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A CASE of life imitating art? Or...


A CASE of life imitating art? Or was it?

In the 1991 film, "The Fisher King," actor Jeff Bridges plays an egotistical, abrasive "shock jock" on a New York "talk radio" station. On the air, he mindlessly tells one of his nerdy callers that yuppies deserve to die. The listener totes off to a yuppie bar and guns down several patrons.

Recently, Howard Stern, the egotistical, abrasive "shock jock," whose show is syndicated from New York to Baltimore, Philadelphia and several other markets, found himself having to ponder the freakish death of a woman he had involved in his radio gags.

The woman, Annette DeBella, 34, was separated from another disc jockey whom Mr. Stern delighted in belittling on the air. Mr. Stern, the best-known of his broadcasting genre, such as it is, often made cracks about Philadelphia DJ John DeBella's baldness and about the fact that Mr. Stern surpassed him in ratings in Philly. Mr. Stern was especially giddy when he convinced Annette DeBella to take part in a "dial-a-date" show in which callers arranged to date her -- the ultimate denigration of his rival, Mr. DeBella.

Mrs. DeBella was found dead several days ago of carbon monoxide poisoning. Her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal drunken-driving standard, but a ruling on the cause of death hadn't been made.

In "The Fisher King," Jeff Bridges' character was so disturbed by the effect his reckless radio comments had on human lives, he lost his show and went into seclusion.

In real life, Mr. Stern went to work the following morning, insulting as ever.

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