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#458955 - 02/02/01 12:51 PM SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Scott Shaw! Offline
Member

Registered: 02/01/00
Posts: 490
Loc: Sherman Oaks, California, USA
In addition to their "news" pieces on backyard wrestling, Howard Stern's Playboy mansion party, BLIND DATE's dating tips (BLIND DATE just "happens" to follow the nightly newscast) and black magic rituals (reported by their idiotic "Agent 13"), Los Angeles' UPN affiliate KCOP, Channel 13, aired on their Feb. 1st 10 pm news an "article" about the sale of "porno comics" to underage kids.

The piece was first ballyhooed early in the broadacast by a teaser that promised it to be one of the program's most "shocking" exposes. The segment itself (which aired around 10:30 pm) opened with a montage of "adult" comic titles; the only one I recognized was HORNY BIKER SLUTS. In an apparent attempt at irony, this was followed by a clip from one of Grantray-Lawrence's MARVEL SUPERHEROES animated cartoons from the late 60s, featuring Captain America making a speech about his beliefs. We were then shown exterior and interior shots of Los Angeles' Golden Apple Comics shop on Melrose Avenue. The segment went on to explain how KCOP enlisted a trio of high school boys (around age 14), "wired" with hidden video and audio equipment, to inflitrate the store. They were shown browsing in the clearly-marked "Adults Only" section of Golden Apple; then they proceeded to the checkout with various adult titles "hidden" within issues of SPIDER-MAN and other general audience titles. (Exactly why these were hidden, the newscast never explained.) Video showed the store's clerk, (a young fellow who looked barely older than 18 himself) as he processed their purchases, who commented that if anyone asked, he'd say that they looked old enough to buy the adult comics.

The kids were later interviewed; they definitely didn't look 18, but didn't seem to have much interest in the comics they bought (which KCOP confiscated.) What was most damning was video footage of Golden Apple owner Bill Liebowitz ejecting the camera crew from his shop; although he was never specifically named, Bill's outraged reaction (and the angle from which it was shot) didn't help his case any. The clerk then tried (unsuccessfully) to explain his actions; then Bill stated that Golden Apple had a strict policy never to sell adult-content comics to minors. The news reporter was then shown waving the videotaped "evidence" at Leibowitz, who refused to view it. The piece ended with a comment from Golden Apple's lawyer, who said that steps were being taken to prevent this from happening again. Of course, one of the news anchors had to add her two cents to that, saying something to the effect of "Yes, but that comes AFTER the results of our investigation!"

This is not just a local story, because Bill Liebowitz and Golden Apple are known all over the country. WIZARD recently ran an article on Golden Apple, calling it "The Comic Shop To The Stars". Bill's a very savvy businessman who's done a lot to promote comic books, his store and himself, and it's a shame to see him "stung" like this. Frankly, I think the Golden Apple clerk screwed up, and should be severely reprimanded if not fired outright, but I think KCOP's methods and conclusion were extremely suspect.

What prompted this televised "expose" in the first place -- Sweeps Week? (Judging by the other sleazy pieces on that newscast, I'd guess that was the case.) In any event, I thought it was very irresponsible reporting. Witch-hunts like this can only damage our industry.

Anyone else out there witness this televised travesty?

SCOTT "So Why Not An Expose On BLIND DATE?" SHAW!


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#458956 - 02/02/01 01:19 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Mark Evanier Offline
Member

Registered: 04/06/99
Posts: 382
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Well, I saw it (thanks to Mr. Shaw! phoning and giving me a heads-up on it) and I felt pretty sorry for Bill L. and the employee who actually sold the comics. It wasn't so much what they did as how they came off that I thought made them look bad. If I'd been the reporter scripting the segment, out to portray them as exploiters of minors, I couldn't have written their roles more perfectly. I have to wonder how much of that was what they did and said, and how much of it was in how the piece was edited.

I hope this has no ramifications for them.
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#458957 - 02/02/01 01:40 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Scott Shaw! Offline
Member

Registered: 02/01/00
Posts: 490
Loc: Sherman Oaks, California, USA
What's REALLY ironic is that, thirty-five years ago, the same TV station, KCOP, aired a half-hour prime-time special about comic book nostalgia and collecting, possibly the first of its kind. The special, which included significant positive exposure of Hollywood's two main comic shops at the time -- Cherokee Books and Collectors' Book Store -- was produced and narrated by voiceover genius (and occasional cartoonist) Gary Owens.

How times have changed, eh?

SCOTT "I Yam Disgustipated" SHAW!

