Too Early?

Chris Farley

That's the wrong question. It's never going to be appropriate to use the late Chris Farley in an ad like this:

DirecTV has raised a ruckus by raising the dead.

The satellite TV company has relied on dead celebrities to push its satellite television packages -- last year's "Poltergeist" ad starred the late Heather O'Rourke, for example -- but the cable company's latest promotion featuring Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy" has stirred up fresh controversy, with many believing that the ad was done in poor taste.

The 30-second spot features Farley, who died in 1997 of heart failure because of an overdose, in the infamous "Fat Boy in a Little Coat" scene from the 1995 comedy that co-starred David Spade.

The commercial looks like it was taken straight from the film reel, until Spade starts promoting DirecTV while Farley carries on his routine in the background.

"Great, I'm here with tons of fun, but I could be at home with DirecTV," Spade says in the commercial. "It never gets old," he says after Farley busts the seams on the too-small jacket.

What some viewers find especially shocking is that Spade, who wrote in a 1998 Rolling Stone article that he didn't attend Farley's funeral because he "couldn't be in the same room where Chris was in a box," went along with the promotion.

While I don't think one can be too precious about a dead comedian, I'd have the same reaction if this was done with the late John Candy--and it wouldn't be done with John Candy. I refuse to believe that any of the people who worked with him and were close enough to him to have done several films would do such a thing. Can you imagine Eugene Levy doing something like this?

The problem is, why is David Spade even in the discussion? When do we finally acknowledge that Spade couldn't sell icewater in hell?