Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2003 / 23 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Clay Aiken neuters PETA?; THEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS!; a mural for Joe | NEW YORK — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is always testing limits.

Now the zealous animal rights group has hit a brick wall with its provocative ad — ostensibly against dog and cat overpopulation — that features Triumph the Insult Comic Dog pooping on "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken.

Monday, PETA's Ingrid Newkirk said her organization is delaying and possibly killing the ad (which was supposed to show up on New York streets this week) after being swamped with protests from the singer's fans — and getting an ominous call from his attorney.

If PETA received the kind of letters I did, I can well understand why they might be getting cold feet. "I, as a Clay Aiken fan, feel the need to express my indignation at the coarse, tasteless, crude remarks made insulting this wonderful young man," wrote Minnesotan Barbara Blanchura in a typical reaction. "I will do everything a viewer, as well as a supporter of animal rights and a consumer of those products supporting this type of humor, can do to show my resentment."

The ad, as we reported exclusively last Thursday, features the potty-mouthed dog puppet urging: "Get Neutered — It Didn't Hurt Clay Aiken."

On Monday, Newkirk told me: "We're in a slight holding pattern. We're always flexible. We got a lawyer calling, and our lawyers said maybe we can work something out, make the ad evaporate, and put a leash on the insult dog."

Aiken apparently became a PETA target after he was quoted in Rolling Stone saying he hates cats and once ran over a housecat. PETA fired off a letter demanding that he retract his verbal claws, and affirm that "cats are deserving of kindness, respect and love, and that everybody should always be kind to animals."

When the singer didn't immediately respond, PETA pounced. "We're always nice at first," Newkirk explained.


I know from personal experience that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes tends to get really, really annoyed when anyone so much as hints that he might enjoy a close relationship with the Bush White House.

Ailes — who in a former life, as a Republican media consultant, worked for Richard Nixon and George Bush the elder — will say till he's blue in the face that he gave up politics for journalism long ago.

So at Monday's star-studded lunch at the Plaza Hotel, where the non-profit Center for Communication honored News Corporation President Peter Chernin, movie director Peter Farrelly was on thin ice when he joked about his upcoming Murdoch-financed comedy "Stuck On You," concerning the separation of conjoined twins. "In that spirit," Farrelly announced, "Roger Ailes is getting his lips surgically removed from Karl Rove's a — ."

The quip got a huge laugh and a few "oooohs," though I'm told that someone later came up to Farrelly's target to commiserate that "it was in bad taste, much like his movies." Ailes declined to comment, but Farrelly was probably prudent to leave town — on a plane back to L.A. — right after lunch.


HOLDING HER NOSE: Is Boldface Names gossip Joyce Wadler of the New York Times hanging up her poison pen after only a year? I'm told she has been in discussions about doing something else at the paper. "I like some things about the column, but my background is in books and magazines and long pieces. I kind of miss that," she said. "I liked having long conversations with people." Executive editor Bill Keller said he hopes Wadler parties on, dude. "I hope she'll keep doing it as long as her stomach can stand it," he said. "She writes the first postmodern gossip column, and I just love it. It works so well in part because she finds that world a little repulsive."

A MURAL FOR JOE: Nearly a year after the untimely death of Clash singer/guitarist Joe Strummer, a bunch of his friends — Jim Jarmusch, Steve Buscemi, the punk band Rancid and Niagra club-owner Jesse Malin — have filmed the spray-painting of a mural of Strummer at the downtown club. "It's one of those real Latino-style murals," Malin said. "It says 'Know your rights' and then 'The future is unwritten' on the side. And his name, obviously. And the dates of his life, 1952-2002." Malin added that the video is for "Redemption Song," a Bob Marley cover from Strummer's posthumous album with the Mescaleros, the band he started after The Clash. During Sunday's filming, "there were people lighting candles, and I left a bottle of tequila and some daisies for Joe," Malin said. "The mural will be up forever."

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11/05/03: Will Harvey Weinstein and Gregg Easterbrook now be pals?; crazed Quentin; more
11/04/03: Herding off the hipsters; more
11/03/03: Dean's tell-all on himself?; Lisaraye vs. Mya?; the odd couple; no need to panic; just don't call him "Scooter"!; Rosie scenarios
10/30/03: Autumn of the editor?; Cynthia Nixon's split may be costly; 'Burning' questions
10/29/03: Ah-nold, unauthorized!; a dilemma for Melissa Gilbert? not even Frank Gifford can help him now!; nobody wanted Elizabeth Hurley
10/28/03: It's Cher calling!; Brown Alert
10/27/03: Paparazzi uncensored!; where's Aaron Brown?; postcards from the middle; invasion of the party snatchers?; House flooded when not afire?; suspenders of disbelief?
10/23/03: Ace up Howard Dean's sleeve; Woody's ordeal; Paul Simon's kid makes good; the non-beginning of a beautiful friendship?
10/22/03: Showing the flag; Joe Frazier, smokin'!; see Carville bruised-up — sort of
10/21/03: Morris & Jaci's charm offensive; Hell hath no fury; Wintertime for Hitler
10/20/03: Isn't it rich?; men (and the occasional woman) behaving badly; peacenik John Lennon supporting the U.S. military?; courageous Connie
10/16/03: George Clooney and intolerable Drudgery; Cameron goes native; and you thought the war in Iraq was nasty?; now it can be revealed; star wars?
10/15/03: Kerik into the breach?; holiday pander?; "the Dink" corrects the record; more
10/14/03: Madge gets mad, lips are sealed; the candidates who listen; he who hesitates is Beatty
10/13/03: Clothes, but no cigar; New Yorkers put a Sox in it; mad at Matalin?; more
10/09/03: Gray Davis goes to the movies; Ali Wentworth, working blue; Law & Order?; pot of gold at the end of the rainbow room?
10/08/03: Art-time for Hitler; the actress who hates movies; lying "Liam"
10/07/03: Pond scum of the rich and famous
07/24/03: Ali and George, living it up; Mel Gibson's Washington power play
07/21/03: White House smear?
07/17/03: Yet another intern scandal; it's her party and she can pay if she wants to
07/14/03: On the auction block: JFK'S boxer shorts; love bytes the maestro
07/10/03: A hairy situation at Homeland Security; Van Susteren v. Orth
06/30/03: Rep. Patrick Kennedy: I've never worked a (bleeping) day in my life; Drudge's dressing down; Ken Lay's Kerry connection
06/26/03: Rapping the beat
06/23/03: Another Watergate scandal?; AL GORE TV!
06/19/03: Tony Snow, rocker?; that won't be crow on Mr. Carlson's plate
06/16/03: Missing dog, ransom demand, Hollywood ending
06/12/03: Giving both parties the needle
06/05/03: Incoming from Barbara Bush?
06/02/03: Bob Dole's plan for fighting unemployment
05/29/03: Newt's new novel
05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate