Monday, December 05, 2016

They're Acting As Landlords


Posted: April 28, 1986

NEW YORK — On television, Barbara Bel Geddes plays Miss Ellie, matriarch of Southfork, the palatial ranch on the show Dallas. In real life, she's a South Bronx landlord.

In the movies, Christopher Reeve soars over Metropolis as the high-flying, highly paid star of the Superman films. In real life, he owns a piece of South Bronx real estate, too.

So do Sam Waterston, JoBeth Williams, John Gabriel, David Birney and Tuesday Weld.

The seven stars are among 17 wealthy limited partners in a newly renovated 71-unit apartment building on East 146th Street, called the Villa Alejandrina, under a federal housing program that entitled them to shelter chunks of their riches from the Internal Revenue Service.

None of the celebrities is a familiar face around the project, which opened in 1984 in a neighborhood of gutted rowhouses.

"Superman owns this building?" asked one skeptical tenant, who asked that his name not be used. "Sure he does, and he's gonna come flying over here any minute."

Mastroianni Tells Of His Effect On The Ladies

Source: Posted: April 28, 1986

Marcello Mastroianni, whose affairs with leading ladies have made him one of filmdom's most eligible - albeit married - men, says he can't help it if women seek him out. "I do not search for women," Mastroianni said during an interview in the May issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly. "Why do they insist to keep saying this about me when I do not seduce? It is always I who am seducted." Mastroianni, 62, whose latest film is Federico Fellini's Ginger and Fred, has had well-publicized affairs with Catherine Deneuve and Faye Dunaway, but has remained married to Flora Carabella. "It is very normal to have love affairs with actresses," said Mastroianni. "Ideally, I would like to have a love affair with another kind of woman. I dream about a simple person, the kind I fell in love with before I became a movie star - for example, a cashier in a cappuccino bar. "Of course," he added, "she must be a beautiful, healthy cappuccino cashier."


Actor Gene Hackman, who walked away without a scratch after his car flipped during an endurance race, said yesterday, "Contrary to what you may have heard, I'm all right." The actor was about halfway though the six-hour race at Sears Point International Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., Saturday night when the brakes locked on his Audi Quattro and the car hit a bank, flipped and landed on its roof. "It felt funny to be driving along OK and then be hanging in the belt upside down with the fuel dripping all round," said Hackman. Hackman, 56, won an Academy Award in 1971 for portraying narcotics detective Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, which featured one of the wildest car chase scenes ever filmed.


Duke Ellington died in 1974, but the 87th anniversary of his birth tomorrow won't go unmarked. The U.S. Postal Service will issue an Ellington commemorative postage stamp in New York and the Mercer Ellington Orchestra will perform a set of Ellington standards at the ceremony. Then, musicians and dancers will gather for "A Celebration of the Sacred and Inspirational Music of Duke Ellington" at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Ellington premiered his second sacred concert there in 1968.


Mitch Snyder worked his way from childhood poverty to a $50,000-a-year job on Madison Avenue and back to poverty again in his effort to help the homeless of Washington, D.C. Snyder, who will be portrayed by Martin Sheen in Samaritan, a CBS-TV movie to air May 19, explains himself this way: "It was seeing the pain of the homeless that got to me. I got close to them through a variety of circumstances and their pain simply flowed through me and made me see things in a different light and made me want to pound away at the blindness so many people have toward their situation, which in many, many cases is not their fault." The result, he says: "I'm a lot happier now than I was on Madison Avenue." He's also a lot more famous.


Superman's Christopher Reeve, Dallas' Barbara Bel Geddes and six other actors from Broadway, television and the movies are landlords in a South Bronx apartment complex, where they are sheltering chunks of their incomes by sheltering the poor, according to a report in yesterday's New York Daily News. Reeve; Bel Geddes; Sam Waterston, appearing in the Broadway hit Benefactors; JoBeth Williams of The Big Chill; John Gabriel of the soap opera Loving; David Birney, former star of Bridget Loves Bernie; television director Whitney Blake, one-time star of Hazel, and actress Tuesday Weld are limited partners in the 17-unit Villa Alejandrina, the Daily News said. The building, which was renovated for $4 million, opened in 1984. It was financed by a federal housing program for developers who built or renovated buildings to be occupied by low-income tenants.


Dr. Benjamin Spock says President Reagan is a terrorist who frightened children in the United States by ordering the recent air strikes on Libya. ''Our President just brushes aside the United Nations. Our President is a terrorist. He doesn't believe in working things out," Spock, 82, said in a speech Saturday at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Spock said reports that Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy's 15-month-old adopted daughter had been killed in the raid made American children wonder if the President would order similar raids on their home towns. "We ought to bring up our children with respect for other children and their parents and the world," said Spock, a peace activist whose 1946 book, Baby and Child Care, has sold 32 million copies.

In Belfast, A Royal Surprise For Ulster

Source: Posted: June 26, 1986

Amid tight security, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson made a surprise one- day visit yesterday to embattled Northern Ireland. Hundreds of police were stationed outside a new Belfast hospital complex toured by the couple, and 11 rifle-armed soldiers were counted on rooftops. Crowds drawn by the hubbub strained to see the couple over the guards.

The unannounced trip was in keeping with past royal visits to the civil- war-torn British province. Shortly before their 1981 wedding, plans for a similar visit by Prince Charles and Princess Diana were canceled because tensions were running so high there. Andrew last visited Ulster in 1977. It was the first trip to Northern Ireland for Ferguson, who allowed: "Everyone seems so happy here."


Legendary theatrical luminary George Abbott quietly marked his 99th birthday yesterday with his wife of three years, Joy, in upstate New York, where he was born. "I am out here in the woods," said Abbott, warming himself by a fire against a 60-degree early-morning chill.

As producer, writer and director, Abbott has been associated with such Broadway hits as Pal Joey, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Call Me Madam, Fiorello and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. "Work has given me my greatest happiness," said Abbott, whose Broadway career began in 1932. His only complaint is that he doesn't walk as well as he used to and must use a cane. He plans a July 7 return to the Big Apple, when he goes into rehearsal for a revival of his 1936 hit, On Your Toes, starring Natalia Makarova.


A former aide to Richard Nixon discloses in a new book that David Eisenhower's political ambitions were squashed by Watergate. In Cover Up: The Watergate in All of Us, Harry Dent, special counsel to Nixon in his first administration, writes: "I worked with the President in devising a stategy to have David elected to Congress from Gettysburg, Pa., and then to the governorship or the United States Senate, and ultimately to the White House." Eisenhower, himself an author, now lives a quiet, unpolitical life with Nixon's daughter Julie and their children in Berwyn.


Christopher Reeve, star of the Superman movies, was reported resting comfortably yesterday after an emergency appendectomy Tuesday at St. Luke's Hospital in New York. The actor was taken to the hospital after complaining of feeling ill overnight. His hospitalization is expected to cause a slight delay in the shooting of his latest movie, Street Smart.

Also under the knife to have his appendix removed Tuesday, in the same hospital, was Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel. He was stricken with abdominal pains while dining Monday evening with the editors of National Review magazine. Hodel is also coming along nicely and is expected to be released early next week. Both operations come as St. Luke's observes the 100th anniversary of the first appendectomy in the United States, performed in its Roosevelt division.

Former British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, 92, was forced to bow out of presiding at an Oxford University honorary-degree ceremony Tuesday and was confined to bed with a chest infection. "Though it is not serious, at (his age) one has to take precautions," said his grandson Alexander MacMillan.


A San Francisco federal court ruled Tuesday that Penthouse may republish nude photos of Priscilla Barnes of TV's Three's Company, but may not use her name in connection with them. The pictures were taken by a free-lance photographer in 1975, when Barnes was a Hollywood nightspot hostess. They were published by the magazine in 1976 under an assumed name. Barnes objected when Penthouse sought to republish the photos to capitalize on her current fame. Her agent was unavailable for comment.


Patrick Reynolds, grandson of R. J. Reynolds, who started a tobacco empire with the marketing of Camel cigarettes in 1913, is scheduled to testify next month before a congressional subcommittee against the evils of smoking and about the need for strict cautions in cigarette ads. Reynolds, 34, who has divested himself of tobacco stock, said family members disagreed with him, but ''this is one of the good things in life I can do." He said he had smoked for 10 years, "and it took me five years to quit."

The heir has no doubts about how grandpa would regard him. "He would be very happy with me," Reynolds said. "When he started his company, he wasn't aware that cigarette smoking causes cancer, heart disease and lung disease."


Reclusive American oil moneyman John Paul Getty 2d disclosed yesterday in London that he was the mystery man who coughed up $2 million at a Sotheby's auction Tuesday for a four-page medieval manuscript on 12th-century martyr Thomas a Becket. In an unusual radio interview, Getty said he bought the document to ensure that it would remain in England. "It's English," he said, ''and it should stay here." The manuscript on the archbishop of Canterbury, murdered on the orders of King Henry II, was written by chronicler Matthew Paris between 1230 and 1240.

A Trip To England To Explore Filmmaking With The Stars

Source: Posted: July 06, 1986

The ticket costs more than $6, but there will be a lot more to see than just a movie and lots more to eat than popcorn on the trip billed as "A Dream Journey into the World of Dreammakers."

Its a journey to England hosted by Richard Brown, professor of film at Vassar College, who has conducted a well-known film series for 15 years at New York's New School for Social Research. The trip includes a behind-the-sce nes tour of England's Pinewood Studio, a dinner tribute to the British film industry with Ben Kingsley as host and a luncheon with Christopher Reeve as its host.

But the best part is the voyage home, on the Queen Elizabeth 2, with these all-star seminars: "Funny on Film," taught by Robin Williams and Dudley Moore; "The 80s Actress," with Ellen Burstyn and Terri Garr; "The Artist as Producer," featuring Sydney Pollack and Michael Douglas as lecturers; ''Super Fame," discussed by the super-famous Richard Dreyfuss and Sally Field, and "Our Life Onstage," with Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. That's a lot of stars, and if anybody can deliver them, it's Brown (although the brochure states clearly that the schedule is subject to change).

Prices for the Aug. 23-Sept. 1 film-fans extravaganza begin at $2,425. Information: Edith Schein, Personalized Travel, 666 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10103; 212-245-5175.


Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace, grandfather of such East Coast urban revitalization projects as Baltimore's Harborplace and New York's South Street Seaport, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in August with lots of special events.

Friday nights, there'll be dancing to free swing-band concerts; Aug. 23 and 25, the Boston Ballet will present a world premiere; artists will display works, and famous authors will sign books. The package is an enticement to visit Boston and the hall this summer.

Information: Allyson Reed, 617-523-1300.

Getting a quick $100 at 2 a.m. has become old hat with automatic teller bank cards. But did you know that your card might be able to get you money in Aiea, Hawaii, or Lufkin, Texas, or, where it might really come in handy, at Whiskey Pete's Casino in Jean, Nev.?

Those are the locations of a few of the 8,700 automatic teller machines in the United States and Canada that are hooked into the Plus System, and can provide cash from your bank account to your wallet, if your automatic teller has a Plus System logo on it.

You can get a directory of all the machines from your bank, or you can just dial 800-THE-PLUS and punch in the numbers of the phone you're using. The computer at the other end will tell you where the nearest machine is.

The Volvo Tennis Card can be a great racket for tennis players and fans, who should love the advantage of no-strings-attached discounts on merchandise and travel, for a $15 membership fee.

For instance, holders of the card can get four nights at New York's Halloran House Hotel and tickets to six sessions of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships at Forest Hills Aug. 26-Sept. 7 for as little as $265. Getting there can be cheap, too: Cardholders get 60 percent discounts on Eastern Airlines flights to New York during the Open.

Year-round, there are lots of travel bargains: discounts at Trump's Castle in Atlantic City, at the Registry Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., at Hilton Hotels and Club Meds all over the place and at lots of other tennis spots; lessons at Hilton Head Island, S.C.; discounts on car rentals, and free tickets to Volvo tennis events. And that's not to mention all the savings on tennis paraphernalia.

For information on obtaining the card, write Volvo Tennis Card, Box 938, Rockleigh, N. J. 07647, or telephone 800-372-7477, 201-767-4744 in New Jersey.

Advice you might never get if you didn't subscribe to Travel Smart (or read Travel Notes): Be careful when using the bathrooms in the new Delta 767s. The flushes are so powerful that they're "capable of removing hemorrhoids at a single woosh!"

Travel Smart provides lots of discounts and packages, and a good deal of advice. It's aimed at the middle market and costs $29 a year (12 issues). Sample copies (always a good idea) are $2 from Travel Smart, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. 10522.

The Canterbury Trust in America is sponsoring a trip this fall that combines historic buildings in England and France: an extensive tour of Canterbury, England, and its cathedral and Leeds Castle, then eight days in France visiting cathedrals, the great Benedictine monastaries and chateaux of the Loire. It's billed as a "travel-study" tour.

The price for the tour is $2,520, including just about everything (even drinks) but airfare to and from London. The tour runs Sept. 25 to Oct. 9. Information: Canterbury Cathedral Trust in America, 2300 Cathedral Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; 202-328-8788.

It will be years before the trains will run to Atlantic City, but travelers can take Amtrak to Hershey Park and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country every other Saturday through Sept. 20 (the next trip is Saturday).

Prices for a day trip to Hershey Park are $54; for the tour of Pennsylvania Dutch country, $69. That includes lunch or dinner and all necessary entrance fees and entertainment. The train, which begins in New York and stops in Princeton Junction and Trenton, leaves Philadelphia's 30th Street Station at 9:25 a.m. and returns at 9:03 p.m.

Information: Railroad Passenger Services Corp., Box 652, Union, N.J. 07083; 201-687-2703.

Yo, mon, things should be cool running, as the Jamaicans say, when Black Uhuru, Yellowman, Burning Spear and Mutabaruka get together for Reggae Sunsplash '86 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Aug. 26 to 30.

They'll be joined by the Melody Makers, Big Youth, Beres Hammond, the Mighty Diamonds and lots of other reggae stars. It's all sponsored by the maker of Reggae rum and other distilled products.

There are packages including airfare, accommodations and admissions beginning at $499. Information: Sunburst Holidays, 800-223-1277.

Tv Tonight

Source: Posted: September 12, 1986

Tonight's best bets are dated but excellent: the network premiere of Deathtrap and the zillionth repeat of Duel.


WINDS OF WAR (8 p.m., Ch. 6) - Part 4 of 6. "Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Pug / a dull Navy man ABC spent bucks to plug / and then this week when his story was brought back / the network saw the ratings and had a heart attack . . . Red ink / Misery." Robert Mitchum plays Pug. ABC repeat.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE (8 p.m., Ch. 10) - This is the last Twilight Zone to be shown on Friday nights. Later this month, the series moves to 10 p.m. Saturdays, which, with a more adult audience up for grabs, should make it a better show. Not that last season's Zone episodes were universally childish. Tonight's two stories - one about John F. Kennedy's assassination, the other about a poor couple with a tempting but terrible chance to strike it rich - would be perfectly suited to a later time slot. Lane Smith stars in the former, Mare Winningham and Brad Davis in the latter. CBS repeat.

DEATHTRAP (9 p.m., Ch. 10) - For the network premiere of this intelligent mystery movie, director Sidney Lumet added one four-minute scene cut from the 1982 original. The real mystery, though, is why it took four years for Deathtrap to make it to the small screen. Dyan Cannon doesn't add much, but Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine are wonderful as playwrights who have what can accurately be called a love-hate relationship. Like Sleuth, it's a successful adaptation of a small-scale Broadway play. CBS.


DUEL (8:05 p.m., TBS) - VCR alert: If you don't already have this on tape, you should. It's the low-budget 1971 telemovie that Steven Spielberg made before hitting it big with Jaws, and it has a lot in common with that mega- hit. Dennis Weaver stars as a motorist chased by, and ultimately locked in battle with, the unbalanced driver of a huge, ferocious-looking truck. It's like Jaws on land, with the truck as the killing machine and Weaver as the quarry. The editing and camera angles on Duel are among the finest in any telemovie, and the movie - much of it without dialogue - is delightfully tense and thrilling.

THE MAX HEADROOM SHOW (11:30 p.m., MAX) - For the first time in Max's checkered (and funny-lined and latex-headed) history, he goes head to head with a female guest. The interview subject is Tracy Ullmann, the Paul McCartney protege who is more popular in England than here, but who fares better than any of Max's other guests this season. The studio audience, thank goodness, is all but ignored, and this edition suggests that Max Headroom is back on the right track.

Philip Has Britain Buzzing

Posted: March 13, 1987

Britons are buzzing over a conversation Wednesday between Prince Philip and member of Parliament Anthony Beaumont-Dark, who asked the prince how he reconciled his presidency of the World Wildlife Fund with his support of hunting. "If you eat meat, there has to be some form of culling," said Philip, "and it is not a question of pleasure but of culling. It is the same as saying that adultery is all right provided you don't enjoy it." Beaumont- Dark retorted, "You may know more about adultery than I do, but that's not the question."

In a speech earlier the same day, Philip suggested that condom use might be better promoted by producing them in colors. He said that in Thailand, people were encouraged to use their "lucky color." Added the prince: "I found somewhere that they had black condoms. I was told they were for mourning."

Meanwhile, actor Jeremy Irons elicited a mock gaze of menace from Princess Diana Wednesday when he lighted up at a London charity luncheon held on National No Smoking Day. Irons said that he had asked the princess whether she minded if he smoked and that she had said no. "But she was heavily encouraging me to give it up," said the two-pack-a-day smoker.

And Sir Antony Acland, Britain's ambassador to the United States, announced Wednesday that Prince Andrew and his wife, the former Sarah Ferguson, would visit Los Angeles in spring 1988, in connection with an arts festival jointly sponsored by Britain and Los Angeles.


Club Noveau's "Lean on Me" tops Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart this week, just six weeks after the single came out. It's followed in order by Janet Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile," Jefferson Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby & The Range and "Somewhere out There" by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram. The Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill heads the album chart, followed by Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, The Way It Is by Hornsby's group, Paul Simon's Graceland and Jackson's Control.

In other pop-music news, William Lee Golden, 48, has been removed as one of the Oak Ridge Boys by the other three members after 22 years. Citing communications problems, member Joe Bonsall said the silver-haired Golden hadn't seemed happy with the group and had other "personal and professional things he wants to do." Golden's lawyer said his client had no comment.

And in London yesterday, Boy George was formally charged with marijuana possession. He'll go to trial next week on the charge, which resulted from a Dec. 22 pinch.


Woody Allen meets Phil Boroff, Part II. Two years ago, the moviemaker went to court to get his look-alike to stop appearing in video-store ads that strongly implied that Boroff was Allen. On Wednesday, Allen went to federal court in Manhattan again seeking to get Boroff out of ads - this time for a New York clothing store. In these, Boroff is playing a clarinet, something that Allen does most Monday nights at a Big Apple nightspot. In his $15 million suit against Men's World Outlet, Allen complains that the ads make him look like "a sex symbol."


Las Vegas welcomed a new entertainment team last night when Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr. opened a three-week stint at Bally's Grand Hotel. During a news conference, the two said that they had been friends for 40 years and that Davis had participated in Lewis' muscular-dystrophy telethon for 19 years. They said they had first talked about doing an act about a year ago and had been in rehearsals for 10 days. "There is no more fun in the shows here," said Davis. "This is fun, and it doesn't happen that way much anymore." Lewis broke with his last partner, Dean Martin, in the 1950s, about the time Davis went solo after a stint with the Will Mastin Trio.


Christopher Reeve is being sued for $45 million, along with Warner Bros. and Cannon Films, by two writers who accuse them of plagiarizing a script for the almost completed Superman IV. Barry Taff and Kenneth Stoller say in their suit, filed Tuesday in state court in Los Angeles, that before they mailed their script to Reeve in the summer of 1985, the actor had announced that he wouldn't do another Superman movie. They say their script is copyrighted and registered with the Writers Guild of America. Reeve gets a story credit in the new movie. The defendants in the suit either refused comment or couldn't be reached.


Eddie Murphy lost his cool yesterday outside a Mineola, N.Y., courtroom and lashed out at his former manager, King Broder, 64, who has haled the comic- actor to the bar with a $30 million breach-of-contract suit. "It's not going to work," Murphy told reporters. "I'm not giving any money for nothing. This is like contractual AIDS. Seven years and he pops out of the woodwork. But there's a cure for this." Judge Kenneth Molloy ordered both men placed under special guard because of concern for their safety. A woman, who Murphy said had bothered him before, demanded to be allowed in the courtroom, and Molloy said she posed a serious threat.


Jack Swift, managing editor of the Columbus (Ohio) Enquirer and Columbus Ledger, ordered a disclaimer run with daily horoscope columns written for the papers by Jeane Dixon and Sidney Omarr, saying that "the predictions have no reliable scientific basis." Swift said he had done so because of a poll that showed half of teenagers believed in astrology. He said he was disturbed that ''so many people believe in junk, bunk. . . . There is a real problem with critical thinking among teenagers."

Fine Final Roles Are Preston's Legacy

Posted: March 29, 1987

It's a sad truism that death often claims Hollywood's greatest stars after a long retirement, or at the tail end of a career in which roles have become infrequent or an embarrassment to a hitherto blameless screen legacy.

It is not given to many to go out with the class of John Wayne in The Shootist or Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond. But it was given to Robert Preston, 68, who died March 21 of cancer. Preston, inseparably associated with The Music Man, really stretched himself in his last three movies for the screen.

In Blake Edwards' S.O.B. (1981), a movie that takes on Hollywood with a meat cleaver, Preston did a wonderful turn as a Hollywood doctor who shoots up his patients from a boutique selection of controlled substances. When someone had the impertinence to call the doctor a shyster, Preston's character stood upon his dignity and said the correct name for his calling was a quack.

In Victor/Victoria (1982) - once again for Edwards - Preston abandoned himself to the part of an aging and raging queen in one of the great sex comedies of the '80s. He didn't play for the obvious laugh, but gave a rounded and often touching performance - one of the few portraits of homosexuals in movies that gay activists have welcomed.

And, finally, in The Last Starfighter (1984), he bade farewell in the role of the galactic recruiter who signs up a video-game whiz kid for a real round of Space Invaders. Preston did it with a con man's charm that echoed his most famous outing in movies - Harold Hill in The Music Man.


QUOTABLE. Christopher Reeve, who is currently playing a severely compromised journalist in Street Smart and who will be reporting in again as Clark Kent this summer in Superman IV: "I'm really not conscious of my reputation or image as an actor. I just take the best parts that come my way. Doing Superman every couple of years gives me the financial security to take risks like (Street Smart). Harrison Ford does the same thing. He has Indiana Jones as his financial base. I don't wake up in the morning and ask myself how I'm going to twist my image around or find ways to prove my versatility."

Sam Raimi, who perpetrated the schlock horror movie The Evil Dead (1983) shortly after dropping out of Michigan State University and who directed the forthcoming The Evil Dead II: "We make horror pictures because they can be made for the least money and have the best chance of success. One exhibitor told us, 'You've got to keep the blood running down the screen. . . .' (Even so), we aren't getting rich. I still live at home with my parents in Detroit."

The most literate film around at the moment is the Ritz Five's 84 Charing Cross Road, based on the actual 20-year exchange of letters between an American writer (Anne Bancroft) and a London bookseller (Anthony Hopkins) who were destined never to meet. David Jones, the director who did Betrayal (1983) and who clearly relishes a challenge, has accomplished a remarkably effective translation of the play to the screen.

"I had liked it on stage," he explained. "But, of course, it was limited to the bookshop and Helene's (New York) apartment. Hugh (screenwriter Hugh Whitemore) and I thought not so much in terms of opening it out so much as regards the secondary theme of the movie, which is New York and London and what is quaintly and amusingly and sometimes touchingly different about the two cultures."

Although Hopkins and Bancroft didn't physically work together this time, 84 Charing Cross Road is a screen reunion for them. They appeared together in Richard Attenborough's Young Winston (1972) and in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980).

Incidentally, if you are a fan of the small bits of business and the tiny suggestive movements and expressions that go into a superlative performance, don't miss the dinner table scenes between Hopkins and his wife. Her cooking is unspeakable, but he eats the food, chewing slowly with a quizzical look. At last, he says, "Very? . . . tasty" and the meal continues in ominous silence.

'Superman' Is No Hero . . . Until The Last Reel

Posted: March 30, 1987

LOS ANGELES — It's a different sort of role for Christopher Reeve. There's nothing super about the movies' Superman in "Street Smart."

As he put it, "I'm interested to see if the audience will accept me as a weasel in the film. I don't think I begin to redeem myself until the last 10 minutes of it."

It feels a little unreal talking to Christopher Reeve. He is so tall, so handsome and so perfectly articulate that you begin to wonder if what is before you in this West Hollywood hotel room might not be a lifelike hologram representation beamed in from the planet Krypton.

A perfect cinema icon as Superman, he has sought in movie after movie to prove he can do other things. In "Somewhere in Time," "Monsignor," ''Deathtrap," and "The Bostonians," he has tried with varying degrees of success to burst out of that red-caped, body-length blue straitjacket. Nevertheless, the public seems to prefer him as the Man of Steel.

"Street Smart" is the latest in the series of roles he has taken to prove his point. And it's certainly true that the young magazine-writer-on-the-make he plays is no Clark Kent.

Consider: as Jonathan Fisher, he fabricates an article about a Times Square pimp, begins palling around with a real pimp whom he meets as a result of the article and allows himself to be intimidated by the pimp into testifying in his behalf, getting him off the hook on a homicide charge. There isn't much to admire about the young journalist until at last he turns on his tormentor and takes his revenge.

"The central character is not likable and definitely not a hero," Reeve said. "But he's like many people in their mid-30s, facing a dilemma of personal ethics vs. ambition. He's sort of lost, just getting along, but he wants to be famous. When he gets his opportunity, he takes it.

"I think there's an interesting parallel between the yuppie reporter and the pimp. In a sense, they're both victims. The reporter is a victim of the magazine he works for and his own ambition. The pimp is a victim of the streets. The movie is almost saying that journalism is pimping. I think that's valid."

Next, Reeve will turn to directing. "I want to direct because I think I have good analytical skills, and I certainly think I have the ability to work with actors, Reeve said. "People who come up through the cutting room or writing are often afraid of them. I'm used to collaborating. I'm used to thinking of them as the key element."

Reeve also hopes to produce. It's a hefty goal but, as the 35-year-old actor explained, "I've now put nearly 20 years into the business. I got my Equity card when I was 17 and started acting when I was 15 at the McCarter Rep in Princeton, N.J."

That's where he grew up. The product of a broken marriage, he felt himself pulled between two homes. "The theater was a third one," he said. "It was stable and non-controversial. It felt like an extended family to me because I was sort of adopted by many of the actors in the company. I needed a secure place to grow up, and the theater provided it."

Although Reeve went through Cornell University to satisfy his parents as an English major and a Music Theory minor (he plays the piano), he still had his eye on acting. He went on to Juilliard - and that, he said, was "a wonderful experience. To be suddenly turned loose in New York and have a whole city to explore - well, I was in clover."

Once out of Juilliard, however, he was just another actor, kicking around New York and hustling for parts. After a couple of false starts he was summoned to London by Alexander and Ilya Salkind to audition for ''Superman."

When they offered him the role, he had some misgivings, but "the gambler in me needed to take the dare that 'Superman' would work as a film in its own right. Besides, that cast - Brando, Hackman, and all those great English actors. I certainly thought they could make a legitimate movie out of it."

There was another, more personal, challenge in playing the part, Reeve recalled. "The physical description was detailed - all those pictures in the comics - but who knows what goes on in the mind of Superman? Well, I worked out two characterizations. I decided Superman would represent the side of me that would be everything in life I'd like to be. And as Clark Kent I'd take all my insecurities and exaggerate them for comic effect.

"That's how I did it, and I changed my view of acting with that. I believe the character plays you, rather than the other way around. Through the reality of you, the character says what he wants to say. That's why the great performers seem to be the characters they play. You don't know where one ends and the other begins."

Superman said what he wanted to say, and audiences listened - and watched - enthralled as America's favorite comic-book hero came to life. They loved him in "Superman." They loved him again in "Superman II." And they liked him in "Superman III."

Puffing visibly with pride, he said, "I'm probably the first actor to play a comic-book character who's maintained a legitimate career."

But it hasn't been easy. None of his movies outside the Superman series has been a hit. In fact, after declaring he was done with it all, he entered into negotiation with Cannon Films and Warner Brothers on "Superman IV" and made part of his price the production of "Street Smart." He also got them to agree to let him write the story for "Superman IV."

"I think this film is more personal than the others," he said. "The focus shifts to the Man of Steel's point-of-view, and we learn how he makes decisions. I wanted to get the fun back into it, but in the right way. I'm used to playing Supie by now."

Besides Christopher Reeve, "Superman IV" features series veterans Gene Hackman as arch-villain Lex Luthor and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. Among the newcomers are Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor's punk nephew and Mariel Hemingway as the daughter of the editor and competitor for Superman's affections.

Upcoming Summer Movies

Posted: May 22, 1987

If they made it into a movie, it would be called "The Crowded Summer." Just a year or so ago, Hollywood-watchers were bemoaning the shortage of product, but this summer (because of factors ranging from the advent of VCRs, which virtually guarantees that movies will break even, to the rise of several new active "mini-major" studios like Tri-Star and Atlantic) the problem is that there's too much. Consider, for example, the weekend of August 14: eight-count'em-eight movies are scheduled to open, more than even the hardiest movie buff will want (or be able) to see.

That's quantity. Quality is another story. Summer is traditionally the time for mindless crowd-pleasers that reach for the lowest common denominator, and this year is not an exception to this unhappy rule.

Still, there's some interesting hot-weather stuff out there, most of it having to do with casting. Over the coming weeks we'll see Robert DeNiro as Al Capone, Madonna as a jailbird, Steve Martin as a latter-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Jack Nicholson as the devil, Bob Dylan as a reclusive rock star (hey, all actors have to stretch once in a while), and the Fat Boys as hospital orderlies (a scary thought).

