December 22, 1997


Inspired by tonight's evening news, I think I'll share my opinions on a couple of items, opinions that I don't think are going to be very popular. But this ain't a popularity contest and they're my opinions, so...

First off, the jury verdict in the Hunter Tylo case. For those of you who don't watch the news, Hunter Tylo is a soap actress who was hired to play a seductress on the night-time soap Melrose Place. Shortly thereafter, before they'd burned a single frame of film on her, she turned up pregnant. They canned her. Tylo sued.

Tylo said it was unfair and illegal for them to fire her simply for being pregnant. She says they should have worked around the pregnancy like they did for Heather Locklear when she was pregnant. She says she only gained 40-some pounds and didn't look pregnant, so Spelling Entertainment's fears that she would were unfounded. The jury agreed and found in her favor, awarding her $5 million -- twice what her attorneys were asking for.

Opinion: Wrong verdict.

I base this opinion on a standard clause in an acting contract, a clause that was in hers, a clause that states that the job is contingent on there being "no material change in appearance." I don't know about you, but pregnancy falls under "material change" in my book.

Granted, she looked great -- not pregnant, even -- throughout this pregnancy and the two before it...but how was Spelling Entertainment to know that would be the case? Her own attorney argued that no two pregnancies are alike, using that to illustrate that Spelling was wrong to think she'd look pregnant. I say it supports Spelling. Should they have thrown the dice and hoped she wouldn't look pregnant this time around in a role that wouldn't work with a pregnant woman in it?

And working around her like they did Heather Locklear? Locklear's is an ongoing character, a star, one they were eager to keep. Tylo's role was for a new character and she hadn't been established in it, so it was cheaper and easier for them to replace her with someone who wasn't pregnant and didn't require drastic changes in scripts and shooting. Why should they jump through hoops for someone the show won't miss?

I say all of this could have been avoided if Tylo had honored her end of the contract and practiced a little birth control. I think she's ducking her own responsibilities in the matter...but the jury didn't see it that way.

The other opinion stems from a "report" I overheard tonight on Hard Copy or Inside Edition or one of those faux news shows where they were talking about the big shoot-em-up bank robbery in North Hollywood several months ago where the bad guys carried assault rifles and wore body armor. If you'll recall, the first guy was finally killed with a head shot but the other guy was shot in the leg and bled to death at the scene.

Opinion: The second guy was murdered.

I believe that the police deliberately prevented him from receiving medical care and it killed him. They said that they didn't know how many other robbers were still running around (none) so the situation was too dangerous to allow an ambulance in to take care of him...but not too dangerous, apparently, to let ambulances in to take care of their guys. So the guy bled to death and, gee, they felt just terrible about it.

While I'm no fan of criminals in general and bank robbers in particular, I think the cops had a duty to make sure this guy survived if only so he could spend the rest of his life in prison. But I believe that too often cops decide to mete out a little justice themselves, and that's what I think happened here. This guy shot several cops, terrorized the neighborhood, put everyone in danger...and made the police look ineffective. That, in their eyes, just wouldn't do. So they decided to let him squirm in pain for a good long time before they let the ambulance in. Only problem is, they let him squirm a little too long. Oops.

While I'm on the subject of the cops and this bank robbery, I'll throw in a bonus opinion. The LAPD used this shootout as leverage to get more firepower for themselves. Where before they had only shotguns and 9mm handguns and a tank, now a few of them get to carry assault rifles; M-16s, I think. They said they needed them because they were so outgunned by the bad guys' superior firepower.

Opinion: Bullshit.

The deciding factor in this shootout wasn't the assault rifles the bad guys were carrying, it was the body armor they were wearing. The fact that the bad guys had bigger guns just meant they got to shoot more. The cops couldn't stop them because even when they hit them they wouldn't go down. Body armor. M-16s wouldn't have changed things much, I don't think. But the cops wanted new toys. Now they're getting them. I'll bet they can't wait to use them.

So now, let the flames begin. These opinions are pretty concrete but I'm open to changing them if I hear a compelling argument. I'll respond if any of you feel like debating this, but you've got to debate it. Telling me that I suck or I'm a commie bastard -- both opinions you're definitely free to hold -- will serve only to get you branded a moron and ignored. Complete sentences, coherent thoughts; that's the way to go here, kids.

Fire away.





Copyright © 1997
Chuck Atkins