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CBS Should Never Have Let This Happen

       Two months from now, we may have all forgotten about William Collins and his relevance to a quasi-game show. However, if you ask me, Collins should never have allowed Collins into the Big Brother house.
       Forget the fact I can't stand this show or four of the house's inhabitants, if CBS knew Collins has a history of alignment with violent causes and some of the most virulent hate groups in this country, how on earth could the network have allowed this guy to "play this game?"
       The press statement CBS released over the weekend saying it would "monitor" Collins but denying he had uttered hate speech during his week and a half in the house was hollow. Once again, it points the selective standards which exist in our society today. Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker offered some outrageous and thoroughly offensive opinions. He was suspended and sent to "sensitivity training." Laura Schlessinger goes against much of the pop culture with her daily radio views on the family and sponsors pull out of her show right and left. Will Collins has allegiances to a violent hate organization, which the network should have known of in advance of Big Brother. CBS defends him. Am I missing something here?
       No doubt, Collins will be out of the house after Thursday night unless the people who are spending 99 cents to vote have been on the Survivor island. In fact, CBS miscast this one badly. If you were going to have Collins on a show at all----which should not have happened, he should have gone to the coast of Borneo and Gervase Patterson ought to be in the house.
       Yet, CBS has a lot of answering to do---which it will get Chris Ender to spin---on this one. Collins, in his initial profile on the show's first evening, was portrayed as a warm, sensitive guy who is a devoted youth counselor. He was shown helping children read and playing with them on a playground.
       Collins' first move in the house was to try to camp out and sleep in the women's room and seemed genuinely perplexed when he was asked to read. He and his fellow exile candidate (heavens, I wish people could vote them both out at the same time) Jordan have engaged in the most explicit sexual conversations with each other and in group situations. Both have been bleeped more than any of the other housemates combined. Collins at one point said he could "communicate with my body more than I can with my mind." His suggestion to young Brittany that she had a "token black friend," which ultimately reduced her to tears when the conversation evolved, was not just a case of pulling the race card, it was a case of sheer boorishness. Yet, when Collins is called to task for his attitude and arrogance, he always suggests, "You can't understand me because you haven't been where I've been." Baloney. You don't have to be where anyone else has been to recognize inconsideration and impudence.
       I suppose one reason I have no patience with that behavior, Collins, Jordan, or three-fourths of the Survivor players is I don't suffer arrogance easily. I don't think a lot of America does either. They may watch it for a while but they don't necessarily like it. The people who celebrate having that quality suggest they're just "being real" (Jordan) or "that's just the way I am (Collins)." I'll never forget J. Herbert White, the legendary tempestuous director of University Relations at Auburn University. I worked for Humble Herb for 20 years between 1986-90. Herb was the absolute textbook example of a perpetual confrontational boor who had no respect for his staff, nor encouragement for their efforts. On the rare times Herb was confronted with his interpersonal deficiencies, his answer was a pat one: "I'm blunt and that's the way I am and if you don't like it, tough."
       However, if the producers or CBS knew of Collins' background before he entered that house, he should have been scratched. There's no difference here, except perhaps even a greater degree than when Fox somehow had Rick Rockwell's past woman-beating allegations slip by its Marry a Millionaire producers.
       Tell me something. I really would like to know if I am suffering from some kind of disorder here. Considering what has erupted about Collins' past, present and his own behavior in the house, would you want him being a counselor with your kid?
       On one other note, I am quite uncomfortable with the fact CBS had to have known Karen Fowler and her husband were already on the rocks when they cast her. Karen will be another early one to go, for certain. However, I don't know who the more guilty party is: the network or Entertainment Tonight for doing two nights with the Fowlers' two children watching this dysfunction. You don't think Jeremy and Jill Fowler are not going to come away from this experience with some serious scars, if nothing else from what surely will be a barrage of questions and perhaps cruel conversation from their friends about their parents playing out a live soap opera?
       This may be great television (though it isn't resulting in through-the-roof ratings) but it's also a case of television abetting a family's breakup, in my opinion, rather than helping them find solutions. The Fowlers' marriage may well be over but this experience is the last thing which could salvage it, if any hope remains of saving it. For Karen to take her marital problems in this public a venue is almost beyond comprehension, if nothing else because of the strain this has bring the children.
       Outlining the controversy with Collins, the shake-your-head question marks about Karen and the joyful Jordan, as a former TV journalist, I am increasingly more uncomfortable about CBS News' affiliation with this entire project. The line may be blurred beyond visibility between news and entertainment. However, if CBS News were doing the right thing, it would have been the organization which broke the story on Collins' involvements with hate groups, not Inside Edition, The New York Daily News or ET----not having a correspondent/morning anchor preside over the festivities as a host. One or two more relevations about this bunch and CBS News President Andrew Heyward will have a lot of answering to do about why he's buddied up so much to this dysfunctional concept.

       POST-GAME NOTES: Regular visitor Paul Duca reminded us Meredith MacRae once played Vin Scully's It Takes Two with her father Gordon at a point when her then-husband Greg Mullavey was away on an acting job....The Survivor contestants are apparently being paid winnings which increase by $2,500 a week for each week you survive. CBS ought to clearly state that because viewers are otherwise left with the impression the castaways are competing for $1 million or nothing at all but rats and rice....PAX began repeats of Bob Goen's Born Lucky Monday for four weeks. If they're successful, they'll do another four and possibly revive the series with a new host....The average ratings for Big Brother are lower than those for Whose Line Is It Anyway? in its original spring/summer run in 1998....Yet, the CBS spin machine is really working overtime on this one. In virtually every story I read, the network is chortling about how BB is drawing massive increases in 18-49 viewers over Diagnosis: Murder. That's not such a boast. The Dick Van Dyke series has the oldest demographics in television.

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