One thing that's not surprising about the summer of '87 is the number of sequels slated to open. Returning are Superman, Frankie and Annette, Benji the dog, Jaws the shark, the Nerds, James Bond (in a different body) and ''House." And "Dragnet" and "The Untouchables," two venerable TV series, will be given the 35 mm treatment.

That's not all. The summer will also bring us Stanley Kubrick's first film since "The Shining," Robert Benton's first since "Places in the Heart," the 50th anniversary rerelease of "Snow White" and the moment you've all been waiting for: the movie version of "Garbage Pail Kids."

Without further ado (but with the warning that the only guaranteed thing about the following schedule is that it will be altered, added to, and subtracted from before the summer is over), here they are, the movies of summer:

MAY 29

"Summer Heat." (Atlantic) Lori Singer ("Fame," "Footloose") in her first starring role: a young wife and mother who's drawn into an affair with a mysterious drifter.


"The Untouchables." (Paramount) Get this: screenplay by David Mamet, directed by Brian de Palma, with Sean Connery, Kevin Costner (as Eliot Ness) and Robert DeNiro (as Al Capone). Based on the old TV show, and clearly a must-see.

"Harry and the Hendersons." (Universal) "E.T." meets "Bigfoot" - a typical American family adopt a shaggy, large and a (what else but) lovable creature. From Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment; with John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon and Don Ameche.

"Lily Tomlin: The Film Behind the Show." Documentary about the making of Tomlin's one-woman show that the comedian tried - and failed - to stop.


"The Believers." (Orion) Occult thriller starring Martin Sheen, Helen Shaver and Robert Loggia; directed by John Schlesinger.

"Personal Services." English import featuring Julie Walters ("Educating Rita") as a good-hearted madam. Directed by Monty Python's Terry Jones.

"River's Edge." Great advance word on this drama, which has been described as "Stand By Me" without the funny stuff. Like Rob Reiner's movie, it's about a group of kids who discover a corpse and have to decide what to do with it.


"The Witches of Eastwick." (Warner Brothers) This first movie adaptation of a John Updike novel since the forgettable "Rabbit, Run" has a promising mix of contributors: It was written by Michael Cristofer (a Pulitzer Prize winner for his play "The Shadow Box,") directed by George ("Mad Max") Miller and stars Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. The ladies play three single women in a New England town who suddenly find themselves endowed with mystical powers. Nicholson is a mysterious - and devilish - stranger.

"Predator." (Twentieth Century Fox) The latest Schwarzenegger action flick, set in Latin America. One surprising twist: Arnie's character is nicknamed "Dutch."

"Million-Dollar Mystery." (DEG) Audience-participation comedy: Solve the mystery (the clues are all on screen) and win a mil. How could the producers afford it? Well, the biggest name they hired for the cast was Tom Bosley.

"Man Facing Southeast." Alien lands in a mental institution in Argentina. A Spanish-language cross between "Starman" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."


"Roxanne." (Columbia) Intriguing premise - Steve Martin in an updated version of "Cyrano de Bergerac" - that may be too intriguing for its own good. Daryl Hannah, Shelly Duvall and Fred Willard lend their support. Martin wrote the script.

"Benji the Hunted." (Disney) This is not a misprint.


"Full Metal Jacket." (Warner Brothers) Stanley Kubrick's first film since ''The Shining" is about a squad of Marines fighting the battle for Hue City during the 1968 Tet Offensive. One prediction: Every review of this movie will compare it to "Platoon."

"Spaceballs." (MGM) Do we really want Mel Brooks to parody another genre? My vote is no, but he's gone ahead and done it anyway, this time spoofing ''Star Wars"-type space epics. Typical of Brooks' summer-camp-revue humor: The obligatory android is called Dot Matrix, while the villain is Lord Dark Helmet.

"Dragnet." (Universal) Dum-da-dum-dum dep't: The just-the-facts-ma'am TV perennial gets the big-screen comedy treatment. Unlike "The Untouchables," this one's a comedy. With Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd as Friday and Gannon. Or is it Gannon and Friday?

"Puppettoons." Compendium of the work of '40s animator George Pal, who worked with carved wooden puppets.


"Innerspace." (Warner Brothers) Shades of "Fantastic Voyage": a test pilot (Dennis Quaid) is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into a buddy's body. A Steven Spielberg presentation, directed by Joe ("Gremlins") Dante.

"Adventures in Babysitting." (Touchstone) Screenwriter Chris Columbus ("Gremlins") makes his directorial debut, as they say, in this comedy about a teenaged babysitter stranded in the city with her three charges.


"The Squeeze." (Tri-Star) A comedy caper starring Rae Dawn Chong as a bill collector and Michael Keaton as a guy who's seriously in debt. Together they stumble on a murder, and it's off to the races.

"The Running Man." (Tri-Star) Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his second appearance of the summer in a futuristic suspense drama. Unquestionably the most intriguing supporting cast of the summer: Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Richard Dawson, Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa.

"Rites of Summer." (Columbia) Action-adventure, starring Kevin Bacon as an outdoorsman who takes a group of teenaged boys on a wilderness survival outing.

"Revenge of the Nerds II (Nerds in Paradise)" (Twentieth Century Fox) This comedy has at least one distinction: It's the only film of the summer with a parenthesis in the title.


"Nadine." (Tri-Star) Robert Benton returns to Texas, the scene of his ''Places in the Heart," for this comedy set in the early '50s. Kim Basinger plays a small-time manicurist who finds herself caught up in a web of blackmail and double crosses; Jeff Bridges plays her good-for-nothing husband. Sounds like good chemistry.


"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." (Buena Vista) "Someday My Prince Will Come" is not, contrary to popular belief, the Fotomat theme song, but a number from this venerable Disney classic, rereleased this summer to coincide with its 50th anniversary.

"Superman IV." (Warner Brothers) Once more into the breach with the Man of Steel. This time, Supe tries to save the world from nuclear annihilation. With old-timers Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper and Gene Hackman, and newcomers Mariel Hemingway and Jon Cryer.

"Ping Pong." (Samuel Goldwyn) Comedy about ethnicity set in London's Chinatown. Doesn't sound like high concept, but don't forget that "My Beautiful Laundrette" had a similar setting and theme.

"Summer School." (Paramount) Was Carl Reiner once considered a comic genius? You'd never know it by his recent output, which includes "Summer Rental" and now this unpromising-looking comedy about vacation education. Starring Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley.


"House II: The Second Story." (New World) The title says it all.


"La Bamba: The Ritchie Valens Story" (Columbia) Buddy Holly got a movie biography a couple of years ago; now Ritchie Valens, who died in the same plane crash Holly did, gets his due. Lou Diamond Phillips is Valens, Marshall Crenshaw is Holly and the music is by Los Lobos. Casting of the Big Bopper unavailable at press time.

"Hearts of Fire." (Twentieth Century Fox) Here's the casting coup of the summer: Bob Dylan returns to the screen for the first time since 1973, playing a reclusive rock star (you were expecting maybe King Lear?). Also starring are Fiona and Rupert Everett; the director is Richard Marquand. Four original Dylan songs.

"Back to the Beach." (Paramount) Frankie and Annette, married and living in land-locked Ohio, go back to the beach. The thing I'm curious about is Ms. Funicello's hair color - will it be as black as ever?

"Maid to Order." (New Century/Vista) This comedy about a spoiled heiress (Ally Sheedy) down on her luck is notable for one thing: It is the last movie made by the late Dick Shawn, playing a flamboyant talent agent.


"The Living Daylights" (United Artists) Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore . . . and now Timothy Dalton. 007's 15th appearance.

"Stakeout." (Touchstone) Emilio Estevez and Richard Dreyfuss do not, on the face of it, sound like two names that will be forever linked in the cinematic pantheon. Still, stranger pairings have been made. The story here involves two cops stalking a jail-bird, in a thriller directed by John Badham.

"Traxx." (DEG) Rambo spoof.


"Robocop." (Orion) What do you think it's about, a food processor? Nope - an automated policeman on patrol in Detroit. Peter Weller and Nancy Allen star. Opening date uncertain.

"Jaws: The Revenge" (Universal) Probably the only interesting thing about this fourth time around is that it's the reaosn why Michael Caine couldn't accept his Oscar in person. The plot? Widow Ellen Brody (Loraine Gary) goes to the Caribbean to try to erase the memory of a certain large fish. Guess what happens. Opening date uncertain.


"The Pick-Up Artist" (Twentieth Century Fox) Molly ("Pretty in Pink") Ringwald and Robert ("Saturday Night Live") Downey play young lovers, but this is not your typical teenpic: The director is the respected James Toback, and the cast includes Harvey Keitel, Dennis Hopper, Danny Aiello and Mildred Dunnock.


"The Lost Boys." (Warner Brothers) Teen vampires terrorize a California community. Probably not as bad as it sounds, considering that the director is Joel Schumacher ("St. Elmo's Fire") and the cast includes Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes and Edward Herrmann.

"Masters of the Universe." (Cannon) May be the first live-action movie based on a toy line. He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) battles against Skeletor (Frank Langella) for control of the universe.

"The Big Town." (Columbia) Set in late-'50s Chicago, the story of a kid who tries to make his fortune in backroom gambling arenas. Strong cast: Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Dern, Tom Skerritt and Lee Grant.


"Who's That Girl?" (Warner Brothers) Not Marlo Thomas, but Madonna, in her first movie since "Shanghai Surprise." The idea here is that she's just finished serving time for a crime she didn't commit, and she's hell-bent on revenge. Griffin Dunne, Haviland Morris and Sir John Mills provide support.

"Disorderlies." (Warner Brothers) The moment you've all been waiting for - the big screen debut of the Fat Boys, the rotundest rappers around. The boys play orderlies charged with taking care of Ralph Bellamy, as a bedridden millionnaire. Anthony Geary (he's not Tony anymore), as Ralph's uncle, wants to kill him. Imagine the hilarious consequences.

"Garbage Pail Kids." (Atlantic) May be the first live-action movie based on a set of obnoxious bubble-gum cards. Let's hope it's the last.

"Castaway." (Cannon) Based on a true story about a man who places an ad for a wife to live with him on a desert island, and the woman who answers it. Directed by Nicholas Roeg. Starring Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohue.

"Hellraiser." (New World) Clive Barker, known as the Stephen King of Britain, here making his debut as a director, describes "Hellraiser" this way: "It's not the kind of picture where you find the 12 best-looking youths in California, then murder them. We've cast people because they're marvelous actors - then we've murdered them."

"Big Shots." (Twentieth Century Fox) Interracial pre-teen friendship; written by Joe ("Jagged Edge") Eszterhas.

"A Prayer for the Dying." (Samuel Goldwyn) A stellar cast - Mickey Rourke, Alan Bates and Bob Hoskins - is reason enough to see this British thriller about religion, politics and murder. Based on the Jack Higgins novel.

"Illegally Yours." (DEG) Rob Lowe's latest.

"Russkies." (New Century/Vista) A shipwrecked Soviet sailor befriends three Florida boys.


"A Tiger's Tale." (Atlantic) Ann-Margret gets involved with a high-school student played by C. Thomas Howell. Didn't we get enough of this theme in ''Class"? Still, A-M's usually a good judge of material, so this might be worth a look.

"Business as Usual." (Cannon) Glenda Jackson and Cathy Tyson ("Mona Lisa") in a story of sexual harassment.

"Hansel and Gretel." (Cannon) Fairy-tale redux, with Cloris Leachman as the witch.

"The Big Easy." (Columbia) The third New Orleans-set thriller of 1987 ("No Mercy" and "Angel Heart" were the first two), "The Big Easy" stars Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin as a detective and a DA teaming up to unroot corruption. Good advance word.

"Real Men" (United Artists) James Belushi and John Ritter as CIA men charged with saving the world in five days. Comedy.


"My African Adventure." (Cannon) Comic adventure about three madcap screwballs - Dom DeLuise, Jimmy Walker and David Mendenhall - on an African safari.


"The Principal." (Tri-Star) Exactly what it sounds like. James Belushi is a principal trying to keep things rolling in an inner-city high school. Rae Dawn Chong and Louis Gossett Jr. costar. Opening date uncertain.

"The Monster Squad." (Tri-Star) Kids. Monsters. Special effects. Spare me. Opening date uncertain.

The Films Of Summer

Posted: June 05, 1987

The good news this summer is that Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are Back at the Beach. The bad news is that 'tis the season of the summer retread. No fewer than nine - count 'em, nine - coming films are sequels to previous summer hits; among them are Teen Wolf Too, Care Bears 3 and Superman IV. These are the movie equivalents of summer reruns.

Any other trends? Well, now that you've asked, yes.

Two sure-fire summer hits - The Untouchables starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, and Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks - are inspired by old TV shows. And these small-screen lawmen who have come to the big screen are only a handful of the enforcers in a summer season where good guys wear badges - and pack pistols.

For those in favor of gun control, don't despair. There are the occult forces of The Witches of Eastwick (with Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer) and The Believers (starring Martin Sheen and Helen Shaver). Must be the season of the witch.

And for those who prefer the cult to the occult, watch for Mel Brooks' Star Wars spoof Spaceballs, Joe Dante's twist on Fantastic Voyage called Innerspace, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator and Running Man.

Romance didn't wither with the spring flowers; it continues to blossom in movies like The Big Easy and Who's That Girl? - movies that make a strong case for love blooming when the couple meets on the job. (This is also the case in Disney's summer reissue of Snow White; why else would she whistle while she worked?)

The most influential trend this summer might be that Hollywood is not making movies for kids as much as it is making movies about having them: Adventures in Babysitting and She's Having a Baby are two such accounts of the baby boomerang.

But for those landlocked souls who think that summer movies mean sand, sea, sun and sin, then your options are Back to the Beach, Jaws the Revenge, and North Shore, a surf odyssey to Hawaii's Banzai Pipeline. Pass the sunblock, please.


HIS GUY FRIDAY. In Dragnet, Sgt. Joe Friday's nephew Joe (Dan Aykroyd) teams up with Tom Hanks to save Los Angeles from the nefarious Dabney Coleman and Christopher Plummer. Opens June 26.

THE JOKER IS WILD. Matthew Modine is Private Joker, an 18-year-old who gets his Vietnam initiation during the 1968 Tet offensive in the long-awaited Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket. Opens June 26.

THE TIES THAT BOND. New 007 Timothy Dalton makes his debut in The Living Daylights, installment 15 of the James Bond saga. His mission: to stop heroin traffic. His miss: Maryam D'Abo, the heroine who stops traffic. Opens July 31.

FEDS 'R' US. Jim Belushi is the tough-guy CIA agent in Real Men whose assignment is to kidnap nice guy John Ritter and escort him across the country. Opens Aug. 21.

FEATHERING THE NESS. Straight-arrow Treasury agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) wants to wipe out the crooked empire of mobster Al Capone (Robert De Niro), but Ness needs the help of clean cop Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Opened Wednesday.


MORE TANNING LOTION. Now married, Frankie and Annette go Back to the Beach, not to party or to play blanket bingo but to relate to their teenage kids. Opens July 31 or Aug. 7.

MORE AXEL GREASE. Axel Foley redux: Beverly Hills Cop II stars Eddie Murphy as the wisenheimer Detroit detective who returns to la-la-land on special assignment to stop arms dealer Jurgen Prochnow. Opened May 8.

WHAT, NO GOLDILOCKS? In Care Bears 3, the community of do-good creatures is slated for another adventure that was still top secret at press time. Opens Aug. 7.

LOOK MA, NO MORTGAGE! An artist craving a quiet place to paint inherits a haunted stone manor in House 2: The Second Story. Arye Gross stars. Opens July 24.

MORE SHARK BAIT. Touted by insiders as a match for the Steven Spielberg original, Jaws the Revenge stars Lorraine Gary as Great White widow Ellen Brody trying to rebuild her life with Michael Caine in an island paradise. Though the Caribbean's warm waters have never been host to sharks, the terror continues. Opens July 17.

MORE JAILBAIT. Prepare your pen guards! The four-eyed brace-faces of Tri Lambda are back blonde-hunting in Nerds in Paradise, in which they do to Florida what the frat rats would like to do to them. Opens July 10.

FOURTH TIME'S A CHARM? Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) falls for his publisher's daughter (Mariel Hemingway), though his alter ego Superman still carries the torch for Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). No time for romance when archvillain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) threatens in Superman IV. Opens July 17.

TWICE IN A BLUE MOON. Teen Wolf Too reveals the further adventures of the basketball-playing high school werewolf in a sequel that does not star Michael J. Fox. Opens July 17.


ROMAN HOLIDAY. In director Diane Kurys' A Man in Love, a married American actor (Peter Coyote), in Rome making a film, falls for his scrumptious co-star (Greta Scaachi). Co-starring Peter Riegert and Jamie Lee Curtis. Opens August 12.

NEW ORLEANS VICE. Bourbon Streeter Dennis Quaid, an extroverted detective, joins forces with Ellen Barkin, an introverted lawyer, in The Big Easy, where they realize as far as crimebusting and love go, two heads are better than one. Opens Aug. 21.

AUSTIN VICE. In 1952 Texas, pretty manicurist Nadine (Kim Basinger) gets clipped when she is accused of murdering a shutterbug who took suggestive photographs of her. In trying to clear herself, she falls back in love and cahoots with her husband (Jeff Bridges). Directed by Robert "Places in the Heart" Benton. Opens Aug. 7.

UNDER THE BOARDWALK. That's where The Pick-Up Artist (Robert Downey) dates up a bouncy redhead (Molly Ringwald), whose father is a compulsive gambler and Atlantic City casino lizard. Written and directed by James Toback, who also wrote The Gambler. Opens Aug. 7.

OVER THE BORDELLO. In Personal Services, Julie Walters (Educating Rita) stars as Cynthia Payne, the notorious London madam who rocked modern-day England with her ooh-la-law sex scandals. Directed by Monty Pythoner Terry Jones. Opens June 17.

BY A NOSE. Steve Martin is a contemporary superschnoz Cyrano in director Fred Schepisi's Roxanne, co-starring Daryl Hannah as the eponymous object of his affections. Opens June 19.

FAIREST OF THE FAIR. She may be 50 years old this year, but Snow White is ageless. Re-issue of the classic Disney animation. Hi-ho! Opens July 17.

THUGS AND KISSES. A video artist (Michael Keaton) looking for a scam chances on a skip tracer (a credit investigator), Rae Dawn Chong, in The Squeeze. Looking for deadbeats, they instead find dead bodies, millions and love. Opens July 10.


HEAVEN AND HELLFIRE. As a psychologist treating police officers for burnout, recently widowed Martin Sheen tries not to get burned by Santeria worshippers in John Schlesinger's The Believers, co-starring Helen Shaver as a nonbeliever who quickly gets converted. Opens Wednesday.

WITCH ARTS AND CRAFTS. Barbara Carrera and Kelly Preston star as the pretty prey in Burnin' Love, a spoof of the Salem witch hunts guaranteed by its tongue-in-cheek filmmakers to be 100 percent historically inaccurate. Opening in August.

SATAN NEVER SLEEPS. Devilish Jack Nicholson materializes in a New England village, where he romances a coven of beauties played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon - also known as The Witches of Eastwick. After commiserating how hard it is to be a single woman, these three meet the man of their nightmares. Based on John Updike's novel and directed by George "Road Warrior" Miller. Opens June 12.


THE SHRINKING MAN. Comically warped Innerspace shows how test pilot Dennis Quaid gets miniaturized and winds up inside nerdy supermarket clerk Martin Short. Co-starring Meg Ryan and directed by Joe "Gremlins" Dante. Opens July 1.

THE VISIBLE MAN. While on a rescue mission in Central America, FBI agent Arnold Schwarzenegger encounters an extraterrestrial Predator, who zaps the Feds one by one. Co-starring Carl Weathers. Opens June 12.

TELEVISION MAN. In the future, when the government controls network TV, Running Man is a most popular show where prisoners get released and sent on life-or-death missions. Schwarzenegger stars as a reluctant contestant in this movie based on a novel by Richard Bachman (pseudonym of Stephen King). Opens July 10.

WARP-SPEED WOMAN. Spaceballs, Mel Brooks' Star Wars spoof, stars Daphne Zuniga as Her Spoiled Highness; a Yoda-like character named Yogurt (he dispenses fruit with his wisdom), and an evil knight named Dark Helmet. Opens June 26.

CON-MEN. Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty are an odd couple of showbiz losers who get involved in cloak and dagger intrigue in the Casbah of Elaine May's Ishtar. Co-starring Isabelle Adjani, a blue-eyed camel and a sated vulture. Opened May 15.


DREAMBOAT AND DREAMGIRL. Rock-and-roller Ritchie Valens sings the scorching La Bamba and in this musical biopic he dedicates the ballad "Oh Donna" to the girl he loves. Stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Valens. Opens July 24.


DREAMBOAT AND MATERIAL GIRL. In the screwball Who's That Girl?, Griffin Dunne is a lawyer kidnapped by recent parolee Madonna so that he will clear her of the crime she didn't commit. Opens Aug. 7.


DOG'S LIFE. In Benji: The Hunted, the mutt is back - and he saves four cougar cubs from hunters who would make muffs out of them. Opens June 19.

DOG DAYS. Bigfoot (a/k/a/ Harry) comes in from the summer heat to enjoy the air-conditioning and get adopted in Harry and the Hendersons. Starring John Lithgow and Melinda Dillon. Opens today.


KIDDING AROUND. Elisabeth Shue stars as the sitter stuck with three prankish charges in Adventures in Babysitting, written and directed by Chris Columbus - who wrote Gremlins. Opens July 1.

OH YOU KID. Director John Hughes finally graduates from high school in She's Having a Baby, which stars Elizabeth McGovern and Kevin Bacon as expectant newlyweds. Opening in August.


Following is list of other summer movies and anticipated opening dates. Dates are subject to change.


LILY TOMLIN Joan Churchill and Nick Broomfield's backstage documentary about Tomlin's Broadway smash, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.


MAN FACING SOUTHEAST Argentine fantasy about a psychiatrist who treats a mysterious stranger who claims to be an extra-terrestrial - and who well might be.

MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY Tom Bosley heads the cast of this adventure, in which a dozen zanies search for a hidden cache worth $4 million.


THE DEVIL IN THE FLESH Director Marco Bellochio's update of Raymond Radiguet's notorious novel of carnal abandon. Starring Maruschka Detmers.


A TIGER'S TALE High-schooler C. Thomas Howell has the hots for his best friend's mom, Ann-Margret.


PADRE NUESTRO Spanish director Francisco Rigueiro's parable of the unholy trinity of aristocracy, church and politics governing his country.

STRAIGHT TO HELL New film from Alex Cox, director of Repo Man and Sid & Nancy.


WHITE WATER SUMMER Kevin Bacon stars as a young man shooting the rapids on a survivalist mission.


JEAN DE FLORETTE A hunchback from the city (Gerard Depardieu) arrives in provincial French village during the 1920s to try his hand at farming. From the Marcel Pagnol novel. Co-stars Yves Montand.


ROBOCOP A robocop is a constructive "terminator," half-man, half-cyborg, who in this Paul Verhoeven film enforces law on the streets of Detroit. Stars Peter Weller and Nancy Allen.

SUMMER SCHOOL Carl Reiner directs Mark Harmon in this comedy about a high- school gym coach.


SWEET LORRAINE Catskills comedy starring Maureen Stapleton as the proprietor of a defunct resort hotel that she'd like to reopen.


HEARTS OF FIRE A rock-and-roll drama starring Bob Dylan, Rupert Everett and Fiona, with original songs by Dylan and Wang Chung. Directed by Richard ''Jagged Edge" Marquand.

MAID TO ORDER Director Amy Jones' riches-to-rags story stars Ally Sheedy as a spoiled modern-day princess whose fairy godmother, Beverly D'Angelo, reduces her to poverty and forces her to get a job.

MONSTER SQUAD Kids who believe in monsters find their worst fears confirmed in this comedy-adventure set in Louisiana and directed by Peter Hyams.


THE LOST BOYS Divorcee Dianne Wiest moves with her sons to the rugged seaside community of Santa Carla where rugged occurrences baffle the single mom and her boys.

THE NORTH SHORE The best surfer in Arizona (no kidding) goes to Hawaii to test his mettle.

STAKEOUT Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez star in a comedy-adventure.

AUG. 7

ILLEGALLY YOURS Director Peter Bogdanovich's caper comedy starring Rob Lowe.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE Live-action film starring superhero Dolph Lungren and archvillain Frank Langella in the superhero saga inspired by kiddie toys.

AUG. 14

BIG SHOTS Director Robert "F/X" Mandel's story about a suburban white kid and streetwise black kid who become fast friends.

THE DISORDERLIES Celebrated rappers the Fat Boys star as hospital cutups in this Three Stooges-type comedy also featuring Ralph Bellamy.

HELLRAISER Americans returning to their ancestral home in England open a Pandora's box in the cellar. Written and directed by horror novelist Clive Barker, the man responsible for Rawhead Rex.

MAURICE From the makers of Room With a View, a film adaptation of E.M. Forster's posthumously published novel about boarding-school homosexuals and their subsequent romances.

NO WAY OUT Gene Hackman and Kevin Costner star in a Pentagon thriller.

THE PRINCIPAL Lou Gossett and Jim Belushi are the principals in this high- school confidential.

AUG. 21

RUSSKIES A Russian sailor gets washed ashore in a coastal hamlet in director Rick Rosenthal's suspense yarn.

TRAXX Rambo spoof about a hired gun who turns local hero when he cleans up a corrupt town. Stars Shadoe Stevens and Connie Sellecca.

Buckingham Palace Says Cavalry Man Is Di's 'Disco Superman'

Posted: June 23, 1987

The British press was abuzz yesterday with reports of Princess Diana's ''disco superman," so-called because the two have been spotted lately dancing a lot and because the man resembles actor Christopher Reeve. The princess was seen with him Saturday night at a David Bowie concert in London where she alternately clapped and sang with the songs, chatted intimately with the man and once rested her head on his shoulder. It's not clear who the bloke is. He was first identified as investment banker Philip Dunne. But yesterday Buckingham Palace said he's Capt. David Waterhouse, 30, of the royal household's cavalry and a close friend of the younger royals. Royal watcher Nigel Dempster reported that two weeks ago Prince Charles left a society do early "in a huff" while Diana danced the night away with her superman.


Lynn Armandt, the other woman sailing on the Monkey Business with Donna Rice and Gary Hart, yesterday denied she had anything to do with the National Enquirer's story and photographs about the boat trip to Bimini. Armandt added that although Rice told everybody Armandt was responsible for the story, the aspiring model had never confronted Armandt with her suspicions. Appearing on Howard Stern's WYSP-FM (94.1) radio show, Armandt also denied Rice's charge that there was only one set of photos from the trip. She said that there were several sets and that Rice had passed them around freely. Armandt told Stern she was weary of working in a Miami beachwear shop and had come to New York to look for a job. "Something that's fun," she said. Before she left, a New York Post photographer was allowed in the studio, and Armandt posed on Stern's lap a la Hart and Rice in the Enquirer's cover photo.


Frank Sinatra, who got soaked performing in the rain Saturday night in Verona, Italy, has paid the price - he lost his voice and was forced to call off a concert last night in Milan. He's expected to be all right for tomorrow's appearance in Genoa. Refunds for the $192-a-seat Milan date were expected, instead of a rescheduling during Sinatra's three-week tour, which began June 13.


German socialite Princess Ira von Furstenburg yesterday angrily denied a weekend report that she'll marry Monaco's Prince Rainier by year's end. The Mail, a British newspaper, on Sunday attributed its story to von Furstenburg's son, Christoff von Hohenlohe. "I reject the irresponsible declarations made by my son . . . with whom I have for several years been forced painfully to sever all links," Furstenburg, 47, said in Venice. "I find the spreading of information about a marriage between myself and his highness Prince Rainier both deplorable and arbitrary. Our relations remain those of family and of strict friendship." A Monaco palace spokeswoman said the marriage reports are "completely erroneous and lack any foundation."


The August issue of Ms. magazine has come forth with its list of the 15 Dumbest Men in American, and there are few surprises. Among the winners are Lyndon LaRouche ("He can't tell his left from his right"), Gary Hart ("He can't tell his back door from his front"), Donald Regan, President Reagan, Republican U.S. Sen. John Warner of Virginia ("He's looks good, but can he type?"), Jim Bakker ("Is this what 'Love thy neighbor' means?") and Oliver North ("Take me to your leader").


Marlon Brando made a rare public appearance during the weekend when he attended a solar exposition in Phoenix. The actor was lured from his island retreat in Tahiti by the exhibition featuring an experimental cooling tower developed by his friend Carl Hodges. Brando, 63, told reporters: "I'm just a tag-along at the moment, just rubbernecking like you are. . . . I feel Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have made us adequately aware that we face planetary problems, because radioactivity doesn't have any friends or enemies anyplace. It just goes where it wants to go."


Warren Burger was admitted to Arlington Hospital in a suburb of Washington Sunday night suffering from chronic back pain. A hospital spokeswoman said yesterday it was not known how long the former Supreme Court chief justice will be there. Burger, 79, has had spasmatic episodes ever since boyhood, when he had polio. His latest bout of pain began June 15 on a trip to Winnipeg, Canada.

Porno movie superstar John Holmes, 44, has made his last film, according to his manager, because of surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon last October. Bill Amerson, who lives with Holmes in suburban Los Angeles, said during the weekend that his client was still recovering from the operation and was expected to enter the distribution end of the film business next month. He said Holmes, who claims to have had sex with 14,000 women during his 18-year movie career, is "not bed-ridden or dying."


Madonna is very big in Japan ($45 tickets to her Sunday concert were scalped for $700 apiece), but she's not very happy - too much attention offstage. Madonna says she can't jog or take in the sights like a normal tourist. "They'd line up, and there's this little wall of Japanese men," the singer said. "But the difference between the paparazzi here and . . . in America is that after they take your picture here they say, 'Sorry.' "

Superman Is Still Flying High Reeve Deserves Credit For The Man Of Steel's Fourth Success

Posted: July 25, 1987

The world is teetering on the brink of nuclear war and only Superman can save it. But the big story is something even more unthinkable: The Daily Planet is going tabloid.

