washingtonpost.com
Guise and 'Dolls': Pussycat Execs Clawed by Critics

By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, January 20, 2007

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 19

The Q&A session for the CW network's "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll" at Winter TV Press Tour 2007 went about as well as could be expected. Except that TV critics gagged slightly every time executive producer McG called the Dolls and the show "aspirational" and a "snapshot of the contemporary woman being everything she can be."

And gagged again when "Dolls" creator Robin Antin insisted that the program -- a talent-search show for a new member of the chart-topping pop group -- was "inspiring to women" with its message to "find your inner doll," adding that getting dressed up like a doll is "like, great for women."

Then McG made The Fatal Mistake:

"You know, I look around at the demographic, naturally, of this room, and it's not the right-down-the- middle Pussycat Doll record-buying public."

Translation: You're a bunch of old men, and you don't get it.

And then all hell broke loose:

"My daughter's almost 17. . . . She just sees this all as, like, a giant step back for women. Why should young girls aspire to dress up like skanks and sing, 'Don't you wish your [girlfriend] was hot like me?' " inquired one critic.

Ron Fair, another executive producer on the reality series and chairman of Geffen Records, took that question. "It's a philosophical question. Not to go into Jean-Paul Sartre here for a second" -- I swear. He really did say that.

Anyway, back to his response:

"Not to go into Jean-Paul Sartre here for a second, but there's a lid for every pot. It's very simple. There's a lid for every pot."

He then explained that the wardrobe of the Pussycat Dolls is only what you'd "see in any Destiny's Child video, any Beyonce video, any competitive video by any of the current crop of female artists."

The Pussycat Dolls, of course, are those singing, dancing hotties best known for their '05 single "Don't Cha." Y'know, the one that goes:

Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me.

Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me.

Another critic said: "You've been using words like 'empowering,' and it sounds like these girls are running for president." By now, they were forming a pack to move in for the kill.

"There's a reason why people like Scarlett Johansson, Gwen Stefani, Cameron Diaz have all been so interested in what 'Pussycat Dolls' is all about," Antin said gamely. "These are women that have wanted to be a part of it because they feel that it is empowering to get up there and dress up like a doll. . . . It's something that every girl in the world . . . wants to do."

McG said he took issue with the question. "There's the suggestion that if it's a step back for women -- and I think it's really gutsy and cool that your daughter of 17 is open enough to take that position -- however, it being a step backwards for women suggests it's in the service of men. Under no circumstances is this in the service of men."

He continued: "Women celebrating one another being beautiful and, frankly, being appreciated by me, has been around for a long time. Under no circumstances is it shameful. And there's even a position to take [that] this is, frankly, third-wave feminism."

Honest. Could I make this up?

Fair began frantically evoking the name of virtually everyone who'd ever sung or danced their way into the entertainment industry, including the Ziegfeld Follies.

And then, just when you thought McG had learned his lesson, he said: "You must understand the fundamental paradox of a gentleman of your age demo asking that very question."

By now, critics were alternately foaming at the mouth and laughing at McG. McG does not like to be laughed at.

"And I don't think you answered it, either," a critic shot back. "In no way did I say I don't find the Pussycat Dolls entertaining. I think hot girls are tremendous. I'm just totally baffled at how you get from 'Dontcha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?' to celebrating women."

McG jumped back in: "Truth be told, it's just saying, 'Don't cha wish your girlfriend could be free and comfortable in her own skin and do her own thing like me?' "

Critics began to boo.

"It is!" Antin said, defensively.

* * *

Exciting new episode of "The Isaiah Washington Story: A Homophobe's Career Melts Down":

Three days after the "Grey's Anatomy" co-star upped his game by using the same anti-gay slur he used several weeks back during a scuffle with cast mate Patrick Dempsey (only this time to a roomful of reporters backstage at the Golden Globes), his employer, Disney, issued the strongest of statements announcing that Team Disney is against it.

Not "his heinie is outta here" against it. Just "his actions are unacceptable and are being addressed" against it.

Meanwhile, a carefully crafted do-over apology was issued on Washington's behalf in which, this time, he apologizes to fellow "Grey's" actor T.R. Knight by name.

In October, Washington used the slur in referring to Knight, even though Washington was fighting with Dempsey. Actors are complex personalities. Particularly the crazy ones.

Just so we're all clear on this, the second time Washington used the word, backstage at the Globes, he was responding to a question put to show creator Shonda Rhimes about the scuffle-and-slur. Washington stepped up to the mike and said he did not utter a slur to Knight. "Never happened, never happened," he said.

We wonder whether Washington thought he was pulling a fast one on the reporters, because technically he did not say the word to Knight, he said the word about Knight. To Dempsey. With whom he was fighting.

Remember, complex.

And crazy.

And homophobic.

Dempsey, standing near Rhimes, looked stricken as Washington repeated the slur and attempted to rewrite history.

"By repeating the word Monday night [at the Globes]," Washington said in his latest apology, "I marred what should have been a perfect night for everyone who works on 'Grey's Anatomy.' " That apology might have been issued by his new publicist.

He fired his old one after the Globes incident.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company