Born in 1948, Mr. Vilanch was, of course, the class clown, using humor to deflect the traumas of being young and gay and chunky. This is all well and good. But when did this hack comedy writer go so horribly wrong? In a highly unscientific and biased poll, 10 of my friends were asked their feelings about Mr. Vilanch. Most responded "Who?" But when I described the "funky," T-shirt-wearing, bespectacled "funny" man, nine out of 10 polled said, "Oh, you mean that muppety looking guy on Hollywood Squares? He's creepy."

Even after I told my control group of his numerous Emmys for writing such great shows as the Oscars, the Tonys, and well, the Emmys, the group was still highly reticent to believe in the likeablity of this showman. One friend said "But are those shows funny?" Sadly, I had to agree, they are not. They are like watching cheese being grated--unfunny, boring and well, cheesy.

In a fruitless effort to help him gain more national recognition (or as payback for all those one-liners), a group of friends/comics contributed to his 1999 bio-pic/mutual masturbation fest Get Bruce. This film (which was only half¯viewed before my boyfriend asked, "Have you had enough yet?") exposes us to everything we never wanted to know about Mr. Vilanch. The best one can say is that Mr. Vilanch is an acquired taste. One, like cavier, which I have yet to master.

So what happened to Bruce Vilanch? What happened on that long and winding road from Ohio State to the coke-addled elysium fields of Hollywood? True, he did write some of the best comedy routines in history. He wrote, for example, Divine Madness for Bette Midler in 1980, but then sadly also wrote her terrible and short-lived TV series, Bette in 2000. What happened during those 20 years to turn him from comic genius to awards show-writing hack? Maybe there was a secret hot tub tryst with a certain closeted male Hollywood starlet, which led to blackmail, which in turn may have led to the documentary and the cushy awards show writing gig. Maybe we may never know. What we do know is that nine out of 10 friends of the author think Bruce is creepy. BRIAN BRAIT