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COVER STORY : AT THE CENTER OF THE DOLE FIRESTORM

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Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) got plenty of attention when he scolded Hollywood about sex and violence in movies, TV and pop music. But, as The Times reports today (see Page A1), Dole’s comments aren’t changing the face of show business. Yet. The creative and business powerbrokers will tell you they’ve always been thoughful about what they produce. Here, then, are some snapshots of life on the front lines:

MIKE CURB

Record executive

Of all the people in the music industry, Mike Curb is one you might most expect to cheer Sen. Bob Dole’s recent attacks on the entertainment industry--particularly his condemnations of gangsta rap.

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Curb was the man behind the ultra-clean ‘60s pop outfit the Mike Curb Congregation and he now heads Curb Records (distributed by Time Warner), one of the leading producers of Middle American country music, with artists like Wynonna Judd, Tim McGraw and Lyle Lovett. But more telling, he also had a stint in politics as the California conservative standard-bearer. He served from 1979 to 1983 as the state’s lieutenant governor, the Republican thorn in the side of liberal Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr.

Curb, 50, though, defies expectations.

“Bob Dole is a friend of mine,” Curb says from his Nashville, Tenn., office. “But I’m outraged at seeing Republicans aiming themselves at minority youth trying to express themselves, using words they need to discuss the violence that faces them every day head on.

“Someone can shoot 100 people in a movie and the actor is considered a hero, while a young minority youth sings about something violent and the Republican majority leader speaks out against it. That offends my system of right and wrong.

“I’m not saying that there aren’t records that go too far. There are--I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do better.”

But how? That’s tricky, he says:

“I’ve tried [restricting content] in the past unsuccessfully. When I was a lot younger, 25 years ago, I tried to deal with the issue of drug lyrics, tried to restrict it. But where do you draw the line? Sometimes a record talking about drugs is anti-drug.”

In fact, last year Curb was criticized by some members of the Native American community for McGraw’s country hit “Indian Outlaw,” which they said used stereotypes. Curb says that he had been sensitive to those concerns and that some potentially offensive lyrics were removed at his company’s insistence before the record’s release. That the song still proved offensive to some, he says, was “educational” about terms hurtful to Native Americans.

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But would he release something by Nine Inch Nails or Snoop Doggy Dogg?

“I have two teen-age daughters and they listen to alternative music, but I’ve never heard Nine Inch Nails or Snoop Dogg,” he says. “Unlike Dole, I’m not going to criticize what I haven’t heard.”

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