WASHINGTON -- Brooke Shields says despite the sensuous roles she's played in commercials and movies, she is a clean-cut girl -- one disappointed by a federal agency's decision to drop the anti-smoking ads she did for it.
Testifying Wednesday before a congressional panel investigating the demise of her ad campaign, Miss Shields, 16, said she opposes smoking and did the public service spots to help other teenagers kick or avoid the habit.
'I was hurt very much when I found out that the commercials were withdrawn,' Miss Shields told the House Subcommittee on Oversight Investigations. 'I think I'm a very effective spokesperson to do the commercials.'
The ads were shelved by the Department of Health and Human Services shortly after they were completed -- triggering a minor furor on Capital Hill.
The subcommittee is investigating whether, as alleged, the ads were canned because of industry pressure, or, as maintained by HHS, because they were ineffective and uninformative.
HHS officials also have said they didn't consider Miss Shields an appropriate role model -- referring to her portrayal of a teenage prostitute in one movie and to the provocative blue jeans commercials she has done.
But there were no HHS officials at the hearing. They were not invited because of a dispute with Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., over interviewing ground rules.
In a letter read at the hearing by Rep. Marc Marks, R-Pa., David Newhall, HHS Secretary Richard Schweiker's top aide, denied pressure from the cigarette industry had anything to do with the decision to pull the ads.
'I can say unequivocally that not one phone call, meeting, memo or communication of any kind took place between HHS personnel involved in this decision and anyone connected with the tobacco industry,' Newhall said.
In the ads, Miss Shields poses with cigarettes sticking out of her ears. She says, 'I think people who smoke are real losers.'
Miss Shields was the hearing's star attraction. Television cameras zoomed in on the slim celebrity and hundreds of spectators, drawn by her name, lined up to attend the hearing.
She was asked by Rep. Don Ritter, R-Pa., if she understood how there might be a difference of opinion on whether she was a good role model for teenage girls because of her sex symbol image.
'I'm an actress and these (anti-smoking) commericals I have filmed are quite different (from the movie roles),' she replied. 'These commercials are me and those are my true feelings.'