And so, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace offers an amusing exercise in double jeopardy. While the Man of Steel is taking on Lex Luthor, arms dealers and a formidable opponent called Nuclear Man, and guiding missiles into the safety of deep space, Clark Kent has a newsroom nightmare of his own. A new publisher who makes media baron Rupert Murdoch seem like H. L. Mencken is storming through the city room and ordering up headlines that scream. The result: "Superman to Kid: Drop Dead."

Although some sloppy editing has given the plot a wrench instead of a twist toward the end, Superman is very much alive. The hallmark of the Superman films, which were launched with much fanfare in 1978, has been an easygoing, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The mainstay - and his contributions have been consistently underrated - has been Christopher Reeve.

With free-wheeling directors such as Richard Donner and Richard Lester, who made the first three films, there was an anything-goes mood on the set. One might encounter everything from the overpaid solemnity of Marlon Brando as Superman's father to the gleeful camp of Gene Hackman's Luthor. Throughout, the constant has been Reeve. His presence has been a balancing act worthy of a Wallenda.

After the third Superman movie, Reeve swore on everything but a stack of Bibles that he would not return. When Hackman escapes from a prison to mastermind his latest plot in Superman IV, he says, "I had one thing on my mind - the end of Superman." Reeve felt the same way.

But his career away from the series has not taken flight - remember the penance of 1982's Monsignor? - and the prospect of folding a peace message into a pop entertainment with global impact tempted Reeve back.

However, the opportunity to say something we can all agree with doesn't turn Superman IV into a soapbox. And Reeve is the main reason. His Clark Kent is now a genuinely refined statement of klutzy diffidence, and he wears Superman's cape with the grace of long practice.

The best sequence in the film is not a set piece of spectacular action, but a double date in a hotel suite where Superman and Kent romance Lois Lane and Lacy Warfield, daughter of the nefarious publisher.

Director Sidney J. Furie's Superman IV will not supplant the second Superman film, which Lester took over from Donner amid much acrimony and publicity, as the best in the series. But it's good fun and its heart is in the right place.

This time, Superman is everywhere as he elects to rid the world of nuclear arms. Everyone but Lex thinks that this is a capital idea, leaving Hackman to round up some designer genes culled from Superman's hair to create a superhuman rival.

While the supermen slug it out, the circulation wars continue on the streets of Metropolis and Jackie Cooper gets to play an over-my-dead-body editor fending off the excesses of the rampaging publisher. Of course, Superman saves the world, but the real news is that there's still some life in the series.


Produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, directed by Sidney J. Furie, written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, photography by Ernest Day, music by John Williams, distributed by Warner Bros.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Superman-Clark Kent - Christopher Reeve

Lois Lane - Margot Kidder

Lex Luthor - Gene Hackman

Lenny - Jon Cryer

Lacy Warfield - Mariel Hemingway

Parent's guide: PG.

Showing at: Area theaters.

Superman's Saga: Will It Go Iv Ever? Man Of Steel Continues His Never-ending Battle

Posted: July 27, 1987

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," an action drama starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Mariel Hemingway and Margot Kidder. Directed by Sidney J. Furie. Screenplay by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. Running time: 86 minutes. A Warner Brothers release. At area theaters.

A recurring feature on the old "Saturday Night Live" was a mock panel discussion show called "What If?", in which various experts would discuss such pressing hypothetical questions as "What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?" and "How would World War II have turned out if Superman was German?"

The makers of "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" have gone that query one better. What if, they ask, Superman decided to eradicate all nuclear weapons from the world? The answer, as presented by the movie, turns out to be fairly predictable and a good deal less interesting, come to think of it, than seeing Eleanor Roosevelt defy gravity.

Until now, as fans of the saga will know, Superman had always avoided involving himself in the political matters of Earth - part of the legacy handed down to him by his Kryptonian forefathers. But, given the crisis that threatens global civilization as the film begins, there's no time for fine points. As the Daily Planet (recently bought and tabloidized by a Rupert Murdoch-type sleaze magnate played by Sam Wanamaker) puts it in a headline, ''Summit Kaput: World at Brink." Nuclear war is close at hand, and Superman (played as always by Christopher Reeve, who has by now perfected the white-bread winking sincerity) gathers up all the world's missiles and hurls it deep into the sun.

Into the breach steps arch-villain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), back in the series after missing out on "Superman III." He not only fills the arms vacuum by restocking the world's nuclear stockpile, but he also creates, through some fancy genetic engineering, a fellow dubbed "Nuclear Man" (Mark Pillow), a blond behemoth equipped with enough solar energy to melt the Man of Steel into ingots.

"Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" lasts less than 90 minutes, and it may strike some devotees of the series as a little sketchy. Yes, all the elements we've come to expect are there - lots of flying (none by any First Ladies, sad to say), a couple of knock-down-drag-outs in outer space, a message, and some light comedy with Clark Kent and Margot Kidder's Lois Lane (there's one clever sequence involving a quick-change double date among Lois, Clark, Superman and the publisher's daughter (Mariel Hemingway), who can't see Supe's appeal but has a crush on Clark).

But - and maybe it's precisely because we have seen it all before - it's hard to escape the conclusion that all the originality and excitement have been drained from the series. Which brings up the most terrifying "Whatif?" of all: What if the Superman series never ends?

Parental guide: Rated PG. Suitable for children.

'Tin Men' Tests The Mettle Of Sellers Of Siding

Posted: October 25, 1987

An otherwise quiet week at local video stores was highlighted by the release of a wonderful comedy starring Danny DeVito, Richard Dreyfuss and Barbara Hershey.

TIN MEN (1987) (Touchstone) $89.95. 112 minutes. * * * * Pure gold from Barry Levinson and the finest American comedy since Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Returning to Baltimore, where he filmed Diner, Levinson creates a hilarious comedy about two feuding aluminum-siding salesmen in the early '60s. A wonderful and insightful essay on male ego and bonding, and a movie that goes beyond an evocation of time and place to re-create the climate of threatened assumptions for American men and women, when the winds of change were just a slight breeze.


APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR (1985) (IVE) $79.95. 90 minutes. Michele Little. While investigating a series of murders, a hard-nosed detective finds his clues point to an eerie asylum inmate who's supposed to be in a coma.

BEAKS: THE MOVIE (1987) (IVE) $69.95. 90 minutes. Christopher Atkins, Michelle Johnson. A crack TV reporter and her cameraman/boyfriend investigate why birds worldwide are suddenly attacking people.

GHOST FEVER (1987) (Charter) $79.95. 86 minutes. Sherman Hemsley, Luis Avalos. Two cops are assigned to evict the tenants of a haunted mansion, and come face to face with some not-so-friendly ghosts.

TRICK OR TREAT (1986) (Lorimar) $79.95. 97 minutes. * * Gene Simmons, Marc Price, Tony Fields, Ozzy Osbourne, Elaine Joyce. Diverting heavy-metal Halloween picture that metalheads and their disapproving parents can thrash to. High schooler exorcises himself from possession by the satanic spirit of his heavy-metal idol. A shiny Halloween apple - without a razor blade.


SALOME (1953) (RCA/Columbia) $29.95. 103 minutes. Rita Hayworth, Stewart Granger, Charles Laughton, Judith Anderson. The biblical story of Salome and the "Dance of Seven Veils," with Hayworth as the beautiful princess.

TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945) (RCA/Columbia) $29.95. 92 minutes. Rita Hayworth, Lee Bowman, Janet Blair, Shelley Winters. Romantic musical set during World War II is about an American dancing star performing in England who falls in love with an R.A.F. pilot.


AESOP'S FABLES (1987) (Children's Video Library) $29.98 each. 49 minutes each. Three volumes, each containing nine animated adaptations of the fabled Greek storyteller's tales: "The Tortoise and the Hare," "The Lion and the Stag" and "The Hen with the Golden Eggs."

DINOSAUR! (1987) (Vestron) $29.98. 47 minutes. Emmy-winning TV show that examines these prehistoric creatures. Hosted by Christopher Reeve.

DOT AND THE WHALE (1987) (FHE) $39.95. 60 minutes. Animated children's adventure from Australia. A little girl tries to save a beached whale that chose to die on the sand rather than face harpoons at sea.

EPIC: DAYS OF THE DINOSAURS (1987) (FHE) $39.95. Animated children's adventure from Australia. Two primeval children are saved from the great flood by the king and queen of the dingoes.

HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE - ISLAND OF FEAR (1987) (Magic Window) $14.95. 25 minutes. Our hero battles his nemesis Skeletor, who is starving the inhabitants of the planet Eternia.

POPPLES - POPPLE CHEER (1987) (RCA/Columbia) $14.95. 25 minutes. Two episodes of the Saturday morning cartoon series. Episode titles are "Popple Cheer" and "Backyard Big Top."

THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS - GHOSTFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1987) (RCA/Columbia) $14.95. 25 minutes. From the animated TV series: The team goes up against the spirits of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER - GATEWAY TO TROUBLE (1987) (RCA-Columbia) $14.95. 25 minutes. She-Ra and He-Man make a pact with Skeletor to Battle the evil Modulok.


DOLPH LUNDGREN: MAXIMUM POTENTIAL (1987) (IVE) $29.95. 60 minutes. Lundgren, of Rocky IV, presents his workout composed of boxing, running, jumping rope, yoga and martial arts.


BEAT THE BAJA (1987) (Fox Hills) $24.95. 60 minutes. Made-for-video documentary of the "Super Bowl of Off-Road Racing" from Ensenada to La Paz, Mexico.

BREEDER'S CUP 1986 (1987) (IVE) $19.95. 60 minutes. Dick Enberg and Dave Johnson cover the annual thoroughbred race at Santa Anita with the biggest purse ever, more than $10 million.


GETTING PHYSICAL (1984) (Key) $59.98. 95 minutes. Alexandra Paul, Sandahl Bergman, David Naughton. This TV movie tells the story of an aspiring actress who achieves stardom as a female body builder.

LOVE ON THE RUN (1985) (RCA/Columbia) $69.95. 102 minutes. Stephanie Zimbalist, Alec Baldwin. A lawyer falls in love with a convict, and decides to help him escape from jail.

LOVE SONGS (1986) (RCA/Columbia) $69.95. 108 minutes. Catherine Deneuve, Christopher Lambert, Nick Mancuso. Love story about the passionate affair between a beautiful French talent agent and a handsome young singer.

STARK (1985) (Key) $59.98. 95 minutes. Marilu Henner, Nicholas Surovy, Dennis Hopper. A tough cop from Wichita goes to Vegas to find his missing sister, a dancer.


CAROL BURNETT'S MY PERSONAL BEST (1987) (J2) $29.95. 60 minutes. Remember Burnett as Scarlett O'Hara wearing a dress made from the drapes that still contained the curtain rod? This tape includes a half-dozen sketches culled from her long-running variety show. Co-stars include Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Vicky Lawrence.

POPE JOHN PAUL II VISITS AMERICA (1987) (Vestron) $19.98. 60 minutes. Rush- released instant video event of the Pope's recent U.S. tour. Produced with ABC News.


* * * * Excellent

* * * Good

* * Fair

* Poor

(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

'Gardens Of Stone,' And More Heroics Of The Man Of Steel

Posted: November 29, 1987

A drama about war and a film about an adventurous search for peace were among the new arrivals at video stores last week.

GARDENS OF STONE (1987) (CBS/Fox) $89.98. 112 minutes. * ** Not fertile soil for Francis Coppola, who directs a version of Nicholas Proffitt's excellent novel about life on a domestic Army post during the Vietnam War. Lacks the conviction one might expect.

SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987) (Warner) $89.95. 90 minutes. * ** The world is teetering on the brink of nuclear war, but the big story is that the Daily Planet has gone tabloid with headlines like "Superman to Kid: Drop Dead." The plot has more wrenches than twists, but Gene Hackman and Christopher Reeve do keep some life in the series.


BEYOND THERAPY (1986) (New World) $79.95. 93 minutes. ** Ho-hum farce based on Christopher Durang's stage play. Comic neurotics Jeff Goldblum and Julie Hagerty play two therapy-dependent singles who meet each other through the personals and create a marriage of the maladjusted. Glenda Jackson co- stars as Goldblum's self-involved shrink. Tom Conti is Hagerty's obsexed analyst. Robert Altman directs.

BORN OF FIRE (1987) (Vidmark) $79.95. 84 minutes. Peter Firth and Suzan Crowley star in the tale of supernatural adventure. A young man, searching for the truth about his father's mysterious death, is drawn into battle with an evil being called the Master Musician.

THE COP AND THE GIRL (1987) (World) $79.95. 94 minutes. A Dirty Harry-style cop meets an 18-year-old girl who flees after stealing his gun and his car. His pursuit takes many twists and turns.

DEADLINE (1987) (Virgin Vision) $79.95. 100 minutes. Drama about a journalist covering a foreign war, this one in Lebanon. Offered an exclusive interview with an elusive PLO leader, the journalist later realizes he's been duped into talking with an impostor who spewed out a pack of lies. To save his reputation, he sets out to get to the truth. Christopher Walken, Hywel Bennett and Marita Marschall.

MAN FACING SOUTHEAST (1986) (New World) $79.95. 105 minutes. * ** In American movies, the arrival of an alien from another world rarely leads to an intelligent discussion of life on this one. Eliseo Subiela's powerful and disturbing film, however, recasts a shopworn theme in a Buenos Aires lunatic asylum where a brilliant patient claims to be from another planet and raises questions his burned-out doctor would rather not face.

NECROPOLIS (1987) (Lightning) $79.98. 76 minutes. A New York detective investigates a series of brutal attacks, unaware that the 300-year-old devil cult that has committed them is already on his trail.

SLAVEGIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY (1987) (Urban Classics) $79.95. 80 minutes. After escaping from their captors, a group of women crash-land on a strange planet, only to be pursued anew.


A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945) (Playhouse) $59.98. 128 minutes. ** ** Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell. A young girl copes with an alcoholic father and imminent poverty in this adaptation of the Betty Smith best seller.

GORDON'S WAR (1973) (CBS/Fox) $79.98. 90 minutes. * ** Paul Winfield, Carl Lee, David Downing, Tony King. One of the best of the ghetto exploitation pictures; Winfield is a Vietnam vet who recruits an urban commando team to go after drug pushers.

LA RONDE (1950) (The International Collection) $29.95. 97 minutes. ** ** Anton Walbrook, Serge Reggiani, Simone Signoret, Danielle Darrieux and Odette Joyeux. A slick, witty film from director Max Ophuls about an adulterous chain of romantic liaisons.

SUMMER INTERLUDE (1950) (The International Collection) $29.95. A ballerina at the peak of her career discovers her dead lover's diary. In a series of flashback sequences, she painfully recalls their summer romance that ended in tragedy. Directed by Ingmar Bergman. With Maj-Britt Nilsson.

THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE (1933) (The International Collection) $29.95. 120 minutes. ** ** BW '33. German. Rudolph Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke. From his underground lair, a wily supercriminal plots revenge. Beautifully eerie, stylized images.

TORMENT (1944) (The International Collection) $29.95. 90 minutes. ** ** BW '44. Swedish. Mai Zetterling, Stig Jarrel. Boy and girl in love are persecuted by their schoolmaster. Early Ingmar Bergman script.

WESTFRONT 1918 (1930) (The International Collection). $29.95. German anti- war drama. German soldiers in the trenches try to hold their position against a tank attack of French soldiers. The confrontation leads to death on both sides.


THE CHRISTMAS COAL MINE MIRACLE (1977) (Playhouse) $59.98. 97 minutes. Kurt Russell, Melissa Gilbert and John Carradine star in this drama set in 1951. A rebellious miner leads his peers in protest against the dangerous working conditions to which they are regularly exposed.

FRIENDLY FIRE (1979) (CBS/Fox) $59.98. 147 minutes. Carol Burnett, Ned Beatty, Sam Waterston, Dennis Erdman, Timothy Hutton. Emmy-winning TV drama based on the true story of a rural couple's struggle to learn the truth about their son's death in Vietnam.

THE NATIVITY (1978) (Playhouse) $59.98. 100 minutes. Madeline Stowe stars as Mary, and John Shea portrays Joseph in this TV-movie version of the story of Christ's birth. Jane Wyatt co-stars.

A SMOKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS (1986) (Playhouse) $79.98. 94 minutes. Dolly Parton, Lee Majors, John Ritter, Bo Hopkins, Anita Morris. Depressed about the approaching holidays, a woman heads for a Tennessee mountain cabin, where she finds seven runaway orphans hiding out.

TV'S BEST ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1987) (Warner) $29.98 each. 60 minutes each. Two volumes, each containing two episodes from the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman. The first includes "Superman on Earth" (1951), the pilot episode, which traces the Man of Steel's first exploits on Earth, and ''All That Glitters" (1958), the final installment of the series, in which Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen also take on super powers. The second includes ''Crime Wave" (1951), in which Superman wages war against organized crime in Metropolis; and "The Perils of Superman" (1958), a spoof on movie cliffhangers.


BARNES & BARNES: ZAGABEE (1987) (Rhino) $19.95. 60 minutes. Barnes & Barnes, the kooky novelty music duo popularized by syndicated radio's Dr. Demento and various "morning zookeepers" on radio stations around the country, are featured in a collection of conceptual clips based on their songs, including "Fish Heads," "Love Tap," and "Party in My Pants."

CELEBRATING BIRD: THE TRIUMPH OF CHARLIE PARKER (1987) (Sony) $29.95. 58 minutes. Documentary about one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time.

THE REAL BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1987) (Sony) $29.95. 90 minutes. Hosted by Paul McCartney. Documentary about the influential '50s rocker, singer of such hits as "That'll Be the Day," "Peggy Sue" and "Every Day." Traces Holly's career from the time he learned to play guitar to his death with Ritchie Valens in a 1959 plane crash.


PLANNING YOUR WEDDING: THE EXPERT'S GUIDE (1987) (Fox Hills) $29.95. Made- for-video instructional guide on the dos and don'ts of wedding planning, offered by a panel of experts. Topics include: gown and formal-wear selection, floral arrangements, catering, music, location, hair style and makeup.


THE PHILADELPHIA BIG 5: A HISTORY OF PALESTRA PANDEMONIUM (1987) (3M) $29.95. 60 minutes. Sportscaster Al Meltzer is the host of this look at the Big 5 from its formative years through its frenzied adolescence to the unique basketball institution it has become. It can be ordered by calling 1-800-328-5727.


** ** Excellent

* ** Good

** Fair

* Poor

(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)


Posted: December 10, 1987


Since that rich, egg-noggy Yuletide feeling is starting to steal over us, this seems like a good time to point out in all fairness and common humanity that celebrities, particularly actors, aren't always getting divorced or arrested. Here are a clutch who are into good works: Dennis "McCloud" Weaver runs a California charity called Love Is Feeding Everyone; Christopher "Superman" Reeve just went to Chile in support of 78 actors and directors who've been threatened with death by right-wingers there; Peter Jennings helps out in a New York men's shelter; Madonna entertains children at a New York cancer hospital; Diane Keaton fox-trots with the old guys at a home for the aged; Garry Trudeau volunteers for a soup kitchen; and Loretta Young does what she can for a women's center on L.A.'s skid row.


Multinational good guy/rocker Bob Geldof of Band-Aid and Live-Aid, meanwhile, has told the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa he'll pay $3 million worth of Ethiopia's debts to the United States if the Reagan people will stop withholding aid to the country's starving because they're governed by Marxists.

'The Front Page,' Wired For Cable

Posted: March 04, 1988

There are movie remakes - such as The Untouchables - that are total rethinkings of the source material, inspired and fresh.

Then there are movie retreads - such as Unfaithfully Yours. Think of them as old tires customized for use in "new, improved" star vehicles.

And then there are movie blowouts, such as Switching Channels. Quick, call the automobile club! Better yet, an ambulance!

This shrill, garish and moronic denigration of the theme of His Girl Friday (itself an irreverent remake of everyone's favorite newspaper saga, The Front Page) is as much fun as a highway accident. One who enjoys Switching Channels' overlit, underdirected overacting must have the soul of a rubbernecker.

Switching Channels sloppily updates Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's city- room comedy by situating it in the newsroom of a Chicago cable-network station.

You know it's cable because the station is surrounded by a 72-person-place setting of satellite dishes, but then you're confused because all the dialogue is about newspapermen. And because slinky anchorwoman Christy Colleran (Kathleen Turner) is the station's only reporter.

Her news director and ex-husband is "Sully" Sullivan (Burt Reynolds), who sends her on vacation, where she meets billionaire Blaine Bingham (Christopher Reeve) and becomes engaged. When she returns to Chicago, Sully manipulates it so that Christy realizes she is married to her job and that to wed anyone else would be bigamy.

In the maladroit hands of director Ted Kotcheff, the tone is forced rather than farce, the pacing furious rather than fast. Not even the three fine actors - who are distinguishable only by the ugliness of their hairpieces - can make this creaky vehicle hum.

For those who care about provenance, Switching Channels is the fourth film incarnation of The Front Page. The excellent original (1931) starred Adolphe Menjou as the snaky editor Walter Burns, and Pat O'Brien as star reporter Hildy Johnson. The remake His Girl Friday (1940), possibly the funniest and inarguably the fastest comedy ever made, had Cary Grant as Burns, Roz Russell as Hildy and Ralph Bellamy as Hildy's spurned fiance.

Billy Wilder remade a so-so Front Page in 1974, casting Walter Matthau as Burns, Jack Lemmon as Hildy and Susan Sarandon as his luckless fiancee. What's next? an all-teen version starring Ricky Schroeder, Drew Barrymore and Emmanuel Lewis?


Produced by Martin Ransohoff, directed by Ted Kotcheff, written by Jonathan Reynolds, based on The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, photography by Francois Protat, music by Michel Legrand, distributed by Tri- Star Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 45 mins.

Christy Colleran - Kathleen Turner

John L. Sullivan 4th - Burt Reynolds

Blaine Bingham - Christopher Reeve

Roy Ridnitz - Ned Beatty

Ike Roscoe - Henry Gibson

Parent's guide: PG (obscene hand gestures).

Showing at: area theaters.

The Front Page Bounces Back Via Satellite 4

Posted: March 04, 1988

The old Hollywood axiom, "If it works, beat it to death," is the stake to the heart of "Switching Channels."

In what must be a big-budget Hollywood record, "Switching Channels" gives us the fourth film version (not to mention several stage remakes) of the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur classic, "The Front Page" (the second of which was the 1939 hit, "His Girl Friday"). This one smacks of the all-new-and- improvedness generally associated with laundry detergents that have changed their green crystals to blue.

Burt Reynolds - looking as honey-charming as ever at age 52 - plays John L. Sullivan IV, the Adolphe Menjou-Cary Grant-Walter Matthau part, here revamped as the news director of a satellite TV operation based in Chicago. Kathleen Turner (seen here for the first time this year with all her clothes on all the time) is Christy Colleran, the Pat O'Brien-Rosalind Russell-Jack Lemmon tougher-than-Tide reporter. Christopher Reeve, as Blaine Bingham, is the rich and beautiful sex object who wants to take Christy away from her beloved guts and gore.

If you've ever seen any of the previous incarnations of the plot, you'll find that "Channels" director Ted Kotcheff and writer Jonothan Reynolds go to great lengths to be true to the earlier movies. It makes you wonder: if these guys are so good and creative at updating a 1920s newspaper comedy to a satellite TV format, how come they couldn't make their own original flick?

The answer may lie in a young newsie's response to Reynolds' line to Turner that they are "like Huntley and Brinkley." The kid screws up his face and asks, "Who are they?" If you can't remember Huntley and Brinkley, chances are you've never seen any of the earlier "Pages," so maybe "Channels" will look original to you.

Reynolds is properly dastardly-dashing as Turner's ex-husband-now-just-boss who entreats her to take on just one more story before she marries Reeve, the sporting-goods entrepeneur hunk she met on vacation.

The just-one-more-story is the execution of meek Ike Roscoe (played by the king of meeks, Henry Gibson), who murdered a drug dealer who had killed Roscoe's son. That dealer was actually a cop, so Roscoe was railroaded to the chair by unscrupulous DA Roy Ridnitz (played by the prince of unscruples, Ned Beatty), who's trying to unseat the most oblivious of governors (Charles Kimbrough) in the worst way possible.

There is as much slapstick and pleasantly idiotic one-linery as a Saturday night audience can stand. Reeve's dotty-but-yuppie Bingham is much like his ''Superman." "God, your hair looks amazing in the moonlight," he tells Turner. "So does yours," she answers, much to his (and our) agreement. Reynolds has a flunkie go out and kick a 25-foot satellite dish to get better reception. TV reporters put on makeup constantly while fat, old and ugly newspaper reporters spit and pick their noses.

"Channels" isn't a bad movie, but still, if you're thinking of going to see it, why not just rent either version of "The Front Page" or "His Girl Friday" and give some classics an even break.


SWITCHING CHANNELS: A comedy starring Burt Reynolds, Kathleen Turner and Christopher Reeve. Directed by Ted Kotcheff. Screenplay by Jonothan Reynolds. Running time: 105 minutes. A Tri-Star Release. At area theaters. Parental guide: Rated PG. Less gutter language than most flower shops, let alone newsrooms.

Superman's Greatest Hits Look, Up In The Sky . . . It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's . . .

Posted: March 24, 1988

Years before Christopher Reeve donned cape, trunks and curl - before he was even born - Superman was alive and well and stopping crime in Metropolis and around the galaxy.

Any Baby Boomer worth his or her weight in Hula-Hoops can recall George Reeves, who played the Man of Steel in The Adventures of Superman, which ran on television from 1953 to 1957 and which caught on with yet another generation when it was syndicated in the '60s. Reeves still can be seen confounding evildoers on cable and smaller stations, making it easy to assume that he was the first celluloid version of the superhero.

In fact, Superman's screen origins predate Reeve and Reeves. But until recently, samplings of Superman's early days were difficult to find. Now, as part of Superman's 50th-birthday celebration, Warner Home Video has released a number of rarities on videocassette.

Superman, the creation of Cleveland natives Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster, debuted in Action Comics No. 1 in June 1938. (His actual birthday is given as Feb. 29, 1938 - of course, there was no such date on Earth, but maybe on Krypton?) Ten years later, he made his live-action debut in a 15-chapter theatrical serial simply called Superman.

To say that this serial was light years away from Star Wars would be an understatement. A project of noted schlockmeister Sam Katzman (Rock Around the Clock), it was shot on a microscopic budget. Nevertheless, it proved so popular that two years later, Katzman filmed a sequel, Atom Man vs. Superman. Both have recently been released on video and, if only for their historic and camp value, are worth a look.

A former dancer named Kirk Alyn played the Man of Steel in both serials, taking a straightforward, no-nonsense approach. When Alyn frantically changes from his natty three-piece suit to S-emblazoned costume, his voice seems to drop at least an octave to a heroic baritone. You expect to hear him intone, ''Here I come to save the day!" like Mighty Mouse.

The first chapter of Superman begins with the now familiar account of the hero's origins - how he was sent into space by his parents from the dying planet Krypton, how he was reared on Earth by benevolent Ma and Pa Kent and how he journeyed to the big city to assume the identity of Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet. The next 14 chapters are devoted to Supe's battle with the evil Spider Woman, who has spun a web of crime around Metropolis with a deadly reducer ray.

Spider Woman is essentially a one-evil-trick villain, a shortcoming that Katzman remedies in Atom Man vs. Superman. Atom Man actually is Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor wearing an oversize helmet with sparkles. Luthor throws all sorts of diabolical curves at the hero. Superman is turned invisible and has to fight one of Luthor's cronies in outer space! Luthor controls a robbery ring across Metropolis! And - Great Caesar's ghost! - Luthor persuades Lois Lane to quit the Daily Planet for a job at a TV station!


But although the action is worth exclaiming, the filmcraft leaves much to be desired. Superman deflecting rapidly fired bullets off his chest is the most elaborate special effect used here. Otherwise, there's a lot of stock footage of floods, tornados and other natural disasters. And when the celebrated strong man flies up, up and away, he turns into a jerky animated figure.

Yet Siegel and Shuster's original theme remains intact in these serials - Superman is seen fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way. And, though budget restrictions make for the chintziest Man of Steel excursions ever produced, they are, surprisingly, often the most fun.

In 1951, George Reeves zoomed onto theater screens in Superman and the Mole Men, which also was filmed for pennies and was used as a pilot for the TV series.

The Mole Men are midgets with fake, fuzzy eyebrows and rubbery bald-head pieces. When they pop out of a freshly tapped oil well to infest a small Western town, the frightened locals want the little creatures strung up, but Superman and Kent, pleading equal rights for Mole Men, want to protect the furry fellows. Amazingly, the film is consistently engaging, and, at only 67 minutes long, it's ideal for kids 10 and under.

Throughout his run as Superman, Reeves, a former boxer and journeyman actor who appeared in Gone With the Wind and From Here to Eternity, interpreted the hero with a punchier style than his predecessor. Rugged, affable and a tad overweight, he was looser and more likable than the arch Alyn. Saying that he modeled his Clark Kent after the newshounds of The Front Page, Reeves once said that he "wished to make Superman a natural extension of Clark's courage, not a Walter Mitty-type fantasy projection."


After Mole Men, Reeves took his Superman from the large to the small screen, and Warner Home Video has released four hour-long volumes of TV's Best Adventures of Superman. Watching these today, one notices a greater emphasis on Kent and his relationship to his alter ego than on the Man of Steel himself. A great deal of time also is spent on the newspaper angle and the adventures of Lois Lane, photographer Jimmy Olsen and editor Perry White.

Plots concerning absent-minded scientists, Midas-minded thugs and crippling Kryptonite formulas were commonplace, and, because of tight budgets, stock footage is used ad infinitum, but exceptions can be found in the episodes entitled "Crime Wave" and "All That Glitters."

"Crime Wave," which appears on Volume 2 of TV's Best Adventures, takes an unusually hard-hitting crime-drama approach, as Superman tracks down the mysterious criminal who is No. 1 on the most-wanted list. The show features a whirlwind montage of screeching police cars, tabloid headlines and Superman bashing a crook with his steel knuckles.

"All That Glitters," showcased on Volume 1, actually was the series finale. It's presented on the tape as it was filmed - in color - which makes for a jarring contrast to the shadowy film noir look of earlier episodes.

