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Roseanne Blasts Critics Over ‘Jackie’ : Television: Arnold fires off sharp-tongued, profanity-laced rebukes to three print reviewers of her husband’s new show in ‘self-defense.’

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

So your name is Roseanne Arnold and you’re adored by millions. You have the No. 1 TV show. Your husband and partner has a show on the same network, and you both use your considerable clout to score his show a time slot right after your show. The debut, which receives mixed reviews, is the highest-rated premiere in years.

So do you celebrate by breaking out the champagne glasses? Maybe.

But you also break out the poison pen.

Continuing a longstanding tradition of clashing with the critics, Arnold last week fired off sharp-tongued, profanity-laced rebukes to three TV print reviewers who knocked husband Tom Arnold and his maiden voyage last Tuesday in “The Jackie Thomas Show,” an ABC show that is produced by the Arnold’s production company in association with Lorimar Television.

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Arnold said the faxed attacks were in response to what she felt were personal diatribes aimed at her and her husband.

“I call these letters self-defense,” Arnold said Sunday after her appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which was hosted by Tom Arnold.

“These people never talk about the work, but about me, my weight, my marriage,” she said. “These guys aren’t demigods, just people who don’t like TV who are allowed to give their two-bit opinions. There’s an element of professionalism that has to be there, and I’m very angry that they’re allowed to do this.”

She added: “Generally what emerges in these reviews is fear and loathing of women. It’s very misogynistic. Something needs to be done. These people are affecting the revenues of the work Tom does and I do.”

This time around, Arnold sent letters to Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times, Ray Richmond of the Los Angeles Daily News and Matt Roush of USA Today after their reviews of “The Jackie Thomas Show.”

Richmond began his review, “Tom Arnold happens to be one of the least funny humans on the planet . . . I approached viewing the premiere of his “The Jackie Thomas Show” the way some people anticipate exploratory surgery.” He then went on to praise the show.

Roush wrote: “Beware media freaks who believe their own notoriety. Roseanne-and-Tom Arnold are never less funny than when cracking themselves up with each other’s excesses, and rarely have they been as indulged as in ‘The Jackie Thomas Show,’ TV’s biggest ego trip since the Ross Perot Show.”

In his review, Rosenberg wrote that “. . . ‘The Jackie Thomas Show” is rarely funny.” He also called Arnold “one-dimensional” and said the back-to-back Arnold shows “may be one too many.”

“I’ve never seen Howard Rosenberg say anything was funny,” said Arnold. “He has no sense of humor. How can he say nothing was funny in the show? Four hundred people who watched it at the studio thought it was funny.” In her letter to Rosenberg, she said a “Howie Rosenboom” character, to be portrayed by an “effeminate mousy actor” would soon appear on “Jackie Thomas.”

Rosenberg responded: “She’s entitled to her opinion. I’d like to reply, but my wrists are too weak.”

Richmond said of Arnold’s letter: “She takes such a mother-hen attitude towards Tom. It’s like she has to protect him from criticism, shield him from the world. It’s a little strange. You figure the guy would fend for himself. But maybe not.”

Arnold countered: “That’s a really woman-hating thing to say, very misogynistic.”

In particular, the long-running war of words between USA Today and Arnold has reached unprecedented heights. Editors at USA Today said Arnold may have gone too far this time, terming her latest tirade particularly “appalling” and “horrific” in tone.

Arnold has sent previous letters to Roush that contained what editors called anti-gay slurs. Roush was unavailable for comment, but Patty Rhule, the newspaper’s TV editor, called the new letter “particularly nasty and equally personal.” She said attorneys at the paper are drafting a response to the letter.

Arnold, in turn, said she was also considering legal action against the paper for harassment. She said Roush’s reviews frequently contain personal references and downplay comments about her and her husband’s performances.

“He slams us for being incest survivors, and he says Tom has no talent,” Arnold said. “They’re personal attacks, and he should be called out from under the rock he lives under and exposed in the sun.”

She also denied that she included anti-gay slurs in the letters: “It’s a personal attack on him, and the things I wrote are based on personal things I know about him. I’m trying to educate him on the difference between a personal attack and a review. I want him to know how it feels.”

THE LETTER

Roseanne Arnold’s letter to Howard Rosenberg. F3


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