- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mo’Nique’s meltdown

TV star Mo’Nique got kicked off a United Airlines flight after getting into a spat with a flight attendant, and this time the comedian isn’t laughing — she’s crying racism.

“I felt like I was being treated like an animal,” said the Baltimore native, 38, whose full name is Mo’Nique Imes-Hicks. “This happens to black people all the time, and they don’t have a voice. I have a voice.”

Mo’Nique, rumored to be in line to replace Star Jones Reynolds on “The View,” told the New York Daily News the Sunday incident began when her hairstylist stashed a hair dryer in a first-class bin. (Mo’Nique was flying in the front of the cabin, but her aide was in coach.) The comic actress said she tried to keep her cool when a flight attendant first questioned the stylist’s actions, but things became heated when another flight attendant reportedly refused to believe the hair dryer belonged to Mo’Nique.

“Tell your people that the next time they have an attitude, they are being thrown off. … Since 9/11, we don’t play around,” one flight attendant reportedly told Mo’Nique. The exchange ended with an angry Mo’Nique — recently seen as the creator and host of “Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance” beauty pageant on Oxygen — being escorted back to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport — where, according to the star, a supervisor called local police to complain of a “disgruntled and belligerent passenger.”

Furious about being compared to a terrorist, Mo’Nique was said to have become extremely agitated, the Chicago Sun Times reported. Chicago police officers were called but, after analyzing the situation, decided no charges were warranted, the Sun Times said. Mo’Nique and her entourage took a later flight to New York that night.

United spokeswoman Jean Medina told the newspaper that the airline regrets the way Mo’Nique felt she was treated, but adds, “There was a confrontation involving a customer that caused the flight to be delayed. When a situation occurs on a flight that causes a delay or disruption, we must act in the best interest of all of our customers.”

The star was not amused.

“I won’t [fly United again], and I hope no other black person will fly them either,” Mo’Nique told the Daily News.

Others see things differently. A Chicago publicist who recently handled publicity for Mo’Nique’s film “Phat Girlz” told the Sun Times Mo’Nique was “the very worst and most demanding” celebrity she has ever faced — “and especially her posse.”

Going under the knife

Larry Hagman, Brooke Shields and Rosie O’Donnell are among the celebrities set for guest roles on “Nip/Tuck” this season. The Golden Globe-winning drama about two Miami plastic surgeons who are best friends and business partners returns for its fourth season Sept. 5 on Fox.

Sanaa Lathan (“Love and Basketball,” “Something New”) will appear in 12 episodes as a woman who buys the surgeons’ practice. Mr. Hagman plays her much older husband. Other guest stars announced include Catherine Deneuve, Richard Chamberlain, Kathleen Turner, Jacqueline Bisset, Melissa Gilbert and Peter Dinklage, Associated Press reports.

A joyful noise

Maybe you can’t dance.

However, if you think you have talent and believe you’re the next Smokie Norful or Yolanda Adams, consider belting out your soul-stirring best during tomorrow’s auditions for “Gospel Dream 2006” — the Gospel Music Channel’s version of “American Idol.”

Tryouts, beginning at noon at the Capital Hilton Hotel (registration is from 9 a.m. until noon), are open to any gospel/Christian vocalist between the ages of 18 and 40. Each contestant must choose a song from the show’s approved list. (Visit www.gospelmusicchannel.com for more details.) The winner will be announced that afternoon.

GMC, the nation’s first 24-hour music television network devoted to all styles of gospel/Christian music — from the country roots of Randy Travis to the contemporary stylings of Kirk Franklin, Mercy Me, and Amy Grant — debuted in October 2004. It is seen on cable systems in 80 markets and more than 1,300 cities nationwide but is not yet available in the Washington market.

“At this time, we do not have any immediate plans to launch the channel,” says Comcast spokesman Joshua Kodeck. “We are constantly evaluating programming options and customer desires as we make decisions to ensure a diverse programming lineup that meets the interests of our consumers.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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