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The ‘Bogey’ Man

Consumer advocate Mike Boguslawski returns to battle for the little guy.

by Michael Aushenker

May 15, 2003 | 8:00 pm

Even though he promises to be a kinder, gentler version of himself, his raspy growl is -- and will be -- unmistakably unchanged.

After a 19-month hiatus, in-your-face consumer advocate Mike "Bogey" Boguslawski is returning to the tube to do a softer version of his KCBS News segment, "Bogey's Corner," which ran from 1999 to 2001. "Bogey & Company," which will start airing weekly next month on UPN 13, will still take on bunco scams and help the "little guy" in retrieving Social Security benefits and untangling other bureaucratic mishaps, but, Bogey said, he will not be as acerbic.

His new show will open with his signature shout -- "This is Mike Boguslawski, you know what bothers me more than anything? You're entitled to...." -- because after 40 years in the business, he just doesn't need to come on so strong.

"The people of Los Angeles and Southern California know who Bogey is," the self-appointed freedom fighter said, talking about himself in the third person. "They know his reputation, his honesty and integrity, so I decided I don't need to scream anymore."

He may not have been screaming -- but he wasn't exactly whispering either -- as he talked about a segment on his upcoming show involving a woman whose house burned down.

"This lady was not being given what she was entitled to. She was living out of her car. It's crazy, it's stupid," he said emphatically. "So I got on the phone and got her $181,000. That's what her house was worth, and they were draggin' this on. But I got the case settled. Yup!"

The new show will also feature an eight-minute segment titled "Bogey's Buddies," which focuses on helping people in need -- for example, arranging an operation or finding a job; his version of charity.

"I never turn my back on people -- black, white, Hispanic, Jewish, Polish," he said. "I went and fought like there was no tomorrow."

Boguslawski is of the people, the youngest child of four born to an Italian mother and a Jewish father 62 years ago in Bristol, Conn.

"We lived in the projects," Boguslawski recalled. "We were very poor, but we were happy."

Raised by his mother, Margaret Maro, Boguslawski never knew his father, Joseph B. Boguslawski, a Polish Jewish airplane mechanic and military veteran who died before he was born. At 23, Boguslawski lost his 33-year-old brother, who was killed by a drunk driver. Boguslawski persevered and became a consumer reporter.

"We had a situation in Connecticut where they were burning the synagogues," Boguslawski said. "And I came out to protest. I'm not afraid to tell it the way it is."

Boguslawski told it like it was in New Haven for 19 years, at Pittsburgh's NBC affiliate for five years and a year at NBC Orlando. He also worked at Channel 30 in Hartford, Conn.

Boguslawski is a man devoted to tikkun olam (healing the world). Dr. Dan Silver, director of the "Buddies" segment, recalled how Boguslawski introduced it to help people in dire financial straits get free, necessary surgery.

"There are people who have done that consumer beat for decades in L.A. who didn't connect the way he did," said John Severino, a former ABC president. From the first time he caught him on a Connecticut station during a business trip, Severino loved Boguslawski. "I told him right there," Severino said, "that within six months, he would have a bigger visibility [than] anyone in L.A., and he did."

Severino is proud of Boguslawski's antics -- like the time the colorful reporter crashed then-California Assembly Speaker John Burton's news conference.

And then there was Boguslawski's run-in with the governor. With a $30 billion California deficit, Boguslawski hounded Gov. Gray Davis to knock down the gasoline sales tax and help California's needy.

While he was between gigs for 19 months, the absence of cameras didn't slow Boguslawski down.

"Ever since I was let go," said Boguslawski, who resides in Palm Springs with wife, Pat, and miniature poodle, Elizabeth, "I've been handling complaints out of my own pocket. We handle around 50 a week."

"There was a point when I was going to retire," said Boguslawski, who recently turned 62, "but I don't want to go out that way. I have so much more to give."

"Bogey & Co." will air on UPN 13 on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. beginning June 1. Send your consumer complaints (no phone calls, please) to: UPN 13, Bogey & Co., 75140 St. Charles Place, Suite A, Palm Desert, CA 92214.

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