On his April 5 CBS radio show, Penn Jillette commented on the rumor that Paris Hilton may play Mother Teresa in a movie. He said Mother Teresa “had this weird kink that I think was sexual” about seeing people suffer and die. He also said that “Paris Hilton is so far above Mother Teresa on the moral scale, she should not lower herself” to playing the saintly nun.
After comparing Mother Teresa to Charles Manson, Jillette again said she “got her [sexual] kicks watching people suffer and die.” He concluded by saying, “Paris Hilton. You’re so much better than that. Don’t take the gig. Keep making good wholesome porno films. Just do that. Do what you’re cut out for. Don’t lower yourself to playing Mother Teresa.”
Subsequent to Jillette’s remarks, John London, a radio talk-show host on KIFR/San Francisco (a CBS station that carries Jillette’s show), said that he would offer “$5,000 to the person that kills Jillette” for his attack on Mother Teresa. He added that if Jillette “suffers, I’ll make it $7,000.” London, and his producer, Dennis Cruz, were then fired by the CBS management in New York.
Bill Donohue’s response was as follows:
“Last year, Penn Jillette referred to Mother Teresa on his Showtime TV show as ‘Mother F—ing Teresa.’ After I registered a complaint with Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom (which owns Showtime, as well as CBS), I was told about the merits of ‘artistic freedom’ and ‘tolerance.’ After Jillette’s latest attack, it is clear that such excuses are wholly unacceptable.” Donohue then called upon CBS Radio to fire him. He warned that CBS had its reputation to protect and had better take at least some disciplinary measures.
After Donohue’s comments were released to the press, he had a frank exchange with CBS officials, the specifics of which must remain confidential. But this much can be revealed: While it cannot be said with 100 percent certainty that we will never have to revisit this problem, it is highly unlikely.