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Young’s Catwoman Crusade a Spunky Protest

Lowrie is a screenwriter and free-lance writer.

If “parts of television are sinking into kitty litter,” as Howard Rosenberg observed in his July 31 Calendar diatribe against Sean Young’s self-made video appearance on “Entertainment Tonight,” so too is Howard Rosenberg (ordinarily one of my favorite columnists/critics). Holy baloney, Batman! We might as well include the entertainment/news industries as well.

Any “lofty” perspective can fall prey to defiling itself, particularly when individuals are hermetically sealed behind impenetrable corporate barriers. Producer-director Tim Burton--insulated, no doubt, against all manner of annoyances in his Warner Bros. fortress--may have committed far worse injustices to the system than any self-serving effort by Sean Young to pilfer the role of Catwoman away from Michelle Pfeiffer in the upcoming “Batman 2.”

Not that I entirely disagree with Rosenberg’s assessment of Young’s performance--an embarrassment of self-narrated takes showing the actress donning cat makeup and storming the offices of a non-available Burton who, according to one of those handy official statements issued later from Warner Bros., had already envisioned Batman’s feline foe as a Pfeiffer type (once Annette Bening dropped out on account of the Beatty/Bening baby).

Like Rosenberg, I too questioned “Entertainment Tonight’s” wisdom, if not its sanity, in airing Young’s home-grown cassette, an act that opened itself to every ulterior camcorder ever hand-held by some gushing starlet or crazed screenwriter--including myself.

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But I violently disagree with Rosenberg that Young automatically falls into the same category of “drivel-spewing noodleheads” as Zsa Zsa Gabor, who use the media to gain “undeserved legitimacy by granting them attention.”

Young is not Zsa Zsa. Young is a working actress retaliating against rejection. She is not undeserving of a “fight-back” response, and the resultant media attention is--in light of her novelty--warranted. She is not, as was Gabor, out slugging traffic cops, driving without a license or trying to avoid penalties handed down because she had been found guilty of breaking the law.

Davids, whether male or female, historically appear ludicrous when confronting Goliaths. To those of us facing Goliaths on a daily basis, Young demonstrated not only spunk but courage. Mostly we experience “spunk” vicariously in Mary Tyler Moore reruns; all too rarely in life do we witness someone ballsy enough to risk image, career et al, by challenging authority as publicly as Young did.

In the old days, author Thomas Wolfe could wend his way into a publishing sanctuary toting a suitcase full of handwritten “drivel” and gain the ear of a top-dog editor like Maxwell Perkins at Charles Scribner’s Sons . . . all this without an agent. I’d like to see Wolfe get past ICM voice mail today, much less a Harvard-Radcliffe “intern” agent who may--by some fluke--actually pick up a phone to reject a Tom Wolfe on the basis that he does not come recommended by some ingrown-toenail hack who probably broke box-office records with “Nightmare on Halloween Street.”

You might as well buck the old Berlin Wall. Ask Art Buchwald--who bucked the Paramount Wall to fight for his piece of the “Coming to America” action--the price of that. And he supposedly won! Not that barriers aren’t necessary to weed out the chaff, but there comes a point when the Wall looms as oppressor.

In this age of “Terminator 2" telephone technology and academic degree-itis, those legitimately involved in breaking taboos and finding radical routes to creative self-expression (isn’t that what art is all about?) are in grave jeopardy of being permanently disbarred by a recorded Answerphone message--if they aren’t first branded fruitcakes by Howard Rosenberg.

Maybe Sean Young is fighting for something beyond herself. Maybe she is fighting for a more courteous and, pardon the word, sensitive stance on the part of people, possibly like Tim Burton and Howard Rosenberg, who may fail to distinguish between the genuinely worthy and the media hogs.

Perhaps it is the Burtons and Rosenbergs who are out of touch with “the real world” and deserving of being carried off by the “people in white coats"--a destiny Rosenberg charted for Young.

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Holy cross-fires, Batman! I think “Entertainment Tonight” and Joan Rivers did us a favor by spinning Young’s crazy cassette. For many of us, it proved an inspired protest we can get behind.


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