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Multiple Headaches for Octomom in Syndication

March 8, 2009 8:45 PM

The denizens of the syndicated programming world are no strangers to the avalanche of media coverage surrounding “octomom” Nadya Suleman, who gave birth famously to octuplets in Southern California in January.

Nadya Suleman

Last month, “Dr. Phil” snared a coveted interview with Ms. Suleman, while “The Oprah Winfrey Show” grabbed time with Ms. Suleman’s father, Ed Doud, who was publicly critical of his daughter.

But the backlash of negative public opinion the ongoing media frenzy has created toward the octomom has affected the syndie world too.

Genre Judge Judy Sheindlin joined the charge last week, calling Ms. Suleman “irresponsible” during a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and asserting that the media outlets making Ms. Suleman into a celebrity are “doing the rest of the world a big disservice.”

And at least one syndicated outlet is flat-out refusing to feed into the hype: Billy Bush, host of NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood,” announced on the Feb. 25 episode that the show will no longer cover Ms. Suleman’s saga, save for a possible movie-of-the-week announcement.

“It’s gross,” Mr. Bush said about the ever-expanding story.

“Access” executive producer Rob Silverstein said he was no longer interested in the story when a Radar Online “video showdown” between Ms. Suleman and her mother over the multiple births was presented almost like a WWE wrestling match.

“I found it as distasteful as I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Silverstein said.

Internet and viewer reaction to the “Access” shift was generally positive, though some found the announcement to be a wee bit sanctimonious.

“To be clear, the octomom story is sordid and tragic,” wrote one blogger at media-analysis blog Newsbusters.org, “and deciding not to report it is understandable—perhaps laudable. But ‘Access Hollywood’s’ moral preening about this is, well, gross.”

—Andrew Krukowski

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