Song Cut From the Oscars

This story appeared in several papers today – but since subscription is required, we’ll post it complete below:

Cut From the Oscars: Cartoon Characters’ Sins
By DAVID M. HALBFINGERABC executives have forced Robin Williams to drop a comic song from the Oscars show that might well have proved one of the most political and racy numbers of the broadcast, despite the fact that the network and the show’s host, Chris Rock, have been promoting the night as anything but tame.Mr. Williams, the presenter of the Academy Award for best animated feature, decided last week that his one minute on stage would be a prime time to lampoon the conservative critic James C. Dobson, whose group Focus on the Family last month criticized the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants for appearing in a video about tolerance that the group called “pro-homosexual.”For a bit of material, Mr. Williams predictably turned to Marc Shaiman, the composer, whose oeuvre includes Oscar-night medleys for Billy Crystal and songs for shows like “Hairspray” and movies like “South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut”.Overnight, Mr. Shaiman and his partner, Scott Wittman,dashed off a mock expose of the dark underbelly of cartoonland for Mr. Williams to deliver, over a gospel-music groove, as if he were a full-throated preacher inveighing against other newly-discovered sinners in the nation’s midst:”Pinocchio’s had his nose done! Sleeping Beauty is
popping pills!/ The Three Little Pigs ain’t kosher! Betty Boop works Beverly Hills!”The producer of the Oscars telecast, Gil Cates, urged Mr. Shaiman to make the bit “less political,” Mr. Shaiman said, so he quickly removed any reference to Mr. Dobson’s protests – and turned Mr. Williams into a fabulous, lisping character dishing up the latest juicy gossip:”Fred Flintstone is dyslexic, Jessica Rabbit is really a man, Olive Oyl is really anorexic, and Casper is in the Ku Klux Klan!” Officials from ABC’s broadcast standards and practices office were not pleased. On Thursday, they detailed their objections. Some lines were opposed for “sexual tone,” as the ABC officials, Susan Futterman and Olivia Cohen Cutler, put it to Mr. Williams, Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Cates. These lines included “Chip ‘n Dale are both strippers,” “Bugs Bunny’s a sexaholic,” and “Josie and the Pussycats dance on laps.”In the end, however, the sexual references would have been allowed, a network spokesman said. But they held the line on material that they believed might be seen as glorifying drug use or offending Native Americans or disabled people.Among other lines, they included “The Road Runner’s hooked on speed” and “Pocahontas is addicted to craps.”On Friday, faced with rewriting or killing as many as 11 lines out of a 36-line piece, Mr. Shaiman said, he and Mr. Wittman refused, and Mr. Williams had to look for new material.Mr. Williams, interviewed at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, said he was disappointed. “For a while you get mad, then you get over it,” he said. “They’re afraid of saying Olive Oyl is anorexic. It tells you about the state of humor. It’s strange to think: how afraid are you?” He added: “We thought that they got the irony of it. I guess not.”