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Sunday, September 15, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Nicole Brodeur / Times staff columnist

Josh has access, and so can you

Josh Katz is a 20-year-old kid from Bellevue who has moved into my life. He calls me at all hours, in all places, because Josh Katz, God love him, wants to be famous.

We met last year, when he called the morning after Mardi Gras, worried that he had witnessed the beating death of Kristopher Kime. He hadn't, but he stayed in touch, offering me news flashes from the 'burbs.

One: He put up a Web site called www.makejoshfamous .com. You may want to think twice about logging on. It is occasionally obscene and full of misspellings.

Another: He was producing and starring on his own show on Seattle Community Access Network (SCAN).

"The Make Josh Famous Half-Hour of Garbage" is more "Jackass" than "The West Wing." It features stilted conversations between Katz and a camel puppet named Ishtar, who is handled by his brother, Noah, 17. Between the talk-show segments are brief home movies of the two brothers goofing off, with cameos by their 80-year-old grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who does and says whatever they tell him.

"He likes being on TV," Katz said. "And if he didn't have us, I think he'd be really bored."

The half-hour show (it airs Fridays at 11:30 p.m. on Channel 29) isn't polished or scripted, but like "The Anna Nicole Show" or the attack scenes on Animal Planet, you can't stop watching.

Just as Katz is gearing up for his second fall season, SCAN is kicking off a new focus on its local and national public-affairs programs.

This weekend, the channel hosted its second annual "Scanzavana" celebration, inviting people to come in to see its facilities, get to know its partners and consider breathing in the airwaves that make public access such a dizzying delight.

Bill Nye the Science Guy started on public access. So did RuPaul, MTV's Tom Green and the whole "Almost Live" gang.

"We've got huge diversity among our programs and we're really proud of that," said Jan Strout, SCAN executive director. "But we want more."

It is a prime time for new voices, and public access is a medium that is uniquely American in its freedom of expression. Imagine what the Iraqis or the Chinese would do with public-access cable.

SCAN trains people to use, then borrow, production equipment, then airs their work.

"We are the last, best place for community individuals to extend their mission," Strout said.

And so it was SCAN that aired more footage of WTO than any other local channel; where the Goddess Kring performs spiritual dance in the nude; and where Katz is trying to make his mark, albeit while wearing his grandfather's dentures.

"I'm thinking of changing the name to 'Lateness With Josh Katz,' " he told me the other day. "Isn't that smooth?"

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or at nbrodeur@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists. She loved "Wonderama."

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