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(September 26, 2005)
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      *What started out as comedian/writer Paul Mooney's questionable "Nigga Wake Up Award" turned into an all-out insult to Diana Ross last night at the taping of the BET Comedy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. For some reason Mooney thought the famed singer was deserving of being talked about like a dog because of her arrest for drunk driving from two or three years ago.
      Needless to say, Mooney's mean-spirited tirade was met with disbelief, disgust and silence from the audience in the auditorium and members of the press in the media room covering the event. What made it more difficult to witness was the fact that Tracee Ellis Ross was in the auditorium while Mooney went through his attack. Actually Miss Ellis Ross couldn't take it and left the auditorium.
      Backstage in the press room when EUR's Lee Bailey confronted Mooney about his bit on Ross being way over the top, the comedian defended his actions.
      "How can somebody get arrested for (being under the influence) and go to jail and I be over the top? I think that's over the top, don't you? Agree or disagree, folks. No, comedy is not over the top," Mooney said. "When you are a celebrity and you do crazy stuff, that's the game."
      At that point Bailey asked him if thought about the fact that Tracee Ellis Ross was in the room while he delivered his diatribe against her mother.
      "I didn't know ... her mama could've been in there, that's not the point. I didn't drive drunk," Mooney shot back. "Now I'm responsible for Diana Ross? If you scrutinize Jay Leno and David Letterman the same way you scrutinize me, then I'll agree with you, but if you don't touch them white folks don't touch me. They say what ever they want to say every night."
      Record executive and member of old school group Club Nouveau, Jay King, was in the audience and was clearly disgusted by Mooney's comments.
      "Diana Ross' thing to me was just a personal demon she was dealing with, it wasn't something that he needed to go on record (talking about). If he'd have kept it light and funny it would've been fine, but he got down right dirty and divisive," King told us. "He said he says nigga a hundred times a day, well today he did ... he was a nigga a hundred times for doing that. Her daughter was in that audience. That's ridiculous. He was nasty and he was rude. Paul Mooney knows better than that. He knows where to draw the line and stepped over the line tonight. I've seen him push the envelope, but tonight is the first time I've been offended by something he said, because with the Diana Ross thing, once he knew he was offensive, he just continued on ... he didn't wanna stop. At that point, he meant to hurt and damage somebody."
      That raises the question of how BET is going to deal with Mooney's "moment." In fact, with all the "niggas," "bitches," "MFs" and other words that can't be said on TV, the network's producers and editors have got one hellava challenge ahead of them. The BET Comedy Awards air tomorrow night (09-27-05) from 9 until 11 PM E/P.
      In tomorrow's EUR, we'll bring you more about the show as well as comedians Steve Harvey and Sheryl Underwood's reactions to Paul Mooney.
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