VH1's scheduled premiere of its Music Behind Bars series Friday night
has triggered a controversy over its content with another cable program, Fox
News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor.
A number of Factor segments this week centered on Behind Bars,
the opening episode of which documents Dark Mischief, a rock band formed by
inmates at Graterford Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
Show host Bill O'Reilly interviewed the mother of Mary Orlando, one of two
teen-agers killed seven years ago by Dark Mischief band member Christopher
Bissey, Tuesday night. Orlando appeared with Pennsylvania state Rep. T. J.
Rooney in an effort to stop tonight's Bars premiere.
O'Reilly viewed the episode, provided by VH1, before delivering his
In consecutive openings Wednesday and Thursday nights, O'Reilly urged viewers
to contact VH1 and request that the program be canceled on the grounds that it
glorifies violent criminals.
He directed viewers to aim their reactions at VH1 executive vice president
and general manager Christina Norman and parent Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner
O'Reilly said in his Wednesday-night commentary that Norman 'should be
ashamed and hand in her resignation immediately.'
A New York Post article Friday reported that VH1 and Viacom have
subsequently received thousands of electronic mails about the matter. A VH1
spokeswoman could not confirm the number of e-mails emanating from the
Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, a Factor guest Thursday night, said
his office is also appealing VH1 to cancel Friday night's premiere, adding that
he'll take steps to make sure that 'in all of our prisons, no more music
programs or opportunities of this kind again for murderers.'
VH1 executives were invited to appear on Factor several times to make
their case for Bars, but they declined, a Fox News spokeswoman said. The
VH1 spokeswoman said network representatives had not been extended an