Radio shock jock Don Imus insisted he was joking when he threatened to shoot WTKK host Jay Severin during yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day broadcast in Boston - but Severin’s agent doesn’t buy it and called the I-Man’s explanation “pathetic.”
The early morning showdown at the Wilbur Theatre - where the 68-year-old Imus told Severin to get off the stage or he’d shoot him - sparked a war of words yesterday between the two camps.
“I heard that Imus’ spokesman tried to characterize this as an ‘obvious joke’ on Imus’ part. That’s pathetic,” said Severin’s agent and attorney, George Tobia.
“Leaving aside the utter inappropriateness of such threats in any context, including joking, that explanation does not fly,” Tobia said. “He threatened to shoot Jay. Twice. And in an agitated and menacing manner. It was not intended for the audience to hear, although a number of people did hear it. If he were joking, why did Imus order him away? That would not make sense.”
Imus spokesman Matthew Hiltzik shot back at Tobia. “With such a delusional, pitiful representative, it’s no surprise that Jay’s career is ‘shot,’ ” Hiltzik said.
The Herald disclosed online yesterday that the confrontation occurred shortly after 6 a.m. at the special Kiss Me I’m Imus event, when Severin went on stage during a commercial break to say hello to friends in the show’s cast.
The two exchanged greetings before Severin walked away. But Imus producer Bernard McGuirk quickly called him back because Imus wanted to talk to him. Severin squatted down to speak with Imus, who was seated in a chair on the stage.
Imus then lashed out at Severin for telling the Herald and his listeners in October that he would no longer appear on the I-Man’s show because he was tired of his insults.
Imus told Severin to get off the stage or “I’m going to shoot you.”
Imus then repeated the threat and turned toward Severin.
“Do you (expletive) understand what I’m saying to you?” he said. “You get off this stage right now or I’m going to shoot you.”
Both Severin and Tobia confirmed the account. Hiltzik also confirmed the exchange, including the shooting remarks, but said Imus - who reportedly has a license to carry a handgun - wasn’t serious. Hiltzik said Imus was not carrying a handgun yesterday.
“This is one of the most desperate attempts for attention that I have ever seen,” Hiltzik said. “He was obviously joking - it was a figure of speech. And just for the record, Don is not very good at shooting people with his pencil.”