GAY PAREE« PARIS, TN -- Amid the usual floats and beauty queens, politicians and would-be political candidates, clowns and horses, Cherry Jones came back to her hometown Friday as the grand marshal of the 48th Annual Grand Parade of the World’s Biggest Fish Fry. The Tony-award winning actress returned to Paris for what should have been a triumphant day, but as with most interactions between Jones and Paris, things went a little awry. As soon as the New York actress was announced as the grand marshal, talk of “inappropriate lifestyles” and boycotts ensued. Besides being an award-winning actress, Jones is an out-of-the-closet lesbian, a fact which plays better on Broadway than it does in this community of 12,000. When the local newspaper reprinted a New York Times article several years ago in which the actress talked openly of her “life cohort” Mary O'Connor, a fire storm of controversy ensued. Ground zero for the debate was the letters-to-the-editor page of the local paper -- the same place that the latest controversy erupted. “When I heard they had chosen a professing homosexual to be the grand marshal of our parade, I couldn’t believe it,” read one of the letters, “. . . to have her here for all of us to clap and cheer for is wrong.” But after all the bluster, the Fish Fry parade went on as it has for the past 48 years. Tradition won out over traditional family values. And Cherry Jones, who has been called “the greatest actress working on the American stage today,” smiled throughout. Next stop for Jones is a movie shooting in North Carolina. She co-stars with Ellen Burstyn, Sandra Bullock, and Ashley Judd. How that compares with being grand marshal of the World’s Biggest Fish Fry Grand Parade, Jones is too gracious to say. PLAYING THE NAME GAME I guess now that he is gone to the NFL, its too late to begin a campaign to educate Memphis sports fans (and reporters) on the correct pronunciation of ex-Tiger free safety Idrees Bashir. But, for those who want to know, his name is pronounced “e-drees” with the accent on the second syllable. How do I know? I asked Bashir, who was drafted in the second round by Indianapolis last week. It is a habit I developed after learning that former Tiger quarterback Q’dry Anderson had suffered in silence while his name was constantly mispronounced -- by coaches, teammates, and radio and TV announcers. I was writing a profile for a game program during Anderson’s senior season. I had always wondered how in the world a name spelled “Q’dry” could be pronounced “cod-ry,” which is how everyone said it, at least in part, because that was how the Memphis media guide had it. So I asked Anderson, “What does your mother call you?’ He looked sheepish before answering, “k-dree.” So, remember, if anyone asks, Bashir’s name is “e-drees,” not “eye-drees.” IS THIS NEWS? It has become so commonplace that no one pays any attention to it anymore, but the widespread habit of providing plugs for network programs during the local TV news is truly shameful. The worst offenders are the CBS affiliates plugging Survivor, but they all do it. The sad thing is, we have been conditioned not to expect anything better from TV news. With sweeps upon us, look for the TV news rooms to become more shrill. QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “To beat the rush, here's a proposal for how the XFL's tombstone should read: ‘It's the game, stupid.’” -- Jim Litke, AP Sports Writer, on the expected demise of the Xtreme Football League.

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