THE HAGUE (AFP) - A Dutch TV show featuring a dying woman deciding which of three candidates would receive her kidney turned out to be a hoax on Friday, in a stunt to highlight the need for more organ donors. In the last minutes of the live show which had attracted worldwide attention, right before the fake donor was about to make her choice known, presenter Patrick Lodiers revealed all. "We are not giving away a kidney here, that is going too far even for us," he told the audience. The woman, introduced as potential donor Lisa, 37, with an incurable brain tumour, was actually an actress, the BNN public channel said. The three kidney patients who were presented as candidates were real -- but they were in on the hoax and wanted to cooperate to motivate people to register as donors, BNN said. "They are not actors, they are real kidney patients and their stories were deadly serious," Lodiers said. The original premise of the show had sparked uproar in the Netherlands and abroad with many condemning it as unethical to make entertainment out of a life-and-death situation. Journalists and television crews from all over the world had flocked to the Dutch television studio where the show was held. "We worked on this stunt for a year but we never thought this would be such a runaway success," BNN director Laurens Drillich told a press conference afterwards. "We received a lot on international attention for a problem that does really exist," he added. The channel, which has a built up a following of predominantly young viewers through controversial programming, screened the show on the fifth anniversary of the death of its founder, Bart de Graaff, who had waited years for a kidney transplant. For the first 45 minutes of the show, it seemed to go ahead as advertised. 'Lisa' was introduced as the donor in an emotional video where she revealed she only had six months left to live. The actress gave a moving account of why she wanted to donate a kidney because a dear friend died of kidney failure. BNN then introduced three candidates: 36-year-old Esther-Claire, Vincent, 19, and Charlotte, 29. They presented themselves and were quizzed about their lives, their hobbies and even how they voted in the last elections. In true reality TV style there were short videos about their lives, interviews with their loved ones and even the possibility for viewers to send text messages via mobile phone to show their support. The publicity stunt was dreamed up by BNN and producer Endemol, the creators of the "Big Brother" reality show. "Let there be no mistake about it: I would never make a show like 'the Big Donorshow' for real. I understand the uproar but this was needed to get the donor shortage on the agenda," Endemol's director Paul Roemer said in a statement. Dutch Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk, who earlier this week called the programme "inappropriate and unethical because of the contest element" praised the hoax as "a fabulous stunt." He added that BNN had chosen "an intelligent way" to demand attention for the donor shortage in the Netherlands. According to figures published by the Dutch kidney patients foundation 1,088 dialysis patients are at this moment on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. The average waiting time is four years.
Audrey Vachon was recently refused service at Le Stud in Montreal's gay village after sitting down with her father for a quiet afternoon pint. A waiter came over and told her father, Gilles, that the bar doesn't serve women. Vachon, 20, says the waiter avoided looking at her during the conversation. "On the spot I didn't believe it, I thought it was a bad joke," Vachon said Wedensday in an interview. "I didn't say a word until I'd left. I was too shocked. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, I felt guilty that I'd even gone there, like I'd done something wrong." Vachon said she would be the first to complain if homosexuals were refused service at a business. Bar owner Michel Gadoury says Le Stud has banned women most nights since it was established 11 years ago. He says he doesn't understand the fuss. The bar, an understated spot in a flamboyant part of the city, has the trappings of a local pub with pool tables and video poker terminals. On many nights it shows gay pornography on TV screens instead of the usual hockey game fare. "Le Stud is the best place in town for a truly manly meat market," said a review on one travel website.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A Dutch reality show that claims to be trying to draw attention to a shortage of organ donors said Tuesday it would go ahead with a program in which a terminally ill woman will choose a contestant to receive one of her kidneys. The program, "Big Donor Show," has been attacked as unethical and tasteless. One member of the Dutch parliament suggested the government should block Friday's broadcast. "We know that this program is super controversial and some people will think it's tasteless, but we think the reality is even more shocking and tasteless: waiting for an organ is just like playing the lottery," Laurens Drillich, chairman of the BNN network, said in a statement. He said waiting lists in the Netherlands are more than four years long and 200 patients die annually for lack of a donor. The network identified the donor as "Lisa," a 37-year-old woman with an inoperable brain tumour. During the show, she will hear interviews with the three candidates, their families and friends before choosing who will get her kidney. The show is being produced by Endemol NV, the creator of the "Big Brother" series. A spokeswoman for BNN said that there could be no guarantees the donation would actually be made, "but the intention is" Lisa's donation would be carried out before she died. That is because her wish to donate to a particular candidate "wouldn't be valid anymore after her death" under Dutch donation rules, Marieke Saly said. If Lisa does donate one kidney while living, the other kidney may still be awarded to someone else on a national donation waiting list under the country's organ allotment system. Viewers will be able to vote for the candidate they feel is most deserving via SMS text message, but "Lisa will determine who the happy one is," BNN said in a statement. Saly could not say how much it will cost to send an SMS, but most TV programs charge around US$1.35. Joop Atsma, a lawmaker of the ruling Christian Democrats, raised the issue in parliament, asking the government whether the program violated any law. "Is it desirable that public broadcasting would go down this path, and is there no way to send a strong signal that we reject this?" he said. Education Minister Ronald Plasterk, addressing parliament on behalf of the government because the health minister was ill, replied that there were serious questions about whether the transplant would actually go through as BNN has advertised it - but that there was no way to stop the program from airing. "The information I have right now tells me that the program is unfitting and unethical, especially due to the competitive element, but it's up to program makers to make their choices," he said. "The constitution forbids me from interfering in the content of programs: let there be no mistake about that, that would be censorship." He said that there were practical barriers. "In every transplant the tissue of the donor and the patient must match as much as possible," Plasterk said. "The doctors in this program can't make any concessions on that front." There also was doubt whether Lisa's organs could be donated at all because it might spread her cancer, he said. "So it's very possible that in practical terms we're not talking about anything here, because it's possible this transplant can't take place," he said. Noting the shortage of donors, he said it was a good time for a debate on the question of what incentives to donate are ethical. He cited the example of a Dutch funeral home that is offering discounts to the families of people who were registered as donors, and an idea presented by the country's Kidney Institute to give registered donors preference on organ waiting lists.
