, SW Philly>Germantown>Wynnefield), until I remember why I left. Still missing my real deal hoagies and cheese steaks.

    Now my mom and younger brother are trying to get out of there and get to Florida where I am, so the next time I go home it's probably gonna be awhile...

  • sjfromsj


    I avoid "Philly" cheesesteaks (and really cheesesteaks in general) outside of the Greater Philadelphia Area.

  • kirbyjay

    But Philly Cheesesteaks use CHEESE WHIZ?????
    How......why.... sputter....

  • DeaconG

    Some places put it on the steak routinely, others you have to ask for it.

    Whatever floats yer boat.

  • DeaconG

    Oh God, don't get me started. When someone in Florida's idea of cheese steak is to take PRE-COOKED steak out of a container with tongs, slap some cheese on it and run it through a quick griller and say "Oh, people say are cheese steaks are JUST LIKE PHILLY", I reserve the tendency to scream back "IT'S AN ABOMINATION!"

    If it's not cooked from fresh sirloin WHILE I WAIT and the cheese slapped on it 30 seconds before it's scooped onto the bun, it ain't a cheesesteak. As far as Larry's has fallen (and if you were in Lower Merion you know where Larry's is), as far as Jim's Steaks at 62nd Street has crashed, they're LIGHT YEARS ahead of the mess they serve down here.

    Oh, pro tip: Pagano's. 76th and Ogontz. THAT'S a cheesesteak! (My brother turned me on to it during a visit home a few years ago. You won't finish it-it's two foot long!)

  • Buellie413

    Fellow freak! But I'm biased, I've lived here my whole life.

    NYC is fun, and instills a sense of "WHOA" in me, but I always coming running back.

  • sjfromsj

    Now that I am in the NYC area, where I always thought I would love, I want to come running back. Please love it a little extra for me in the interim.

  • Modernlove

    I'm a freak with you, then.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You're not alone. I'm not one of you, but I know plenty who are. To me, they are very different flavors, but I appreciate both for what they are.

  • bastich

    Excellent story, but I have to ask about one loose end:

    Did anyone ever find a way to kill that Crispy Critters abomination? That thing is horrifying.

  • PerpetualIntern

    That was quite the glass case of emotion you were stuck in.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    Darn it. I was all happy to hate along with you, because I've never been able to get past the snot-spewing character he played in The Prophecy, and now? I'll have to hate all by myself. Bummer.

  • Sweet Pizza

    You're looney tunes. But that was funny.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That made my day. And I remember that "indubitably delicious" commercial, though i'd never have been able to remember the cereal name. I'm ambivalent about Goldberg myself, but "2 Days in Paris" is a pretty great little movie.

  • lowercase_ryan
  • kirbyjay

    Thank Gawd!! Cuz I ,somewhat strangely, covet THE ADAM GOLDBERG, of The Unusuals, and Friends, and Saving Private Ryan and I didn't want to have to fake denounce my love for him to be Pajiba Correct. Seriously, is there a creepier, funnier character in the whole world of television than Eddie in Friends?
    and I really have to start watching The Goldbergs.

  • pinkerton80

    You are a complicated man, Seth Freilich.

  • You don't know the half of it

  • So, just to recap:

    - You're buying a lot of beer
    - Your memory is shot (at only 26)
    - You can enjoy The Goldbergs
    - The Hebrew Hammer now has every reason to come after you
    - The Internet doesn't have the answer to everything

  • kushiro -

    If he remembers a commercial from when he was a kid in the '80s and he's only 26, then that means I am also still in my twenties!

    I like your kind of math, Fredo.

  • I'm as old as I remember.

    Which is why I'm only 6 and need a guardian's permission to get on the Internet.

  • JoannaRobinson


  • AngelenoEwok

    For a sec I was like DANG Seth is young!

  • AudioSuede

    If it makes you feel any better, I've got grudges against people I haven't seen in twelve years, and if any of them ever became moderately famous, I'd probably stalk them and make their lives miserable for sport.

    So, you're not alone.

  • emmalita

    Oh, oh! I just trashed talked a guy who was mean to my best friend 18 years ago. I can hold a grudge.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I still have a grudge against a certain girl who was mean to me in 6th grade. I have been told on multiple occasions that she's a lovely woman, but I don't buy it.

  • Naye

    Im ashamed to admit it but I know all there is to know about my mortal enemy and if she pushes me I will use all of my powers against her. And my grudge is very deserved, and very real, hmmph

  • AudioSuede

    I actually know a guy I went to college with who's such a universally despised toolbag amongst my friends who worked with him that some of us have a secret pact that if he ever gets a big job somewhere or becomes too high and mighty, we're going to send letters to his employers with all the dirt we have on him. It's petty and cruel and hateful and so, so satisfying to think about.

  • Ted Zancha

    Well this was hilarious.
    Thank you for a great read.

  • Modernlove

    It throws me reading about Havertown in any kind of article. I never expect people to know about it. I feel you on the irrational hatred, though, man. Sometimes it just happens.

  • Aaron Schulz

    that was a roller coaster my friend. thank you for sharing.

blog comments powered by Disqus