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'The first reality show'

With Amy Fisher, Joey Buttafuoco and Mary Jo

Buttafuoco meeting face-to-face on "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider"

last week, and Mary Jo Buttafuoco appearing on "Oprah," it seemed like the

right time to ask the staff of "The Soup," the E! network's nightly irreverent

report on TV talk shows, to ponder the question: Why does this "Long Island

Lolita" soap opera never seem to go away?

It was back in 1992 that Fisher at age 17 shot her married lover's wife

(now ex-) in the face at the Buttafuocos' Massapequa home. She went to jail for

7 years.

Tossing around questions sent by Newsday's Sunday Opinion section are:

"Soup" host-producer Joel McHale; executive producer-head writer K.P. Anderson

and producer-writers Greg Fideler, Tess Rafferty, Lee Farber and Dominic DeLeo.

Joey and Amy and Mary Jo, still in the press - why?

TESS: Because they can. The TV newsmagazines like

"Entertainment Tonight" dictate what we're interested in.

LEE: Work's been slow at the post office. I just saw Joey selling Italian

ices at a street fair and not as a celebrity appearance.

GREG: With the line blurring between news and entertainment, it's nice to

have something that is neither.

K.P.: They were the first reality show. We didn't know it at the time....

GREG: Yeah, 15 years ago this situation was a reality show, and we needed

to pick on weird ordinary people like Joey. Now we can pick on weird celebs.

DOMINIC: Well, it's the classic story between ... some guy and, um ... his

child bride ... and the loving wife who gets shot in the face ... Timeless.

K.P.: They will also be the last reality show. Fox will put the three of

them in a house, hide a .38 somewhere and see what happens.

JOEL: Shakespeare.

Are the characters themselves particularly magnetic?

LEE: Mary Jo is now, since they haven't gotten the bullet out.

K.P.: At the time, yeah. Stars weren't freaky enough back then. If

Scientology were more popular then, you wouldn't have even heard about them.

TESS: I think we'd still hear about them today.

JOEL: I think women are more interested in this than guys because chicks

love a good romance and TV movie.

TESS: Yeah, guys don't like the story because it has an unhappy ending: The

dude got caught.

K.P.: Guys were interested when Amy was still 16 and faced time in women's

prison.

GREG: The Joey-Amy situation probably happens 50 times a day now that we

have MySpace, so it's not as big a deal.

K.P.: But why does it still resonate? Because she didn't get bloated like

Tonya Harding?

TESS: Well, no one got shot by Tonya... .

JOEL: K.P., tell your story about running into Buttafoucco at the polo club.

K.P.: Right after Joey moved to L.A., I was at the Jockey Club (because

that's how I rolled when I was in my 20s - with 80-year-old men and their

hookers.) And Joey shows up. The place acted like the biggest star ever, Paul

Newman, just walked in the room. I walk up to him, while everyone is hushed,

staring at his eminence and say "Joey, I have a carburetor I need fixed on my

'73 Nova." He says, "What's that about?" And I say, "I thought someone should

remind you, you're a -- mechanic." He tells me to --. The whole club hates me.

Because they worshipped this guy like he actually did something. Made me nuts.

TESS: You've just described how they treat everyone in Hollywood.

K.P.: But now here we are in a world that worships nothing more than shows

about people with no legitimate claim to fame. That's how all of us on "The

Soup" make a living. Ironic, huh?

DOMINIC: Buttafuoco's almost as fun to type as it is to say.

GREG: "Buttafuoco" made this story. If his name was "Smith" no one would

care!

TESS: Man, I got "buttafuocoed" on my taxes last year.

What about the "Entertainment Tonight"/"Insider" special that's been airing?

JOEL: I wonder how much "ET" and "The Insider" paid them.

GREG: I don't think people are sick of this story, but they will be by the

end of "ET's" month-long coverage.

K.P.: We just watched it and the cool thing was, these

people still hate each other. You could see it on Amy and Joey's faces:

spite. Not the MTV "Real World," "I'm doing this so they invite me on 'The

Gauntlet' " stuff. True spite.

JOEL: Wow - that is spite.

K.P.: On Mary Jo's face, not so much. To be expected.

TESS: I'd be mad if a fat guy I told the world I slept with denied having

slept with me.

How does this scandal rate against other ones?

GREG: It's a classic! It had violence, sex and lying - nice trifecta.

K.P.: Below Monica Lewinsky, above WMDs - sad, really.

TESS: Sadly, fewer people know about Watergate.

GREG: If Mary Jo had died, it would be too horrible to yak about, but Amy

shot her just hard enough to give the story legs.

Does the Long Island location where it happened make a difference?

TESS: Yeah, it was before the vineyard boom on Long Island, so all you

really had was this and the Hamptons.

K.P.: Long Island? I don't think so. Mary Kay Letourneau [the school

teacher who had sex with a 13-year-old boy and gave birth to their child]

happened in Seattle and that somehow broke through the fog.

JOEL: Letourneau is the story for guys, and Buttafuoco is for girls. I

don't think many people would have heard of it had it occurred in North Korea.

Are things changing in the story, or is it just the people that are so

appealing?

K.P.: Nothing has changed, and the people are pathetic. It sticks around

because it will never stop making you feel better about yourself.

GREG: Amy always came across as psycho - that's fun to watch. Joey was

always an ordinary guy. Maybe it's the combination.

TESS: I think people are sheep who just watch what's in front of them.

JOEL: I just want to know what Amy is going to wear next!

Are people sick of the story?

LEE: Yes.

TESS: How could they not be?

JOEL: Yes. But it's good "Soup" material.

DOMINIC: You're asking the wrong people.

GREG: They don't need two weeks of coverage. They could just do one event,

like at halftime of the Super Bowl.

K.P.: I was sick of it two weeks after it happened. There is a disconnect

in Hollywood between what we think people want to hear about and what people

want to hear about.

JOEL: Isn't there a war on?

K.P.: There was just an article online about the E! network and how people

are coming to us to tune out the real world. That's what this is about. Who

would you rather watch, a healing Mary Jo or a not healing dead soldier's

mother?

DOMINIC: And just think of the children who've never heard this story. We

need to leave them something!

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