Elton John's comments that organized religion justifies anti-gay discrimination have sparked mixed responses from the gay community. "I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," John said in an interview published Saturday in the London Observer's Music Monthly Magazine. "I would ban religion completely," he said. "Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings." John also said religious leaders have failed to do anything about world conflicts. He added: "The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion? Why aren't they having a conclave? Why aren't they coming together?"
SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian hotel popular with gay men has won the right to refuse entry to heterosexuals and lesbians, officials and the owner said Monday. The Peel Hotel in Melbourne won an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act to prevent insults and abuse directed toward gays in its bars and nightclubs, owner Tom McFeely told AFP. "The hotel predominantly markets itself towards homosexual males, towards gay men and we want to protect the integrity of the venue as well as continue to make the men feel comfortable," McFeely said. "When large numbers of heterosexuals or even lesbians are in the hotel that changes the atmosphere and many gay men can feel uncomfortable." The landmark decision by a civil tribunal gives the establishment -- which does not offer accommodation -- the right to refuse entry to people considered a threat to the safety and comfort of its patrons. Helen Szoke, the chief executive of the Victoria state government's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, said the Peel Hotel's gay clientele had experienced harassment, hostility and violence. "(They) also have felt as though they've been like a zoo exhibit with big groups of women on hens' parties coming to the club," she said. McFeely said his aim was not to ban all straight patrons and lesbians but to limit their numbers so gay men could freely express their sexuality. He said he expected a backlash from other patrons, but added: "I'm not worried about it because to be frank I don't really care what heterosexuals or lesbians think. "My main motivation is to protect my gay male customers and I realise heterosexuals and lesbians may be upset. but I don't care about that. "We are open at 8.00pm and we go all the way through till the morning. We have two dancefloors -- it is a nightclub environment." McFeely said it would be easy to sort out desirable gays from undesirable straights and lesbians. "It is particularly easy to implement with the females 'cause that is pretty obvious. "With the heterosexual males, if they identify themselves as that at the door, or indeed we question their behaviour in the venue and if they come across as being heterosexual, then we will simply ask them to leave if the behaviour is unappropriate." Human rights group Liberty Victoria supported the decision, vice-president Michael Pearce said. "There are numerous places where heterosexual people can go," he said. "I think what (the tribunal) has said is that there aren't that many places where gay people can go and meet without the risk of being harassed or vilified, and that they are entitled to have their own spaces to do that in."
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's conservative government took its drive to curb what it sees as homosexual propaganda to the small screen on Monday, taking aim at Tinky Winky and the other Teletubbies. Ewa Sowinska, government-appointed children rights watchdog, told a local magazine published on Monday she was concerned the popular BBC children's show promoted homosexuality. She said she would ask psychologists to advise if this was the case. In comments reminiscent of criticism by the late U.S. evangelist Jerry Falwell, she was quoted as saying: "I noticed (Tinky Winky) has a lady's purse, but I didn't realize he's a boy." "At first I thought the purse would be a burden for this Teletubby ... Later I learned that this may have a homosexual undertone." Poland's rightist government has upset human rights groups and drawn criticism within the European Union by apparent discrimination against homosexuals. Polish Education Minister Roman Giertych has proposed laws sacking teachers who promote "homosexual lifestyle" and banning "homo-agitation" in schools. The 10-year-old show, that features four rotund, brightly-colored characters loved by children around the world, became a target of religious conservatives after Falwell suggested Tinky Winky could be homosexual.
Every teenage girl wanted to be her and every teenage boy wanted to date her. With her signature perfectly brushed long hair, Marcia Brady, of the hit early 1970s TV show The Brady Bunch, epitomized the wholesome American girl. But the true life of Marcia Brady, whose real name is Maureen McCormick, is far from the world of lighthearted blended-family conflicts that played out on the sitcom in which she starred. Today she is embroiled in a family battle where brother is pitted against brother and father against daughter. Maureen believes her brother, Kevin, has literally brainwashed her father to alienate him from Maureen and the rest of her family, including his grandchildren. She comes to Dr. Phil desperate for help to save her family.