NEW YORK (Dec. 15)
Mrs. Eleanor Holmes Norton, chairman of the City Commission on Human Rights, has rejected the charge by producer-actor Ben Bonus that NBC News engaged in “unfairness and discrimination” by not reviewing his current Broadway show, “Light, Lively and Yiddish.” In a letter to Mr. Bonus and his press agent, Max Eisen, Mrs. Norton noted that the media have a “special responsibility” to “reflect fairly” the diversity of the city’s cultural life, including the “unique inheritance” of the Yiddish theater. But she said the media are “clearly protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech,” and that the Human Rights Commission therefore “cannot properly pursue” the charges against NBC News. Under the law, she wrote, a news medium’s decision to cover or not to cover a particular event is “not a discriminatory practice.” Mr. Bonus and Mr. Eisen had protested last week that the decision by NBC critic Edwin Newman not to review their show, which is almost all in Yiddish, was “unfair, discriminatory and a disservice to theater-goers and the community.” Mr. Newman called the charges “nonsense.” explaining that the Yiddish language was beyond his ken and that “There is no service I can perform” for his audience with respect to the Bonus show. A spokesman for Mrs. Norton said the Bonus-Eisen protest to the commission appeared to be unique.