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Whoopi sparks up a storm

Goldberg has offended yet another section of society ? but then controvery is her name.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON AUG 07, 2003 08:55 PM IST

Whoopi Goldberg has offended yet another section of society – but the controversy delights the star. Fresh from upsetting fans of the late Salsa star Celia Cruz by revealing her plans to play the deceased singer in a film, Whoopi has now offended anti-smoking lobbyists.

The actress’ new TV comedy show Whoopi  will see the Sister Act star play a chain-smoking innkeeper who puffs away in three of the pilot episode’s 22 scenes.

The Reverend Jesse Brown, executive director of African Americans For Positive Imagery, fumes, "We don’t need to see the tobacco companies’ messages reinforced by Whoopi or anyone else on television."

Melissa Howard of the Centre For Disease Control And Prevention adds, “Whenever you see a cigarette used as a prop, kids pick up on that. Children don’t understand the nuances or see the humour that adults do."

Goldberg’s series is designed to be a commentary on American society and takes a swipe at everything from racism and fears about terrorism to Arab-American stereotypes and President George W. Bush’s mispronunciations.

The stunned actress wonders, "It’s extraordinary when you have an interracial couple in the show and the thing that people are freaking about is that I’m smoking. I love it. People do still smoke and people do still drink and this character does. She’s not perfect."

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