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Side show

By SHARON FINK, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 10, 2002

SPECIAL QUOTE QUIZ: She has done more to test, taunt, stretch and redefine the sexual mores of this country than anyone since Masters and Johnson. So what would prompt Madonna to say, "People have no morals, I swear to God."

The developer of and featured performer in a risque picture book called Sex, to hit a high point of her career, was talking about a Good Morning America segment that showed a woman breast-feeding her 8-year-old son.

ABC's morning show did a story in July about Lynn Stuckey, who has been in trouble with Illinois child welfare authorities. This so traumatized Madonna, a mother of two, that she's talking about it four months later.

"The world is collapsing," she told Los Angeles DJ Rick Dees on his radio show last week. "The things that people do for ratings! It's unforgivable."

There is no irony in Madonna's comments, publicist Liz Rosenberg told New York's Daily News, because, for example, there's a difference between a book and TV.

"With her book, people had the option to buy it or not," Rosenberg said. "TV is more of a public forum."

TV is also the public forum in which Madonna's envelope-pushing videos have been shown, but that topic was not addressed.

* * *

A CUT FOR EVERY TAXPAYER AND CLEAR SKIN FOR EVERYONE: Maybe this will change in Tuesday's wake, but people are more likely to trust Vanessa Williams and her acne treatment, Ron Popeil and his "set it and forget it" rotisserie oven, Tony Little and his gazelle glider and Don Lapre and his Making Money ideas than Congress, according to research done for the infomercial industry.

Also trusted less than infomercials are used-car salesmen and corporate executives, the Leisure Trends Group says.

Among those not surprised by the Congress' level of loathing is media scholar Stuart Ewen, who teaches at the City University of New York.

"(People) see Congress as a group of cowardly hucksters, people who are functioning on behalf of commercialism themselves, most of whom were bought and paid for by businesses," Ewen tells the Kansas City Star.

"At least at the end of your 800 call, you get a mince-a-matic in the mail. What do you get from your congressman?"

* * *

WHAT? NO ANTHONY ROBBINS?: Because we don't like to miss reporting on a major awards show, here are some winners from the infomercial industry's annual presentation, conducted in Las Vegas last month:

-- Infomercial of the Year: the Firm fitness videos.

-- Best Celebrity Presenter: Williams, Proactive Solution for acne.

-- Best Male Presenter: Chef Tony Notaro, Miracle Blade III.

-- Best Infomercial Product: RevoStyler, the "revo-lutionary" plug-in hairbrush for women that "rotates nearly a hundred times a minute" and leaves hair "straight and shiny."

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