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Archive for Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Radio’s ‘Dr. Laura’ makes talk show debut

September 13, 2000

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No one stormed the studio. The host didn't breathe fire.

Defying months of protests by gay-rights groups, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, radio's ethics noodge, launched her daytime TV talk show Monday. Peace prevailed on the air.

A target of gay activists since her public dismissal of homosexuality as "deviant" and dangerous to society, Schlessinger has also railed on the radio against abortion, divorce, feminism and interfaith marriage.

But for her TV premiere, the syndicated "Dr. Laura" chose a troubling but not so controversial topic: "Teens and Drugs."

"What is to blame?" Schlessinger posed at the top of the show. "Whatever it is, I'm sick of it, I'm very worried, and I want it stopped."

With that in mind, she led into a no-nonsense, consensus-seeking hour.

Although the format and arena setting of the Los Angeles-based series resemble those of a dozen talk-show counterparts, one difference stood out: Schlessinger's guests were polite and well-dressed, who had made mistakes but were on the mend.

In other words, Schlessinger puts a premium on solutions and contrition.

Her first guest, a mother named Kristin, described the drastic stand she took by sending her teen away for a year of drug therapy. How did daughter Lauren feel on getting roused in the middle of the night by two attendants with handcuffs?

"I was happy," Lauren said.

Another guest represented a company that markets drug tests for parents to use on their children. Schlessinger tested Mike, a 17-year-old former abuser, as his mother looked on. Mike came up negative. The audience applauded.

But Sharli, a fresh-faced 17-year-old, confessed to enjoying marijuana. Schlessinger asked the girl to explain why.

"A feeling that I don't have control of myself," Sharli replied.

Overall, she avoided talk-show pyrotechnics and the shrill tone of her call-in radio show. A kinder, gentler (if no less resolute) Dr. Laura made her TV debut smartly without making waves.

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