Wednesday, November 24, 2004
BY DAVID HINCKLEY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Guardian Angel leader and radio host Curtis Sliwa, infuriated by the portrayal of a Sliwa-inspired character on "Law & Order," said yesterday he may sue the popular NBC show.
Sliwa's character was played by Jose Zuniga as a hypocritical, philandering, self-righteous, publicity-seeking phony who sacrifices his principles for the lure of a satellite radio show.
"As Seinfeld used to say, I was 'bizarro'd'," Sliwa groused yesterday. "This was a world where everything up was down. My character was so despicable that he deserved to get shot."
The "Law & Order" episode used as its springboard the shooting of Sliwa in 1992, allegedly on the orders of mob heir John A. (Junior) Gotti.
At the end of the show, the Sliwa character declined to identify his assailants from the witness stand, seduced by the payoff of the satellite radio show.
"That was the worst part," said Sliwa. "Twelve years I've been waiting to get on the stand and finger those guys. That will be a highlight of my life."
After Sliwa was shot, there were rumors he arranged it to cover up an affair.
While recent real-life government disclosures have since pinned the hit on Gotti, the TV show ran with the affair angle.
Boo hoo hoo.
I don't know what Curtis Sliwa is complaining about. The character was named Kristoff; and while the crime started out with some similarity to what happened to the founder of the Guardian Angels, it ended up following a different path to Destiny.
This wasn't the Real World; it's Toobworld. It was a work of fiction inspired by the life of Sliwa, not a portrait of him.
Why don't we see lawsuits against all of those roman a clef novels, like Joe Klein's "Primary Colors"? Everybody knows it was based on the lives of the Clintons, but I don't see them taking Klein to court. And what about 'That's My Bush!", the sitcom on Comedy Central? There was no hiding behind false identities for such characters as Karl Rove, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Prez himself.
Hey, if Curtis Sliwa was so intent on protecting his image from being distorted, he should have been suing the producers of "We're Fighting Back", a 1981 TV movie starring Kevin Mahon. His character of Morgan "Case" Casey was also based on Sliwa, but so far as I can tell, it passed unnoticed in the legal system.
Sliwa hasn't been the only high-profile celebrity to have been put through the 'Law & Order' "ripped from the headlines" wringer. I've already written about the less-than-stellar episode about the gay governor involved in kickbacks and illegal freebies. It was a mixture of the problems faced by Governors Jim McGreevey of New Jersey and John Rowland of Connecticut. The gay issue could be pinned on McGreevey, while it was Rowland with the ethical issues that forced him to resign.
What was worse for Rowland was that the fictional governor was at the helm of Connecticut. I would've made it a different state, - and why not make it New York to cover the whole tri-state area? (I'll tell you why - the producers didn't want to bleep off Pataki and lose any production deals they've got from the state and the City.)
I think Sliwa should take his cue from Jim McGreevey: he should suck it up and take it like a man.
Which is what apparently got McGreevey in trouble in the first place.....
Posted by Toby O'B at 8:12 PM