THE 'F' WORD
It isn't as though the so-called "F-word" hasn't made it onto network air in the past -- mistakes will happen in live TV -- but ESPN is breaking a little ground with its March 10 presentation of the TV movie "A Season on the Brink," starring Brian Dennehy as fiery college basketball coach Bob Knight.
According to New York Daily News, the ultimate four-letter word comes up 15 times in the first half-hour alone.
Mark Shapiro, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN programming, told the paper the Disney-owned outfit believes the language is important to the integrity of the picture. "We conducted a lot of focus groups and did a lot of qualitative research, as well as a thorough evaluation here," he said, "and the bottom line is we don't believe you can give an accurate depiction and portrayal of The General (one of Knight's nicknames) if it doesn't accomplish the language he speaks."
Shapiro said ESPN understands that not everyone wants the F-word coming into their home on basic cable, so an alternative version -- with the F-word bleeped out -- will be offered on ESPN 2. In addition, ESPN will run a disclaimer every nine minutes or so cautioning viewers about the rough language.
"Granted, it's cable, but historically we haven't shown profanity on our network," said Shapiro. "You've got a show, you need to warn your audience fast and furious."
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
Oh, those witty British euro-skeptics. Passengers traveling to Europe through London's Stansted airport are helped with a "Rough Guide" to the airport that includes a list of those countries that use the euro currency. The list ran thus: Belgium, Austria, France, Finland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. Observant readers will note, as did some passengers, that the first letters of the list read "BAFFLING PIGS." The guide has now been withdrawn.
(From UPI Hears)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
In Leon, Kansas, last week, students were in tears and the school in an uproar over a biology teacher's plans to feed three puppies to his pet boa constrictors in class.
Bluestem High School Principal Dale Harper said some people want teacher Matthew Patton fired over the incident -- even though the puppies never did become snake bait.
"When you have soft cuddly puppies ... there are people who get real concerned," he told the Wichita Eagle.
Patton got the puppies from school board member Davy Harkins, who operates the El Dorado Animal Clinic. Harkins said he figured feeding the puppies to the boa would be more productive than euthanizing them because no one wanted them.
Patton keeps two boas in a glass box in his classroom and feeds the snakes in front of students to show how the serpents eat something larger than they are.
Harper, a former biology teacher, said feeding the snakes rats never has presented a problem.
Patton abandoned the planned feeding when asked to do so. Harkins took the puppies back and is now trying to find them homes.
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
Muslims in India's western state of Gujarat are shaving off their beards and removing their caps to mask their identities to avoid the fury of rampaging Hindu mobs who have lynched more than 400 Muslims during religious riots.
The Telegraph newspaper reports any Muslim seen on the streets in Ahmedabad city wearing a cap is immediately attacked and lynched by marauding mobs.
Religious violence in Gujarat broke out last Wednesday when at least 58 Hindus, mostly women and children, died after a train they were traveling on was set ablaze. At least 27 Muslims have been arrested for the train attack.
The train was returning from Ayodhya city, where Hindu extremists are planning to build a temple on the site of a destroyed mosque.
To avenge the attack, Hindu mobs attacked Muslim homes and businesses across Gujarat.
Since most barber shops have been closed due to a curfew in 32 towns, Muslims are helping themselves with the razor. "Razor on beard is better than a knife slit on a throat," one Muslim man told UPI.
India is predominantly Hindu -- 82 percent of more than 1 billion people practice the religion. But 12 percent of the population is Muslim.
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
Madonna will be trodding the floorboards of a West End stage in London this May.
Allstar.com reports the singer/actress will star in "Up for Grabs," a comedy by David Williamson. The production -- a satire on the world of art -- will preview on May 9 and open May 23 at Wyndham's Theatre.
Madonna's theater experience includes a stint on Broadway in David Mamet's "Speed the Plow" and a limited run of David Raab's "Goose and Tom Tom" at the Lincoln Center in New York. Her films include "The Next Best Thing," "Evita" and "Dick Tracy."