CHICAGO: A Chicago PR man has put himself in the middle of a media controversy with comedian Jackie Mason.Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American who works in PR by day, but since September 11, has performed comedy by night. When he found out he would be the opening act for Mason at a Chicago comedy club, he contacted such major media as The Wall Street Journal and NBC News about doing a story on an Arab and a Jew appearing on the same show. He also spoke with Today, but was told Mason wouldn't agree to appear to discuss their joint appearance. Comedy club Zanies took Hanania off the show, citing threatening phone calls and objections from Mason's manager. Mason, appearing on Today this past Thursday, said he didn't object to Hanania being his opening act, but did object to Hanania's approach to getting publicity for his appearance. Hanania told PRWeek, "I think his story today that he's angry because I wanted to get publicity is disingenuous." Hanania won't say which Chicago PR firm he works for because of concerns the controversy with Mason could cost him his job. He said he's been in PR and media consulting since 1992. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter in the Chicago area since 1977. Mason also objected to things Hanania has written about the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Hanania said he regretted some of the things he's said. "I'm human and I'm subject to the emotion of the Arab-Israeli conflict," he explained. Hanania added that he started doing comedy after September 11 to defuse hatred between Arabs and Jews. Hanania said he doesn't regret trying to get media attention for his appearance with Mason. "PR is very high-stakes, and I've tried to play this professionally, he said. "I've looked to do for myself what I would do for a client. Whatever I've learned in this controversy, I'm going to apply to clients, especially in crisis communications."