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Arsenio Hall stirs up trouble

Arsenio Hall stirs up trouble — The late-night talk show host has made enemies out of Roseanne Barr, Spike Lee, Madonna, and more

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He may be the host of late-night television’s highest-rated syndicated talk show, but that doesn’t mean everybody is in love with Arsenio Hall. Since the debut of The Arsenio Hall Show in January 1989, Eddie Murphy’s best buddy seems to have compiled one of the biggest enemies lists in Hollywood. Some of his fights are simply raucous comic riffs, material for his monologues; others, though, are serious…and personal. All of them are juicy, which is why Entertainment Weekly has been keeping score. On these pages, a complete rundown on the imbroglios of Arsenio.

ROSEANNE BARR

First Blood
In January, Hall treated his national TV audience to a decidedly unflattering paparazzi snapshot of Roseanne and husband Tom Arnold lounging in bathing suits on their honeymoon.
Counter-Strike
In June, Barr closed her Las Vegas stand-up act with anti-Arsenio invectives: ”It isn’t that often we get to see a black nerd; most nerds are white,” she gibed. Barr then added, ”Arsenio is a triangle-headed Eddie Murphy look-alike mother-f—.”
Degree of Seriousness (on a scale of 1 to 10)
10 (equivalent to Hatfields vs. McCoys)
Caught in the Cross Fire
Paparazzo Alexander Byrne claims Hall violated his copyright protection by showing the honeymoon shots without his permission. Byrne has sued to prevent Hall from using the pictures again.
Last Laugh
Too early to say — more barbs are expected.
Publicist Comment
”No comment,” a spokeswoman for Barr said.

SPIKE LEE

First Blood
”What’s your problem with Whoopi Goldberg?” Hall snapped at Lee on the show last year. (Lee had criticized Goldberg’s blue contact lenses.) Hall later told reporters, ”(Lee)’s got this blacker-than-thou thing going. He’s the new Malcolm and everyone else is a money-grubbing hustler.”
Counter-Strike
A week after the show, Lee was quoted as calling Arsenio an Uncle Tom.
Degree of Seriousness
8 (equivalent to Dean Martin vs. Jerry Lewis)
Caught in the Cross Fire
No One
Last Laugh
Spike’s revenge: During a charity basketball game in Inglewood, Calif., last summer, Lee coached his team to a 189-176 victory over Hall’s team.
Publicist Comment
Lee’s office in New York declined comment.

MADONNA

First Blood
Madonna landed some low blows on Hall’s show in May, teasing him about his supposed breakup with pop star Paula Abdul. ”I want to know how it feels to be dumped for John Stamos,” she jabbed. She also said his hairstyle was ”tired” and suggested he and Eddie Murphy were lovers.
Counter-Strike
Hall retorted with lame insults about Madonna’s jewelry and insinuations about her relationship with comedian Sandra Bernhard.
Degree of Seriousness
2 (equivalent to Jack Benny vs. Fred Allen)
Caught in the Cross Fire
Abdul
Last Laugh
Eagerly awaited (especially by the fans at home — Madonna’s interview was the highest-rated Arsenio show ever).
Publicist Comment
Madonna’s publicist was not available for comment.

Keenen Wayans

First Blood
On an April segment of his hit Fox comedy series, In Living Color, Wayans unleashed his wickedly hilarious impersonation of Hall, portraying him as a big-bottomed, gyrating, somersaulting name-dropper who repeatedly refers to Eddie Murphy as his best friend.
Counter-Strike
An unamused Hall told reporters that the skit was a ”vendetta” and ”wasn’t funny,” promising that Wayans wouldn’t appear on his talk show.
Degree of Seriousness
6 (equivalent to David Letterman vs. Bryant Gumbel)
Caught in the Cross Fire
Eddie Murphy, who is good friends with both men
Last Laugh
Wayans’ revenge: In Living Color seems to be getting more popular by the week, attracting at least twice as many viewers as Arsenio’s show.
Publicist Comment
A Wayans spokeswoman was ”not aware of any feud.”

LATOYA JACKSON

First Blood
After LaToya’s infamous March 1989 Playboy pictorial, Hall joked in his monologues that Jackson had had her breasts enlarged.
Counter-Strike
Jackson made a public offer for Hall to feel her breasts on national TV and judge for himself. (Hall has so far declined.)
Degree of Seriousness
4 (equivalent to Dennis the Menace vs. Mr. Wilson)
Caught in the Cross Fire
No one
Last Laugh
LaToya’s revenge: Last Christmas she sent Arsenio a wrapped razor blade with a note reading, ”Why don’t you shave your head and start over?”
Publicist Comment
Jackson’s publicist calls it ”a case of unadulterated love.”

Public Enemy

First Blood
Hall allegedly has refused to book the controversial rap group on his show — a matter he refuses to comment on.
Counter-Strike
”He’s just playing it safe,” Chuck D, Public Enemy’s leader, said in a March interview with Spin magazine. ”He doesn’t want to put us on his show because he’s scared to lose sponsors.”
Degree of Seriousness
7 (equivalent to John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney)
Caught in the Cross Fire
No one
Last Laugh
Public Enemy’s revenge: The group’s album Fear of a Black Planet has sold more than 1 million copies and reached the top 10 of Billboard‘s pop album chart.
Publicist Comment
The group’s publicist was not available for comment.