TELEVISION: ROLL OVER, WARD CLEAVER

AND TELL OZZIE NELSON THE NEWS. ELLEN DEGENERES IS POISED TO BECOME TV'S FIRST OPENLY GAY STAR. IS AMERICA READY OR NOT?

Different media have different thresholds for scandal. Controversy in the movies might mean making a film that glorifies one of the nation's most repugnant pornographers. Controversy in literature might mean writing a memoir about the affair you had with your father when you were in your 20s. In television, which functions not just as a business and debased art form but also as an increasingly fractured nation's de facto mirror of itself, the threshold is much lower. Controversy could mean starring in a sitcom as a gently scatterbrained former bookstore owner who, after years of adult floundering, reluctantly comes to a...

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