News that Pee-wee's Playhouse is heading for the stage is a fantastic holiday gift. But this triumphant return to the stage – and possibly the silver screen – only begins to address the tragedy that was Pee-wee Herman's totally unnecessary departure.
If the warm reception Paul Reubens received during recent appearances on Jay Leno and The Tonight Show, as well the massive demand for tickets to his L.A. stage show are any indication, America is ready to embrace Reubens anew.
"I probably have become more infamous from two misdemeanors than probably anyone i could think of," the man behind the bowtie told Dateline in 2004.
Too true, old friend. Pee-wee was first chased off the public stage in 1991 when overzealous Florida cops found Reubens taking in a double-bill of Nancy Nurse and Turn up the Heat, allegedly expressing his enthusiasm for the films in a way other than clapping.
Twelve years later, cops in Los Angeles accused him of child pornography, charges that were ultimately dropped to misdemeanor obscenity, but resulted in him being required to register his address with the sheriff's office and forbade him from being in the company of a minor without their parents' permission.
Except for a brief appearance at the MTV Music Awards following his first arrest, Pee-wee was forced underground for more than a decade.
That such a great and unique talent was banished for so long simply for engaging in behavior that Americans enjoy in to the tune of more than $2.5 billion annually is absurd. His return is overdue as it is welcomed.
Here's hoping Reubens can stay out of trouble long enough to make the two movies he's been working on. In the past he's discussed The Pee-wee Herman Story, which he's described as a "Valley of the Dolls Pee-wee movie, because it's about fame and how it doesn't really agree with Pee-wee Herman." Additionally, his IMDB page promises that Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie is coming in 2011. Keep your fingers crossed.