Reeves directed this lighthearted episode, in which Jimmy Olsen gets sandbagged (literally) and envisions he has superpowers like his idol. The episode - and, appropriately, the series - ends with this bit of dialogue between Jimmy and Clark:

Jimmy: "Golly, Mr. Kent, you'll never know how wonderful it is to be like Superman."

Clark: "No, Jimmy, I guess I never will."

Each volume of TV's Best Adventures includes a theatrical Superman cartoon from the early 1940s. These 10-minute marvels are the work of Max and Dave Fleischer, the animation geniuses who created the classic Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons of the 1930s. Their Superman adventures are mini-masterpieces, gorgeously colored and meticulously drawn. Although they've been available on video previously in various collections, it's unlikely they've ever been presented in such glorious, pristine quality.

But these are the Supermen of yesterday - for today's generation of superfanatics, the Man of Steel is personified by Christopher Reeve.

Producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind originally considered the likes of Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford for the lead in their 1978 epic Superman - The Movie. Instead, they settled on the relatively unknown Reeve, whose handsome, chiseled features, strapping physique and good-natured, self-effacing air would become the complete Superman.

Of course, this Superman had luxuries not afforded the others. There was the budget - in excess of $30 million. Top writers, such as Mario Puzo, Robert Benton and David Newman, were recruited to work on the script. The able Richard Donner directed the expensive, eclectic cast, which included Marlon Brando and Margot Kidder, with Gene Hackman as the hammy Lex Luthor. And there were a multitude of elaborate special effects, an eerie, stylized production design and a stirring score by John Williams. It was the first time the superhero got first-class treatment in Hollywood.

Superman - The Movie is a triumphant, witty fantasy true to both its comic book origins and the time in which it was made. It opens with a recap of Superman's otherworldly beginnings on Krypton and then whisks viewers to Middle America for Clark's youth with Ma and Pa Kent. When the film hits Metropolis, contemporary twists are introduced - Lois Lane is a spunky, liberated woman, and Lex Luthor is involved in dastardly real-estate deals.

Superman II, released in 1980, takes a pulpier approach. In this action- packed adventure, Supe wrestles with three superbullies, led by the outrageous General Zod, who destroy midtown Metropolis. Credit must be given to director Richard Lester and his distinctive, satiric style; although many purists detest this entry, others consider it the greatest Superman story ever told.

Superman III (1983) is the most interesting and most disappointing of the modern series. Admirably, Kent develops a personality conflict with his true identity, which leads to an incredible tug of war between Superman's brawn and the reporter's brain. Unfortunately, Richard Pryor's role as a corrupted computer whiz was conceived for one of his lesser comedies.

Last year's Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is the latest of the big- screen Supermen, and if its critical reception and box-office returns are any indication, it may do more harm to the series than a case of Kryptonite.

Promising story possibilities abound: A media mogul has transformed the Daily Planet into a gossipy tabloid. Nuclear weapons threaten the world. Lex Luthor has called on a glow-in-the-dark gladiator to corral the Man of Steel. Then there are the girl problems.

Yet even with Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman back after sitting out Superman III, most of the prime opportunities are sadly botched. Cannon Films' use of dull, shadowy cinematography and junky special effects has sapped the Man of Steel movies of much of their earlier strength - in some flying sequences, you can see the strings that suspend Superman.

It makes one long for the days of Kirk Alyn.

Miss Teen Crowned; 1 Entrant Removed

Posted: July 27, 1988

Mindy Duncan of Hillsboro, Ore., who was crowned Miss Teen USA Monday night, was introduced to her subjects at a news conference yesterday in San Bernardino, Calif., where pageant officials continued to rebuff reporters' attempts to find out why contestant Alison Moreno of California was disqualified Monday morning. "She did not follow pageant regulations," said a pageant spokeswoman. "We don't want to say any more. We don't want to hurt her, since she's only 16 years old." A reporter insisting on a fuller explanation late Monday was tossed off the pageant site and told not to come back. Duncan, 16, said the other contestants were told of the first disqualification in the pageant's six-year history as they were about to take the stage Monday night, but added that she didn't think the incident tarnished her crown. She will receive $84,000 in cash, a Jeep, two mink coats, exercise equipment, an electronic piano and a five-year supply of shampoo.


Julian Bond, a former Georgia state legislator and a major player in the 1960s civil rights movement, filed for divorce last week from his wife of 27 years, Alice, it was reported yesterday. In papers filed in Fulton County (Ga.) Superior Court, Bond, 48, stated that the couple, parents of five grown children, have been separated since September 1986. Last year Alice Bond, 44, accused her husband of being a regular cocaine user and said Carmen Lopez Butler, 37, was his girlfriend and drug supplier. Alice Bond later withdrew the allegation, and an investigation resulted in no charges being filed.

Tom Selleck and his wife, Jillie Mack, are expecting their first child in February. They will celebrate their first wedding anniversary Aug. 7.


From John Maltezos, owner of Poppa Charlie's, a Williams College hangout in Williamstown, Mass., via local entrepreneur Harry Jay Katz (fresh from a Berkshires vacation): George Wendt (Norman on TV's Cheers), in town performing at the Williamstown Theater Festival, walks into Charlie's and checks out the food board featuring 40 sandwiches named for well-knowns who've eaten there. There's the Christopher Reeve, the Ricardo Montalban, the Sigourney Weaver, the Mike Dukakis (turkey, by the way), the Harry Jay Katz, etc. Wendt wanted one named after himself. Maltezos said his card was full. "Well, who the hell is Harry Jay Katz?" huffed Wendt. When Maltezos explained that it was a treasured friend, Wendt left and got a sandwich across the street. Maltezos reported that People magazine, doing a feature on his place, also inquired as to who this Katz person was. "Being on that board is the thing I'm most proud of," Katz said of his ham-roast-beef-turkey-slaw-Russian-dressing-melted- cheese combo.


Harry Belfonte is suing a neighbor in his Manhattan co-op for $450,000 for damages he said occurred in his apartment because of bathroom work in the neighbor's digs. The singer alleges that his darkroom and master bedroom were damaged by leaks created by the renovation. Meanwhile, the co-op is suing Belafonte for $30,000 in back maintenance fees.


Martin Scorsese's new film, The Last Temptation of Christ, got more of the free pre-release publicity moviemakers barely hope for yesterday when a spokesman for America's Roman Catholic bishops said it was "flawed as theology and as cinema." But he added: "I do not believe (Scorsese) intended blasphemy." Bishop Anthony Bosco of Greensburg, Pa., who saw a rough cut of Temptation two weeks ago, said the movie's sex sequence "is probably rather subdued by modern-day film standards but would probably be considered morally objectionable by many even if the Christ figure were not involved." The temptation deals with Christ's rejection of crucifixion in favor of raising a family with Mary Magdalene. "The key concept, however, is that . . . Christ ultimately does, in fact, reject the temptation and freely accepts his death on the cross in order to redeem humanity," said Bosco.


What's last July's distraction, Oliver North, doing a year later? How about raking in big bucks for high-priced talks around the nation? The Boston Globe reported this week that the Iran-contra figure is pulling down $25,000 a pop for 40 bookings that will stretch into next year. Bernard Swain of the Washington Speakers Bureau wouldn't give exact figures but said the former Marine is "one of our most popular and higher-paid speakers." The Globe quotes a North political adviser as saying that North is putting away "the lion's share" of the money he makes to cover what North calls the "ruinous obligations" he's incurred in defending himself against charges of defrauding the government. His trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 20.


Winter Olympics skating queen Katarina Witt will draw the highest pay ever from the European tour of the Holiday on Ice show, the show's managing director announced yesterday in Bern, Switzerland. F.A. Goodhart wouldn't say how much she'd get but did say that the show once paid British Olympic gold medalist Robin Cousins $15,000 to $20,000 a week.

Former TV newswoman Linda Ellerbee is said to be a bit annoyed at Democratic National Convention keynoter Ann Richards for stealing her line about how Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backward and in high heels. Seems Ellerbee has long used it on the lecture circuit and now must drop it for fear of being accused of stealing it herself.

The Boss' Record For Amnesty A New Springsteen Disc Is Part Of Human-rights Tour Support.

Posted: August 19, 1988

A new Bruce Springsteen record, a Sting video, an animated film, and special radio and TV broadcasts - these are some of the attractions that will accompany the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! world tour set to begin Sept. 2 in London and to hit Philadelphia Sept. 19.

Officials of the London-based human-rights organization announced Wednesday in a news conference at Philadelphia's Four Seasons Hotel that Springsteen would release Chimes of Freedom, a four-song, 12-inch record, in early September. All profits from it will go to Amnesty's Concerts for Human Rights Inc. organization to help defray the cost of the tour. Springsteen shares billing on the six-week tour with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and West African singer Youssou N'Dour.

The record will feature Springsteen and the E Street Band's cover of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom," which was recorded at a July 3 concert in Stockholm. Three Springsteen compositions - "Tougher Than the Rest," "Be True," and an acoustic version of "Born to Run" - were recorded at a Los Angeles appearance in April.

Other tour-related developments:

There are no plans now to broadcast the Philadelphia concert or the other U.S. concert, in Los Angeles on Sept. 21. (Tickets for the Philadelphia show are $35 and are still available.) However, Amnesty is negotiating for a live worldwide radio broadcast of the tour's closing concert on Oct. 15 in Buenos Aires, and plans to film it for a television special intended for worldwide broadcast on Dec. 10.

Sting has recently completed a video for "They Dance Alone," his song about the Chilean mothers of "the disappeared." Dedicated to Amnesty International and featuring the Human Rights Now! logo, the video will be used by Amnesty to draw attention to the tour.

A group of animators from around the world have collaborated on a short cartoon that will illustrate the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The film, coordinated by animator Steven Johnson, will be shown at every concert, with narration translated into the native language at each site. The music for it is being assembled by a similar consortium that involves Laurie Anderson and David Byrne, among others.

Amnesty officials said that each of the headlining performers was expected to play a 60-minute set. They added that the artists were discussing the possibility of a show-closing segment involving the entire cast. Gabriel is assembling a new, international band for the tour. Springsteen has announced that his set will not be the "Tunnel of Love" show he has performed on the road most of this year.

In contrast to earlier announcements, Amnesty officials said that an artist would be added - presumably drawn from the local or regional talent pool - at each stop on the tour, which now includes Montreal; Toronto; Budapest, Hungary, and Harare, Zimbabwe.

The choice of an additional artist for the Philadelphia show has not been finalized.

Beginning next week, callers to the Westwood One radio network's Amnesty line (800-55-AMNES, or 800-552-6637) will be able to join Amnesty International over the phone. After callers have signed up to become members, they'll be given the opportunity to vocally "sign on," via tape, to the Amnesty petition marking the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to be presented to the United Nations on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10.

Amnesty regional coordinator James O'Dea said that although the organization was negotiating with various countries - including the Soviet Union - for additional tour stops, it had not altered in any way its stance on human-rights violations within those countries. "The price of this tour is not silence," he said Wednesday. "The artists will want to talk about the death penalty here. Just as they'll want to talk about the problems in Moscow."

As with Amnesty's Conspiracy of Hope tour in 1986, the Human Rights Now! tour will be heralded by several 30-second public service television advertisements. Celebrities who have recorded such spots include Christopher Reeve and Meryl Streep.

Nets Bring Out The Big Guns Mini-series 'War And Remembrance,' 'lonesome Dove' Lead Fall Campaign

Posted: September 12, 1988

By now, you've already been warned of its arrival. "The greatest achievement in motion picture history," the commercials proclaim, and, whatever else you want to say about ABC's "War and Remembrance," you have to agree that it surely is an achievement with a capital "A."

Imagine, if you can, $104 million in production costs for 32 hours of narrative. That's almost 10 "Gone with the Winds" with room left over for a ''Wizard of Oz" or two. It has been called the mini-series to end all mini-series and, given the slow decline of the big-deal mini-series in recent years, that description sounds about right.

"Remembrance" is the adaptation of Herman Wouk's sequel to "The Winds of War," a sweeping chronicle of pre-World War II America. "Winds" was itself a lumbering, lugubrious 1983 mini-series starring Robert Mitchum as career Navy man Victor "Pug" Henry, Polly Bergen as his high-strung wife and Victoria Tennant as Pug's British lover.

All three return in "Remembrance" and are joined by a cast of thousands. Jane Seymour, Hart Bochner and Sir John Gielgud will occupy the roles previously played by Ali McGraw, Jan-Michael Vincent and John Houseman. Though I haven't seen any of "Remembrance," I've heard it's a vast improvement over ''Winds." Just about anything would be.

The series will begin Nov. 13 on Channel 6 at 8 p.m. The next 18 hours will air on successive nights. ABC plans to show the remaining 14 hours later in the season.

No other network's mini-series comes close to matching "Remembrance" in scope and ambition. But "Lonesome Dove," CBS' eight-hour adaptation of Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning cattle drive epic, sounds like a winner if only for its impressive cast, including Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Anjelica Huston, Robert Urich and Diane Lane. No air date yet.

CBS also is retelling the story of "Jack the Ripper" with Michael Caine playing the Scotland Yard detective tracking down the Victorian murderer, and the ubiquitous Jane Seymour as one of the maniac's potential victims. It's scheduled for Oct. 21 and 23.

NBC has 11 mini-series completed or in production. The one it's hyping the most so far is "Favorite Son," a political thriller in the "Seven Days in May"-"Manchurian Candidate" tradition. Harry Hamlin of "L.A. Law" plays a dynamic young right-wing vice-presidential candidate who is the central figure in what the network describes as "a maelstrom of deceit and murder in a battle to win control of the White House." Robert Loggia is the FBI man who suspects something's afoot. Scheduled for Oct. 30-31.

More intrigue is planned by NBC in a four-hour adapation of David ("First Blood") Morrell's "The Brotherhood of the Rose," a spooky (as in CIA) story of two orphans trained by the Company to be assassins. Peter Strauss will star. No air date yet.

Later this season, NBC also plans to air a new six-hour version of Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days," starring Pierce Brosnan. More retro is planned with "The Great Escape: The Final Chapter," whose all-star cast of Christopher Reeve, Judd Hirsch, Anthony Denison, Charles Haid and Donald Pleasence will pick up where the original movie left off.

PBS, meanwhile, continues its fine tradition of dramatic series in both its ''Masterpiece Theater" and "Mystery" formats. The latter series kicks off its season with "Cause Celebre," a true story of a celebrated murder case in which a young chauffeur is taken for a romantic ride by his older boss (Helen Mirren).

"Masterpiece," meanwhile, begins its 18th season with "A Perfect Spy," a seven-part adaptation of John Le Carre's most recent best-seller. Ray McAnally is the ne'er-do-well father and Peter Egan is his son, the secret agent.


By necessity, CBS is opening the floodgates for a torrent of made-for-TV movies, old and new, between now and when its new series begin late next month. The newer movies include "The Diamond Trap," a caper movie with the unlikely foursome of Howard Hesseman, Brooke Shields, Ed Marinaro and Twiggy. It airs Sept. 25.

Also from CBS: "Indiscreet," a remake (starring Robert Wagner and Lesley Anne Down) of the Cary Grant-Ingrid Bergman comedy. It airs Oct. 2. Valerie Bertinelli plays pilot and desert tavern owner "Pancho Barnes" in an Oct. 25 movie.

Right now, the most intriguing NBC movie on the schedule is "The Goddess of Love" in which - bear with me now - Venus comes to earth after 3,000 years in search of real, live love. Dumb? Of course. But Vanna White makes her acting debut in the title role. You don't have to wonder why NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff is threatening to air this Nov. 13, the first night of "War and Remembrance."

The other interesting movie on the schedule - for local reasons, mostly - is "Glitz," an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's biggest best-seller. Filmed in Atlantic City, the crime thriller, slated for Oct. 21, stars Jimmy Smits ("L.A. Law") and Markie Post ("Night Court").

One hopes that this will be the year when ABC finally airs its long-awaited ''The Women of Brewster Place." This is an adaptation of Gloria Naylor's award-winning account of black women in a New York neighborhood and boasts an all-star cast of Oprah Winfrey, Moses Gunn, Robin Givens, Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield. No air date yet.


Both CBS and ABC are counter-programming like crazy to hold off the effects of the Olympics. CBS looks back with love in "Gleason: The Great One" with John Candy leading an all-star cast in a two-hour tribute to one of the network's biggest meal tickets. It's set for Saturday night.

ABC is bringing around a couple of comedy specials, "The Best of SCTV" (Sept. 21) and "Garry Shandling Alone in Las Vegas" (Sept. 24).

Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" gang are major players in CBS' fall schedule with Snoopy's mangy, desert-bound brother, Spike, starring in "The Girl in the Red Truck" (Sept. 27). Starting Oct. 21, a series of half-hour specials under the banner "Charlie Brown's America" begins.

So far, NBC plans the usual assortment of Bob Hope specials as well as fresh prime-time anniversary specials from Johnny Carson (his 26th) and David Letterman (his seventh). Now that the Walt Disney folks are reunited with the Big Peacock, the inevitable commemoration of "Mickey's 60th Birthday" is headed for your living rooms in November.

PBS' customary assortment of classy specials includes what will no doubt be one of many observances of the 25th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. "JFK: Where Were You in '63?" seeks answers from friends, colleagues and acquaintances of the martyred president. Dan Rather and Tom Wicker, journalists who won their spurs that dark day, offer recollections.

Another PBS special, "The Explorers: A Century of Discovery," marks the 100th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. Rare footage and interviews prove handily that no mountain was too high, no ocean too deep, no jungle too remote for the fabled society to visit.

Also from PBS: "Inside 'Family Ties': Behind the Scenes of a Hit," an intimate look at the Keaton family one year before they head off tearfully and permanently to syndication; "First Things First," offering viable solutions to the literacy crisis; "Pyramid," an animated study of how those pointy things were built; "The All-Night Strut!" singing and dancing from the 1930s and '40s with Maxine Andrews, the surviving Andrews sister, as your host.

Dates for all these specials will be announced.

Two Comedies With Star Power - As In Three-star Power

Posted: September 29, 1988

A likable comedy and a satirical comedy with serious overtones are the best bets among the many new videos this week.

HIGH SEASON (1988) (Nelson) $79.98. 95 minutes. * * * Jacqueline Bisset, James Fox, Irene Papas, Kenneth Branagh. An amiable lark of a movie starring that amiable lark of an actress, Jacqueline Bisset, set on the Greek isle of Rhodes (vividly shot by Oscar winner Chris Menges). Writer-director Clare Peploe offers an arch, breezy comedy about rampant tourism and true love, punctuated with moonlight swims and balalaika rave-ups and populated by a fine group of actors.

SCHOOL DAZE (1988) (RCA/Columbia) $89.95. 114 minutes. * * * Spike Lee, Larry Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Jane Toussaint. From Lee, maker of She's Gotta Have It, a fresh and sassy interpolation on the theme of Revenge of the Nerds. At a mythical black campus called Mission, there are the jocks, light- skinned dudes worried about the right fraternity. Then there are the politicos, dark-skinned fellas worried about human rights in South Africa. The factions confront each other in this serious comedy about black racism, a film that makes up for in content what it lacks in continuity.


THE ADVENTURES OF PICASSO (1978) (New Star) $59.98. 88 minutes. Gosta Ekman, Bernard Cribbins, Wilfred Bramble. Slapstick silliness, made in Sweden, that purports to be a biography of Picasso but is more of an excuse for weird impersonations of people, such as Ernest Hemingway and Alice B. Toklas.

BLADESTORM (1988) (Mogul) $59.95. 90 minutes. Cameron Mitchell. Sword-and- sorcery action as a fierce warrior sets out to avenge the death of his family.

BODY SLAM (1987) (Nelson) $79.98. 90 minutes. Dirk Benedict, Tanya Roberts, Captain Lou Albano. An unsuccessful manager of rock-music acts hits on an idea for new success: a traveling rock-wrestling show. Co-stars some of pro wrestling's most popular personalities, including Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Wild Samoan, the Sheik and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

THE HEREAFTER (1988) (Mogul) $59.95. 90 minutes. Low-budget chiller about the dead returning as zombies to terrorize the living.

THE HOUSE ON CARROLL STREET (1988) (HBO) $89.99. 111 minutes. Kelly McGillis, Jessica Tandy, Jeff Daniels, Mandy Patinkin. McGillis stars as a photography editor who has just been fired in 1951 because of allegations linking her to Communism. Trying to learn who was behind her firing, she stumbles into a political conspiracy involving Nazi war criminals and sets out to expose it with the help of an FBI agent (Daniels) who has been assigned to follow her.

ILLEGALLY YOURS (1988) (CBS/Fox) $79.98. 94 minutes. Rob Lowe, Colleen Camp. Romantic comedy about a young man who, called for jury duty, discovers that the woman on trial for murder is a girl he has secretly loved since grade school.

KATIE'S PASSION (1988) (WesternWorld) $79.95. 90 minutes. Rutger Hauer, Monique van de Ven. Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop) directed this story of a young girl, who, born in poverty in 19th-century Holland, climbs the social ladder by becoming a wealthy man's mistress.

MASQUERADE (1988) (CBS/Fox) $89.98. 91 minutes. * * Rob Lowe, Meg Tilly, Kim Cattrall. Irresistible trash. How can you dismiss a film in which Lowe, that prime hunk of veal, is served up raw, his skin the airbrushed orange tone of a centerfold? Here, he's a slippery gigolo who seduces repressed heiress Tilly in this Hitchcockian romantic thriller. As directed by Bob Swaim, the film looks like Playgirl meets House and Garden.

NIGHTMARE AT NOON (1988) (Republic) $79.95. 96 minutes. George Kennedy, Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins. A small desert town becomes the site of a bizarre experiment when a substance placed in the water supply turns the inhabitants into raving murderers. Kennedy stars as the sheriff trying to control the impossible situation.

NIGHT SLASHER (1980) (Unicorn) $59.95. 87 minutes. Jack May, Linda Marlowe. Lurid horror fare about a serial killer stalking prostitutes in London.

SCARECROWS (1988) (Forum) $79.98. 80 minutes (R-rated version); 88 minutes (unrated version). Ted Vernon, Michael Simms, Richard Vidan. A gang of bank robbers, chasing a renegade member who has fled with its loot, lands its stolen plane in a barren cornfield inhabited by bizarre supernatural creatures.

SHE'S HAVING A BABY (1988) (Paramount) $89.95. 106 minutes. * * Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern. John Hughes' glib but diverting burlesque about young marrieds takes it as a given that boys will be boys but fatherhood will make a man of you, an assumption no one beyond 14 believes. Bacon is engaging as the Jack Lemmonish Everyboy; McGovern is wasted as the world's youngest matron. Manipulative, melodramatic conclusion destroys any good faith the film has established.

SHOOT TO KILL (1988) (Touchstone) $89.95. 109 minutes. * * Sidney Poitier, Tom Berenger, Kirstie Alley. Thirty years ago, Poitier was shackled to Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones. He is not chained to Tom Berenger in Shoot to Kill, but links to the past are there. And so are signs of progress. Here, yet again, are two men of vastly different backgrounds and skills who are thrown together in perilous circumstances, and their shared adversity transforms mutual dislike into grudging respect and eventually friendship. Poitier is an urbane FBI man and Berenger his reluctant guide in survivalism as they search the Canadian Rockies for a psychopath who has joined a fishing party guided into the wilderness by Berenger's girlfriend (Alley).

SWITCHING CHANNELS (1988) (RCA/Columbia) $89.95. 108 minutes. * Kathleen Turner, Burt Reynolds, Christopher Reeve. You've seen movie remakes - such as The Untouchables - that are total rethinkings of the source material, inspired and fresh. And you've seen retreads - such as Unfaithfully Yours - that are like old tires customized for use in "new, improved" star vehicles. Switching Channels, a so-called remake of The Front Page, is a movie blowout. Call the automobile club and an ambulance!

VICE VERSA (1988) (RCA/Columbia) $89.95. 97 minutes. * * Judge Reinhold, Fred Savage. How often have you come out of a movie muttering, "The guy who dreamed that up must have the brain of a 10-year-old?" Maybe supernatural forces made the Hollywood executive switch bodies with his prepubescent son. There can be no other explanation for the current fashion for invasion of the body-switchers. The redeeming element here is Judge Reinhold, who is far better than this silly film deserves.

ZELLY AND ME (1988) (RCA/Columbia) $79.95. 87 minutes. * * Alexandra Johnes, Isabella Rossellini, Glynis Johns. Director Tina Rathborne's feature debut, set in 1958 Virginia, is as fragile and tragic as its heroine, Phoebe, an 8-year-old orphan stunted by an oppressive grandmother (Johns) and nurtured by her beloved nanny (Rossellini). In order not to be punished, the child must learn how to dissemble her feelings and behave as Grandmama wants. To grow, she must express her rage and accept punishment. It's a compelling dilemma, but as Phoebe, young Johnes is too honest an actress - and child - to be a convincing dissembler.


CITY IN FEAR (1972) (Unicorn) $59.95. 105 minutes. Lana Wood, Cheri Caffaro, J. Herbert Kerr Jr. Dated indictment of "the establishment" as whites and blacks battle in a politically corrupt city. Originally titled A Place Called Today.

A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG (1972) (RCA/Columbia) $69.95. 106 minutes. * * * * Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, Elizabeth Robillard. This story about the parents of a spastic child was more effective on the stage, but it retains much of its power on film. Some of the brave and buoyant humor seems cruel.

THE DETECTIVE (1954) (RCA/Columbia) $69.95. 91 minutes. Alec Guinness, Peter Finch, Joan Greenwood. Guinness stars as Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton's clerical sleuth, on the trail of an international art thief.

THE GREAT LOVER (1949) (RCA/Columbia) $69.95. 80 minutes. Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming, Roland Young. Hope is in typical form as the leader of a Boy Scout troop that is taking a trip on an ocean liner. Along the way, he meets the lovely Fleming and is implicated in a murder committed by Young.

MANBEAST (1955) (Rhino) $59.95. 72 minutes. Jerry Warren, Rock Madison, Virginia Maynor. Grade-Z horror flick about a debutante who, climbing the Himalayas in search of her missing brother, is led by her evil guide into the clutches of a gang of abominable snowmen.

STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET (1960) (RCA/Columbia) $69.95. 117 minutes. Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau. Douglas stars as an architect who falls for Novak, although he's married to somebody else.


TOUGH STUFF (1988) (J2) $19.95. 45 minutes. "Plyometrics" workout to develop power and speed. Among those demonstrating the technique: actress Tracy Scoggins, the Los Angeles Raiders' Marcus Allen, boxer Carlos Palomino and volleyball ace Randy Stoklus.

TEEN STEAM (1988) (J2) $19.95. 45 minutes. Alyssa Milano leads teen viewers through entertainment, fitness and comedy segments in this made-for-video magazine.


SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: GET THE FEELING - WINNING (1988) (HBO) $14.99. 60 minutes. The third in a projected four-part series produced by Sports Illustrated. The title is a little misleading, because it covers not only great winning traditions, such as four-time Olympic gold medalist Al Oerter, but long losing streaks, such as the Columbia football team, which has lost 43 straight games.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987) (Republic) $19.95. 100 minutes. Two episodes - the pilot and the season finale - from last season's surpise hit starring Ron Perlman as the elusive, mysterious Vincent, who lives in a strange underground world beneath New York City, and Linda Hamilton as crusading lawyer Catherine Chandler. Included with the video is an autographed photograph of Perlman as Vincent.

CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT, VOLS. 1-2 (1988) (Rhino) $19.95 each. 60 minutes each. The all-American freedom fighter from 1950s TV returns in these compilations from the old show, which include the original commercials. Volume 1 features two adventures: "Deadly Diamonds" and "The Frozen Man." Volume 2 contains ''Mission to Mexico" and "Million Dollar Diamond."

LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS (1988) (GoodTimes) $9.95 each. 45 minutes each. Four collections of wealth and luxury, compiled from the annals of the TV show. Individual titles are The Money Makers, The World's Most Exotic Vacation Resorts, Celebrity Homes and Playthings of the Rich and Famous.


JOHN F. KENNEDY: THE COMMEMORATIVE VIDEO ALBUM (1988) (CBS/Fox). $19.98. 110 minutes. Walter Cronkite, Harry Reasoner and Dan Rather are the hosts for this documentary chronicling the life and death of JFK. Included: an overview of his days in the White House and his childhood.


YOUR ALCOHOL IQ (1988) (J2) 45 minutes. As a public service, Anheuser-Busch and J2 Communications are offering this cassette to video stores as a free rental (the tapes are not for sale). Part of a drive by Anheuser-Busch to promote responsible drinking, it features TV personalities and experts discussing ways to drink without getting drunk. Among them: Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker of L.A. Law, Patrick Duffy of Dallas, Allyce Beasley of Moonlighting, Marla Gibbs of 227 and Lisa Hartman of Knots Landing.


MPI HOME VIDEO has released an unusual group of marked-down horror films, packaged in an unusual way. Called "The Karloff Collections," it consists of two sets of Karloff's spooky films, each packaged and sold for one price. The four-film set - Alien Terror, Corridors of Blood, Cult of the Dead and Dance of Death - is $79.95. There's also a set of two films - The Haunted Strangler and The Torture Zone - for $39.95.

