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Year in Review: 1997

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Re-rank the list of top news stories of 1997

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Princess Diana's death stuns the world

Weld steps out -
Cellucci steps forward

Mother Teresa is laid
to rest at age 87

Chinese rule returns
to Hong Kong

Supreme Court strikes
down 'Net decency act

UPS strike disrupts thousands of firms

Heaven's Gate cult commits mass suicide

Mars Pathfinder explores Red Planet

Ellen comes out, marking a first in TV

For the first time, a mammal is cloned


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Gore praises Hollywood for confronting biases

By Associated Press, 10/17/97

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Vice President Al Gore praised Hollywood yesterday for producing the openly lesbian TV character ''Ellen,'' saying she forced Americans to ''look at sexual orientation in a more open light.''

The title character in ABC's sitcom ''Ellen'' told her friends and family last season that she was gay. The star's show, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, made her homosexuality public about the same time.

In a speech to the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, Gore singled out TV shows and characters for their contribution to society. ''Oscar the Grouch'' taught youngsters valuable lessons and ''Archie Bunker'' forced Americans to confront their racial and ethnic prejudices, he said.

''And, when the character Ellen came out, millions of Americans were forced to look at sexual orientation in a more open light,'' Gore said.

Randy Tate, executive director of the Christian Coalition, accused Gore of ''craven pandering to Hollywood.'' He said Gore's support of a lesbian character ''is way out of the mainstream.''

White House aides were unsure whether the ''Ellen'' reference would be approved by Gore, given the uncertainty of public reaction, but one official said the vice president ''didn't even flinch'' when he read the line in preparation for the speech.

Gore said he sees a ''golden era'' for Hollywood, with increased global trade and new entertainment technologies. But he said that opportunity comes with ''deep responsibility that we all share.''

He urged Hollywood executives to avoid glamorizing violence, tobacco, and drugs on TV and film. ''All I ask is show our young people a full and accurate picture of what these killers do to people's lives,'' he said.

In a gathering of nearly 1,000 Hollywood executives, Gore said, ''You not only reflect who we are but you form our national - and increasingly our world - consciousness.''


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