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PARAMOUNT WORRIED SICK

Dr. Laura takes a turn for the worse

WASHINGTON, DC  (AP)  10/4  --  The Dr. Laura's TV show is doing so badly, that Paramount Television has stopped production for a week, according to a report in today's Los Angeles Times. While Paramount is claiming the stoppage was pre-planned, critics of Schlessinger's anti-gay rhetoric suspect the show is in trouble.

"Prejudice is bad for business, and Paramount is paying a price for its insensitivity to civil rights," said John Aravosis, co-founder of StopDrLaura.com.

The LA Times reports that some in Hollywood think Paramount may be trying to retool the show, as its ratings have been terrible. StopDrLaura.com says no amount of retooling will make Dr. Laura acceptable.

"Paramount is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," said Aravosis. "'Dr. Laura' has sunk, it's time to let it go."

In the two weeks since the "Dr. Laura" TV show launched on September 11, over 45 advertisers have told local TV stations to stop running their ads on the show, according to StopDrLaura.com's "Advertiser Scorecard." The list includes scores of big names such as Kraft, Geico Insurance, IHOP, Procter & Gamble, Priceline.com, Natrol, Red Lobster, Gateway Computers, Skytel, Xerox, ToysRUs.com, United Airlines, AT&T, American Express, Kraft, Kroger, Amica Insurance and TCF Bank..

It was unclear whether the news about the show meant that the show wouldn't air next week. StopDrLaura.com's Aravosis said the campaign would continue until Paramount dropped the TV show. "Had Dr. Laura maligned Jews or Blacks, Paramount would never re-tool her TV show, they'd cancel her," said Aravosis. "It's time for Paramount to face the music, they made a mistake, Dr. Laura is bad for TV and bad for business. Our campaign will continue, even more so now, until Paramount treats gays and lesbians as equal citizens."

Schlessinger herself blasted Hollywood on her radio show yesterday, suggesting that the industry will defend TV shows with sex and violence, but not her. It was unclear whether her outburst was provoked by some insider knowledge that Paramount was perhaps no longer standing by her show.

Schlessinger was also criticized on Thursday by the president of NBC's entertainment unit, Garth Ancier, at a panel of network executives Thursday, according to the LA Times story. When asked if there were any television programs the executives felt they couldn't defend, Ancier said: "I'm not embarrassed about anything on television, with the exception of 'Dr. Laura.'"

Since its launch on March 1, 2000, StopDrLaura.com has had over 50 million hits, and 3 million visitors.

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