NELSON ENTERTAINMENT has announced an enormous price reduction on films from every era and genre. Included: Amityville II: The Possession (* '82), The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (* * * '83), The Best of Times (* * * '86), Blade Runner (* * '82), The Brood (* '79), Burke & Wills (* * * '87), Came a Hot Friday (* * * '85), Carnal Knowledge (* * * '71), Children of the Corn (* '84), A Chorus Line (* * '85), The Cotton Club (* * * '84), The Day of the Dolphin (* * '73), Defense of the Realm (* * * '87), The Dirt Bike Kid (* * '86), The Dunwich Horror (* * '70), Eddie and the Cruisers (* * '83), The Emerald Forest (* * * '85), Escape From New York (* * * '81), The Evil (* * '78), Final Exam (* '81), Fire and Ice (* * '83), The Graduate (* * * * '67), Half Moon Street (* * * '86), The Highest Honor (* * '84), The Hit (* * * '84), The Howling (* * * '81), Kiss of the Spider Woman (* * * '85), Labyrinth (* * * '86), The Lion in Winter (* * * * '68), The Manitou (* '78), Mausoleum (* '83), Murder by Decree (* * * '79), The Name of the Rose (* * '86), Never Too Young to Die (* '86), The Night Porter (* '74), The Onion Field (* * * '79), The Producers (* * * * '68), The Quest (* * '86), River's Edge (* * * * '87), The Ruling Class (* * * * '71), Scanners (* * '81), Sid and Nancy (* * * * '87), Silkwood (* * * * '83), Slumber Party Massacre (* '82), The Sure Thing (* * * * '85), This Is Spinal Tap (* * * * '84), The Trip to Bountiful (* * * '85), Trouble in Mind (* * * '85), The Whistleblower (* * '87), Working Girls (* * * '87) and Zulu (* * * '64). All these titles are now available for $19.98.

The same company is offering a second group of films at an even lower price -$14.98: Attica (* * * '80), Avalanche (* '78), The Baltimore Bullet (* * '80), Bikini Beach (* * '64), The Black Marble (* * '80), Carbon Copy (* * '81), City on Fire (* '79), The Comeback Kid (* * '80), Don't Drink the Water (* * '69), Eat My Dust! (* * '76), Galaxy of Terror (* '82), High Risk (* * '81), Hopscotch (* * * '80), Horror Planet (* '82), The Jericho Mile (* * * '79), Lady Frankenstein (* '72), A Little Night Music (* '77), Losin' It (* * '82), Marciano (* * '79), Old Boyfriends (* '79), Pray TV (* * '82), Rabbit Test (* * '78), She's in the Army Now (* * '81) and The Vampire Lovers (* * '70).

REPUBLIC HOME VIDEO has reduced six well-known films to $19.95: The Bells of St. Mary's (* * * '45), Champion (* * * '49), The Grass Is Greener (* * * '61), It's a Wonderful Life (* * * * '46), Marjorie Morningstar (* * '58) and Miracle of the Bells (* * '48).

WESTERNWORLD VIDEO has announced price reductions to $19.95 on six less- than-savory titles in the horror genre: Attack of the Beast Creatures, Blood Orgy of the She-Devils, The Body Beneath, The Corpse Grinders, She- Devils on Wheels and The Worm Eaters.


Supernatural thrills in THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, tough-guy action in Afghanistan in RAMBO III and marvelous Disney animation in CINDERELLA.


* * * * Excellent

* * * Good

* * Fair

* Poor

(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

Cuomo's Son Quits Law To Aid Homeless

Posted: October 18, 1988

Andrew Cuomo, son of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, disclosed yesterday that he was resigning immediately from his $225,000-a-year job with a law firm in New Rochelle, N.Y., to work full-time on building housing for the homeless. Cuomo, 30, will make $50,000 to $60,000 a year as head of HELP, an organization he co-founded three years ago to provide transitional housing to women with children. "I believe in my heart and soul this is the right thing to do," he said. "I don't want to do this forever, but for now, there's nothing I'd rather do." When the firm took on the younger Cuomo, questions were raised over whether it was trying to benefit from having the governor's son as a partner. But during his three years there, the firm has not represented clients before state agencies.


Don't mistake Thailand beauty-pageant also-rans for those Miss America losers who smilingly applaud the winner. After Paphassara Chutanupong, 19, was picked last weekend to represent Thailand in the Miss World contest, several of the unchosen beauties marched to the new queen's victory suite, ransacked it and stuffed her scepter and regal cape down the toilet. Afterward, cash, personal papers and a golden Buddha were reported missing. Two years ago at the same pageant, the losers snatched the tiara and sash from the winner on live TV.


Queen Elizabeth became the first reigning British monarch to visit Spain when she began a five-day stay yesterday. The visit is seen as the beginning of a new era of friendship between the two nations, which have been in a dispute for 275 years about British sovereignty over Gibraltar, at the western gate to the Mediterranean. Elizabeth and Prince Philip were greeted at Madrid's Barajas International Airport by the heir to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe, then were driven to El Pardo Palace, where King Carlos and Queen Sofia awaited them. Elizabeth and Carlos are third cousins via Queen Victoria, and both their spouses are members of the Greek royal family. Relations between the British and Spanish royal families have warmed gradually through the 1980s.


If you've been waiting for Sheelah Ryan to return your calls, forget it. The part-time real estate agent, who became America's top lottery winner last month in Florida when her winning ticket fetched more than $55 million, has dropped out of sight. But not to worry. It's a move calculated to evade all those pleaders for money. Attorney Evelyn Cloninger said her client had moved from her Winter Springs mobile home but had not bought a new place. Ryan, 63, unmarried, with two cats and no children, still buys an occasional lottery ticket at the discount store where she came up big. "I told her, 'If you win again, take me home, I'm yours,' " said store manager Michael Lee.


Linda Medlar, the married woman with whom Henry Cisneros has acknowledged having a "very close" relationship, made a public plea over the weekend that his disclosure Friday not taint the San Antonio mayor's accomplishments. "I hope that the public listens to Henry and really gives him some time," said Medlar, 39. "He was trying to work out some personal problems that would hurt people the least. He was not given an opportunity to do that." Asked whether she planned to marry him, she replied: "It's nobody's business." After a Sunday service at a Baptist church, Cisneros' wife of 19 years, Mary Alice, mother of his two teenage children and 16-month-old son, said, "I'm not falling apart. I'm not in tears. I'm standing strong in my faith. . . . It's going to be all right." The mayor has canceled an appearance with Michael Dukakis scheduled for Saturday in San Antonio, noting that his "personal difficulties . . . would detract from the rally."


Philadelphia native Pearl Bailey was among eight Americans yesterday to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan at the White House. Others receiving the nation's highest civilian award were retired Chief Justice Warren Burger, economist Milton Friedman, industrialist David Packard and Jean MacArthur, widow of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Businessman J. Willard Marriott and Malcolm Baldrige, a former Commerce secretary, were cited posthumously. Said Reagan: "Your lives and careers testify to a central truth of humanity. It is better to give than receive. . . . Fighting for what you believe in is not only good - it's fun."


Sylvester Stallone, Tony Roberts, Dinah Shore, Liz Smith, Ron Darling, Ahmad Rashad and Bianca Jagger will be among 23 celebs turning out Halloween night at the Big Apple's Waldorf-Astoria for the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala. You can go, too, for just $1,000 a couple.

If dancing's more your game, check out the Dance With the Stars at Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom Thursday. Scheduled to kick up their heels at the fund-raising event for Michael Dukakis (who's also expected to show) are Woody Allen, Paul Simon, Penny Marshall, Robin Williams, Christopher Reeve, Charlie Sheen, Billy Crystal, Cicely Tyson and Gene Hackman. Champagne and dessert come with the $250 you'll pay to get in.

Eagles Randall Cunningham, Cris Carter, Keith Byars, Mike Quick, Keith Jackson and Jerome Brown will be models in a benefit fashion show today at 6:30 p.m. at Camden's Showplace on Admiral Wilson Boulevard. The $25 admission fee goes to the Leukemia Foundation/American Cancer Society.

In N.y., 2 More Shakespearean Star Vehicles

Posted: March 22, 1989

NEW YORK — A bracingly disorienting production of The Winter's Tale and a flat-footed account of Measure for Measure are the newest essays in the Shakespeare-with- stars phenomenon that has diverted New York theatergoers this season.

Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Reeve play the childhood buddies in The Winter's Tale at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater. Len Cariou is the dropout Duke of Vienna in Measure for Measure at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater, downstairs at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater.

The tonic effect of The Winter's Tale is due to a refusal to take the play entirely seriously. This latest in Joseph Papp's "Shakespeare Marathon" presentations makes one of Shakespeare's stranger dark comedies into a vehicle of addled mirth.

Nothing in the production seems quite right. The costumes (late 18th century, big on velvet) look as if they have come out of an old trunk - and, in fact, they do. At the beginning of the play, the whole wardrobe is fished from a trunk and distributed by a harlequin figure that keeps popping up in the course of the action.

This suggestion of grown-ups engaged in a night of play-acting sets the prevailing goofus tone, which sweeps away all the improbabilities of a story that swings wildly from outrageous cruelty in a royal palace to simple-minded rustic merriment to sudden supernatural intervention. The director, James Lapine, comes from Broadway and the musical Into the Woods, another piece of child's play for adults. It might be objected that Lapine dodges the play's meaning instead of defining it, but I enjoyed myself too much to go into that.

Patinkin is King Leontes of Sicilia, a man whose unjustified jealousy of his wife is a study in craziness. The actor takes leave of his mind in so rational a manner as to defy reason: The nuttier he gets, the more carefully he speaks. He is not in the heroic mold of Othello; there is plainly something wrong with this guy to begin with, although it's hard to say just what.

Reeve is King Polixenes of Bohemia, whose lifelong friendship with Leontes is shredded by that willful man's accusation of adultery with Queen Hermione. The handsome Reeve calls to mind nothing more serious than one of those male models from GQ. His distress is as shallow as his presence, but he does prevent the play from sinking into tragedy.

As Hermione, Diane Venora gives one of the few conventional performances in the production, and James Olson and Graham Brown are very straight and strong as courtiers. On the other hand, Alfre Woodard, a woman whose voice could shatter glass, is encouraged to rage about like an escapee from a violent ward as Paulina, the witch. And Rocco Sisto rips up what's left of the play's fabric with a wonderfully cuckoo performance as Autolycus, the thief and prankster.

Leontes' exiled daughter Perdita and her boyfriend, Prince Florizel, son of Polixenes, have lost their Arcadian serenity in this production. As portrayed by Jennifer Dundas and Graham Winton, they are a pair of American teenagers who have somehow strayed into the play from a suburban shopping mall.

The incidental music of William Finn and Michael Starobin is as fresh as almost everything else in this brazen exercise in evasion.

At Lincoln Center, the ideas in another dark comedy, Measure for Measure, are not suppressed - but aren't brought to life, either. This sterile production makes an unfortunate New York directorial debut for Mark Lamos, artistic director of the Hartford (Conn.) Stage, who has built a strong reputation with the classics.

Scenically barren, emotionally constricted, this Measure for Measure is a sterile treatment of the tale of the ruler who hides out while his puritanical deputy scourges vice from the city and eventually comes a cropper himself. Cariou carries weight, but none of the rest of the cast does. Notably wrong is the too-youthful, unworldly Campbell Scott as Angelo, the stern deputy with sexual designs on a religious novice (Kate Burton).

As Pompey, one of the play's low types, Jack Weston works for laughs that do not come. When Jack Weston isn't funny, a show is in trouble.

Bakker: Didn't Tell Press To 'Drop Dead'

Posted: March 28, 1989

Jim Bakker yesterday disputed a report that he had told reporters in a Sunday sermon to "drop dead." Said the disgraced TV preacher: "I'm tired of having everything I say to my church leaked out. . . . I never in my life said to anyone, 'Drop dead.' I would not say that to a fly. And I hate flies. Now Tammy might." An audio tape of Bakker's Easter sermon had him saying: "I want all the members to be at the office next Sunday for a believers-only meeting. So anyone from the press that comes in may drop dead. Maybe that will scare them away." Bakker also said that he had checked out several sites in Florida for a possible relocation of his North Carolina-based ministry. The move is tied to two factors: a decision by his local zoning board forbidding him to use his house south of Charlotte as a TV studio, and his loss of a leased satellite TV-linkup truck that was sold by its owner.

In related news, the Rev. Eugene Profeta, for whom Jessica Hahn was secretary and to whom she turned for sexual solace after her encounter with Bakker, yesterday got six months in the Albany, N.Y., jail, five years' probation and was ordered to pay $26,000 in back taxes for tax fraud and tampering with a witness.


Revlon, which has sponsored the Academy Awards TV show for 16 years, will rival the Oscar stage itself in celebrities tomorrow night when it crams 19 famous folks into three 30-second ads. The spots, directed by Big filmmaker Penny Marshall, will show the 19 answering that nagging question: What makes a woman unforgettable? Among the answerers are Grace Jones, Deborah Harry, Joan Rivers, Emma Samms, Harry Dean Stanton, Carrie Fisher, Andrew McCarthy, Frank Langella, Lauren Bacall, Joe Montana and Little Richard, who says: "She has to have that Tutti Frutti beauty." But exactly.


Will somebody please tell Bill Cosby to pick up the $66 that the California state controller's office is holding for him? The Philadelphia native is among a bunch of new people who've turned up on the controller's list of those who failed to collect money and other property due them. In Cosby's case the $66 is a check written to him by NBC in 1971. "No wonder he never picked up the check," said a spokesman for the controller, noting that Forbes magazine figures the comedian pulled down $84 million in 1986-87. A bit harder to understand is the much-less rich Gene Hackman. He's due $893 from a long- abandoned bank account.


A rack of royals who turned out for an early spring turn on the palace grounds in a horse-drawn carriage yesterday watched the queen's husband narrowly escape injury when it overturned. Prince Philip was at the reins when a carriage wheel hit a concrete post and broke. "As it was going over, Prince Philip and his groom stepped off into a verge," said an unidentified witness. (A verge is a grassy border along a British road.) The witness added that Queen Elizabeth; Prince Andrew; the Duchess of York, and Princess Margaret's daughter, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, stood there, not on the verge of doing anything, and watched the carriage roll over. One of the horses had to be treated for a minor injury.


Bands played and balloons bobbed as President Bush, accompanied by his wife, Barbara, and six of their 11 grandchildren, blew a whistle yesterday to open the traditional White House Easter egg roll on the South Lawn. About 40,000 youngsters and parents attended. The President hung in for 15 minutes of the four-hour event before slipping back to the Oval Office. Before leaving, he asked one girl if she knew who lived in the White House. "The Easter Bunny," she said. "Who else?" he asked. "I don't know," she said. Celebrity guests included Christopher Reeve of Superman movie fame; some Washington Redskins; Marilyn Quayle, who read fairy tales, and Vice President Quayle, who congratulated children for finding the hidden eggs. The American Egg Council gave 5,000 eggs to this year's roll while the White House contributed 23,000 wooden ones as prizes and souvenirs.


Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto, 35, the first woman to head a modern Muslim country, is expecting her second child in October. The prime minister, wife of landowner Asif Zardari for 15 months, had a boy, Bilawal, on Sept. 21. A month later, she was elected head of state.

The seldom-seen and even less seldom-heard Lalla Latifa, wife of Morocco's King Hassan, broke tradition yesterday by hosting a lunch for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Rabat. Lalla Latifa, who usually attends women- only events, didn't even serve lunch to Queen Elizabeth when she visited Morocco in 1980.

Telethon For Aids To Be Run On Cable

Posted: April 22, 1989

In an unprecedented telethon to raise money for AIDS research, the Bravo cable-TV network will present "Unfinished Stories," a 13-hour marathon of song, drama and documentary celebrating the works of artists who have died of the disease.

Running from 5 p.m. tomorrow until 6 a.m. Monday, honorary chairman Tommy Tune will lead the tribute to such victims as master showman Liberace, actor Rock Hudson and choreographer Michael Bennett. The telethon will feature Leapin' Lizards - It's Liberace, recorded at his 1978 Las Vegas concert; ''Showstoppers," best-of-Broadway selections including Bennett's A Chorus Line, and As Is, a film dealing with the emotional and social effects of AIDS, starring Colleen Dewhurst and Robert Carradine.

Joining Tune will be a cast of film, stage and TV celebrities ranging from Dewhurst, Christopher Reeve, Cheryl Tiegs and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to Kathie Lee Gifford, Chita Rivera and Eric Bogosian.

Not only the first AIDS telethon, "Unfinished Stories" will also be the first programming simulcast by a national cable network and public television stations, according to a spokesman for Bravo, the national cable network devoted to performing arts.

New Jersey Network, whose PBS Channels 23 and 52 are available in South Jersey and via some cable systems in Pennsylvania and Delaware, will carry the benefit, as will PBS station WLIW on Long Island.

WHYY, the PBS station in Philadelphia, will not carry the AIDS telethon, a spokesman said. But Bravo is available on Cablevision systems in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable Communications in Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia, Greater Media in South Philadelphia and Lenfest Communications in King of Prussia.

Many other cable operators, from New York to San Francisco, plan to shift the Bravo network from pay-TV to basic cable during the telethon so that their audiences can watch the benefit without a fee. Bravo is offering it free, even to unaffiliated cable services, and some are airing it for their subscribers.

During the telethon, Bravo's viewers can call a toll-free number to contribute to AIDS research. Viewers of public television also will be asked to buy memberships in the public TV stations; for each membership pledge, Bravo will make a $5 donation to AIDS research in the new member's name.

The worlds of art, music, theater, dance and film have been ravaged by the disease, not only robbing audiences of plays unwritten and songs unsung, but permeating the mood in creative circles. Bravo, which focuses on independent American films, international films and the performing arts, was moved to help, said network president Joshua Sapan.

"Bravo is a primary exhibitor of the arts, and this has made us all keenly aware of the devastation . . . caused by AIDS," Sapan said. "The creative community has suffered terrible losses, and a eulogy to these artists will help people realize that we need more activity, more concern and more research if we are to stop the proliferation of AIDS. We want to do everything we can to assure that this important event reaches the maximum audience."

Also broadcast during the telethon will be The Stationmaster's Wife, starring Kurt Raab, who died from AIDS; "The AIDS Show: Artists Involved With Death and Survival," a series of cabaret performances by San Francisco's Theater Rhinoceros, directed by Academy Award-winner Robert Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk); and documentary segments including New York - City in Crisis, AIDS and the Arts and We Bring a Quilt, narrated by Robert Wagner and featuring the Names Quilt Memorial in Washington.

A Slow Week: 'Brothers In Arms,' Playboy Playmates Play Gumshoe

Posted: June 01, 1989

There will be a lot of weeks this summer when a lot of great movies will be released on video. This isn't one of them. A pair of obscure and dubious- sounding films are about the best this off-week has to offer.

BROTHERS IN ARMS (1988) (Republic) $79.95. 95 minutes. Todd Allen, Dedee Pfeiffer, Charles Grant, Jack Starret. Two brothers, searching the remote Colorado wilderness for a missing friend, become the quarry of a deranged backwoods family that performs human sacrifices.

PICASSO TRIGGER (1988) (Warner) $79.95. 99 minutes. Steve Bond, Guich Koock, Harold Diamond. Soap star Bond plays a federal agent who, with the help of a gaggle of Playboy Playmates, sets out to stop an art-collecting killer on a rampage.


PIN (1988) (New World) $79.95. 103 minutes. David Hewlett, Cyndy Preston, John Ferguson, Terry O'Quinn. Horror outing about a strange plastic figure that becomes the murderous fixation of a disturbed young boy.

THAT'S MY BABY (1989) (Trans World) $79.95. 97 minutes. Timothy Webber, Sonja Smits. Comedy about a househusband more interested in his new arrival than in a career.

YOUNG LOVE: LEMON POPSICLE 7 (1987) (Warner) $79.95. 91 minutes. The Porky's-style amorous adventures of a trio of college boys at a summer resort.


JUNE NIGHT (1940) (Crocus) $79.95. 90 minutes. Ingrid Bergman, Marianne Lofgren, Olof Widgren, Marianne Aminoff. An early Bergman film, before she was well-known in this country. After rumors surface about her promiscuity, a woman flees a small town and is trailed by a gossip-hunting reporter. In Swedish with English subtitles.

SWEDENHIELMS (1935) (Crocus) $79.95. 88 minutes. Ingrid Bergman, Hakan Westergren, Gosta Ekman, Karin Swanstrom. In this early film, Bergman stars as a member of a wealthy family plunged into turmoil when it becomes clear that the father will not win the Nobel Prize. In Swedish with English subtitles.


BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY: BALL AND CHAIN (1967) (Rhino) $14.95. 30 minutes. Janis Joplin and her band perform (in the studio) some of their hits, including "Down on Me," "Light Is Faster Than Sound" and "Oh, Sweet Mary."

LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR (1989) (Kultur) $39.95. 145 minutes. Joan Sutherland and the Australian Opera perform Donizetti's opera set in 17th-century Scotland.

QUEEN . . . THE MAGIC YEARS (1989) (MPI) $19.95 each. 55 minutes each. Three-volume collection depicting the evolution of the British rock band: Vol. 1: The Foundations, Vol. 2: Live Killers in the Making and Vol. 3: Crowded in Glory.

TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: A BUNCH OF VIDEOS AND SOME OTHER STUFF (1989) (MPI) $24.95. 55 minutes. As the title suggests, a compilation of videos by the singer/songwriter and his band. Songs include "Don't Come Around Here No More" and "Refugee."

TOSCA (1989) (Kultur) $39.95. 123 minutes. Eva Marton and the Australian Opera perform Puccini's tragic opera of love and betrayal.


THE FLYING KARAMAZOV BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR (1989) (Forum) $19.98. 59 minutes. The comedic juggling team performs (taped before an audience at the sold-out Broadway show).

JONATHAN WINTERS ON THE LEDGE (1989) (Forum) $19.98. 60 minutes. Winters is joined by Robin Williams, Martin Mull, Milton Berle and Phyllis Diller for a series of comedy sketches.


HIT IT LONG (1989) (Longball Enterprises) $29.95. 33 minutes. Jack Hamm, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having made the longest PGA-sanctioned golf drive (406 yards), offers his tips on power driving. To order, call 800-284-0368.

HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY (1988) (New World) $19.95. 59 minutes. Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics and creator of Spider-Man, and John Buscema, the artist behind Conan the Barbarian and Silver Surfer, offer basics on drawing comic-book characters.

STREET VIOLENCE: YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF (1977) (New World) $14.95. 31 minutes. Police officer Lidon Griffith of the New York Housing Authority demonstrates techniques that people can use to avert street crimes and what to do if you are attacked.


BALL TALK: BASEBALL'S VOICES OF SUMMER (1989) (J2) $29.95. 50 minutes. Reminiscences by some of the great baseball announcers, including Mel Allen, Red Barber, Jack Brickhouse, Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck and Ernie Harwell.

MICKEY MANTLE: THE AMERICAN DREAM COMES TO LIFE (1989) (Fox Hills) $19.95. 60 minutes. A look at the life and career of one of baseball's all-time greats.


CHI-TOWN RUMBLE '89 (1989) (Turner) $39.98. 120 minutes. National Wrestling Association action includes bouts featuring "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and Ricky ''The Dragon" Steamboat.


THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS (1989) (Forum) $14.98 each. 50 minutes each. Two episodes from the series starring Dan Haggerty as the rugged fur trapper and mountain man. Titles: Blood Brothers and Beaver Dam.

PERRY MASON: THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS (1985) (Forum) $29.98. 95 minutes. Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, Al Freeman Jr., William Katt. Originally titled Perry Mason Returns, this is the original episode of the occasional series with Burr reprising his role as imperious attorney Perry Mason. In this one, Perry, now a judge, steps down to defend his old secretary, Della Street, who has been accused of a murder.

POKER ALICE (1987) (New World) $59.95. 109 minutes. Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Skerritt, George Hamilton. Western comedy in the Destry Rides Again vein, with Liz as a New Orleans card shark who wins a Western brothel at the game table and Hamilton as her charming cousin, who offers to help her run the place.

RETURN TO MAYBERRY (1986) (Forum) $29.98. 95 minutes. Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, Jack Dodson, Ron Howard, George Lindsay, Aneta Corsaut, Betty Lynn. The highly rated reunion movie of the old Andy Griffith Show gang finds Andy returning to Mayberry to try to get his old job as sheriff back, only to learn that Barney is running for the job, too.


JOHN WAYNE: THE DUKE LIVES ON - A TRIBUTE (1989) (Turner) $19.98. 48 minutes. The life and career of this superstar, featuring clips from many of his films.

VINCENT: A DUTCHMAN (1989) (Home Vision) $29.95. 30 minutes. Actor Christopher Reeve narrates a look at artist Vincent van Gogh.


JUNIOR G-MEN (1940) (Rhino) $24.95. 250 minutes on two cassettes. Compilation of the movie serial starring the Dead End Kids and the Little Tough Guys as kids who join forces with the FBI to battle crime and corruption.

LITTLE RASCALS & OUR GANG (1989) (Republic) $9.95 each. 30 minutes each. Six cassettes, each containing two episodes from the popular Little Rascals and Our Gang series from the 1930s and '40s. Titles: Little Sinner/Two Too Young, Pinch Singer/Framing Youth, Honkey Donkey/Sprucin' Up, Our Gang Follies of 1936/The Awful Tooth, Divot Digger/Mama's Little Pirate and Reunion in Rhythm/Mike's Fright.

THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (1935) (Rhino) $24.95. 250 minutes on two cassettes. Compilation of the movie serial starring Gene Autry as a science-fiction crusader battling evil robots and mad scientists.


MEDIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT has announced price reductions to $19.95 on these films: Assassination (* '87), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (* '87), The Delta Force (* * * '86), Firewalker (* '86), Murphy's Law (* '86) and The Octagon (* * '80), plus three Elvis Presley videos: Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii, Elvis '68 Comeback Special and Elvis '56. Also, these animated children's videos, featuring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts characters, have been reduced to $14.95: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown; Charlie Brown All-Stars; A Charlie Brown Christmas; He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown; Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown; It's an Adventure, Charlie Brown; It's Magic, Charlie Brown; It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown; It's the Flash Beagle, Charlie Brown; It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown; What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown; You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, and You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown.

TURNER HOME ENTERTAINMENT has announced re-releases, at $19.98, of these John Wayne films: Allegheny Uprising (* * * '39), Back to Bataan (* * * '45), Flying Leathernecks (* * * '51), Fort Apache (* * * * '48), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (* * * * '49), Tall in the Saddle (* * * '44) and Tycoon (* * * '47). Allegheny Uprising, Fort Apache and Tall in the Saddle also have been released in colorized versions for the same price.


Dan Aykroyd marries an extraterrestrial in MY STEPMOTHER IS AN ALIEN, and Meryl Streep plays a woman unfairly accused of killing her child in A CRY IN THE DARK.


* * * * Excellent

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(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

Celebrating The Unremarkable Tonight's Tony Awards Will Honor The Best Of A Humdrum Broadway Season.

Posted: June 04, 1989

Question: What is the opposite of an embarrassment of riches?

Answer: The 1989 Tony Awards.

There have been bad Broadway seasons before, but the one that will be celebrated on national television tonight will be remembered, as Sam Goldwyn might have said, as something to forget.

The nominating committee couldn't even come up with four 1988-89 musicals worthy of consideration. Only six new musicals opened all season, and only three of those were nominated. The categories of "best score" and "best book" were dropped altogether. Jerome Robbins' Broadway is considered the certain winner.

Of the four plays in contention, performance artist Bill Irwin's piece of foolery, Largely New York, is wordless. The odds-on favorite is Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles, which has won the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics Circle award and every other prize worth mentioning.

The awards will be presented tonight on a CBS special (Channel 10, 9-11) telecast from Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theater. Says Don Mischer, a producer of the telecast: "Some people feel it's been a very weak season on Broadway, and there's some truth to that. But they're going to be surprised at how well the season feels as presented on this show."

It's going to take all of emcee Angela Lansbury's vintage charm to convince the living-room audience that anything much happened in the last year on the Great White Way to justify two hours of rewards for excellence.

Lansbury, who won four Tonys before television claimed her to play Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, returns as host for the third straight year. Appearances are scheduled for Steve Martin, Tommy Tune, Gwen Verdon, Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Thomas.

They have all seen better times in the Broadway theater. The previous season, for example, was notable for straight plays of exceptional quality. The best-play prize went to M. Butterfly, which is still running; the best- musical award went to The Phantom of the Opera, whose continuing sell-out run helped boost Broadway box-office grosses this season to a record $262 million.

Tonight, the best-musical award is universally expected to go to a show that probably should not even be eligible as a new musical, since it consists of dance numbers from old musicals and is already playing to slightly less than capacity business.

Jerome Robbins' Broadway is unarguably an entertaining venture. But it is also a depressing symbol of the failure of creativity on the American musical stage - failure most disastrously exemplified by the season's major flop, Legs Diamond, the Peter Allen vehicle about the Depression-era gangster.

In the Tony lists, Jerome Robbins was nominated for his "direction" but not for his choreography, although the show is nothing but his choreography - the choreography of the Jerome Robbins of the past in great productions like Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, On the Town and Gypsy.

If the idea for the Robbins revue looks uninspired, the dancing most assuredly doesn't. Several of the dancers have been nominated in various categories, and they are all good. Some will be seen doing their stuff in the Tony show's entertainment portions.

Viewers also can expect to see excerpts of the two other musicals in nomination - Black and Blue, a revue of black popular music and tap dancing, and Starmites, a comic-strip musical about an intergalactic romance.

Because of the lack of competition, Jerome Robbins' Broadway and Black and Blue are overrepresented in the nominations. Three of the four nominations for best featured actress in a musical went to dancers from the Robbins show, and two of Black and Blue's blues singers, Ruth Brown and Linda Hopkins, compete with each other in the leading-musical-actress category. A split vote could give the award to Charlotte d'Amboise of the Robbins production or to Sharon McNight of Starmites.

Although Legs Diamond and another failure, Welcome to the Club, were conscientiously denied nominations as best musical, they turned up in some other categories; the sentimental vote for best featured actress in a musical will surely go to the great torch singer Julie Wilson, for her performance as a nightclub owner in Legs Diamond. But the elimination of the award for best score left Welcome to the Club's composer, Cy Coleman, high and dry, although a couple of songs in the show recalled the high-spirited Coleman of Barnum and Sweet Charity.

The Tony show also will include scenes from the nominated plays, all of which are still running. The Heidi Chronicles, Wendy Wasserstein's saga of a young woman adrift in a sea of yuppies, and Irwin's undefinable Largely New York are vying with two other plays.

Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor is a farce about an Italian opera singer indisposed in Cleveland. Was it good enough to nose out Neil Simon's Rumors, which wasn't nominated? You could get an argument on that question.

Briton Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine has probably been out of the running from the very first because it is a one-woman show about a housewife who finds liberation with a tavern-keeper in Greece. However, the one woman is the funny, charming Pauline Collins, who cannot be counted out of the running in the best-actress category, where the competition is Joan Allen of The Heidi Chronicles, Madeline Kahn of the revived Born Yesterday, and Kate Nelligan of Michael Weller's short-lived Spoils of War.

Two men in Lend Me a Tenor are nominated as leading actor, a semantic impossibility. Bill Irwin is on the list, too. But Mikhail Baryshnikov also stands high in the season for his inventive portrayal of a man who turns into a beetle in Metamorphosis, Steven Berkoff's adaptation of the Franz Kafka story.

According to the League of American Theaters and Producers, which constitutes the Broadway Establishment, the record box-office grosses in a weak season are attributable mostly to the persistence of long-running hits like Cats, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera playing to virtual capacity at full price instead of the discounts that enable popular older shows to survive.

The theater community found little cause for joy in the higher receipts; other statistics were too sobering. Attendance was down to 8 million from the 8.1 million of the previous season. The number of new productions dropped from 32 to 30. The number of playing weeks was down to 1,079 from the previous season's 1,116.

Only Broadway productions are eligible for the Tonys, but Off-Broadway had its own hits during the season. Among the noteworthy shows were The Cocktail Hour, A.R. Gurney's autobiographical comedy about a playwright whose family is embarrassed by his autobiographical play; Other People's Money, Jerry Sterner's play about a Wall Street takeover attempt, and Aristocrats, Irishman Brian Friel's play about Ireland's decaying Roman Catholic gentry.

In a historic move, New York Shakespeare Festival producer Joseph Papp inaugurated his Shakespeare Marathon, a projected series of productions of all 36 of Shakespeare's plays. The series promised, and delivered, star names; Christopher Walken, Al Pacino and Christopher Reeve starred, respectively, in Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and The Winter's Tale.

Stars Coming Out For Homeless March

Posted: October 07, 1989

A substantial contingent of stars is slated to join today's Washington march on the Capitol to call for action against homelessness. Actress Ally Sheedy says family and friends will join her for the march: "It's important for me to do this because everywhere I've gone in this country I've seen people living in the streets." About 200 other well-known names and faces are expected to be in the crowd of 100,000, including Valerie Harper, Whoopi Goldberg, Louis Gossett Jr., Lesley Ann Warren, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, Christopher Reeve, Ana Alicia, Martin Sheen and Linda Evans. Harper, an organizer of the West Coast marchers, says, "We live in L.A., the homeless capital of the country. How can we ignore this problem? Being a celebrity doesn't mean you turn in your citizenship at the door." And on the subject of citizenship and activism: Dynasty star Evans has moved from Los Angeles to Washington state and finds herself responding there to certain causes' pleas for help. She marched against spraying sludge along the Nisqually River, for one thing. Evans, however, says she has not been led to public activism by Ramtha, an ancient spirit she follows through her channeler friend, J.Z. Knight. Says Evans: "He doesn't tell you what to do. He's a great teacher. You learn, but you don't follow anyone. . . ."


He does it his way and likes it. Soviet-born dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, 41, seems content to repeatedly indulge the "absolutely pathological urge to be independent from everybody" that he remembers from childhood. "I still do want independence," he told Parade magazine. After nine years heading the American Ballet Theater, he recently quit. He has two children - 8-year-old Alexandra by actress Jessica Lange, and 3-month-old Peter by ballet dancer Lisa Rinehart - but he remains unmarried. And in 1974, he took a huge step to independence when he defected during a Bolshoi Ballet visit to Toronto. He has made good on the leap to capitalism, appearing in movies and on Broadway, selling his own line of dancewear and introducing a new perfume. Of his on- his-own style in personal matters, Baryshnikov says: "My idea about the family . . . it's not everybody's idea. My close friends - that's my family."


Actress Jane Fonda's daughter, Vanessa Vadim, 21, was arrested yesterday morning in lower Manhattan on charges of loitering for the purpose of purchasing drugs, disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration, police said. Vadim, whose father is filmmaker Roger Vadim, was arrested with Thomas Feegal, 22, who was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, two envelopes believed to contain heroin, and a hypodermic needle, said police spokesman Sgt. Peter Sweeney. Also arrested was Manuel Rivera, 30, a resident of a city men's shelter. According to Sweeney, as police attempted to detain the three, Feegal tried to flee. An officer grabbed Feegal, and Vadim tried to pull Feegal away from him. Fonda could not be reached yesterday for comment.


New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner says he'll write to the judge who sent one of his players to jail and try to get the sentence reduced. Outfielder Luis Polonia was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail for having sex with a 15-year-old girl. Milwaukee Judge Thomas Doherty also fined him $1,500 and ordered him to contribute $10,000 to a sexual-assault treatment center. Calling the sentence "unduly harsh," Steinbrenner said he would write to Doherty in hopes that the punishment would be reduced. "I feel for the young man. There were faults, perhaps, on both sides. I don't have all the facts so it is a little hard for me to judge, but when you have others being glorified who've done things a lot worse, then you wonder. Luis admitted it. He says he is sorry, and that's being a stand-up guy in my book." Asked if his defense of the player meant that Polonia would stay on the team despite rumors circulating during the season that Steinbrenner wanted him off, Steinbrenner said, "Oh, heck, I'm tired of making predictions."


Pittsburgh Pirates' announcer Jim Rooker plans to make good on his June 8, on-the-air promise to "walk to Pittsburgh" if the Pirates lost to the Philadelphia Phillies after taking a 10-0 lead in the first inning. The Phillies eventually won 15-11. Rooker and a companion left from Veterans Stadium on a 26-mile first leg to West Chester on Thursday. "You only make a statement like that because you think it's safe," the former Pirates pitcher said. Right. Keep walking, Jim.


Picking up, cleaning up and building up after Hurricane Hugo will be a long, hard job for the storm's victims. But some big names in country music have decided to help by having a benefit concert Dec. 13 in Jacksonville, Fla., at the 11,000-seat Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Organized by the Statler Brothers, the concert will hear music performed by Ricky Skaggs, George Jones, the Judds, Barbara Mandrell and Ronnie Milsap. A spokeswoman for the Statler Brothers, Kathy Gangwisch, said the entertainers had waived their fees and would pay all their own expenses. Proceeds from the $20-a-seat performance will go to the South Carolina Hugo Relief Fund. Gangwisch said the concert was taking place in Jacksonville because that city had agreed to waive its rental fee for the coliseum and because suitable facilities were not available in South Carolina.

Comaneci's Low Score In Advertising Appeal

Posted: December 07, 1989

An informal survey shows that ad execs don't see Nadia Comaneci, burdened as she is with a married boyfriend with four kids, as a Mary Lou Retton or Kathy Rigby type when it comes to Olympian-type endorsements. "We prefer people to be squeaky clean," said Vangie Hayes of J. Walter Thompson. Added Barbara Bennett of Grey Advertising: "If anyone . . . does anything distasteful, it makes it difficult to endorse a product. When Jose Canseco had that gun found in his car, that shot him out of the ballpark for using him on anything." Meanwhile, Virgina Cucu, mother-in-law of Comaneci's boyfriend, Constantin Panait, indicated from her Cleveland home yesterday that his marriage to her daughter Maria hasn't been all that grand. She said that the two lived off welfare early on, and that during the last four years, he took six trips - two to Europe - without Maria. "I said, 'Constantin, why don't you stay home?' " said Cucu. "He said, 'You want to ruin my life?' I told her after the second child to get out. She told me, 'We have each other. That's what counts.' "


U2's New Year's Eve concert from Dublin will be beamed to Eastern European nations and the Soviet Union as a tribute to the reforms taking place there, the BBC announced yesterday. "It will be the largest audience for U2 since Live Aid," said the band's manager.

Say hello again to Billy Joel. His "We Didn't Start the Fire" hit No. 1 on Billboard's pop singles chart this week, the first time the rocker has landed there since "Tell Her About It" six years ago. His album Storm Front is No. 2, the highest Joel has been on the albums chart since Glass Houses hit No. 1 in 1980.


Bill Cosby, newly crowned TV entertainer of the decade by TV Guide, will deliver the May 20 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. He'll also get an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Tammy Faye Bakker, evicted last month from the shopping center where she was conducting Sunday services, has found a new church - a piano store in Orlando, Fla. "I called to see if they needed the use of one of our pianos," said Gabriel's Piano Showcase owner Dale Griner. "Then I found out that they not only needed that, but they needed a place to meet."

French author Regine DeForges was ordered by a French court yesterday to pay Margaret Mitchell's heirs $330,000 for plagiarizing Gone With the Wind in her 1983 novel, The Blue Bicycle, which sold 4 1/2 million copies in France. DeForges, 52, testified that her novel was a "pastiche" of GWTW, but the court said that by that definition Bicycle should be funny, which, it said, it wasn't.


Marina Ogilvy, Queen Elizabeth's cousin who created royal rumblings this fall when she announced that she was pregnant and had no intention of marrying, will wed the father, Paul Mowatt, in June, the New York Daily News reported yesterday. Apparently after the initial astonishment - Ogilvy reported that her parents had demanded that she get an abortion, get married or get disinherited - interested parties have calmed down and an apres-birth wedding was settled on.

Meanwhile, an uncompromising portrait of the queen looking all of her 63 years went on display yesterday at the Colchester, England, town hall. Painter Richard Stone, 38, who has committed 15 other royals to canvas, said he believed that nobody should get upset with the wrinkles and gray hair. "She has seen the painting, and she is delighted with it." Buckingham Palace had no comment.


Marshall Bush, 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter of President and Barbara Bush, is among a group of D.C. celebrity kids enrolled in a Saturday course given at Georgetown's Four Seasons Hotel by manners maven Marjabelle Stewart. In ''Petit Protocol - Children's Holiday Table Manners Party," the little angels will be taught how to greet the hostess and pour the punch, ways to grease conversation, drumstick decorum and the knack of the ginger-ale toast. Marshall's manners-mates will include John Bennett, 5, son of drug czar William Bennett; Ashley Atwater, 4 1/2, daughter of GOP national chairman Lee Atwater, and Elizabeth Hannah Rowan, 6, granddaughter of columnist Carl Rowan.


Some of the Big Apple's famous residents are marshaling their collective strength to oppose Donald Trump's grandest dream. On an Upper West Side 76- acre lot along the Hudson River, himself would build the world's tallest building (150 stories), 11 apartment towers as high as 60 stories, 1.5 million square feet of retail space and parking for 7,356 vehicles. And he would call it (one guess) - Trump City. "It's a bad joke," said novelist Judith Rossner (Looking for Mr. Goodbar)." "It's a huge, ugly wall cutting off the light and air to Manhattan and casting a shadow on every window with a southern exposure." Among those on Rossner's side are Bill Moyers, Lauren Bacall, Itzhak Perlman and Christopher Reeve.

Cable Keeps Pushing

Posted: January 31, 1990

At 6 p.m. tomorrow, the first new cable television channel of the 1990s will premiere: the Mizlou Sports News Network (SNN). Three other channels hope to debut later this year as the cable spectrum continues to widen.

There's a lot coming up on existing channels, too. Notable attractions scheduled before the end of April include concerts by New Kids on the Block and Carole King; Mike Tyson's next heavyweight-title fight, and an ice ballet of Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, starring the current men's and women's Olympic figure-skating champions.

SNN will be all sports news, around the clock, with a new wrapup every half-hour providing the latest scores, along with interviews, features and player profiles. Its commentators will include such former great players as Mickey Mantle talking about baseball, Larry Csonka discussing football and Gordie Howe analyzing hockey.

SNN won't cover any game action, however. It won't give point spreads, and it won't accept advertising from handicappers and touts. SNN is owned by Mizlou Communications Inc., a longtime syndicator and packager of sports events.

Mizlou is offering SNN to cable companies for a starting rate of five cents per month per subscriber. (ESPN, the biggest of all cable channels, gets 30 cents.) It will have only five million subscribers at launch time, a small number in the cable universe. (ESPN has 54 million subscribers.)

None of the three cable companies serving Philadelphia has added SNN to its schedule. All said they would take a look at it, however, and perhaps add it later if it looks good or if numerous subscribers ask for it.

The next new cable channel will be HA!, an all-comedy channel scheduled to premiere on April Fools' Day. It will face immediate competition from the Comedy Channel, another all-laughs service, which debuted Nov. 15. Most cable experts expect only one of these ventures to survive.

June 1 is the scheduled start date for the Cowboy Channel, which plans to show western movies and old western TV series round-the-clock. There'll probably be some singing around this cable campfire, too, since the chairman of the board of the Cowboy Channel is country music luminary Willie Nelson.

Last to launch will be the Sci-Fi Channel on Dec. 31. Science-fiction and horror movies will fill most of its schedule. Also planned is a sci-fi news show that will likely tell you things that Dan Rather and Peter Jennings never mention, such as the latest reported sightings of UFOs. Two big names on the Sci-Fi Channel's board of directors provide ground for hope: author Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.

SNN, HA! and the Cowboy and Sci-Fi Channels are basic cable services, hoping to get their cut of cable's increasing advertising pie. The Cable Television Advertising Bureau estimates that advertisers spent a record $2 billion on cable TV in 1989, up 30 percent over the total for 1988.

With more money coming in for commercials, cable channels last year began to spend conspicuously more money for original programing, especially telemovies and music concerts. The next channel moving in this direction will be Lifetime, which plans to present its first original telemovie, Stop at Nothing, in July.

So what's coming up on cable soon that might be worth watching? Here's a chronological rundown of 15 shows scheduled during the next three months for you to consider:

Saturday at 11 p.m., Showtime presents a one-hour comedy special, Howie Mandel: Hooray for Howiewould!, videotaped at the Valley Forge Music Fair in Devon. Some of this material is pretty raw, and most parents probably won't find this show suitable for children younger than 13.

Sunday at 8 p.m., Philadelphians have four good reasons to watch the Pro Bowl on ESPN. Among the stars on display in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu will be Eagles Randall Cunningham (quarterback), Keith Jackson (tight end), Reggie White (defensive end) and Eric Allen (cornerback).

Monday at 8 p.m., Lifetime begins rerunning all 65 episodes of one of the most popular prime-time series of the 1980s, Moonlighting. Mondays through Thursdays, beginning with the two-hour pilot, you can relive every hiss and kiss between David Addison, played by Bruce Willis, and Maddie Hayes, portrayed by Cybill Shepherd, inside and outside the Blue Moon Detective Agency.

Tuesday at 8 p.m., the Disney Channel will present the deceptively titled New Kids on the Block: Hangin' Tough Live in Concert. It's not really live, since this one-hour musical special was taped last year at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. But that's about the only thing wrong with it, as the perpetual-motion Kids (brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joe McIntyre, Danny Wood and Donnie Wahlberg) rock through eight of their hits, including Hangin' Tough, Cover Girl and I'll Be Loving You.

Feb. 10 at 10 p.m., the biggest star on Home Box Office, boxing's heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, will climb into a ring in Tokyo and take aim at another large target, James "Buster" Douglas. Tyson is undefeated in 37 professional fights, and no upset by the journeyman Douglas is expected. But if you want to see the state of the art in how to knock people senseless, Tyson is the one to watch.

Feb. 17 at 9 p.m., the Nashville Network will present a one-hour salute to one of the most charming and durable of country singers, Tennessee Ernie Ford: 50 Golden Years. Ford, 69, began his show business career in 1939 as a radio announcer in his native Bristol, Tenn., and achieved his greatest fame in the 1950s with a song called Sixteen Tons. He's a nice guy, and this is a sweetly sentimental show.

Feb. 18 at 9 p.m., the Disney Channel will feature one of the best of all the rock songwriters in a one-hour special called Carole King: Going Home. King, inducted this month into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will sing some of her old hits, including "I Feel the Earth Move" and "Up on the Roof," and some new tunes from her latest album, City Streets.

Feb. 28 at 9 p.m., USA will present an original telemovie, Personals, starring Jennifer O'Neill as a schizophrenic who spends her days as a shy librarian and her nights as a vamp who seeks out men to kill. She calls all her victims "Clifford," the name of an ex-lover who cheated on her, and she bumps off eight until the widow of one gets onto her trail.

March 5 is the date for two shows that should draw significant attention. At 8 p.m., TNT will present The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, a telemovie about the young-adult years of the novelist who created the British espionage agent James Bond. Fittingly, young Fleming will be portrayed by Jason Connery, the son of Sean Connery, the actor who originated Bond in films and whose performances as 007 are widely judged to be unequalled.

At 10 p.m., three of the greatest skaters in the world will appear in Carmen on Ice, a one-hour HBO adaptation of the famous opera. Carmen, a seductive Spanish gypsy, will be portrayed by East Germany's Katarina Witt, winner of the gold medal for women's singles figure skating in the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics. America's Brian Boitano, men's singles gold medalist in 1988, will portray Don Jose, a soldier, with Canada's Brian Orser, silver medalist in both 1984 and 1988, as Escamillo, a bullfighter.

March 18 and March 25 are the dates for two one-hour documentaries about the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the wreck of the tanker Exxon Valdez, which dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska on Mar. 24, 1989.

The earlier documentary, at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, is entitled Black Tide and will be narrated by Christopher Reeve. One week later at 10 p.m., TBS Superstation will present Outrage at Valdez, narrated by Jean-Michel Cousteau.

April 3 at 12:30 p.m., the Family Channel will present the first of 26 half-hour episodes of a new series called Healthy Kids. Aimed at the parents of children ranging in age from newly born to four years, it will be hosted by Kim Alexis, a model who has two children within that age range. The advice should be sound, because members of the American Academy of Pediatrics are going to check over every episode.

April 6 at 10:30 p.m., Lifetime will present the first of 26 new episodes of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, with Blair Brown continuing in the title role. Unmarried Molly discovers that she is pregnant and she doesn't know who the father is: either her ex-boss, Moss Goodman, played by David Strathairn, or her current beau, detective Nathaniel Hawthorne, portrayed by Richard Lawson.

April 26 at 8 p.m., American Movie Classics will present Celluloid Champs, which AMC says will be "the definitive documentary" about boxers in movies. Producer Peter Bonventre says there have been 179 boxing movies made since 1910, with two Hollywood pugs winning Academy Awards: Wallace Beery for The Champ (1931) and Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (1980). If you enjoyed John Garfield in Body and Soul (1947), Kirk Douglas in Champion (1949) or Sylvester Stallone in any of the four Rocky movies, this is a docu for you.

How Shelley Duvall Spun Success From Age-old Fairy Tales The Actress, A Great Lover Of Fairy Tales, Has Paired Big Names With Roles In Entertaining Shows For Little People.

Posted: March 01, 1990

Long ago and far away - 1981 and Sunset Boulevard to be precise - I had a lunchtime interview with Shelley Duvall, ostensibly to discuss her part in the soon-to-be-released Terry Gilliam movie Time Bandits.

Instead, Duvall, poking her fork into some sprouts in an overpriced, under- lit Hollywood eatery, started rattling on about fairy tales: how she loved them, how she collected rare editions of the Grimms and Andersen, how she hoped to get some of her actor friends involved in bringing these timeless children's fables to video and maybe get them on television. She was, she said, talking to the Disney Channel and some other cable bigwigs.

After lunch, we walked across the street to Tower Records, where the ingratiatingly bug-eyed, dippy-voiced star of so many Robert Altman pics proceeded to buy the entire back catalogue of Incredible String Band albums - a communal folk-hippie outfit from Scotland whose big song was called ''Ducks on a Pond."

Sure, I thought to my old cynical self, this spaceball's going to produce a series for Disney? And I'm going to move to Philadelphia.

A scant nine years later, Playhouse Video is re-releasing all 26 titles of Duvall's Faerie Tale Theater in newly packaged, bargain-priced ($14.98 list) editions. The actress is now the head of something called Think Entertainment, a production facility allied with four cable companies. And the library of winsome Faerie Tale Theater episodes - starring the likes of Robin Williams, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeff Bridges, Billy Crystal and Susan Sarandon - has gone from its original Showtime cable berth to the lucrative syndicated television market. Go figure.

Actually, there's not much figuring to be done: With only a few exceptions, the Faerie Tale Theater stories are some of the most innovative, intelligent and enjoyable children's programming around today.

Take The Tale of the Frog Prince, a playful retelling of the old handsome- prince-in-amphibian's-skin story. Two-time Oscar nominee Robin Williams has the title role, cracking wise to the transcendently arch Teri Garr as the aloof, stuffy princess who tries to weasel out of the bargain she has struck with the green, toady thing. The dialogue - from a script by Monty Python's Eric Idle, who also directed - is spry, rife with double entendres, puns good and bad. And the production is perfectly suited to the video medium - downsizing Williams to the scale of a web-footed lily pond hopper is a much easier process on video than on film.

In Little Red Riding Hood, then-husband-and-wife Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen bring an added dimension to their respective portrayals of the malevolent lycanthrope and the wee girl who's led astray.

Hansel and Gretel is another success, starring Joan Collins in the role she was born for: a crook-nosed, wart-faced witch.

Ditto, Pinocchio. Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, stars as the wooden kid with the proboscis that just won't quit. Carl Reiner is his father, the puppetmaker Geppetto, Lainie Kazan the extra-zaftig fairy godmother who shows up in the nick of time. But even the smaller parts here are plum: James Coburn as a ne'er-do-well gypsy, Jim Belushi as a pug-faced punk on the isle of donkey boys.

And there is Carrie Fisher in Thumbelina. And Peter (Robocop) Weller as the wily peasant who wins Lesley Ann Warren's hand in marriage in The Dancing Princesses. Rumpelstiltskin - the weird tale of a magic dwarf who facilitates the spinning of straw into gold in exchange for the soon-to-be-princess' first-born child - stars Duvall herself, with Herve (Fantasy Island) Villechaize as the maniacal little guy with the odd moniker.

In an interview with Margy Rochlin in the Los Angeles Times a few years ago, Duvall explained how she managed to recruit screen stars accustomed to megabuck salaries to work for scale in her less-than-an-hour videos.

"Actors are always interested in parts they may never get to play," Duvall explained. "That's why King Lear is so popular. For Joan Collins, to play an ugly witch was really fun. Also, it's a chance for stars to see how they like working together without making the commitment of six months to a year working on a film.

"There's also no star structure here; everyone is treated the same. I think there's a lot of relief in this for the stars. In Hollywood, the deal has become more important than the work. I think the success I've had in getting stars for my shows makes a statement - the stars still value their work more than the deal. In fact, our biggest problem is usually scheduling and availability. For example, I would really like Dolly Parton to play Mother Goose, but we haven't been able to arrange it yet."

(As it turns out, Duvall's Mother Goose - Rock 'n Rhyme debuts on the Disney Channel May 19, but without Parton in the lead role. Stars lined up for the two-hour musical include Jean Stapleton as Mother Goose, Paul Simon as Simple Simon, Garry Shandling and Teri Garr as Jack and Jill . . . and Pia Zadora, as Little Miss Muffet.)

There's also the fact that many of these folks - McDowell and Steenburgen, Gregory Hines (he teams with Ben Vereen in Puss in Boots), Mick Jagger (as an Asian aristocrat in The Nightingale) and Susan Sarandon - are parents themselves, and leapt at the chance to perform in something their own progeny could see and appreciate.

The behind-the-camera guys aren't bad either: veteran film and television pros Lamont Johnson and Peter Medak guide several installments. Nicholas Meyer, the filmmaker behind Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the gripping The Day After, directs Eric Idle in The Pied Piper of Hamelin. And none other than movie godfather Francis Coppola directs Harry Dean Stanton in the Catskill legend of Rip Van Winkle.

To be sure, there are clunkers, but only a handful. There isn't enough story to sustain Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Tatum O'Neal in the title role) for almost an hour; The Nightingale, with the big-lipped Jagger and pre- big-lipped Barbara Hershey, is an ennui-laden affair, and Liza Minnelli in The Princess and the Pea . . . well, Lisa Minnelli in The Princess and the Pea about says it all.

But then there's Rapunzel, with Duvall again, letting her hair down so Jeff Bridges can clamber up the tower and rescue her from the clutches of a scowling Gena Rowlands. And Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with a rosy- cheeked Elizabeth McGovern as Snow White, Vanessa Redgrave as the evilly vain queen and Vincent Price as the mirror that talks back.

Another thing that's fascinating about these videos - for viewers whose age goes beyond the single digits, at least - is that Faerie Tale Theater allow us to see these serioso thespians in the least pretentious environments, working with scenarios that reveal some of the stars' true colors. After seeing Christopher Reeve's bedside manner in Sleeping Beauty, any lingering doubts that this guy is a total hambone are dispelled - Supe plays the scene like he's doing Romeo and Juliet. On the other hand, Weller reveals an arch sense of humor in The Dancing Princesses heretofore absent from his film roles, and Ellen Barkin gets to play a role that doesn't require trollopy insouciance in The Princess Who Had Never Laughed.

And some of the performances are just plain fun: Jeff Goldblum and Billy Crystal have a lark huffing and puffing their way through The Three Little Pigs (Goldblum's the wolf, Crystal the brainy pig), while Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Beals - as the prince and the if-the-shoe-fits wench in Cinderella - volley some swell ballroom banter.

Eight years after The Tale of the Frog Prince launched the series, Faerie Tale Theater has become a hallmark of quality children's video programming - and something worth watching even if you've never talked to a child, let alone owned one.

It seems that Shelley Duvall knew what she was doing, after all. Which just goes to prove that beneath even the flakiest of personas, there can be a mind of vision and determination. Or a mind that knows the ins-and-outs of the cable and video biz.

Or one that knows about talking frogs.

Arts Advocates Urge Congress: Let Nea Live

Posted: March 21, 1990

WASHINGTON — Armed with diagrammed maps, detailed briefing papers and schedules of appointments with dozens of representatives and senators, a group of dark- suited museum officials prepared to assault Capitol Hill.

But first, a pep talk.

"There is nothing incongruous about museums engaging in the political process," they were reassured by Joel Bloom, the president of the American Association of Museums and director of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. ''Museums and politics have deep roots in the same Mediterranean soil, in ancient Greece, where both museums and politics were born."

Rarely, however, have art and politics been so deeply enmeshed as in the current congressional battle over continued federal funding of the arts. Yesterday, during the annual Advocacy Day celebration, arts organizations staged what they said was their largest lobbying effort ever, as more than 500 representatives of museum, theater, dance and other arts fields converged on the Capitol to press for the survival of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

House subcommittee hearings start here today to determine whether the endowment will be reauthorized - a question never before seriously raised in its 25-year history.

Despite morning snow and unseasonable cold, yesterday brought a star- studded crowd, with movie celebrities, painters and authors taking center stage to deliver impassioned speeches about the sanctity of free expression and the evils of censorship. At a morning-long conference, a serious, bespectacled Susan Sarandon told of raising her children in the pursuit of truth, while Christopher Superman Reeve talked about the "practical business" of art that nationally generates millions of dollars.

A message from Paul Newman was read, telling congressional leaders that ''caving in to the McCarthy-like propaganda and the smearing of all artists with a wide brush called obscenity is and should be beneath you."

In the afternoon, a more unconventional and casual crowd gathered in the frigid weather on the steps of the West front of the Capitol for an old- fashioned, '60s-style demonstration. Posters carried such as slogans as ''Demolish the walls of censorship," "No gags on art" and "Free homo art." One demonstrator wielded a sign depicting Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.) nailed naked on a cross.

Last September, following the revelation that NEA funds had supported two controversial exhibits containing sexual and religious images, Congress bowed to pressure from Helms and other conservatives and attached to the agency's budget a prohibition against funding obscene work. Helms and others are now seeking to either eliminate the NEA, or impose permanent restrictions on the work that can be funded in the future.

The threat against the agency led to mobilization of support for Advocacy Day, a decade-old event that has never before attracted such large attendance. Robert L. Lynch, executive director of the National Assembly of State and Local Arts Organizations, estimated that participants made more than 1,000 visits to congressional offices.

Many speakers likened the threat of NEA restrictions to repressive measures imposed, and now rejected, in communist-bloc countries. The name of Czechoslovakian president Vaclav Havel, a playwright whose works once were banned by his government, was invoked so often that yesterday could have been called Havel Day.

Mused Betty Allen, a mezzo-soprano and executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts: "Isn't it ironic that a large part of the world has cast off the shackles of censorship, while we sat back smugly and said we don't have that problem. Well, children, now we have that problem."

Havel sent a message to the demonstration, in which he said: "An artist must challenge, must controvert the established order. To limit that creative spirit in the name of public sensitivity is to deny to society one of its most significant resources."

The effort yesterday was a far cry from the disorganized, shocked response last summer when arts groups first realized that conservatives were successfully challenging federal support for art. In recent weeks, arts lobbying groups such as the American Association of Museums and the American Arts Alliance worked together to hone their message to three simply articulated points: The endowment sponsors creativity; the agency has built an impressive track record of thousands of funded projects in every corner of the country; and the panel process of awarding grants is the best "safeguard that federal dollars will be wisely spent."

"These are not elitist organizations that receive funds, but populist in the broadest sense," said Edward H. Able, executive director of the museum association. His group estimates that more than 500 million visits are annually made to museums, virtually all of which have received NEA support.

The groups have carefully tried to stay away from more controversial issues, but at the rally yesterday, free rein was given to all forms of freedom of expression. James Fitzpatrick, president of the alternative gallery the Washington Project for the Arts, called conservative members of congress ''Philistines, fundamentalists and extremists."

Carl Goodman, of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, a Washington-based AIDS support group, criticized speakers for not talking about homosexuality. Referring to photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, the focus last year of complaints by the political right, he said the fight over arts funding ''was not just about censorship, it's about homophobia."

Rep. Pat Williams (D., Mont.), who chairs a key subcommittee and has been an outspoken friend of the arts, warned the crowd that "it is a cold and chilly atmosphere" in Congress. "We are in a fight."

Arts advocates are generally optimistic that they will be able to persuade Congress to reauthorize the NEA. But they are by no means calling it a sure bet.

Trump City, Or Trump's Folly? A New York Neighborhood Has Organized To Fight Donald Trump's Most Ambitious Vision Yet.

