Welcome Home: Celeb Comebacks Often Succeed

Don Imus is making a comeback. Well, he's at least going to try.

The New York Post reported that CBS Radio may welcome the shock jock back to its airwaves as early as next fall.

Imus was fired and his nationally syndicated talk show was taken off the air in April 2007 after the host made racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. He referred to the basketball players as "nappy-headed hos," enraging civil rights groups and causing advertisers to backpedal.

But can celebrity entertainers like Imus really bounce back from career moves that garner overwhelming amounts of negative national attention and even cost them their jobs?

In Good Company

Celebrity comebacks are nothing new and often prove quite successful.

Stars accused of sexual fetishes even rebound. Just look at NBC sportscaster Marv Albert. Known as "the voice of basketball," Albert went on trial in 1997 for felony charges of forced sodomy, after a prostitute he visited accused him of biting her back repeatedly and forcing her to perform oral sex. After pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault and battery in a plea bargain, the broadcaster was fired by NBC.

But just a few years later, Albert was welcomed back onboard at NBC, and served as a sports reporter for the 2001 and 2002 NBA basketball seasons.

Sexually explicit voice mails left by "The Insider" host Pat O'Brien weren't even enough to ruin his career. After treatment for alcoholism, O'Brien has since returned to his show after giving an on-air apology to viewers.

And Imus isn't the only radio host to be given the boot by his broadcasters.

Opie and Anthony of "The Opie and Anthony Show" — coincidently, the same broadcast that first aired the O'Brien recordings — were suspended by XM Satellite Radio after a personality on their show talked explicitly about forcing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and first lady Laura Bush to have sex with him, Reuters reported.

But just 30 days later, the show was back on the air and the duo up to their usual eyebrow-raising antics, which in the past have included encouraging listeners to have sex in public places around New York City and then call in the details to the radio show.

Even everyone's favorite craft connoisseur, Martha Stewart, kept afloat after serving jail time for insider trading. Her fan base welcomed her back willingly, glue sticks in hand.

Forgive and Forget

Audiences — as unforgiving and unrelenting as they may seem during the peak of a scandal — are actually quite forgiving in the long run.

According to public relations expert Howard Rubenstein, audience members are unlikely to remember the nuances of celebrity scandals, unless they involve really dreadful crimes and accusations.

"The public's institutional memory of what [celebrities] have done usually fades, and people don't hold the details of what they've done in [their] mind unless it was something absolutely egregious, like pedophilia," said Rubenstein.

Take Michael Jackson, for example. Child molestation charges and strange behavior -- think dangling a child off a balcony in front of screaming fans -- can make a comeback virtually impossible. It goes to show that too much shock can, in fact, backfire into the ultimate comeback gone wrong.

Imus' scandal, like those of others who have had successful comebacks, didn't cross the line quite as much as Jackson's, allowing his fan base to stay intact.

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