BURBANK : Comic in Plea Deal Agrees to Do Ad
Stand-up comedian Bobcat Goldthwait has agreed to tape a public service announcement and pay restitution in exchange for misdemeanor charges to be dropped against him for unlawfully setting his chair afire on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”
The plea agreement, worked out between the New York-born entertainer and the Burbank city attorney’s office, has not yet been finalized and is still subject to approval by a judge or commissioner.
“We’re very lucky he offered to do the public service announcement rather than simply paying a fine because the announcement serves a greater public good,” Deputy City Atty. Robert W. Walters said Wednesday.
Goldthwait had pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanors after using lighter fluid and a long-handled lighter to set his chair on fire during a May 6 taping of the show. Leno and another guest, Lauren Hutton, quickly doused the fire with cups of water. The incident aired that night.
Burbank fire officials worried that Leno, Hutton and the studio audience might have been seriously injured.
The 15-second public service announcement Goldthwait offered to appear in will be used to promote the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation in Canoga Park, a nonprofit group that provides fire education to the public and assistance to burn survivors.
Alisa Ann Ruch, an 8-year-old San Fernando Valley girl, died in 1969 when she was seriously burned after squirting lighter fluid onto hot coals in a back-yard barbecue.
The Burbank Fire Department has already written a script for Goldthwait to read during the brief taping, said Tim Anctil, one of the comedian’s managers.
Goldthwait has also agreed to reimburse NBC for the scorched chair, the Burbank Fire Department for its time in the investigation and pay court costs, Walters said.
If convicted of one of the misdemeanor charges, Goldthwait would have faced a maximum of one year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.
Goldthwait could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His next court date is scheduled for Sept. 1, when a pretrial hearing will be held.