Posted: May 27, 1990

NEW YORK — Along the banks of the Hudson River is a singularly desolate strip of Manhattan. It is a vast expanse, nearly three-quarters of a mile, choked with weeds and mud.

Rotting piers and bulkheads jut into the river.

Welcome to Trump City.

This untidy landscape is all there is to show for Donald Trump's most ambitious vision yet. Trump has been trying since 1974 to develop the 76-acre tract, a former railroad yard just below Manhattan's Upper West Side.

His current proposal calls for a $5 billion complex with a shopping mall, offices, hotel, apartments and, true to Trump's character, the World's Tallest Building. The plan comes up for review by the city this summer.

Earlier incarnations of Trump City have died on the drawing boards. If this latest effort fails, the project may prove to be not the jewel in the empire's crown that the developer hoped, but a colossal folly.

Already, Trump has sunk almost as much into the project as the $200 million it cost him to develop Trump Tower, his flagship building. At a time when concerns have been raised about Trump's cash flow, each year of delay costs an estimated $15 million.

Even if Trump gets permission to go ahead, the outlook for the four million square feet of office space he has proposed is dubious in a depressed Manhattan real estate market, where vacancy rates are at their highest since the 1970s.

But the most immediate roadblock is opposition from the community.

The Upper West Side is a neighborhood that prides itself on its gracious pre-war apartment houses and its charming brownstones. Some of its residents aren't wild about Trump City; the World's Tallest Building, frankly, wasn't what they had in mind for a neighbor.

The Westsiders have put together an unusually formidable machine to try to thwart Trump. Westpride, a nonprofit group that could be nicknamed the Hate- Trump Club, has been fortified by quite a few high-profile people who happen to live in the neighborhood.

The anti-Trump forces have enlisted the support of an all-star cast that includes the likes of actors Paul Newman and Christopher Reeve and authors Judith Rossner, Fran Lebowitz and Robert Caro. Violinist Itzhak Perlman performed last year at a Westpride benefit, and celebrities Lauren Bacall, Carly Simon and Joel Grey have taken part in other fund-raising events.

This season's money-raising event is "Beat Trump at His Own Game," a ''casino" night to be held June 5 at a West Side church.

In his characteristically unflappable style, Trump says he is not concerned about the pace of development on the property.

"We've been in no particular rush," he said last week.

"Every job I've ever done, there has been opposition. . . . This job is no different," he said.

To develop Trump City as proposed, Trump needs a zoning change that would double the square footage of offices that can be built on the site. And New York real estate specialists warn that he will have an uphill struggle in getting the change unless he reconciles with the community.

"There have been various development schemes for that property over the last 20 years. Everyone has been turned back at the pass by the community groups," said Clark Halstead, president of Halstead Property Co., a New York real estate firm.

Halstead is skeptical about whether the site ever will be developed.

"It has taken down more developers than any other piece of property I've ever heard of," Halstead declared.


The would-be home of Trump City is an awe-inspiring piece of real estate, running along the banks of the Hudson from 71st Street south to 59th Street. It is the largest privately owned parcel of undeveloped land on the island of Manhattan.

The West Side Yards, as the site was known, had been owned by the Penn Central Railroad, the Philadelphia company that went bankrupt in 1970. The property had always fascinated Trump, who in his book, The Art of The Deal, recalled that he had found himself driving by it on the West Side Highway and dreaming about what he could build there.

Trump, who at the time had never developed a project in Manhattan, got an option to buy the West Side Yards from the railroad in 1974. He proposed a middle-income apartment project, to be supported by state subsidies. But he was unable to reach an agreement with the community and city planning agencies, and the option lapsed in 1979.

An Argentine developer, the Macri Organization, bought the property in 1981, but ran into financial problems before it could proceed with a proposed development.

Trump bought Macri's interest in early 1985 for about $100 million.

An early Trump plan was to build a headquarters for NBC, which at the time was threatening to move its offices from Rockefeller Center to New Jersey. Trump intended to call the project Television City. That fell through in 1987, when NBC reached an agreement to stay put in Rockefeller Center.

Trump has been working on the current proposal for two years under a city environmental-review process. The proposal should be ready for public review this summer.

A draft of the proposal - a copy of which was filed in March with city agencies and obtained by a community group through a request under the Freedom of Information Act - outlined an ambitious project that would be developed in phases between 1991 and 1998.

It would contain 6,777 apartments, nearly four million square feet of office space and 3.7 million square feet of shopping mall. There would be 7,346 parking spaces and 750 hotel rooms. Trump officials estimated that 20,171 people would work at Trump City and 12,920 would live there.

The piece de resistance would be the skyscraper, rising 1,835 feet - so tall that in the early mornings its shadow would cross the Hudson and touch New Jersey.

Opponents of the project worry about its effect on traffic and pollution on the Upper West Side, as well as the burden the development would place on sewer systems, schools and other services.

Westpride was organized in 1986 in response to the Television City proposal, which also featured the World's Tallest Building. The organization has since attracted 7,000 members. It has raised about $200,000 each year, with most of it going to pay lawyers and environmental experts to battle Trump.

"If you are going to oppose a Trump project, you have to have some clout and you have to raise a lot of money," said Steve Robinson, an architect who is co-chairman of Westpride.

The group is housed in the basement of an Upper West Side apartment house. The offices look somewhat like an election headquarters - filled with fund- raising invitations and various pieces of anti-Trump literature and cartoons.

One staff favorite is a Ziggy cartoon depicting a billboard that reads ''Welcome to Trumpville," and, in smaller type, "formerly New York City."

Westpride volunteers were joking about what to wear for the casino-night fund-raising event. ("How about polyester and big rings?" one volunteer asked another.)

Trump's staff members have faithfully attended all the Westpride functions, buying tickets and using the occasions to lobby for Trump City. But relations between the two organizations otherwise do not appear to be amicable.

"I think many of the people in Westpride are being rather hypocritical and elitist. They are running around decrying Trump for bringing luxury housing in the Upper West Side . . . when a lot of them live in these $12 million apartments on Central Park West," said Blanche Sprague, an executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

"Many of these people are in show business, many of them make their living creating images . . . , and it sounds to me like they are a little envious" of Trump, Sprague added.

The key issue in the struggle is money. If Westpride succeeds in further delaying Trump City, that could prove costly to Trump at a time when his properties do not appear to be generating as much cash flow as they did in the past.

Real estate brokers say that Trump's newest condominium project, the high- rise Trump Palace, is overpriced for the neighborhood (69th Street and Third Avenue) - with studio apartments starting at about $400,000 - and will not sell as well as some of his earlier projects. Trump officials deny this, saying that 40 percent of the units are already sold, even though the units will not be ready for occupancy until January.

The Plaza Hotel reportedly is draining more than $20 million a year in cash beyond what it takes in.

Trump Organization officials won't say exactly how much it is costing to hold the vacant West Side Yards, though Anthony Gliedman, executive vice president, put the figure at $15 million to $25 million a year in interest expense, taxes and development fees.

Chase Manhattan Bank has covered most of the tab. Chase allows Trump to pay interest from a $200 million line of credit for the property, so the developer does not have to put up cash at this stage of development. About three- quarters of the $200 million has been spent, Gliedman said.

A meeting was held with Chase Manhattan about a month ago on the progress of the West Side Yards, and Gliedman said the bank seemed satisfied.

"The Donald says we should be ready" to start construction "within a year. It shouldn't be much longer than that," Gliedman said.

Ron Millican, a real estate developer who works with Westpride, said he believed Trump would profit from the West Side Yards so long as he was not forced eventually to put it on the market at fire-sale prices.

If the zoning change comes through, Millican said, the value of the property could nearly double.

"It is not an insignificant cash drain . . . , but I think he will make money as long as he has the staying power," Millican said.

Tony Show Gets A Little Touch-up Among The Reasons To Watch: Stellar Nominations From A Stellar Year.

Posted: June 03, 1990

The Tony Awards tonight promise to make different - and better - TV watching than Tonys of the past, for the following reasons:

* Kathleen Turner is emcee. That gives the annual telecast (9 p.m., Channel 10) both beauty and class.

* The eight shows - musicals and plays - in nomination for the top awards represent the best of a Broadway season that was superior in quality to recent years. Scenes from each of the productions will be shown.

* Executive producer Joe Cates says that, for once, the show will end on time at 11 p.m., whereas it has usually run over by 20 or 25 minutes. "I have been informed most strongly by the network," he said, "that their affiliate stations do not want to be denied their 11 o'clock news shows."

Turner not only is host, she also is a nominee as best actress for her insolently sexy portrayal of Maggie, the Cat, in the revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that played the Forrest Theater on its way to Broadway.

As good as Turner is in the Williams play, however, it will be hard to deny the award to Britain's Maggie Smith for her killingly funny performance as an eccentric tour guide in Peter Shaffer's Lettice and Lovage.

Favored in the voting for best productions are the musical City of Angels and the August Wilson play The Piano Lesson. These have already been singled out for top prizes from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Drama Desk, the organization of theater journalists.

Wilson's comedy-drama of conflict in a black family over an heirloom piano won the playwright his second Pulitzer Prize. The first went to Fences in 1987.

City of Angels is Larry Gelbart's ingenious sendup of private-eye movies, with an ebullient score by Cy Coleman and a mounting that is alternately color and black-and-white. Star James Naughton should pick up the Tony for best leading actor in a musical.

The show's strongest competition surely comes from Grand Hotel, a musical adaptation of Vicki Baum's novel about intrigue and heartbreak in a Berlin hotel. After some less than enthusiastic initial reviews, the show and its guiding spirit, Tommy Tune, have been gaining support in the business, and it is the business that votes the awards.

Tune was nominated in two categories, direction and choreography. The slate of choreographers is thin, reflecting the decline of the dance musical following the deaths in recent years of Michael Bennett and Bob Fosse.

While there are four nominations in each of the other 18 categories, there are only three in choreography. Joan Brickhill was nominated for the dances in Meet Me in St. Louis, the stage version of the MGM movie and a nominee as best musical, and Graciela Daniele was tapped for her dance-theater piece Dangerous Games, presented in Philadelphia by the American Music Theater Festival before its brief Broadway run.

The other nominee for best musical is Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love, a queasy amalgam of syrup and sophistication quite different from his pop hits Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.


In the plays category, The Piano Lesson should have no trouble topping Lettice and Lovage, which is better as a vehicle for Maggie Smith and her co- star, Margaret Tyzack, than as a play. Nor should the Wilson entry have anything to fear from Craig Lucas' Prelude to a Kiss, a wan fantasy about a thirtysomething marriage complicated by the bride's exchange of bodies with an old man.

If there is competition here, it will surely come from The Grapes of Wrath, the adaptation by Chicago's Steppenwolf Company of John Steinbeck's novel about Depression-era migrant workers.

A notably strong slate is the one for leading actor in a play. Charles S. Dutton is a dynamo as the star of The Piano Lesson. Robert Morse's fascinating Truman Capote in the one-man show Tru is as much a reincarnation as a performance. Dustin Hoffman's small-scale Shylock in The Merchant of Venice found many admirers, and Tom Hulce is credible as a Navy lawyer in the courtroom drama A Few Good Men.

Look for television's Tyne Daly to walk off with a Tony for her galvanic performance as Mama Rose, the Ethel Merman role in the revival of the musical Gypsy. And Michael Jeter is a popular favorite for his exuberant Charleston in a featured role in Grand Hotel.

The awards, voted by 661 members of the theatrical and journalistic professions, will be presented on behalf of the American Theater Wing, a service organization, in ceremonies on the stage of Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theater. The theme will be "The Year of the Actor," to be carried out by five well-known actors in solo speeches pertaining to theater. Among them will be Kevin Kline delivering Hamlet's speech of instructions to the actors, something he has been doing every night in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production at the Public Theater.


Other performers, producer Cates said, will be Geraldine Fitzgerald in an excerpt from The Royal Family, the love letter to the theater that George S. Kaufman wrote with Edna Ferber; Morgan Freeman with the "All the world's a stage" speech from As You Like It; Len Cariou as James Tyrone, the old-time stage star in whom Eugene O'Neill sketched his father in Long Day's Journey Into Night; and Philip Bosco, one of last year's Tony winners, reading Prospero's speech about our revels ending in The Tempest.

The roster of presenters and performers includes some of the nominees as well as Timothy Hutton, James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Michael Crawford, Sandy Duncan, Linda Lavin, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Reeve, Joan Rivers, Ron Silver, Jessica Tandy and Lily Tomlin.

Cates said he had eliminated the "TV variety" musical numbers - "the salutes to somebody or something" - that had been features of previous Tony telecasts. He said he was asking presenters to hold "chitchat" to a minimum and recipients to try to make their acceptance speeches "entertaining."

"We don't want lists of acknowledgments and thank-yous," Cates said, knowing in his heart that he will get them anyway.

The list of nominations follows:

Musical: Aspects of Love, City of Angels, Grand Hotel, Meet Me in St. Louis.

Play: Lettice and Lovage, Prelude to a Kiss, The Grapes of Wrath, The Piano Lesson.

Book of a musical: Andrew Lloyd Webber (Aspects of Love); Larry Gelbart (City of Angels); Luther Davis (Grand Hotel); Hugh Wheeler (Meet Me in St. Louis).

Original score: Andrew Lloyd Webber, music, Don Black and Charles Hart, lyrics (Aspects of Love); Cy Coleman, music, David Zippel, lyrics (City of Angels); Robert Wright, George Forrest and Maury Yeston, music and lyrics (Grand Hotel); Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, music and lyrics (Meet Me in St. Louis).

Revival of a play or musical: Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, The Circle, The Merchant of Venice.

Leading actor in a play: Charles S. Dutton (The Piano Lesson); Dustin Hoffman (The Merchant of Venice); Tom Hulce (A Few Good Men); Robert Morse (Tru).

Leading actress in a play: Geraldine James (The Merchant of Venice); Mary- Louise Parker (Prelude to a Kiss); Maggie Smith (Lettice and Lovage); Kathleen Turner (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof).

Leading actor in a musical: David Carroll (Grand Hotel); Gregg Edelman (City of Angels); Bob Gunton (Sweeney Todd); James Naughton (City of Angels).

Leading actress in a musical: Georgia Brown (Threepenny Opera); Tyne Daly (Gypsy); Beth Fowler (Sweeney Todd); Liliane Montevecchi (Grand Hotel).

Featured actor in a play: Rocky Carroll (The Piano Lesson); Charles Durning (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof); Terry Kinney and Gary Sinise (The Grapes of Wrath).

Featured actress in a play: Polly Holliday (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof); S. Epatha Merkerson (The Piano Lesson); Lois Smith (The Grapes of Wrath); Margaret Tyzack (Lettice and Lovage).

Featured actor in a musical: Rene Auberjonois (City of Angels); Kevin Colson (Aspects of Love); Jonathan Hadary (Gypsy); Michael Jeter (Grand Hotel).

Featured actress in a musical: Randy Graff (City of Angels); Jane Krakowski (Grand Hotel); Kathleen Rowe McAllen (Aspects of Love); Crista Moore (Gypsy).

Direction of a play: Michael Blakemore (Lettice and Lovage); Frank Galati (The Grapes of Wrath); Peter Hall (The Merchant of Venice); Lloyd Richards (The Piano Lesson).

Direction of a musical: Michael Blakemore (City of Angels); Trevor Nunn (Aspects of Love); Susan H. Schulman (Sweeney Todd); Tommy Tune (Grand Hotel).

Scenic design: Alexandra Byrne (Some Americans Abroad); Kevin Rigdon (The Grapes of Wrath); Robin Wagner (City of Angels); Tony Walton (Grand Hotel).

Costumes: Theoni V. Aldredge (Gypsy); Florence Klotz (City of Angels); Santo Loquasto (Grand Hotel); Erin Quigley (The Grapes of Wrath).

Lighting design: Jules Fisher (Grand Hotel); Paul Gallo (City of Angels); Paul Pyant and Neil Peter Jampolis (Orpheus Descending); Kevin Rigdon (The Grapes of Wrath).

Choreography: Joan Brickhill (Meet Me in St. Louis); Graciela Daniele (Dangerous Games); Tommy Tune (Grand Hotel).

Tragicomedy, 'Tremors' And A Cop Plot

Posted: July 12, 1990

This week's new videos offer plenty of reasons for a trek to the video store: comedy, drama, action, monsters and a summer sky full of stars. Take your pick.

ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY (1989) (Media) $89.98. 121 minutes. * * * * Ron Silver, Anjelica Huston, Lena Olin, Margaret Sophie Stein. Like many of Paul Mazursky's best movies, this - the story of a trigamist - essentially is a comedy about a tragedy. The drama here is how Holocaust survivors, more apparitions than humans, ghost-walk among the living. The humor is in how wryly funny are their observations, how cockamamie their behavior. Oscar nominations: Huston and Olin, best supporting actress; Roger L. Simon and Mazursky, best adapted screenplay.

FAMILY BUSINESS (1989) (RCA/Columbia) $89.95. 113 minutes. * * * 1/2 Dustin Hoffman, Sean Connery, Matthew Broderick. The genetic improbability of the strapping Connery's playing father to runty Hoffman, who in turn plays father to the average-size Broderick, isn't an issue in Sidney Lumet's offbeat tragicomedy, a felonious Crimes and Misdemeanors. Family Business explores the possibility of Connery's "criminal" genes' being passed on to his son and grandson, both of whom share his flinty eyes and larcenous nature, if not his ideas on how to continue the family business of thieving.

TREMORS (1990) (MCA/Universal)* 95 minutes. * * * Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward. A glorious scare-'em-up in the tradition of '50s horror flicks - part Them!, part Attack of the Crab Monsters, part Dune as reinterpreted by Mad magazine. A pair of none-too-bright cowpokes battles behemoth earthworms, whose dietary requirements include people, cars and buildings. Delivers both chills (the special effects are convincing, the direction sure-handed) and laughs, thanks to a smart cast and script.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS (1990) (Paramount)* 115 minutes. * * 1/2 Richard Gere, Andy Garcia. Garcia and Gere - sporting identical cool shades and close- cropped haircuts - face off in a good cop-bad cop B-movie cast in the darkest, artiest film-noir light. Set in Los Angeles, Mike Figgis' policier has the requisite car chases and shootouts, hard-boiled dialogue and long- legged women, plus Gere in the snuggest jeans.

* This video supplier does not set suggested retail prices on titles it deems primarily for rental.


BIG BAD JOHN (1990) (Magnum) $89.98. 90 minutes. Jimmy Dean, Ned Beatty, Doug English. Loosely based on Dean's popular song of a few decades back, with ex-pro football star English as the gentle giant John and Dean as the backwoods sheriff tracking him through a Louisiana bayou.

BODY CHEMISTRY (1990) (RCA/Columbia) $79.95. 84 minutes. Marc Singer, Lisa Pescia, Mary Crosby. Thriller in the Fatal Attraction vein: A respected, married college lab director tumbles into bed with an obsessive woman.

CLOWN HOUSE (1990) (RCA/Columbia) $89.95. 81 minutes. Nathan Forrest Winters, Sam Rockwell. Thriller: A young boy with a pathological fear of clowns is stalked by killers dressed as - oh, you guessed!

DANGEROUS PURSUIT (1990) (Paramount)* 95 minutes. Gregory Harrison, Alexandra Powers. A woman who once had a fling with an assassin fears for her life when he turns up in her new home town to kill a visiting politician.

HAPPY TOGETHER (1990) (IVE) $89.95 102 minutes. Patrick Dempsey, Helen Slater. Youth-oriented comedy: A malfunctioning college computer assigns a shy male student a free-spirited female roommate.

NIGHT OF THE WILDING (1990) (MCEG/Virgin) $89.95. 90 minutes. Eric Estrada, Kathrin Lautner. Courtroom drama loosely based on the 1989 incident in which a group of youths attacked a woman jogger in New York's Central Park. In this version, one of the attackers is from a wealthy family, which hires a high- priced lawyer to get him acquitted.

REASON TO DIE (1989) (Vidmark) $89.95. 96 minutes. Wings Hauser, Anneline Kriel. Bounty hunter on the trail of a serial killer.

TRAPPED (1989) (MCA/Universal) $79.95. 96 minutes. Kathleen Quinlan, Bruce Abbott. An executive working late in a high-rise office building discovers all the exits are locked and she's trapped with a psychopathic killer.


DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954) (Rhino) $14.95. 70 minutes. Patricia Lassan, Hugh McDermott. Obscure camp classic about a black-leather-clad Martian female who sets her flying saucer down near a Scottish pub and tries to entice young men home for "breeding purposes."

HALF-HUMAN (1955) (Rhino) $14.95. 78 minutes. Kenneth Crane, John Carradine. Weird Japanese-American hybrid from the director of Godzilla, with American actors spliced clumsily into a Japanese film about a monster like the Abominable Snowman.

MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL (1957) (Rhino) $14.95. 71 minutes. Jim Davis, Robert E. Griffith. Your basic '50s giant-insect movie. This time it's wasps that are shot into orbit and then crash-land in Africa as giant radioactive mutations.


PETER, PAUL AND MARY 25TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT (1986) (Rhino) 19.95. 88 minutes. For any devotee of the popular folk trio who hasn't already made a copy of this marvelous concert during the many times it has run as a PBS fund- raiser, here it is. Peter Yarrow, Paul Noel Stookey and Mary Travers perform legendary gems, such as "Blowin' in the Wind," "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane," plus new material, some of which is as politically potent as ever.


ANNA KARENINA (1985) (Vidmark) $89.95. 96 minutes. Jacqueline Bisset, Christopher Reeve, Paul Scofield. Tolstoy's tragic romance becomes just another TV movie in the hands of Bisset and Reeve (Scofield, as Karenin, is worth watching).

FIRE AND RAIN (1989) (Paramount)* 89 minutes. Charles Haid, Angie Dickinson. Fact-based made-for-cable drama of Delta Airlines Flight 191, which crashed at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport in 1985 after encountering a sudden ''wind shear."

THE ULTIMATE STUNTMAN: A TRIBUTE TO DAR ROBINSON (1987) (MPI) $19.98. 60 minutes. Chuck Norris hosts this tribute to Robinson, a 19-year veteran of stunt work who was at the height of his career when he was killed in 1986 in an on-the-job motorcycle accident.

THE WORLD'S GREATEST HOLLYWOOD STUNTS! A TRIBUTE TO HOLLYWOOD STUNTMEN (1990) (MPI) $19.98. 60 minutes. Christopher Reeve hosts a salute to filmdom's daredevils, including footage from movies ranging from Ben Hur to Rambo: First Blood.


SURFER MAGAZINE (1990) (Rhino) $19.95 each. 50 minutes. Four more volumes in the series based on the hit show on cable sports channel ESPN.


MEDIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT has reduced these videos to $19.98: Full Moon in Blue Water ('88), Hero and the Terror (* * '88), High Spirits (* * '88), Messenger of Death ('88) and Troma's War ('88).

MCA/UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO has announced several price reductions. These Preston Sturges films are now $29.95: Christmas in July (* * * * '40), The Great McGinty ('40), The Lady Eve (* * * * '41), The Palm Beach Story (* * * * '42) and Sullivan's Travels (* * * * '41). Now $19.95: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (* * '79), The Incredible Hulk (* * '77), Smokey and the Bandit II (* '80) and two TV movies made from re-edited episodes from the Battlestar: Galactica series - Conquest of the Earth ('79) and Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack ('79).

RCA/COLUMBIA PICTURES HOME VIDEO has announced several price reductions. Now $29.95: Gandhi (* * * * '82). Now $19.95: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (* * * '89), Casino Royale (* * '67), Crossroads (* * '86) and A Soldier's Story (* * * * '84).


Jessica Lange as a recent widow trying to raise two children in MEN DON'T LEAVE.


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* Poor

(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

So, Who's That On Campus? Despite The Secrecy, Word Of Reeve's Arrival Spread Faster Than A Speeding Bullet.

Posted: December 06, 1990

Grandiose in design, and modeled after Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England, Beaver College's Grey Towers Castle was the perfect place for the beheading of an English King.

A film crew producing a one-hour, educational movie called The Road From Runnymede - a detailed account of the evolution of civil rights from the Magna Carta in 1215 to present-day America - had re-created the 1649 beheading of King Charles I at Beaver College in September.

Last Thursday, the crew returned to the campus, nestled between Easton Road and Route 309, for a little mopping up.

This time, the cameras' focus was more level-headed, in the person of actor Christopher Reeve.

Standing over the scene's only prop, an ax stuck in a wooden chopping block, Reeve recited four paragraphs, reflecting on how staggering it was for the people of 17th century England to cut off the head of a king.

Reeve wasn't available for the September filming, said Maureen McKenna, a freelance location manager, so the crew was forced to return. The film is to be aired during a five-part series sometime in 1991.

The big news on campus last week, though, wasn't that a film about an important piece of paper was being made, but that the "guy who played Superman" was there.

And though they tried to keep it secret, word of his arrival spread faster than a speeding bullet. Before you could say "kryptonite is green," a gaggle of giggling dorm-dwellers had gathered beneath the roof of the castle to watch the handsome actor field questions from reporters about Superman sequels as well as his current project. Karen Milillo, a junior at Beaver College, had inside information. Her roommate, who works with school's publicity office, leaked the word of Reeve's visit.

And Jennifer DeCourcy, a freshman, had an inside line - literally - on Reeve's plans. She works the school's telephone switchboard and earlier had fielded a call from a reporter who wanted to know the wheres and whens of the actor's arrival.

Jenyfer Blatt, a sophomore, was checking out a rumor, the same one that Angie Marshal had heard about 10 minutes before. The investigation paid off, as both got an enviable view of the right-rear side of the actor's bobbing head, earlobe and all. "It's neat," said Blatt.

Kristin Ellis and Gina Range, editors of the school's biweekly newspaper The Tower, weren't giggling. Not one bit. They had been scooped by much of the student body.

"Finally a big story," said Range of Reeve's visit, adding in frustration that she had only been tipped off five minutes earlier. "It's ridiculous."

Kimberly Espenscheid, Milillo's roommate, said she knew two weeks ago, but had been asked to keep mum, to keep crowds from forming. "I told a few people," she said. Espenscheid, pen and pad in hand, was hoping to write an article for the school's alumni newsletter on the stealthlike visit from the famous actor.

While the yapping continued in the hall outside the lounge area where he was being interviewed, Reeve was talking with reporters.

He'd rather be involved with scripts that are "character-driven," he said, "movies that are never possibly going to gross $150 million." It was a clean whack at his fabled role as Superman - the role that brought him stardom, but that he now regards as a tumor on his acting career.

"I'd rather do a movie about sitting on the porch," than to do another Superman movie, he said.

Filming was quick, despite a chill that prompted crew members to perform various calisthenics to keep warm.

Reeve was dressed for warmer weather - a tan sport coat over a sweater, and dark slacks and penny loafers. To keep his lips limber enough to recite his four paragraphs, Reeve engaged in a variety of facial gymnastics ranging from tongue-waggling to fish-kissing - actor's tricks, said McKenna.

McKenna offered the most insightful view of the actor, saying he is ''easily distracted during shooting." But, she added, on that day the actor was intense and fast, traits greatly appreciated by the shivering crew who had started filming at 7 a.m. in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Reeve, who grew up in Princeton, said he hadn't been in Philadelphia since 1976. And it wasn't a lengthy visit. Moments after the final take, he jumped in a nondescript blue Datsun and raced off to 30th Street Station to catch a train to New York.

'Quick Change,' 'Air America' And 4 Silent Classics

Posted: February 21, 1991

A pair of quirky comedies lead this week's list of new videos. The first is a tale of a caper that could only happen in New York, and the second, the exploits of an airline that never existed . . . or did it?

QUICK CHANGE ('90) (Warner) $92.95. 89 minutes. * * * Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid, Jason Robards. Amiable bank-heist comedy starring (and co- directed by) Murray as a city planner so disgusted with Manhattan that he decides to stage a robbery and get out of town fast. His plans are foiled by his grumbling girlfriend (Davis), bumbling sidekick (Quaid) and the eight million crazies who make New York so impossible.

AIR AMERICA ('90) (LIVE) $92.95. 113 minutes. * * Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., Nancy Travis, Lane Smith. What would a Vietnam comedy be like without Robin Williams? The sorry answer is Roger Spottiswoode's muddled salute to daredevil pilots who flew secret missions for the CIA in Laos in the late '60s. Before they crash-land, the wreckage of the movie is scattered all over the place.


ENDLESS DESCENT ('89) (LIVE) $89.95. 79 minutes. Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey, Ray Wise, Deborah Adair. Underwater action: Clone of The Abyss (but with a nasty creature waiting in the depths instead of a nice one), as a team of scientists, including an estranged husband and wife, works to rescue a crippled nuclear sub.

FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND ('90) (CBS/Fox) $89.98. 86 minutes. John Hurt, Raul Julia, Bridget Fonda, Jason Patric. Way-out sci-fi: A brilliant scientist's experiment goes terribly wrong, hurling him back in time to the era of Dr. Frankenstein and his hideous monster.

THE GAME OF LOVE ('90) (Academy) $89.95. 94 minutes. Ken Olin, Tracy Nelson, Robert Rusler, Belinda Bauer. Comedy-drama, with a soundtrack stuffed full of hits from the '60s, about the desperate patrons of a singles bar.

I COME IN PEACE ('90) (Media) $89.98. 92 minutes. Dolph Lundgren, Brian Benben, Betsy Brantley, Matthais Hues. Sci-fi thriller: A detective and an FBI agent join forces to battle an alien that has discovered how to make narcotics for its galaxy out of the bodies of living humans. Yuck.

IN THE COLD OF THE NIGHT ('90) (Republic) $89.98. 113 minutes. Jeff Lester, Adrianne Sachs, Marc Singer, Shannon Tweed. Psychological thriller: A beautiful woman who keeps reappearing in a photographer's dreams suddenly appears to him in his waking life. Available in both R-rated and NC-17-rated versions.

THE MAID ('90) (Media) $89.98. 91 minutes. Martin Sheen, Jacqueline Bissett, Victoria Shalet. Comedy: Light trifle with Sheen as a investment banker who spots working gal Bisset and impulsively poses as a housekeeper in order to meet her.

