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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

Hypocrisy Is Just Another Word for Hollywood Profit

March 22, 2000|MIKE DOWNEY

A big protest was held Tuesday outside the Paramount Pictures studio lot. It had to do with a certain radio personality--a woman I like to think of as Dr. Screwy Loosinger.

Dr. Screwy's followers won't appreciate my calling her this, but since they believe in "freedom of speech," I sure am happy they will support my right to do so.

After all, that's what the radio star's fans are saying--that their hero, Dr. Screwy, can call gays and lesbians "deviant" and "biological errors" on her nationally syndicated program because she is entitled to free speech.

Of course, if Dr. Screwy ever insulted their way of life (or race or religion) on the air, they might want her speech to be a teensy bit less free.

A couple hundred protesters who don't much care for Dr. Screwy's opinions showed up Tuesday morning on Melrose Avenue, so they could visibly demonstrate against Paramount's plans to back the doctor's new, nationally syndicated TV talk show this fall.

These people are appalled over Paramount's--if you'll pardon the expression--getting into bed with her.

Dr. Screwy is being rewarded for the very kind of comments that Paramount might fire or demote another employee for making.

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It's like when that baseball pitcher, John Rocker, got suspended by the league for making offensive remarks about foreigners, gays, etc., etc.

The question was not just:

"Shouldn't he have free speech?"

The question was:

"Do you really want this guy working for you?"

Rocker's team, the Atlanta Braves, did indeed keep the fool on the hill. But don't forget, this is a team that encourages its fans to wear feathers on their heads and do fake Indian chants while holding a foam-rubber tomahawk.

If a prospective Paramount employee filled out a job application and said oh, by the way, I think I should tell you that I believe gays and lesbians are deviants and biological errors, would a Paramount executive really say, "Great, can you start on Monday?"

Dr. Screwy is a popular radio personality, sure. You could call her the queen of the airwaves, if she wouldn't be insulted by that.

Her program might turn out to be a big, fat hit for Paramount. I definitely think Screwy could be as big as Rosie or Regis.

But as one of the protesters put it Tuesday, is this what Paramount is willing to do to get a hit show--"profit by prejudice?"

If that baseball pitcher should go off his rocker again and get kicked out of the sport permanently, is that what we could expect from Paramount next--a whole hour of Dr. Screwy and Mr. Screwball, back to back?

Can the ever-popular "Mark Fuhrman Show" be far behind?

I know, I know, Dr. Screwy believes in family values. Just as long as they're her kind of family.

"Shame, shame, shame," protesters outside the Paramount gate chanted, working on the shame gang.

Among them was Gloria Allred, the well-known L.A. lawyer who is getting a new syndicated TV program this fall herself. Allred called it "shameful" that someone with these kinds of prejudices against a person's sexual orientation would be permitted to "enjoy the privilege" of being given a nationwide forum.

(A new show called "Power of Attorney" will feature actual lawyers like Allred in court, much as other shows have featured actual judges and actual defendants. If you try testing the limits of "freedom of speech" on these shows, you could end up getting fined for contempt of court.)

Dr. Screwy has been in the news before this, of course.

She's the one who preached family values to her listeners, reproaching many for their naughty ways. That was just before somebody made public the photographs Dr. Screwy once posed for, the ones in which apparel was not apparent.

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Much like that baseball guy, who's oh so sorry now, Dr. Screwy Loosinger apparently feels she's just a hit who made an error. She has been quoted as saying that she regrets some of the words she used, sorry she "hurt some people."

Awwwww, isn't that sweet? Insult people, then tell them you're sorry for insulting them, then insult somebody else, then say you're sorry for insulting them.

I'm sure that Paramount will be very happy to have huge TV audiences waiting eagerly to see whom its host trashes on her nationally syndicated program next.

Oh, did I insult Paramount there? Sorry.

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Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. E-mail: mike.downey@latimes.com

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