Frank Discussion

There are three reasons one might want to brave the August heat and go to the Phoenix Zoo this weekend, when the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulls in. One is to participate in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Talent Search, a national hunt for a new moppet between the ages of 3 and 10 to appear in the meat-packer's TV commercials. The audition, according to the Wienermobile hotline (1-800-672-2754), consists of being videotaped singing either the "wiener" song ("Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Mayer wiener/That is what I'd truly like to be . . .) or the "bologna" song ("My bologna has a first name/It's O-S-C-A-R . . .")

As many as 150 kids will be auditioned in two sessions, first-come-first-served, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, August 13; and the same hours Friday, August 14; Saturday, August 15; and Sunday, August 16. It's free with regular zoo admission. If your kid is sufficiently winsome, he or she might become one of 20 national finalists, who will win a five-day trip to Orlando, Florida, for the final audition. From this cut will be culled the Grand Prize winner, whose jingle-singing abilities will land him or her a $20,000 scholarship and an appearance in the new commercial.

The second reason to go to the zoo might be to participate in the protest of the above event, the protest being sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In the words of PETA's "Vegetarian Campaign Coordinator" Bruce G. Friedrich, "Oscar Mayer doesn't want kids to know how meat is made, but children deserve to be told the truth about the pigs: From the farm to the freezer, their lives are hell. It's a pretty horrible reality, and Oscar Mayer's hear-no-evil-see-no-evil attitude is morally bankrupt."

PETA coordinates the demonstrations from its Virginia offices. "We use local activists," says Friedrich. "We don't go to any of them ourselves." Valley-based animal-rights group HARE (Humanity for Animal Rights Everywhere) is scheduled to handle the Phoenix protest on Thursday, August 13. For more information, call 759-8068.

Oscar Mayer's official response to all this controversy? "Our goal is to have fun," says "Wienermobile Advisor" Michael Bluhm. "That's what we've been doing with the Wienermobile for 62 years."

The third reason you might want to go to the zoo this weekend? To visit the animals, of course.

--M. V. Moorhead

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead