Jewish World Review June 2, 2004 / 13 Sivan, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Stern warnings; X-Tina, the brand name; separating the Olsen Twins | NEW YORK — Is there no honor among thieves?

Potty-mouthed shock jock Howard Stern continually scorches Jay Leno for stealing his comedy (not to mention his staff — notably new "Tonight Show" announcer "Stuttering John" Melendez).

"What is most despicable, where he is most dishonest," Stern tells Steppin' Out magazine's Chaunce Hayden in an interview, "is the amount of material he takes off this show, especially his head writer."

Stern — who's been a guest on Leno's show six times, according to NBC records — continues: "Jay called and asked me to appear on his dumb show in Vegas, and I wouldn't even consider it."

But it turns out that Stern, too — even in the same interview — can be light-fingered in the joke department.

Hayden asks: "If you could write your own epitaph, what would you want it to say?"

Stern replies: "What I would like it to say is, 'I'll be right back, after these words.'" It would have been nice if Stern had credited Johnny Carson, Leno's "Tonight Show" predecessor, as the comic who coined that line.

A February 1978 New Yorker profile of Carson — then the unchallenged king of late-night television — recounts the funnyman's press conference at Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club:

"Press grilling is routine stuff, except for:
"Q: What would you like your epitaph to be?
"Carson (after pause for thought): I'll be right back.
"(There is) laughter and applause for this line. . . . Subsequent research reveals that Carson has used it before in answer to the same question."

On Tuesday, Stern's agent, Don Buchwald, listened impatiently to all of the above and shot back: "Is this the way you spend your time?"

Well, yes.

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Christina Aguilera's attorneys clearly have some serious time on their hands.

How else to explain the bizarrely ambitious list of Christina Aguilera trademark products they recently filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office?

The sexed-up pop diva's long-winded request — "War and Peace" without the story — is probably a first in the annals of self-merchandizing. And that's saying something.

Among the products and brands she seeks to protect are Christina Aguilera contact lenses, crayons and anti-perspirants; Christina Aguilera badminton sets, ski wear and body shapers; and Christina Aguilera panties, modeling clay and — I blush to imagine it — electronic multiple activity toys.

Aguilera's trademark lawyer, Rod S. Berman, told Lowdown: "The goodwill associated with her name could be used to brand a huge variety of goods and services. She's a personality that is relevant not only to the higher teens and 20s, but also to kids."

That probably accounts for the Christina Aguilera temporary tattoos.

The 450-item Aguilera registry might be a little much even for Jessica Simpson's business manager.

"If Christina and her manager believe those categories are fitting for her image and brand and career, then it's their decision," David Levin said

diplomatically. "Some categories may be a little overreaching, but I'm sure there's an audience and a public for whatever Ms. Aguilera decides to market."

But somehow X-tina's crack legal team did manage to forget some potentially bestselling items, such Christina Aguilera diapers, Christina Aguilera rope and Christina Aguilera handcuffs.


SEPARATING THE OLSEN TWINS: Looks like it's going to require a team of surgeons to decouple Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Their strenuous protests don't seem to be doing the trick. Us Weekly reports that the 17-year-old showbiz sisters pleaded for separate stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Request denied. Then they asked that their names be set apart, with the surname attached to each. Request denied. But at least the Olsen twins got a good location — near Britney Spears. "Mary-Kate and Ashley are perfectly happy with their star," their rep insisted.

LITERARY MUGGING: Vanity Fair's James Wolcott gives the women closest to President Bush a very rough going-over in the latest issue — portraying mom Barbara Bush as a nasty piece of work, wife Laura as timid and ineffectual, Karen Hughes as a wacko and a liar, and Condoleezza Rice as a weirdly worshipful "professional wife." But, surprisingly, Wolcott concludes with a backhanded compliment for Jenna and Barbara: "I've come to have a grudging regard for the Bush twins. Jenna and Barbara may be spoiled brats — tarty party girls — but at least they're not perpetuating false pretenses, being used as attractive props and tweeting noises they don't believe."

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02/13/04: John & Carolyn, redux; Zell Miller shows the flag; kill Quentin?; more
02/11/04: HE FEELS BAD!; Dick Cheney, still not dead; more
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06/26/03: Rapping the beat
06/23/03: Another Watergate scandal?; AL GORE TV!
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06/16/03: Missing dog, ransom demand, Hollywood ending
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate