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Hoffman, Beatty, NBC Head Ethnic Stereotyping List

August 19, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ The nation’s most-watched network, NBC, joined movie stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as targets Wednesday for the first-ever Golden Pit Awards for allegedly perpetuating offensive ethnic sterotypes in the past year.

″They insult all Americans because of their high degree of insensitivity,″ said William Fugazy, honorary chairman of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, in presenting the awards to broadcasts that ″are the pits.″

″The producers of this material may consider their efforts to be harmless humor, but in fact they are contributing to negative stereotypes,″ Fugazy said.

Of the 10 recipients singled out for ethnic insensitivity, NBC was cited four times - including a Platinum Pit to ″Saturday Night Live″ for the worst stereotyping in the past year during a skit depicting a Chinese store owner and his family.

″My interpretation is this type of thing can touch off other anti-Oriental incidents,″ said David Chen, deputy executive director of the Chinatown Planning Council.

The Columbia Pictures movie ″Ishtar,″ starring Beatty and Hoffman, was attacked for its ″assorted anti-Arab sentiments.″ It was the only film on the list.

″While it was a box-office flop, no one can ignore how it lampooned the highly sacred Moslem pilgrimage to Mecca,″ Fugazy said before placing a spray-painted gold peach pit, tied to a blue ribbon, around the neck of a Styrofoam head bearing Beatty’s name.

NECO is an umbrella group for 65 different organizations, including the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality, the Coalition of Italo-American Associations and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. The group was formed last year.

The other programs and commercials cited by NECO were:

-″Who’s The Boss?″ on ABC, for ″the bumbling, uncouth, and semi-literate Italian character portrayed by Tony Danza.″

-Commercials by the Naugles fast food chain featuring the character ″Senor Naugles, a hackneyed character complete with sombrero.″ The ads ran in California, Utah, Nevada and Missouri.

-Calvin Coolers, for a radio commercial depicting ″a subservient, stereotypical characterization of a Chinese laundry owner.″

-″The Bronx Zoo″ on NBC, for ″labeling a New York City high school - and by extension, an entire borough - a zoo.″

-A Pontiac ad which was broadcast in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and had a character dubbed Rhonda Weissman proclaim, ″I am not a princess.″

-″Me and Mrs. C″ on NBC, for portraying a black woman boarding with a white widow as an ex-convict.

-A radio commercial from Lee Myles using the character Charlie Tram ″speaking in a stereotypical Chinese-American accent.″

-″The Tortellis″ on NBC, a ″Cheers″ spinoff with two main characters: ″a crude Italian husband and his vulgar and acid-tongued Italian wife.″

Bob Wright, ABC vice president for public relations, declined comment, while NBC spokesman Dom Giofre said, ″Everyone’s entitled to their opinions.″ A spokesman for Columbia Pictures was not immediately available for comment. Pontiac has since pulled its ads with Rhonda.

Although all the recipients were invited to accept their awards in person at Fugazy’s Manhattan office, none showed, and the Golden Pits will instead be mailed out.

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