Krusty Sponge

Gene Shalit

Gene Shalit (born March 25, 1932 in New York City) is the film and book critic on NBC's The Today Show. He is known for his frequent use of puns, his oversized handlebar moustache, and for wearing colorful bowties. He is known to have had a rocky relationship with former Today Show co-host Bryant Gumbel. He has been involved in reviewing the arts since 1967. He has written for publications including Look Magazine, Ladies Home Journal (for 12 years), Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, Seventeen, Glamour, McCall's, and The New York Times. In 1987 he published Laughing Matters-A Treasury of American Humor, a critically-praised humor anthology. He currently lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts with his cat Fellini. Shalit is the godfather of radio producer/personality Gary Dell'Abate.

He guest starred in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode, The Krusty Sponge as a fish version of himself named "Gene Scallop", who was a food critic.

According to his official MSNBC bio, "Shalit was born in a New York hospital ever so long ago, and eight days later cut out for Newark, New Jersey, to be with his mother. In six years he fled to Morristown, New Jersey, where he was columnist for the high school paper and narrowly escaped expulsion. Shalit attended Morristown High School, where he wrote a humor column for the school newspaper.

On June 22, 2008, during the puzzle segment of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday, host Liane Hansen erroneously referred to Shalit as the "late, great Gene Shalit." This error was edited out when the segment audio was placed on the program Web site later that day. Hansen had Shalit on the next week to announce to the winner their prize.

Brokeback Mountain review controversy

Shalit was criticized by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for his January 5, 2006, on-air review of the acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain, which he panned. Shalit referred to Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack Twist, as a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis (Heath Ledger) down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts."

The Advocate noted that the tone of the criticism seems to be at odds with an essay Shalit wrote about his adult gay son in 1997. Shalit speaks highly of his son in this essay, which concludes with the statement, "Let children follow their own star." Peter Shalit wrote a letter to GLAAD defending his father and said GLAAD had defamed him by "falsely accusing him of a repellent form of bigotry."

"In describing the behavior of 'Jack' I used words ('sexual predator') that I now discover have angered, agitated, and hurt many people. I did not intend to use a word that many in the gay community consider incendiary. . . . I certainly had no intention of casting aspersions on anyone in the gay community or on the community itself. I regret any emotional hurt that may have resulted from my review of 'Brokeback Mountain,'" wrote Shalit in a letter to GLAAD.

Peter Shalit told GLAAD, "He may have had an unpopular opinion of a movie that is important to the gay community, but he defamed no one, and he is not a homophobe."


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