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Gawker refuses to cater to "Housewives" sense of humor

Lynda Erkiletian, not laughing. (Stephen J. Boitano/Bravo/NBCUPB via AP Images)

Things are getting a little too real for Lynda Erkiletian, one of the "Real Housewives of D.C."

A lawyer for the modeling agency owner sent letters to Comedy Central, Gawker and local blogger Carol Joynt last week threatening to sue for defamation after they wickedly riffed on Erkiletian's boast that "we cater to ambassadors and diplomats."

"There wasn't a story written that didn't mention her comment with a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge," Joynt told us Tuesday. She posted her take on the show ("a train wreck"), which included a risque aside about the models followed by "just kidding." Within 24 hours, Joynt received a stern warning from attorney Mark Lane asking her to remove the posting -- which she did -- and asking for an apology, which she also made online.

Lane said he also contacted Comedy Central, which has removed its offending language from its Web site, and Gawker (which called Erkiletian "one of the biggest, high-class" ... er, purveyors of something other than models in Washington), which refused, saying the surreal satiric commentary by Richard Lawson was "meant to be a joke."

"I don't get the humor there," Lane told us. "I don't see how anyone could think it is a joke." Really? Here's Lawson on the D.C. housewives: "All of them are wretched horse monsters from the planet Horsebreath, a place that is dark and cold and full of terror." Nonetheless, Lane said his client was "astonished" by the online treatment and still intends to pursue legal action.

Erkiletian attempted to clarify her remarks in a posting on her Bravo blog: "OK everyone, calm down, and shame on YOU! We are in the nation's capital, an international city, home to Ambassadors, diplomats and dignitaries from all over the world. ... Embassies host cultural and philanthropic events that often include an element of fashion, which is how we 'cater to ambassadors and diplomats.'"

Oh, come on, people! Doesn't everybody know by now that reality shows bear little relation to ... reality?

Joynt said Bravo rookies have no concept of how innocuous comments are manipulated to create ratings drama. "I don't think amateurs can ever appreciate the power of the producer and the edit. The only time you control your image on television is when it is live."

By The Reliable Source  |  August 25, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
Categories:  Real Housewives of D.C.  
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Well, guess what, after talking with some folks this morning, some people may plan on filing an official complaint with the D.C. Bar about the completely unethical, abusvie, over-reaching and possibly illegal actions of this wayward and cut-throat lawyer--and his client. You literally cannot intimidate, threaten or harass people for legitimate criticism, parody, satire--and, again, criticism! You just can't. Carol Joynot did NOT have to issue an apology--for anything, and she should not have. Gawker and other media outlets do NOT have to issue any apologies. The Post slammed this stupid Bravo show--did this wayward lawyer threaten the Post? The reality is that this stupid, moronic, dumb, idiotic, dumbed-down, offensive and generally inept, unprofessional, terrible and horrid TV show is filled wtih inept, talent-less, horrid, wretched, witchy, stupid people, doing stupid things, and the show, Bravo and the people involved with this show are a complete and utter embarrassment to the entire Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Bravo, this stupid show, all of the stupid people connected to this crappy show, and everyone who supports this horrible show, need to issue a public apology to the entire region. And lawyers need to stop sending intimidating, threatening letters to people who are accurately parodying, satirizing, criticizing and insulting a genuinely stupid show on a genuinely stupid television network. Tom Shales and other critics have similarly slammed this show and the people on it, and so have other critics. This is the United States, and people have the freedom of speech, press and expression to justly slam a stupid show when it appears on the air and is an embarrassment to an entire region. Bravo should cancel this stupid show, and all of its stupid "housewife" shows today, effective immediately, for the good and betterment of intelligence and society.

Posted by: thefrontpage | August 25, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Its too bad Carol Joynt is such a lush, she could be a contender.

Missed Tareq and Michale at Myopia again this weekend. I guess they were busy with Prince Charles.

Life isn't fair! New York gets Nacho Figueras and we get a peevish gnome like Tareq Salahi. Oh, and of course, Nacho actually plays polo. I guess this also neatly encapsulates the relationship of this dreadful Erkiletian woman and the real modeling business.

All are awaiting the gauranteed to happen release of "Tareq and Michale, the porn video". Just looking at Tareq you can tell he is anxious to get it in the can.

Posted by: SoCali | August 25, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Looks like "thefrontpage" got his pants in a bunch this morning and doesn't know the First Amendment from defamation. It's one thing to be a legitimate critic and quite another to attack someone personally and with malice and damage their business by mischaracterizing it. People can't just defame someone because at this point there's no clear law about defamation on the Internet. Ms. Erkiletian deserves respect for her years as a businesswoman and her courage here.

