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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

In Hollywood, You Play It by the Looks

April 05, 1998|MIKE DOWNEY

An actress named Hunter Tylo won a $5-million verdict against Spelling Entertainment Group after she got fired from the hilarious TV comedy, I mean drama, "Melrose Place."

The verdict was upheld Wednesday by an L.A. Superior Court judge, who also told Spelling to pick up Tylo's $900,000 tab for lawyer fees.

Tylo was supposed to play a vixen.

Spelling didn't want a pregnant vixen.

Spelling had nothing against pregnant vixens in general. Pregnant vixens have rights, same as any other vixens. Spelling just didn't feel like having a pregnant vixen on "Melrose Place."

A pregnant vixen on "The Love Boat," no problem. I can see Doc and Gopher now, arguing over whether a passenger leaning over the rail is a pregnant vixen, or simply seasick.

But to have Heather Locklear catch her husband in bed with a pregnant vixen, Spelling wouldn't buy it. I guess Heather's rival shouldn't get caught in a cheap motel, knitting booties.

Anyhow, I'm reminded of an old Peter Cook and Dudley Moore bit.

Cook plays a producer, casting the role of "Tarzan."

Moore hops in on one leg.

Cook wonders if Moore understands that Tarzan is "traditionally a two-legged role."

Moore keeps hopping.

Cook says, "Your left leg, I like. I have nothing against your left leg. Unfortunately, neither have you."

*

I congratulate Hunter Tylo and her attorneys, Nathan Goldberg and Gloria Allred, on their success in court. A working woman mustn't be fired just because she gets pregnant, Goldberg explained.

Tylo is working steadily these days on a daytime drama, "The Bold and the Beautiful," on which I believe she plays the Bold.

As for the folks over at Spelling, they are still calling this "an outrageous verdict."

Tylo was hired for her appearance, the Spelling people insist, and then did something that would seriously alter her appearance.

"In Hollywood, appearance is everything," said Spelling's attorney, Paul Grossman.

Well, I know what he means.

That's why I believe there are a lot of anxious casting agents today all over town.

For example, at:

"Xena, Warrior Princess"

Let's say a woman is hired to play Xena, warrior princess. She is every bit as tough as that Hercules guy. She is strong, she is invincible. But over the summer, the actress hired to be Xena has gained 100 pounds. She can no longer fit into her costume. She can't see her sandals. Every time she tries to fight an eight-headed monster, she fatigues easily and can hardly hold up her sword.

The producers fire her.

But a judge says, "Weight shouldn't matter. This is discrimination. Put that fat Xena back on TV."

"E.R."

Let's say a guy is hired as a doctor. George Clooney is leaving the show, to go be Batman or whatever. A handsome new doctor takes his place. He is supposed to break hearts and fix them. But over the summer, the actor gets six tattoos on his face, inserts six nose rings, shaves his head and paints a snake on it.

The producers fire him.

But a judge says, "Appearance shouldn't matter. This is discrimination. Put that nose-ringed, snake-headed doctor back on TV."

"The Nanny"

Let's say a new show about a funny nanny is offered to Fran Drescher, an actress with a funny voice. The voice is what makes her unique. She isn't a pregnant vixen; she's a funny vixen. But over the summer, Drescher enrolls at the Henry Higgins School of Diction. She passes with flying colors and turns into Audrey bloody Hepburn.

The producers fire her.

But a judge says, "Speech shouldn't matter. This is discrimination. Put that unfunny nanny back on the air."

*

Look, I know actors get treated like cattle. You're too big, too small, too old, too young, too this, too that.

In a perfect world, Superman could be 5 foot 4 with a big butt, and all the "Baywatch" lifeguards could have varicose veins and zits.

I can see why Spelling intends to fight this. So far, though, it's Pregnant Vixen 2, Spelling 0.

Next time, my advice to Spelling is to just work around it.

I mean, when Vanna White got pregnant, it wasn't as if she blocked the letters.

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