Joey Just Can't Stay Out Of The Spotlight

Posted: April 01, 1998

LOS ANGELES — Joey Buttafuoco is at it again.

When he came to L.A. two years ago with his wife, Mary Jo, and two kids, he pleaded for privacy.

He said he wanted to go back to a quiet life as a mechanic after his character was pummeled as the leading man in the ``Long Island Lolita'' saga.

But maybe working in an auto-body shop wasn't exciting enough.

Now, when he's not rotating tires, he's back looking for center stage - this time on public access cable.

``The Joey Buttafuoco Show'' will debut on a Los Angeles public access cable station at 11:30 p.m. April 16.

The format: Joey will interview people like himself, folks who were caught in the act, then trapped in the snare of public scandal.

It's sort of like a ``Tonight Show'' for the humiliated and others like Buttafuoco who don't know enough to be embarrassed.

``I came up with an idea to give a forum to people who have been jammed up in the media . . . by law enforcement and by the system,'' Buttafuoco said.

``The show is designed for people who have been thrown out there, eaten up, spit out and have to go on with their life.''

First up is Divine Brown, who will recount in detail what happened the night she and Hugh Grant got busted on Sunset Boulevard.

Since her arrest, Brown stopped streetwalking, and used tabloid money to buy a ranch in Northern California, where she lives with her three children and horses, said Sherry Spillane, a talent agent who recruits scandalized clients, including Buttafuoco and Brown.

``Being in a big scandal is like winning the lottery,'' Spillane said.

``It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a lot of money. . . . Yes, we capitalize on it. Why not? The whole industry is capitalizing on them.''

Buttafuoco's other planned guests so far include his long-suffering wife and Jan-Michael Vincent, star of the '80s television series ``Airwolf,'' who broke his neck during a drunken driving incident.

Buttafuoco believes his strength as a talk-show host will lie in his ability to relate to his guests.

They in turn will respond to him because he can empathize with their woes.

``I was just a little auto mechanic on Long Island'' before 17-year-old Amy Fisher shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the face on the steps of their home, he said.

``I am a media creation.''

The auto mechanic pleaded guilty to third-degree rape. He admitted to an affair with the then-16-year-old high school student.

The lurid tale quickly became a media obsession, spawning three made-for-TV movies and turned the threesome into the butt(afuoco) of jokes.

Not so unlike Monica Lewinsky. She would be a dream guest, Buttafuoco said.

``My show is ideal for someone like Monica Lewinsky,'' he says.

``Of course, she'll need to deal with the president first, then the country and the media. She'll probably pose nude, and in about six months when nobody cares about her anymore, I'll ask her to come on my show.''

In fact, the list of potential guests is endless, Buttafuoco says.

He would love to get O.J. Simpson.

Richard Jewell. Jessica Hahn. Paula Jones. Tonya Harding. Lorena or John Wayne Bobbitt.

``There's a lot of us out there,'' he said. ``This is like on-air therapy.''

Since public access cable by definition is noncommercial, Buttafuoco won't make any money off the show.

But if a production company takes an interest, it could lead to syndication.

Although the first show can be seen only by subscribers to Century Cable, he has plans to send tapes to 200 cable access stations around the country soon.

The one topic he won't touch?

``I don't want to talk about any of that Amy Fisher crap and crud.''

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