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News Briefs

Allegations of Past Abuse Embarrass Fox and Its Groom


In less than a week, Fox’s “Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire” has been transformed from an instant hit into a major embarrassment for the Los Angeles-based network, whose executives are scrambling to explain their failure to uncover the unromantic fact that a former girlfriend had obtained a restraining order against “groom” Rick Rockwell.

Fox moved quickly to cancel Tuesday night’s rebroadcast of the show, watched by 23 million viewers last week. One high-ranking executive, who asked not to be identified, said that the show’s groom “omitted a key piece of information. If we had known this piece of information beforehand, we would not have selected Mr. Rockwell.”

The firestorm facing Fox is already sending a chill throughout an industry that has increasingly turned to so-called reality programming to fill prime-time schedules. Fox has already said it is pulling back from what are termed “shockumentaries,” while other networks are waiting to see how quickly the “Multi-Millionaire” scandal will dissipate before making any adjustments to their own programming.

Controversy over last Tuesday’s broadcast escalated over the weekend, following reports that Rockwell, whom Fox initially described as “a successful self-made millionaire,” was once accused of hitting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend. According to documents posted on Web site, Debbie Goyne, a resident of Redondo Beach, Calif., leveled the abuse charges against Rockwell in legal papers filed in early 1991 in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained a restraining order against him.

Fish Offer Clues to Gender Roles


To try to find clues on what influences behavior, scientists often turn to more primitive creatures. That’s what a pair of Cornell University biologists did to get insight into gender and behavior.

James Goodson and Andrew Bass studied a type of fish known as the plainfin midshipman, of which there are two types of males and one type of female.

Type I males are known for “singing” for hours under rocks in shallow salt water during mating time to attract females to deposit their eggs in nests so the males can fertilize them. Type II males are called “sneakers” because they can’t sing like a Type I, have smaller bodies but larger reproductive organs and tend to sneak in to fertilize eggs left for Type I males.

The Cornell biologists stimulated the brains of the fish in the laboratory using brain chemicals and found that the brain chemicals, not the sexual organs, determined sexual behavior.

“Apparently, the process of evolution has modified reproductive and social behavior independent of the gonads,” said Goodson.