Monday, December 03, 2007

Montel Williams: Zero Tolerance for a Pharma Celebrity Spokesperson Gone Bad

Not so long ago, I called for pharma advertisers to boycott the Imus show over his infamous "nappy-headed ho" racial slur against young college athletes who never did him any harm (see "Glaxo, Pull Your Imus Ads!"). The next day, GSK and other advertisers did pull their ads.

Now another celebrity associated with the pharmaceutical industry has gone bad -- Montel Williams.

Recall that Mr. Williams is the celebrity spokesperson for the pharmaceutical industry's Partnership for Prescription Assistance’s "Orange Bus" PR campaign, which helps needy patients obtain free medicine (see video report here).

As reported by AP/MSNBC:

"Williams, a patient advocate since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, terminated [a] Friday interview with [Courtney Scott, a Savannah Morning News high school intern] after she asked him: 'Do you think pharmaceutical companies would be discouraged from research and development if their profits were restricted?'

"Later, he confronted her and two other reporters after mistakenly believing they followed him to the Westin Savannah Harbor. But they were there to cover an unrelated assignment.

"Williams walked up to Scott and told her that 'I can look you up, find where you live and blow you up,' according to Joseph Cosey, a Web content producer for the newspaper."

Another account added some more detail: "As we were preparing to film, Montel walked up with his bodyguard and got in Courtney Scott's face pointing his finger telling her 'Don't look at me like that. Do you know who I am? I'm a big star, and I can look you up, find where you live and blow you up," said Joseph Cosey, a Web content producer for the newspaper.

These days, when high school students around the nation must attend schools with "zero tolerance" policies regarding physical threats, celebrities -- especially those paid by the pharmaceutical industry -- should ALSO be subject to zero tolerance.

I call upon PhRMA, therefore, to immediately fire Mr. Williams!

What do you say?

Should PhRMA Fire Montel?
Yes, because I support zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.
Yes, because he's now a PR liability.
No, because he has apologized.
No, because it's no big deal.
Not sure.


  1. Ill find where you live and blow you up....That’s right up there with Mike Tyson’s quote, "I want to eat your children. Praise be to Allah." You would think Montel would be a little more laid back since he smokes medicinal marijuana.

  2. Excerpt from my own blog earlier today:

    Montel Williams has multiple sclerosis, as do I, and has been the visible image of PPArx since . Now I've got my own opinions as to the quality of assistance which Billy Tauzin and his Orange Bus purport to provide needy individuals. [see PhRMA and PPArx: How much are they really helping patients in need?]

    Previously, I've given Williams the benefit of the doubt regarding the use of his image to promote a glossed-over PR concoction. I have no doubt wondered as to the level of compensation the Big Pharma lobby may be providing him, but I've let it go.

    Is Montel Williams Disturbed by Big Pharma?

  3. Anonymous2:55 PM

    Although I do not agree with threatening anyone, and Montel should not have approached the reporter and threatened her, I live with Lupus every day. I am not defending what he did, however, mood swings are a part of the Lupus -- as well as with M.S. Perhaps Montel needs to be able to deal this and the depression that comes with it. He seems to be a generally good person and could be beating himself up for what he says he over reacted to. The problem with situations like this is that only a small portion of the story gets reported and not the whole story. Until you live on a daily basis with a horrible illness -- never judge what it is that someone else is going through and what it is that is going through their head. Let's face it, Montel Williams has done more good for us than he has bad and I believe he deserves a second chance. Susan, Westfield, NJ

  4. If it is related to his MS, then he should be FORCED to seek help and take a leave of absence from being a PPA spokesperson until he has learned to handle it, his past good deeds notwithstanding.

    This is the same we would expect of errant teenagers in our schools.

  5. Anonymous12:23 PM

    MOntel has always been "self centered" in my opinion. I never appreciated his uppity attitude, his talk show or alot of his "off the cuff" comments.
    He exclusively has Ms Sylvia Brown as his reader, then why hasn't she advised him to "shut his Mouth" before his says stupid things to people?


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