------------------
See the CRAZIEST comic books ever published!
SCOTT SHAW! Presents ODDBALL COMICS!
A weird 'n' wacky new funnybook cover every weekday, only at Comic Book Resources, http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/oddball/

[This message has been edited by Scott Shaw! (edited 02-02-2001).]

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#458958 - 02/02/01 01:46 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
JoeKinski Offline
Member

Registered: 02/02/01
Posts: 42
Loc: LA, CA, USA
I have to agree .. it must have been a low and slow day here for news in LA. I am sorry I ddidn't see the piece itself. Sounds like typical LA local news muckraking. Jeez! At least it wasn't Bogey from Channel 2! Having bought comcis from the Golden Apple since I was twelve .. I have to say Bill L. runs a great ship! And yes, when I was fifteen, the Golden Apple did prevent me from buying Howard Chaykin's Black Kiss.

I agree, I hope there is no backlash from this. -- Joe

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#458959 - 02/02/01 04:14 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
gene phillips Offline
Member

Registered: 09/30/99
Posts: 5910
Loc: Houston, TX
Thanks, Scott, for bringing this to Comicon.com.
I'm sure Sweeps Week has a lot to do with KCOP's motivations. Threats to children, be they real or hypothetical, are one of the biggest "hot-buttons" with which a newscrew can snare an audience.

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#458960 - 02/02/01 08:41 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Jeff Zugale Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/98
Posts: 1806
Loc: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Oh shit. Poor Bill, he's a nice guy. GA isn't my favorite store, but it's a pretty good one. With all the hooraw going on now that King George II the Faithful is in office about "curbing porn" and all that other fundamentalist crap, I'm afraid this sort of thing is going to start happening with frightful frequency. There may be darker times for comics ahead (although the number of wholesome, kid-friendly titles may increase, thus HELPING the business heh heh).

Retailers: Train your clerks and ASK FOR ID!!!

Wondering if my company name will cause me trouble...

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Jeff Zugale
Pagan City Comics
www.pagancity.com
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My "Just A Bit Off..." webcomic

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#458961 - 02/02/01 10:06 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Chris Medellin Offline
Member

Registered: 07/08/99
Posts: 943
Loc: Dallas, Tx, Dallas County
JoeKinski- Minor correction, all newscasts, local and national pull these stunts. Sometimes it's for the good, like people pulling scams and actual threats to children and the like. But this shameful display of trying to MAKE a news story, instead of REPORTING the news is what makes people distrust the media even more than normal.

The truly sad thing is, there are a hell of alot of people who go through life with nary an original thought in their head. They see something like this drivel and make up their minds instantly about comic shops and comic buyers.

Hopefully this doesn't adversely affect Golden Apple too much.

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#458962 - 02/02/01 11:43 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Howard Offline
Member

Registered: 06/21/00
Posts: 882
The most damning bit in all this would seem to be the taped comments of the clerk, which would certainly be cause for dismissal if I were running the business.

Scott, did the 4 'undercover operatives' all go in at the same time, to the same clerk, or did the news channel even try to establish a pattern? I'm betting all four went in at once to the same clerk.
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The Trades : Entertainment industry analysis since 1997

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#458963 - 02/03/01 12:20 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
JackieEstrada Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/98
Posts: 516
Loc: San Diego, CA 92115
Comic-Con International: San Diego has to constantly deal with the problem of local TV reporters already having decided on their story ("Porn is being sold to kids!") before they even come in the door, and PR guy David Glanzer has his hands full trying to steer them in a new direction. They don't seem steerable. One year Channel 10's Marty Emerald came out and said "Don't bring your kids to this show"! And attendance was definitely down the next day--which happened to be the Sunday Kids' Day. Comic-Con works hard to let all exhibitors know what the rules are for sale and display of adult material at the show (and these rules are often dictated the city and from the Convention Center itself) and to enforce those rules at the show. So it takes a determined effort to find any adult material where kids might have access to it. The reporter's spin was, of course, that the material was only out of sight as long as the cameras were there, and that it would be back on display the minute the cameras were gone!

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#458964 - 02/03/01 08:39 PM Re: SWEEPS WEEK WITCH-HUNT: LA's GOLDEN APPLE "Stung" By Local News!
Tony Isabella Offline
Member

Registered: 06/23/99
Posts: 2013
Loc: Medina, OH, USA
People, people, people, what do you expect? The candidate of the religious right is in the White House and his inquisitor general is even more of a fanatic than he is. This is going to embolden the censors all over the country.

If you haven't joined the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, or renewed your membership, don't put it off.

Our friend, the First Amendment, is in for a bumpy four years and the Fund will need all the financial help we can give it.

From Occupied America, I remain...

Tony Isabella

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