Posted by: jaysinger | August 25, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

We all know fully well the difference between free speech and defamation--that was the entire point of the post, you know? That point being that criticism, parody and satire and the free expression of your opinion is NOT "defamation." It just is not defamation, on any level. The Post, Carol Joynt, Gawker and other media types across the nation--most of whom agreed that this show and the people on it are terrible on several levels--are not committing "defamation." It's called criticism, parody, satire and freedom of speech. And, no, no one has their "pants in a bunch." It's a legit post with a legit reasoning, and it's reasoning agreed upon by, likely, tens of thousands of people. And defending freedom of speech should be supported. And everyone agrees that this show is terrible and an embarrassment to the D.C. metropolitan area.

Posted by: thefrontpage | August 25, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Out of curiousity I switched to that channel showing "Housewives". This stuff could not be more trashy if they tried. What exactly is the point? After about 2 minutes I turned the TV off. What are they talking about??

Posted by: jeanlucca | August 25, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

If I'm just a "regular" citizen with no titles, diplomatic immunity, etc, can I still get catered to? I'd like to add something REALLY witty but I'm afraid Mark Lane might call out the jurist hit squad on me. God! The horror of it all!

Posted by: semilost44 | August 25, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Why are "comedy/satire" bloggers allowed to write defamatory, false allegations that are disgusting and vile about someone and get away with it cause it's "just a joke"? To say someone is engaging in prostitution, a serious criminal activity, is not funny, especially for a legitimate modeling agency owner. One blogger said Ms. Erkiletian provided young girls and boys to service Senators. How can these online "journalists" get away writing defamatory, false statements if print journalists cannot? Is there a difference? The law needs to catch up, and I applaud Ms. Erkiletian for hiring Mark Lane, one of the best lawyers for this type of case to defend her reputation. I believe in our First Amendment rights, and I enjoy reading satire/comedy critiques of tv shows like Gawker, but using that as a shield and excuse to lie and harm someone's reputation and business is just not right. Especially when you are talking about a legitimate businesswoman with 4 kids who has helped countless charities in this city. If you don't like the Real Housewives francise, don't watch it, and please stop talking about it!

Posted by: juliastyle27 | August 25, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

For the thousandth time, and please pay attention: Criticism, satire, parody, humor and constructive opinion and analysis are NOT defamation, and are NOT "false allegations"--and you know it. You're using bad facts and a bad defense in a juvenile defensive manner because you know this person from this horrible, stupid, moronic and intelligence-insulting "show" that's not really a show by any standard. You cannot restrict people from making negative comments in a humorous, constructive, critical or even opinion-oriented manner. None of that is defamation. This is the United States, and we have freedom of speech, press and expression, and that allows us to say something negative in a humorous vein if we want to. I would direct you to the humorous writings of the Founding Fathers, including Ben Franklin, and, on through the years, literally tens of thousands of newspaper and magazine and newsletter articles, reviews, opinion pieces, commentaries, editorials, editorial cartoons, fliers, pamphlets, books, radio commentaries, television commentaries, radio and television shows, films, documentaries, comedy stand-up routines, humor magazines, situation comedies, comedy albums, comedic songs, speeches, essays, reports, and thousands of other examples. Do you get the point? Are idiotic lawyers going to sue the tens of thousands of writers of all of this during the past 234 years? No, they aren't, because the smart ones know that humor, satire, parody, criticism and analysis are not "defamation," and it never will be. That's the point of all of this--you can't wildly sue for these areas, on any level, at any time, in a free democracy.

Posted by: thefrontpage | August 25, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse


You are absolutely correct.

Parody, satire and humor is not actionable, especially when it involves someone who BY THEIR OWN VOLITION has made themself a public figure in terms of essentially prostituting their lives on a "reality" television show.

Actually, if you read Carol Joynt's "apology", you will see she "apologized" over and over, and ever over again, to the point of obviously being very saracastic in her own right.

Good for her.

You know, if someone is going to get offended by jokes or parody or satire, maybe, just maybe, they shouldn't have signed up for some BS television show in the first instance.

Just my opinion.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | August 25, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

If you do not want internet commentators to make fun of you, then don't go on television. Obviously these women were not satisfied to just stay out of the spotlight. They wanted to be on television and cash the NBC/Bravo checks. Even a 5 year old can tell you the internet exists for music sharing, porn downloading, and reality tv bashing.

Posted by: goose33 | August 27, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

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