A documentary about the legendary ’90s TV psychic Miss Cleo is in the works.
Miss Cleo was a television staple back in the 90s and early 2000s. Even growing up in London, we knew of Miss Cleo and went out of our way to keep up with the “Jamaican” clairvoyant.
Miss Cleo was not Jamaican at all. In fact, Youree Dell Harris was born in Los Angeles. Harris worked as a spokeswoman for pay-per-call psychic service Psychic Readers Network from 1997 to 2003 under Cleo.
Her charismatic infomercials made her a household name along with her slogan, “Call me now!”
However, Miss Cleo and Psychic Readers Network were accused of running a scam during the height of her fame. They claimed callers would not be charged for their first call… but callers were charged anyway.
Following a legal battle, “PRN agreed to forgive $500 million in outstanding charges and paid $5 million in fines to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).”
“Claiming to be a shaman from Jamaica, Miss Cleo’s charisma and famous imperatives enabled the Psychic Readers Network, a pay-per-call service, to charge callers seeking answers over $1 billion for advice,” XTR noted. “But in 2002 it all came crashing down when the Federal Trade Commission accused the network and its owners of deceptive advertising, billing, and collection practices, bringing Miss Cleo’s reign as queen of clairvoyance to a dramatic end.”
“Let me tell you; I’m going to quote you a number from the FBI. They were pulling down—[using] my face, my talent—$24 million a month, for two years straight. For the first 30-minute infomercial I did for them, I made $1,750 for the two and a half days on set. I had a bad contract. But everybody else thought I had more money than God, and my response to that usually was, “Well, God is a poor son of a b—ch,” she insisted.
Sadly, Harris died of cancer in 2016, at the age of 53.
“Youree Harris may have been an accomplice or perhaps a victim in the Psychic Reader’s Network fraud but she also had talent and personality, which for women doesn’t always translate into access or wealth,” award-winning filmmaker Senain Kheshgi said in a statement. “Her story is an example of how brown and Black women have historically been marginalized and exotified in society and popular culture. The enduring image of the dark, mystical woman still continues to perpetuate this stereotype. As a woman of color and a director who wants to explore stories from diverse perspectives, I am moved by how Youree found a way to navigate her life on her own terms.”
According to Deadline, the documentary will be executive produced by XTR’s Bryn Mooser, Kathryn Everett, Justin Lacob, Abazar Khayami and India Wadsworth.
“In an era that is hooked by the branding power of unlikely moguls like the Kardashians, where people desperately seek out personality validation in apps like Co-Star and The Pattern, I’m excited to explore this maze of a 90’s cultural icon’s life,” said Wadsworth. “We couldn’t think of a better director than Senain to partner with to investigate the truth while exploring the journey of Miss Cleo’s many different lives.”