The TV Age of Hysterical Prudishness

"We really pushed the envelope with this show. I mean we did have a dead little person under the toilet in the script," Stern says. "But once the guy is dead and under the toilet — how can you do anything that would not be inappropriate or detrimental to his image?

"TV execs aren't bad people," Stern says. "I think they are sometimes operating in an environment where they have no conception of what creativity is. They think everything will work out if you concentrate on the bottom line."

And that type of mentality truly scares some folks, who fear it promotes ignorance and intolerance. Producer Bruce Johnson says he received this memo on one project: "We cast a black actor as our lead, but the way you've written the dialogue you can't tell that."

Johnson wrote back to the vice president of development that he didn't intend the black character to sound black. The VP wrote back, "Okay, but how will the audience know he's black?"

"I intend this book to be funny, and I didn't include names sometimes because I don't like to get sued," Stern said. "But there is a subtext to it."

And now Stern is compiling a second volume. If you think about what happens on Sex and the City and The Sopranos on screen, you can only imagine what the memos are like.

The Weird News Roundup

Strippers Union

Here's some inspiration to look for the union label. The Striptease Artists of Australia Inc. are seeing official recognition as a union representing lap dancers, topless waitresses and other erotic performers. A union representative who calls herself "Mystical Melody" told The Associated Press that the strippers are a little "too hot" for traditional unions to handle. Like a lot of other working stiffs, the strippers want better pay and working conditions.

Toilet Paper Caper

What was Ernest Myers planning to do with 18,000 rolls of toilet paper? The 47-year-old from Bensalem, Pa., pleaded guilty to stealing a tractor-trailer loaded with toilet paper before leading police on a high-speed highway chase in January. Meyers hardly got off Scott-free. He was sentenced to two to four years in jail. Why did he rob toilet paper, instead of stereo equipment, like other crooks? "You can get rid of it quick," he told the court.

From Bad to Worse

A man who wanted to correct a severe curvature in his penis won $1.5 million from his doctor as a result of the surgery, which shrank his sex organ to half its pre-surgery size. "You really don't understand how devastating this is," his attorney, William L. Myers Jr. of Philadelphia, told the Daily Record of Maryland. "It can really cause problems in a marriage." Edward Stamper suffered impotence because of his condition. While his organ is now straight, he still suffers from sexual dysfunction..

Buck Wolf is a producer at The Wolf Files is a weekly feature. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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