Disney downs Clowns

At last, Disney seems to have had an attack of conscience and decided there is something that even it won’t do. But in recalling the latest release by Insane Clown Posse, Disney’s Hollywood Records label may have succeeded mainly in generating undeserved publicity for what one local record store owner described as a "crappy record.";;Before the media frenzy triggered by the recall, sales of the disc by East-West Compact Discs and Tapes stores in Winter Park and Orlando had been nonexistent. But within two days of a visit by a TV news crew, most of the stores’ 12 copies of the record were snatched up by people drawn more to the record’s forbidden nature, than its hip-hop prowess.;;Two buyers were true fans. "The others just wanted it because they couldn’t have it," says owner Hanna Skrobko. "My only grief is I can’t order more." ;;Don’t mistake Skrobko for a fan. In fact, it was she who gave "The Great Milenko" the nasty review. ;;Skrobko agreed with ICP's manager that Disney was simply making amends to the Baptists, who recently decided to boycott all things Disney over the objections of local preachers ("Middle Man," June 26). "I think this is really just part of a political deal. ICP wound up being a sacrificial lamb," she says.;;The recall order came from Disney CEO Michael Eisner himself, according to Rich Murrell, road manager for ICP. Already, Murrell says, ICP had pulled two songs from the release in response to objections from Disney and Hollywood records about sexually explicit lyrics. In reality, Murrell says, the ban really represents an olive branch offered by Disney to the boycotting Southern Baptists Convention. "How can something so big slip through the cracks when you've already thrown more than $1 million at the record?" Murrell says. ;;The Detroit hip-hop band had released several records on its own independent label, Psychopathic Records, before signing with Hollywood less than a year ago. Since the record hit store shelves last week, ICP has had ringside seats to the media monopoly game. Disney owns Miramax and ABC Television, as well as Hollywood Records.;;Giant media corporations walk a fine line between free enterprise and free speech, says Kim Stroud, public-education fellow at the Detroit ACLU. "In this context, they have a lot of discretion, just like (other) media outlets," Stroud says. "But there are big debates ... about the dangers of having the mass media controlled by just a few corporations, and what that does with regards to having a variety of viewpoints.";;Music recordings likely fall under the same First Amendment protections as books, Stroud says, because people can purchase books and records freely. And despite the recall, fans seem to be buying "The Great Milenko" freely, at least where they can. Murrell estimates one-third of the 100,000 records have been returned -- most of these from chain stores. The rest will probably stay on the shelves and sell even faster.;;Another local independent store, Park Avenue Compact Discs, sold its two copies before getting wind of the recall. "It's a very minor release no one would have known about had Disney not done this," owner Steve Allen says.;;While the independents made the most of ICP's sudden notoriety, chain-store managers say they followed corporate orders and returned the records. "Our corporate office stated we needed to pull them, so we did," says Steve Swope, music supervisor of the Best Buy on Orange Blosson Trail. Curiously, while the independents reported a slew of requests, the chain stores reported no interest. "We never had anyone ask about it or want to buy it. It was like it never existed," says Bill Winborne, manager of the Peaches in Altamonte Springs. Yet the recall has provided priceless publicity. The story was big news from coast to coast.;;ICP may have the last laugh, after all. The duo, whose stage names are Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, and their manager, Alex Abbiss, were to meet after Disney's announcement with executives from Interscope Records, a label already handling Marilyn Manson and Nine-Inch Nails, two other controversial acts. Geffen Records and Mercury Records also have expressed interest.;;"I’m sure ‘The Great Milenko’ will resurface elsewhere," says Skrobko, who surely will sell the release -- personal taste notwithstanding.;;Coauthors Chris Handyside and Alisa Gordaneer