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  • BEN WRIGHT II: LPGA'S MECHEM ANGRY WITH LESBIAN ISSUE

         On Friday and Saturday, LPGA Commissioner Charles Mechem
    withheld judgment on Ben Wright.  Mechem, on Friday:  "If he did
    not make the alleged remarks, as he stoutly maintains ... it
    would be terribly unfair and prematurely judgmental for us to
    insist that he be replaced" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/13).  But
    Mechem did fire "an emotional -- indeed an angry -- fusillade at
    the central tenet of the News Journal's story:  that the
    incidence of lesbianism in women's professional golf has damaged
    the LPGA's appeal," according to Vic Dorr of the RICHMOND TIMES-
    DISPATCH.   Mechem:  "Here we are, sitting in here on this
    beautiful day when the best women's golfers in the world are out
    there on course.  Why aren't we out there watching them and
    enjoying them?  Because we're in here dealing with this absurd
    and ugly charge that lesbianism is stunting the growth of the
    LPGA Tour."  Mechem said he has "never" had a potential sponsor
    cite lesbianism as a reason for not backing the LPGA (RICHMOND
    TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/14).  Mechem, noting that 30 sponsors have
    signed on in the past five years:  "This is incredibly overblown"
    (AD AGE, 5/15 issue).
         IT WILL HURT:  Burns Celebrity Sports Service President
    David Burns:  "It will definitely hurt the game, hurt the sport,
    because a lot of latant bigots, the top gray-haired decision-
    makers, will have some reason now not to invest their money in
    this sport" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 5/13).
         IT MAY HELP:  In New York, Ira Berkow writes, "If it is true
    that corporations discriminate against the LPGA because of
    perceived lesbianism, then these pillars of the business
    community should be held accountable.  And Ben Wright will have
    made a contribution to society, even if it would have been an
    inadvertent one on his part" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/13).
         OTHER VIEWS:  In New York, Phil Mushnick, noting that the
    LPGA promotes "everything straight and feminine," writes that
    Wright's alleged comments "verbalized a mindset established by
    the LPGA; a mindset that establishes lesbianism, which is
    irrelevant to the game of golf, as bad for the business of golf"
    (N.Y. POST, 5/15).  In Baltimore, John Eisenberg writes that
    recent news reports show that "the private lives of men are a lot
    more sordid than the private lives of women in sports" (Baltimore
    SUN, 5/13).  Women's Sports Foundation Exec Dir Donna Lopiano, in
    a statement released Friday:  "Sexual preference and sexuality
    have nothing to do with a person's performance as an athlete or
    professional in any field" (Women's Sports Foundation).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, LPGA, Media, Walt Disney
  • SHAQ TO TEST ACTING ABILITY AS RAPPIN' GENIE IN "KAZAAM"

         Shaquille O'Neal has signed on to star in "Kazaam," a
    feature film to be directed by Paul Michael Glaser, according to
    this morning's VARIETY.  The film by Interscope Communications
    will be shooting in July, after the NBA season.  O'Neal will play
    a "rapping, tough-talking genie who has an Odd-Couple-like
    relationship with a 12-year old boy."  This is the first picture
    in a two-movie deal for O'Neal, who is scheduled to begin
    production of "Shaq Fu" next summer (John Brodie, DAILY VARIETY,
    5/15 issue).
    

    Print | Tags: NBA, Media
  • WRIGHT CLAIMS HE WAS WRONGED BY NEWS JOURNAL REPORTER

         CBS golf analyst Ben Wright was back in the booth at the
    McDonald's LPGA Championship after denying that he had made
    statements attributed to him in Friday's Wilmington News Journal
    that lesbianism has hurt the LPGA's image and that women's
    "boobs" affect their swing.  CBS officials met with Wright on
    Friday, and, according to Jack Craig of the BOSTON GLOBE, "the
    network accepted Wright's word on the matter and also criticized
    the newspaper."  CBS Sports President David Kenin defended Wright
    saying that he "has been done a grave injustice."  The News
    Journal stands by its story (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/14).  Kenin noted
    that he had asked the paper for "support materials," but was
    refused, and said that others present have supported Wright's
    version of the events (Maryann Hudson, L.A. TIMES, 5/14).
         WRIGHT'S STATEMENT:  Wright released a two-page statement
    recounting the interview with reporter Valerie Helmbreck.  He
    explains that he recounted a story by JoAnne Carner, in which she
    joked about breasts being the main difference between herself and
    male golfers.  Wright:  "At no time did I ever use the word
    boobs."  Wright adds that it was Helmbreck, not he, who used the
    terms "butch" and "not going to fly" concerning sponsors'
    attitudes towards lesbianism and the LPGA.  Wright:  "I never
    said anything to the effect that lesbians in women's golf are
    hurting the sport or that lesbians were bad for the image of the
    game" (USA TODAY, 5/15).  During Saturday's broadcast, Wright
    again called the remarks "totally untrue."  Wright:  "Much has
    been said and written about these disparaging comments attributed
    to me which are not only totally inaccurate, but extremely
    distasteful.  It's a pity these remarks have detracted from the
    focus of the McDonald's LPGA Championship which has perennially
    raised so many millions of dollars for needy children"
    ("McDonald's Championship," CBS, 5/13).
         DID HE SAY IT?  Skip Bayless: "I think he said it and I
    think there is a grain of truth in what he was saying, the first
    part of it."  Mike Lupica:  "CBS can't ever quite get this thing
    right. ... I think it is admirable that you stand by your guy,
    but they did it gracelessly.  I don't think anyone believes this
    feature writer for the Wilmington paper went to the golf course
    that day and said, 'OK, which one of CBS' golf announcers do I
    want to sandbag and try to make national headlines with.'  That's
    preposterous" ("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/14).  USA TODAY's Mike
    Heistand writes, "CBS had better be right about Wright, or it is
    going to richly deserve the backlash of criticism that would
    blindside the network" (USA TODAY, 5/15).  In San Francisco,
    Scott Ostler writes that CBS "launched an in-depth investigation,
    which consisted of asking Wright if he said that stuff" (SAN
    FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/15).
    

    Print | Tags: CBS, ESPN, LPGA, McDonalds, Media, Viacom, Walt Disney
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