Dan Gross | Fox's Tom Burlington suspended

Posted: July 05, 2007

FOX 29 anchor/reporter Tom Burlington has been suspended by the station follow-ing what sources describe as a "bizarre" and "shocking" sermon in which he insisted there's nothing wrong with a word most commonly referred to as "the N-word."

Burlington, according to colleagues, used the word more than a dozen times as he argued that doing so was not such a big deal.

The word wasn't directed at anyone, so colleagues were hestitant to label his remarks as racist, instead pointing toward Burlington's insensitivity and apparent lack of common sense.

Sources tell us that Burlington, who joined Fox 29 in 2004 and previously worked at NBC-10, offended staffers of all races with his remarks, and didn't know when to shut up, even after colleagues politely suggested he cool it. His comments took place in a news meeting after a discussion of a story about the NAACP Philadelphia Youth Council, which had held a mock funeral for the N-word at Dobbins High last Saturday.

Burlington argued that it was irresponsible to report about the word without using the word itself. Both the Daily News and the Inqwaster used the word in their stories on the issue.

A Fox 29 spokeswoman confirmed that Burlington had been suspended, but it would not comment on the reason for the suspension, or how long it would last. Burlington did not return messages we left on his work and cell phones Tuesday and yesterday.

In other news at Fox 29 . . .

Fox 29 morning anchor George Mallet suffered a concussion last weekend, after being thrown from a horse at Ashford Farm in Lafayette Hill.

Mallet, who has been taking riding lessons for a couple of years, was riding a big fella named Radcliff and doing some jumps when suddenly, "I'm in the air and my feet are out of the stirrups," says Mallet, whose classmates told him they had heard a loud thud.

One classmate, Dr. Beverly M. Vaughn, took a look at Mallet's pupils and concluded he had a concussion. The anchor began vomiting a moment later and was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. Mallet, who was sore for a few days, says he's lucky to not have broken anything. The fall hasn't broken the anchor's spirits. Mallet still hopes to be "the nation's first 6-foot-4 jockey."

Actor brings own 'Entourage'

Actor Rex Lee, who plays Jeremy Piven's assistant on HBO's "Entourage," is coming to town for the 13th International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Lee will accompany the cast of TLA Entertainment's upcoming film "Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild."

Writer/director Todd Stephens is hoping to cast Lee in his follow-up to the funny and incredibly raunchy "Not Another Gay Movie," released in 2005. Lee will arrive in town July 12 for the opening night of the festival, which runs through the 24th. He and the other actors will read from the film's script at 7 p.m. July 14 at the Wilma Theater. Visit phillyfests.com for more info.

Blavat's birthday bash a big hit

"You're too little to be 67," joked U.S. Rep. Bob Brady to his dear friend Jerry Blavat Tuesday night at Memories (Amherst & Madison) in Margate, where the Geator was hosting his annual birthday bash. Geno's Steaks owner, Joey Vento, and Chickie's & Pete's owner, Pete Ciarrocchi, were among Geator pals who read birthday wishes to the Geator from Chubby Checker, Frankie Valli, Frankie Avalon and Connie Francis, who were not able to make the beach bash.

Republican City Committee Chairman Vito Canuso, Outfitter to the Stars Gene Louin of Black Tie Formal Wear (1120 Walnut), urologist Dr. David Raezer and Eagles security director Butch Buchanico were also among the very-packed crowd.*

If you have something you'd like to share with Dan, call 215-854-5963, or e-mail grossd@phillynews.com. To read Dan's recent columns, visit http://go.philly.com/dangross.

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