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Linda Ronstadt ‘Rollerskate Hooker’ Graphic Slips Into ‘Kennedy Center’ Telecast

Of all the plaudits Linda Ronstadt expected to receive when she was bestowed with kudos at the Kennedy Center Honors, “Rollerskate Hooker” was probably not among them. Yet that was one of the captions in a Ronstadt photo montage when CBS broadcast an hour of highlights from the annual Washington, D.C. ceremony Sunday night.

The modified image took the iconic album cover photo of Ronstadt standing in a hallway on a pair of rollerskates — from “Living in the USA,” a No. 1 LP in 1978 — and replaced the album title with the none-too-flattering moniker in question.

As of Tuesday morning, the image was still in the version of the show streaming on the CBS website, but that will quickly change. Now that it’s been brought to light, the errant cover image will be replaced in the master tape as well as the streaming version. The Kennedy Center Honors are produced by CBS and White Cherry Entertainment. CBS has yet to comment on the situation.

Assuming that the vandalized image was probably retrieved in error off the Internet, it’s not clear where anyone involved with supplying resources for the production would have come across it. When Variety did Google searches for the phrase “rollerskate hooker” and for images of Ronstadt on skates after the broadcast, the fake cover in question did not show up in any initial lists of top search results.

Among the eagle-eyed viewers who spotted the bizarre “cover” as it appeared on screen Sunday during Don Henley’s introductory narration was Portland writer and radio host Jeff Rosenberg. “Seriously, #KCHonors?” Rosenberg tweeted. “You let some dumb intern assemble graphics for the #LindaRonstadt tribute, and instead of Living in the USA’s cover, show a meme where someone’s replaced the album title with ‘Rollerskate Hooker’?! #qualitycontrol #sorryLinda #KCDishonor #rollerskatehooker”

Ronstadt being the subject of a Photoshop prank could have been random, but her outspokenness might also have made her a target for trolls, as the singer has rarely been shy about speaking up on social and political issues over the decades.

At a dinner for Kennedy Center honorees Dec. 7, Ronstadt responded to a quip made by secretary of state Mike Pompeo that referenced one of her signature hits:  “As I travel the world, I wonder when will I be loved” Later in the dinner, Ronstadt got up and said, as her sole remarks for the evening, “I’d like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he’ll be loved, it’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump.”

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