“Barney and his friends”: gunshots, a contract with a privacy clause and more revelations in a new documentary

The purple dinosaur that marked an entire generation through the screens. The remembered children’s character Barney premiered his own series “Barney and his friends” in April 1992 through the PBS television network. From that moment, the series became a children’s favorite and began to be successful in different parts of the world; although his main audience was always in the United States.

Recently, new revelations have come to light around the cast that was part of the project. The documentary “I love you, you hate me” by Peacock delves into the subculture of the enemies of the purple dinosaur who put together a community to rebel against the message of kindness that the children’s program emanated .

A little of you history

The Barney character was created in 1987 by Sheryl Leach. This idea arose from the fact that his little son Patrick had already tired of the “Wee Sing Together” program and needed a new distraction.

Thus, he assembled a team to create a series of home videos that he called “Barney and the Backyard Gang” and were released in 1988. Later, Baby Bop, BJ, and Riff would appear, characters who would join the program. One day, the daughter of Public Broadcasting Service executive Larry Rifkin saw the video and was mesmerized by the purple dinosaur.

The small budget, but the great success it had among children, led to the proposal to bring Barney to television through the PBS network, debuting as “Barney and his friends” in 1992. Thus, the series became the network’s most-watched children’s program in the 1990s.

Each episode of “Barney and his friends” has a theme to be addressed for children, where the theme songs are the protagonists. Barney, along with Baby Bop, BJ, and Riff, are in charge of helping children discover more about the world.

A career in tantra

The documentary “I love you, you hate me”, available on the Peacock streaming platform, is divided into three parts and includes interviews and archive material unknown to the audience. Among one of those confessions is that of David Joyner, who embodied the purple dinosaur between 1991 and 2001.

One of the first rumors around the young man is that he had killed himself while wearing the costume of the child character. “My mom called me crying once,” he says in the documentary. “I was like, ‘Mom, what’s going on?’ And she was like, ‘Baby, I just heard you killed yourself!’” he added.

Also, Joyner denied that he had hidden drugs in his tail and that he had ingested these substances during scene changes. On the other hand, once he finished recording “Barney and his friends”, David chose to move to Los Angeles to choose other acting roles. Thus, he participated in series such as “That’s So Raven” and “The Young and the Restless”.

However, within the documentary, he also confirmed that he opened a tantric sex business. “I help goddesses reconnect with their sexual energy on a spiritual level,” explained Joyner, who was studying “white lotus” tantra before landing the role of Barney. He also explained that the show’s production asked him, by contract, not to talk about it while working for the TV show.

the other protagonists

But David Joyner wasn’t the only character on “Barney and Friends.” Within the cast were other little ones, who experienced difficult situations during their stay at school, due to harassment by their classmates with questions and uncomfortable statements.

“The kids called me ‘Barney’s lover.’ And they approached me and told me [que] Barney must have abused us or something. He understood it all the time, all the time. And it was painful, given my history of going through it. It hurt”, confessed Hope Cervantes, who played Tosha between 1992 and 1996, in the documentary “I love you, you hate me”. As a result she, by her account, turned to drugs and alcohol.

For her part, actress Leah Montes, who played Lucy between 1988 and 1992, said that “I didn’t want to be known as ‘the Barney girl’… so I got into bad habits (…) If you want to have a drink, yes , I’ll have a drink with you, or I’ll smoke… I’d rather be known for that.”

Another cast member, Rickey Carter, who played Derek between 1990 and 1995, confessed that life was very hard for him and he was even shot in the spine during an assault in 2004. “When I left Barney, the streets called me and I answered (…) It was a miracle (that he survived the shot)”, he assured.

constant threats

The team involved in “Barney and his friends” suffered attacks from various people. One of the victims was Bob Singelton, composer of the show’s theme song. During a radio interview, listeners called the station and said things like “I’d love to put my fingers around that guy’s neck.”

“I was surprised that they felt they wanted to physically harm me,” says the musician, who did not record his phone number. “I received the actual death and dismemberment emails from my family… It was a terrible moment,” he said in the documentary released by Peacock.

Meanwhile, Bob West, the voice of Barney between 1992 and 2000, reported that he received harmful emails, and the “big surprise” is that they came from high school students. “They were very explicit and very violent. One of them asked: ‘Are you the Barney I stabbed and shot outside of New Orleans? They kept saying they were going to find me and kill me,” he recounted.

destroyed a family

Although the success of “Barney” meant a great economic gain for the team by becoming the most watched children’s series of the 90s, it also meant the breakdown of the marriage of its creator Sheryl Leach with her husband Jim.

“Basically, the lawsuits made Barney just another joke, and after all the years of attacks, threats, and lawsuits against Barney, it really was like a slap in the face for Sheryl. She had spent so much time and energy building this character, and I think she was starting to get to her,” said Andrew Olsen, founder of Barney History Fans.

For his part, Wendt, a friend of Leach’s, commented that “the success of Barny it probably changed the family dynamic,” leading to the couple’s split in 1997. The following year, the creator decided to leave the show to spend more time with her son Patrick, who had been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and required surgery.

Sheryl and Jim’s divorce was only made official in 2001; shortly after, the ex-husband of the creator of “Barney” took his own life. “I talked about his heart going out to Sheryl and Patrick (…) It was beyond what anyone would think would happen,” revealed Sloan Coleman, Barney’s senior vice president of events.

More than ten years after this event, Sheryl Leach’s son would end up involved in a fateful event. In 2013, Patrick Leach, 27, broke into the property of his neighbor Erick Shanks – with whom he had a tense relationship – and shot him in the chest. The latter survived the attack at his home in Malibu.

Authorities gave chase to Leach in his vehicle and he was eventually arrested. During his arrest, they noticed that Patrick was wearing a bulletproof vest but did not object. Two years later, in 2015, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, after serving only five years of his sentence, he was released by the Governor of California, who commuted his sentence.

“When I first heard about the case, I wondered what led the son of the creator of someone who is supposed to be all love and no violence, to lead this person to shoot his neighbor,” said Brenda Lee, county prosecutor. of Los Angeles, in the documentary “I love you, I hate you”.

Lastly, Sloan Coleman said that Patrick was a kid “who grew up with basically everything he ever wanted, but there were a lot of hidden dark pasts that followed him.” “I think the fact that she created ‘Barney’ probably made them a lot of money. But there is a good and a bad with everything,” added Wendt, a family friend.


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“Barney and his friends”: gunshots, a contract with a privacy clause and more revelations in a new documentary