SPICES ('86) (Mystic Fire) $29.98. 98 minutes. Smita Patil. Indian film set in the 1940s about a woman who spurns the advances of lecherous British tax collector and becomes a heroine to the women in her village. In Hindi with English subtitles.


A BIG HAND FOR THE LITTLE LADY ('66) (Warner) $59.95. 95 minutes. * * * Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards, Burgess Meredith. A nifty western that mixes comedy and suspense, about a high-pressure poker game with Henry betting the farm and Joanne trying to talk him out of it. Stick around for the surprise ending.

THE CHAMP ('31) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 87 minutes. * * Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper. Truly sappy hokum. People who remember this movie fondly haven't seen it in a while. Beery did win a Best Actor Oscar, though, as an over-the-hill fighter who agrees to one more fight so he can keep his son.

THE DIVORCEE ('30) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 95 minutes. Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Conrad Nagel, Chester Morris. Shearer won the Best Actress Oscar as the long-suffering wife of philanderer Morris who decides to get even with him for his infidelity.

FOUR FOR TEXAS ('63) (Warner) $59.95. 115 minutes. * * * Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg, Ursula Andress. Spirited teaming of Frankie and Dino in the Wild West, as gambling rivals who join forces to do battle with a smarmy banker.

A FREE SOUL ('31) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 95 minutes. * * * Norma Shearer, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard. Barrymore won an Oscar as the lawyer whose daughter falls in love with a man (Gable) he saves from a murder charge.

POCKET MONEY ('72) (Warner) $59.95. 100 minutes. * * Paul Newman, Lee Marvin, Strother Martin, Hector Elizondo. A disappointment, considering the cast, about a down-and-out cowpoke and his alcoholic pal heading for Mexico to buy a herd of cattle.

THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET ('31) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 76 minutes. Helen Hayes, Robert Young, Lewis Stone. Keep your eyes on Oscar winner Hayes in this otherwise uninteresting sudser about a woman who sacrifices everything for her illegitimate son.


THE CAMERAMAN ('28) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 70 minutes. Buster Keaton. The brilliant Keaton also served as director for this zany outing about bumbling newsreel photographer who can't seem to get anything right. Highlight: a one- man baseball game at Yankee Stadium.

DON JUAN ('26) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 113 minutes. John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Myrna Loy. Barrymore swashes his buckle with great panache as the famed lover who is searching for true love. Notable to film historians as the first film to integrate sound effects and music, before the arrival of true sound several years later.

THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG ('28) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 107 minutes. Norma Shearer, Ramon Navarro. Sigmund Romberg's operetta gets the Ernst Lubitsch treatment with Navarro as the cloistered prince who gets his first chance to live when he goes away to college. Shearer co-stars as the commoner he falls for.

A WOMAN OF AFFAIRS ('28) (MGM/UA) $29.98. 98 minutes. Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Mack Brown. Garbo is radiant as a scandalous playgirl who must atone for her ways after her husband's death.


BELINDA CARLISLE - RUNAWAY LIVE ('91) (MCA/Universal) $19.95. 81 minutes. The pop singer performs songs from her first three solo albums.

CHOCOLATE CITY ('91) (Warner Reprise) $16.98. 30 minutes. Rap singer Big Daddy Kane performs. Songs include "All of Me" and "I Get the Job Done."

EUGENE ONEGIN ('58) (Kultur) $39.95. 106 minutes. Russian director Roman Tikomirov used authentic Russian settings in this film of Tchaikovsky's opera, featuring an all-Bolshoi cast.

THE QUEEN OF SPADES ('60) (Kultur) $39.95. 102 minutes. The Bolshoi Theater performs this version of Tchaikovsky's opera Pikovaya Dama (based on Pushkin's Pique Dama). Directed by Roman Tikomirov.


THE GREAT ESCAPE II: THE UNTOLD STORY ('88) (Vidmark) $89.95. 93 minutes. Christopher Reeve, Judd Hirsch, Anthony Denison, Donald Pleasence. Supposed sequel to 1963 film has some of the guys who made it heading back behind enemy lines to avenge the deaths of their buddies who didn't and were executed.


FAROUK: LAST OF THE PHAROAHS ('91) (Kultur) $29.95. 50 minutes. A frank and occasionally leering look at the reign of the Egyptian king, who was deposed in 1952.


Jack Nicholson and Meg Tilly in THE TWO JAKES; Sean Penn and Gary Oldman in STATE OF GRACE.


* * * * Excellent

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* Poor

(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

Hollywood Goes Tasteful

Posted: September 13, 1991

Now that the summer film season has ended - with its silly comedy films, sci-fi flicks and action-adventure movies - we can prepare ourselves for the more cultured and prestigious cinema of fall.

Like Mick Jagger as a futuristic bounty hunter trying to kill Emilio Estevez in "Freejack," or Vanilla Ice as a rebel motorcycle drifter in ''Cool as Ice."

Fall movies, or the marquee from a multiplex in hell?

Actually, it gets better. For one thing, it appears Hollywood finally is making good on its promise to produce less-gaudy, more thoughtful pictures.

There are no lavishly budgeted blockbusters, few action movies and only two major sequels - "Star Trek VI" and "Final Nightmare," the latest Freddy Krueger picture (which opens today). It's worth noting that both of these promise to be the final installment in the series.

The biggest stars seem attracted to good scripts and directors, rather than big budgets. Martin Scorsese will unveil his remake of the 1962 classic "Cape Fear," boasting a cast that includes Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange. Steve Martin and Diane Keaton star in another glossy remake, "Father of the Bride."

Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer take the leads in "Frankie and Johnny," a movie version of the highly praised play "Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune."

Director Terry Gilliam ("Brazil") works with Robin Williams in "The Fisher King," in which Williams plays a crazed homeless man who believes he's searching for the Holy Grail.

Some of the releases even seem halfway relevant - a new picture from John Sayles ("Eight Men Out") titled "City of Hope" examines a fictional New Jersey city hard hit by the recession and decades of decay.

Still, there is no shortage of traditional holiday fare. Halloween brings the latest Wes Craven offering, "The People Under the Stairs," while Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia and the rest of "The Addams Family" will arrive just before Thanksgiving.

Steven Spielberg's two-years-in-the-making "Hook" - a sequel of sorts to Peter Pan starring Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams and Bob Hoskins - also arrives before Christmas.


Company Business. A thriller starring Gene Hackman and Mikhail Baryshnikov as a CIA man and KGB operative who find themselves on the run from their former employers after a botched spy swap. The first glasnost buddy movie. What a coup.

Love Crimes. An "erotic thriller" about a sexy prosecutor (Sean Young) who becomes attracted to a beguiling man (Patrick Bergin) who has been accused of rape. Directed by Lizzie Borden ("Working Girls"), so it promises to have a political edge.

Late for Dinner. Director W.D. Richter ("Buckaroo Banzai") tries another oddball comedy, this one about two friends who accidentally travel from 1962 to the present day and try to resume life with understandably spooked friends and family members. Marcia Gay Harden, Peter Gallagher.

Livin' Large. Veteran African-American director Michael Schultz made this comedy about a young black TV newscaster who begins to lose his ethnic identity when a scoop lands him a job at a large station.

Deceived. Another my-husband-is-trying-to-kill-me movie, this one starring Goldie Hawn as the trusting wife and John Heard as the husband who may or may not be living a secret life.

The Fisher King. An unemployed disk jockey's declining fortunes lead him to befriend a homeless man (Robin Williams) who is on a crazed search through Manhattan for the Holy Grail. Directed by Terry Gilliam ("Brazil").

Necessary Roughness. A football comedy about an honest coach (Hector Elizondo) who blends a ragtag team of underachieving college kids into a competitive team. With Robert Loggia, Scott Bakula, several swimsuit models and Sinbad.

The Super. Joe Pesci stars as an uncaring slumlord sentenced by a judge to live in one of his own inner-city tenement buildings. With Vincent Gardenia and Ruben Blades.

The Man in the Moon. A story, set in the 1950s, about two teen-age sisters whose friendship is strained when they both fall for the same boy. Co-stars Sam Waterston and Tess Harper.

Married to It. A comedy about three New York couples whose marriages and intertwining friendships take unexpected turns. With Beau Bridges, Cybill Shepherd and Ron Silver.


Shattered. Wolfgang Petersen wrote and directed this thriller about a wealthy real estate developer (Tom Berenger) who is stricken with amnesia and attempts to reconstruct his identity with the help of his wife, played by Greta Scacchi. "Regarding Henry" meets "Mirage."

Stepping Out. A musical comedy starring Liza Minnelli as a tap dance instructor who trains a group of devoted amateurs to perform a routine in a local charity event. Directed by Lewis Gilbert ("Shirley Valentine," ''Educating Rita").

Ricochet. A vicious criminal (John Lithgow) emerges from a lengthy prison stay with a scheme to destroy the life of the man (Denzel Washington) who arrested him.

Paradise. Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith star as a couple trying to overcome the death of their son, while at the same time caring for a troubled, inner city orphan. The feel-good movie of fall.

Shout. In the 1950s, a rebellious teen (James Walters) falls for the daughter of the town preacher (Richard Jordan). John Travolta stars as the music instructor who teaches the youngsters about love, rock 'n' roll, and freedom. The second feel-good movie of fall.

City of Hope. Writer/director John Sayles creates the fictional locale of Hudson City, N.J., to examine problems afflicting working class eastern cities. Tony Lo Bianco, Vincent Spano.

Little Man Tate. Jodie Foster directs this tale of a boy genius (Adam Hann-Byrd) in the hands of a working class mother (Dianne Weist) and a child psychologist (Foster) who have conflicting ideas about how the boy should be raised. With Harry Connick Jr.

Ernest Scared Stupid. Jim Varney returns as nitwit Ernest P. Worrell. In this Halloween adventure, Ernest accidentally releases an evil troll who has been imprisoned for two centuries. The fourth Ernest comedy.

Frankie & Johnny. This movie version of the popular play stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino as a diner waitress and short-order cook who embark on a romance. Directed by Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman").

Cool as Ice. Widely despised rap performer Vanilla Ice stars as a biker/ drifter who is stranded in a small town where he is mistaken by the locals as a no-talent, posturing thug. Ice performs several rap numbers, which are billed as original.

The Butcher's Wife. Gestation pin-up Demi Moore stars as a clairvoyant woman whose supernatural abilities disturb the routine of a close-knit Greenwich Village neighborhood. With Jeff Daniels, Mary Steenburgen.

Love Field. Another 1960s period drama. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a Texas woman who encounters romance and prejudice in the days just after the assassination of President Kennedy.

K-2. A movie about two men (Michael Biehn, Matt Craven) of differing personalities who attempt to climb one of the world's most challenging mountains. Filmed on location in the Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan.

Antonia and Jane. A British comedy about two close friends (Saskia Reeves, Imelda Staunton) whose relationship is built around mutual envy - as chronicled in frequent trips to their shared therapist.

Eraserhead. Didn't get enough David Lynch with "Twin Peaks?" Lucky for you, Miramax is re-releasing the cult movie that put him on the map. A man with a bad haircut (John Nance) endures an impossibly bleak life with his resentful wife and their inhuman son. Lynch claims the movie was inspired by his days in Philadelphia.

Homicide. David Mamet wrote and directed this story of a policeman (Joe Mantegna) who finds he can no longer comfortably suppress his Jewish heritage when he becomes involved in an unusual murder case.

29th Street. A comedy about an incredibly lucky young man who becomes a finalist for a big lottery jackpot and is pursued by mobsters and bankers who want him to sell his ticket before the big drawing. Anthony LaPagla, Danny Aiello and Lainie Kazan.

Noises Off. This movie version of Michael Frayn's hilarious play about the crazy atmosphere on stage and behind the scenes of a hectic stage comedy stars Carol Burnett and Christopher Reeve.

Other People's Money. Norman Jewison's movie version of the popular Broadway play about an unprincipled Wall Street takeover artist (Danny DeVito) who bites off more than he can chew when he attempts to buy a tiny New England company staffed by fiercely loyal employees. Gregory Peck, Penelope Ann Miller.


Dogfight. A 1960s drama about carousing marines who stage a contest to see who can bring the ugliest date to a party. River Phoenix stars as the insensitive jarhead whose plain Jane date (Lili Taylor) teaches him a few lessons in compassion.

Curly Sue. The latest John Hughes kids' movie is about a lovable street urchin (Alisan Porter) and her drifter guardian (James Belushi) who change the life of stuck-up big-city lawyer (Kelly Lynch).

Black Robe. Another culture-clash movie from Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy"). Based on the true story of a missionary (Lothaire Bluteau) who, in 1634, attempts to mediate a struggle between European settlers and Native Americans.

The People Under the Stairs. The latest Wes Craven fright flick. A teen-age boy (Brandon Adams) makes the mistake of his life when he attempts to burglarize a house with a pest-control problem far beyond the scope of Orkin.

Hard Promises. Sissy Spacek stars in this comedy about a woman who must endure her charming but interfering ex-husband (William Petersen) as she tries to re-marry.

Spotswood. A satire of corporate life with Anthony Hopkins as an efficiency expert hired to improve a rural moccasin factory's output. He meets his match with the oddballs and misfits there.

All I Want for Christmas. Two children (Ethan Randall, Thora Birch) hope that a Christmas miracle will reunite their estranged parents. With Lauren Bacall - and Leslie Nielsen as Santa Claus.

Go Natalie. A wealthy African-American businessman (Joseph C. Phillips) thinks he has the perfect life until his perspective is changed by a free spirit named Natalie (Halle Berry). Directed by Kevin Hooks.

Prospero's Books. Peter Greenaway, who made "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," stages a visually lavish version of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," focusing on Prospero's power of imagination, and using new video technology to create unusual images. Starring John Gielgud.

Shining Through. Melanie Griffith as a 1940s secretary who gets a chance to work as an intelligence operative inside Nazi Germany. "Working Girl" bags Hitler. With Michael Douglas.

Rules of the Game. Courteney Cox and Arye Gross star as a young couple whose relationship is traced from their initial meeting until the moment they must decide to make a lasting commitment.

Article 99. Doctors and nurses battle red tape and bureaucratic roadblocks at a VA hospital where veterans are routinely denied treatment that is theirs by right. Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker.

My Girl. Quirky role for Dan Aykroyd (with a built-in theme song). The story of a young tomgirl (Anna Chlumsky) who becomes jealous when her widower father (Aykroyd) gets a girlfriend (Jamie Lee Curtis). With Macaulay Culkin. Buy your tickets early.

Beauty and the Beast. This new animated picture from Disney follows the classic children's story of a young woman who is romanced by an ugly but intelligent and polite creature. With the voice of Angela Lansbury.

The Addams Family. The inspired casting of Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston as Gomez and Morticia Addams make this one of the season's most eagerly anticipated movies. Based on Charles Addams' bizarre New Yorker cartoons.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. The continuing adventures of Steven Spielberg's animated creation, Fievel Mousekewitz. Fievel becomes a sheriff in the wild West. The voices of John Cleese, Dom DeLuise and Jimmy Stewart.

Alone Together. Goldie Hawn again as a poor, single mother trying to raise her pre-teen son during the tail end of the "turbulent 1960s." Arliss Howard and Keith Carradine co-star.

Cape Fear. Martin Scorsese's remake of the 1962 Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum classic about a respectable lawyer who is terrorized by a ruthless criminal he once helped to convict. Robert De Niro has the unenviable assignment of trying to duplicate Mitchum's performance as the menacing con, one of the best on film. With Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange.

For the Boys. Bette Midler and James Caan star as a mismatched song and dance team that entertains GIs during the 1940s, forming a partnership that lasts a lifetime. Hopefully, the movie will seem shorter.


Freejack. Get this: Mick Jagger is a "sardonic, murderous" high-tech bounty hunter of the future pursuing a contemporary man (Emilio Estevez) whose inadvertent time-traveling adventure lands him in the year 2009. "Back to the Future" from Hell. With Anthony Hopkins.

Meeting Venus. A romantic comedy about a symphony conducter (Niels Arestrup) whose attempt to organize a worldwide broadcast of a famous opera is plagued by a series of nagging problems. Things grow worse when the conductor begins to feud with one of the opera's stars, played by Glenn Close.

Hook. Steven Spielberg's long-awaited fantasy adventure based on the classic story of Peter Pan. In this version, a grown-up Peter returns to Neverland to rescue imperiled children from Captain Hook. With Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Bob Hoskins and Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell.

Star Trek VI. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, after 25 years, are still battling Klingons. Maybe its time to replace the dilithium crystals with theraputic mineral ice.

Bugsy. Warren Beatty goes from detective Dick Tracy to gangster Bugsy Siegel in this saga of the gangster who helped build Las Vegas. The plot centers on his stormy affair with Virginia Hill (Annette Bening), for whom he built the Hotel Flamingo. Touching.

Father of the Bride. Steve Martin and Diane Keaton star in this remake of the Spencer Tracy, Liz Taylor classic. Martin is the harried father who runs out of money and patience trying to arrange a wedding for his daughter. With Kimberly Williams, Martin Short.

Map of the Human Heart. Ambitious, offbeat love story of two Native Americans (Jason Scott Lee, Anne Parillaud) who begin a romance as children that encompasses several decades and several lovers. With John Cusack.

The Prince of Tides. Barbra Streisand directs and stars in this love story of a psychiatrist (Babs) who attempts to examine a family's troubled history by interviewing surviving members, principally an unemployed football coach and teacher (Nick Nolte). His painful, supressed memories evoke sympathy and eventually love.

The Inner Circle. Period drama set inside the Soviet Union during the height of the Stalin regime. Tom Hulce stars as Stalin's personal projectionist, a man who finds that his prestigious job is not helping his marriage (to Lolita Davidovich). Portions were shot inside KGB headquarters in Moscow.

City of Joy. An American doctor (Patrick Swayze) and a British woman (Pauline Collins) find unexpected rewards while running a clinic in a harrowingly poor section of Calcutta.

Rush. Drama of an undercover narcotics cop (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who becomes a victim of drugs herself (from the true-life experiences of police woman Kim Wozencraft). With Jason Patric. Screenplay by Daily News alum Pete Dexter.

Fried Green Tomatoes. The story of two Depression-era friends (Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary Louise Parker) told by an elderly woman (Jessica Tandy) in a nursing home inspires an unhappy housewife (Kathy Bates) to improve her own life.

Grand Canyon. Another ensemble production from Lawrence "Big Chill" Kasden. A group in Los Angeles (Danny Glover, Kevin Kline, Steve Martin, Alfre Woodard) attempts to come to grips with the chaotic world around them.

Jack the Bear. When the offbeat host (Danny DeVito) of a TV horror show moves his family into a pink gothic house in a weird Oakland, Calif., neighborhood, strange things begin to happen. A comedy.

Stars Come Out For The Nea

Posted: October 29, 1991

NEW YORK — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), facing renewed criticism over the funding of purported obscenity, received some glamorous support yesterday from theater and movie stars.

Testifying before a congressional oversight hearing at the Brooklyn Museum, mega-celebrities Kathleen Turner, Christopher Reeve, Alec Baldwin and Eric Bogosian lambasted conservative critics of the endowment, raised the specter of a new McCarthyism and urged Congress to defend the beleaguered agency with greater vigor.

Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.), who is advocating an amendment to bar the endowment from funding work deemed sexually provocative, came in for particular scrutiny. Turner, primly decked out in a gray-checked suit, attacked him for attempting to impose a "lobotomizing amendment" on the NEA. The Helms amendment has been dropped from an Interior Department appropriation bill, but its supporters continue to fight for it.

"This clause is a clear debasement of art in America," Turner told members of a government operations sub-committee chaired by Rep. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.). "At this point in history, when so many countries are just finding their voices, are we to muffle ours?"

Baldwin also took aim at Helms. "We must expose this attack on the arts for what it is," he said, "a self-righteous, finger-pointing vendetta reminiscent of the worst excess of the McCarthy years."

Bogosian, a recipient of endowment theater grants in his early years, told the subcommittee, "We have obscenity all over the country."

"What keeps the video shops open?" he asked. "Porno tapes, obviously. Artists report on the obscenity in society."

Despite the rhetorical flair of Turner, Baldwin and Bogosian, perhaps the dramatic highlight of the hearing came from Reeve. A member of the Creative Coalition, a film and television lobbying group, Reeve read a statement written by novelist E.L. Doctorow. As he read, Reeve became more and more animated, delivering the statement as if his forum were Shakespeare's Globe Theater and not a small, muted museum auditorium.

"The issue we discuss here is created by an extreme conservatism as it wishes to organize our lives illiberally in one mold, as uniculture," Reeve read. "And so we have odd patterns of thought. College professors who object to racist inflammatory speech on their campuses are derided for being politically correct; at the same time artists applying to the NEA are subject to the criteria of political correctness.

"It is irrelevant that community standards are violated by racist speech; but it is by upholding community standards that artists are denied grants. All this is quite odd."

When he finished reading Doctorow's lengthy statement, Reeve received a loud round of applause.

Boxer, chairwoman of the subcommittee, acknowledged that the big guns of Hollywood and Broadway were called to testify to attract media attention. "I think this country is in enormous trouble," she said. "Freedom is under attack in a way I haven't seen for many years. . . . People don't understand that when you lose freedom, you lose it a little bit at a time."

But Congress must share in the blame for any freedoms lost, several witnesses contended. Reeve argued that media pressure and the fear of offending constituents helped undermine congressional independence.

Arthur Levitt, who heads the Economic Development Corp. of New York City, subjected Congress and the Bush administration to scathing criticism over the endowment. He predicted that 40 percent of the arts organizations in the country would vanish by the end of the decade and said "the leadership of the NEA has been largely ineffective in mobilizing the administration" to do something about the situation.

He also attacked the "passivity of the Congress. . . . The Congress has lost sight of the underlying reason for support for the arts," he said.

It's A Play-within-a-play-within-a-movie

Posted: March 20, 1992

Michael Frayn's long-running theatrical hit Noises Off is a frenzied farce where the action onstage is triumphantly upstaged by what's happening backstage.

Finding a viable way of turning the cameras on for Noises Off has long been a perplexing problem in search of a solution in Hollywood. How do you film a play-within-a-play without killing it? Leave it alone and it creaks with silly artifice; open it up and it collapses altogether.

Noises Off is also a double-tiered farce that depends on split-second timing, and that doesn't help the dilemma. Still, if Noises Off had to make it to the screen, it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job of directing it than Peter Bogdanovich. Whether it was worth doing in the first place remains open to question.

The film version of Noises Off comes from Touchstone Pictures, the allegedly adult arm of the Disney Studios, which recently inflicted the awful Blame It on the Bellboy on an unsuspecting world. The timing now seems like a clever marketing device. An excruciatingly bad farce was served up as an appetizer for a movie that delights in skewering an even worse one.

Actually, Frayn's piece might more accurately be called a ploy-within-a- play. A touring road company puts the finishing touches on a farce called Nothing On, a comedy of errors, banging doors and limp sexual puns that manifestly deserves an obituary more than a review. Nothing On - much like Blame It on the Bellboy - is the kind of English farce that the Brits defend as an acquired taste. Of course, anyone who actually acquired taste would never go near it.

The road company is American and its eventual destination is Broadway, but its members deliver the frightful lines of Nothing On in English accents. They are directed by the smarmy Lloyd Fellowes (Michael Caine) and headlined by Dotty Otley (Carol Burnett), a downwardly mobile star, and Frederick Dallas (Christopher Reeve), a matinee idol whose brain has been permanently idled.

Bogdanovich can't find a way around the fact that the movie needs a long first act in which Nothing On is rehearsed and played out. The spirits are high, but Noises Off still ends up ridiculing a minor comic genre that is beyond derision. The featured prop, as two cheating couples, a burglar and a housekeeper make their panting exits and entrances, is a plate of stale sardines. But what we have here is a mercilessly flogged dead horse.

That may be the point of the jest, but a bad joke remains a bad joke - even when the author himself acknowledges it's a bad joke. Luckily, Bogdanovich likes this kind of humor, and when we get to the festering backstage backstabbings and real-life trysts and jealousies, he comes into his own and things improve markedly.

Naturally, no one may talk backstage when the play is running. In the film's deliciously choreographed centerpiece - one that reflects Bogdanovich's love of silent screen comedy - the actors have no dialogue once they exit the stage. Away from the eyes of the audience, they engage in a dizzying mix of mime and mayhem. The main prop here is a bottle of Scotch sought by the company's resident lush (Denholm Elliott).

Bogdanovich and his well-chosen players, some of whom got their start in this kind of touring repertory ensemble, delight in Frayn's invention in this sequence, which is as nostalgic as it is satiric. You can take the title of Noises Off literally since the best part of it is seen and not heard.

NOISES OFF * * 1/2

Produced by Frank Marshall, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, written by Marty Kaplan from the play by Michael Frayn; photography by Tim Suhrstedt, music adapted by Phil Marshall, distributed by Touchstone Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 44 mins.

Lloyd Fellowes - Michael Caine

Dotty Otley - Carol Burnett

Frederick Dallas - Christopher Reeve

Garry Lejeune - John Ritter

Selsdon Mowbray - Denholm Elliott

Parent's guide: PG-13 (sexual humor)

Showing at: area theaters

It Plays Out Badly Stage Farce Doesn't Translate On Film

Posted: March 20, 1992

The title from "Noises Off" is a theater term for background noise, such as the snoring you're likely to hear during the painfully bad opening moments of this movie.

The picture, based on a hit Broadway comedy, follows the frenzied efforts of a beleaguered theater director (Michael Caine) to assemble a motley crew of actors in time to take a British sex farce on the road, in preparation for an eventual New York opening. His company is full of incompetent misfits - a drunk (Denholm Elliott), a really stupid guy (Christopher Reeve), a really stupid woman (Nicollette Sheridan, in her underwear) - making his job difficult and his life miserable.

The movie takes a long time to introduce its large cast (it also includes Carol Burnett, John Ritter and Marilu Henner), one reason why "Noises Off" nearly crashes at takeoff.

Another is that director Peter Bogdanovich has done little to make this filmed stage play interesting for a movie audience. The constant cutting and reaction shots do not enliven the action; they just give you a headache.

Amazingly, however, "Noises Off" does manage to recover as the movie unspools. Things improve when the hastily rehearsed troupe takes the show on the road, and things begin to go terribly wrong. The drunk succumbs to liquor, backstage affairs lead to onstage fights, and the entire production collapses mid-performance in amusing chaos.

This gives Burnett and other actors a chance to contribute some good slapstick comedy, and perhaps I should mention again that Sheridan spends virtually the entire movie in bikini briefs.

In the end, it's not enough to save this movie. The very idea of transferring "Noises Off" to film was a bad one. By taking the play out of the theater, the moviemakers have taken away the very context - a play within a play - that makes this comedy work.


Produced by Frank Marshall, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, music by Phil Marshall, written by Marty Kaplan, distributed by Touchstone Pictures.

Running Time: 91 minutes

Dotty - Carol Burnett

Lloyd - Michael Caine

Selsdon - Denholm Elliott

- Belinda - Marilu Henner

Frederick - Christopher Reeve

Garry - John Ritter

Brooke - Nicollette Sheridan

Parents Guide: (PG-13)

Showing at: Area theaters

Variety Spices New Releases

Posted: May 27, 1993

As we head into the holiday weekend, many new releases are coming to video stores. They include something for just about every taste.

THE ADJUSTER * * * (1991) (Orion) $79.98. 102 minutes. Elias Koteas, Arsinee Khanjian, Maury Chaykin. Director Atom Egoyan's offbeat and dreamlike consideration of an insurance adjuster, who deals with fires and who measures the value of the losses of others without realizing the hidden personal cost to himself. R (sex, profanity, adult themes).

SWOON * * * (1992) (New Line)* 95 minutes. Daniel Schlachet, Craig Chester. The thrust of Swoon - a low-budget effort of high and almost fully realized aspirations - is the way society used Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold's homosexuality to explain their appalling crime. With a shrewd mix of newsreel footage and a resourceful use of what were obviously very limited means, Swoon brings two murderers back to life - and manages something far more difficult in persuasively delineating and rethinking the forces that drove them. No MPAA rating (sex, violence, adult themes). Available on videodisc.

A TALE OF SPRINGTIME * * * (1989) (Orion) $79.98. 107 minutes. Anne Teyssedre, Sophie Robin, Florence Darel, Hugues Quester. This is the first of four films that director Eric Rohmer plans to devote to the seasons. In this characteristic and highly insightful reading of the emotional dilemmas and threatened hopes of two young women in Paris in the springtime, Rohmer offers another movie in which words matter more than images. PG (adult themes).

TETSUO: THE IRON MAN * * * (1992) (Fox Lorber) $79.95. 67 minutes. Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomoroh Taguchi. Written, directed, photographed by and co-starring Tsukamoto, this black-and-white experimental feature is an avant-garde Japanese monster movie. It's Mothra on some dark, twisted, mind-warped frequency, a nightmarishly inventive story about horrible mutants and the horrible mutant things they do. Not for the squeamish, this cyberpunk metal- morphosis tale is about as out-of-the-mainstream as you can get. In Japanese with English subtitles. No MPAA rating. (violence, sexual violence, horror, phallic machinery). Included on the tape is a short film, Drum Struck, which runs 25 minutes.

TOYS * * * (1992) (Fox) $94.98. 121 minutes. Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, L L Cool J, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright. There's trouble in Toyland as a mad general takes over the peaceful factory. Williams is happily let loose to oppose him in a light comic fantasy occasionally overburdened by the weight of its anti-war message. War Toys R Us might be a more apt title. PG-13 (humorous sexual situations).

USED PEOPLE * * * (1992) (Fox) $94.98. 116 minutes. Shirley MacLaine, Marcello Mastroianni, Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Sylvia Sidney. A suave, beguiling and star-encrusted dramatic comedy with MacLaine leading a cast of Oscar-winners in the story of a man and a woman who try to discover if love is better the second time around - only to stumble over the baggage they brought along from the first trip. PG-13 (profanity).

HOFFA * * 1/2 (1992) (Fox) $94.98. 140 minutes. Jack Nicholson, Armand Assante, Danny DeVito. Director DeVito's labor of love is undermined by its love of the controversial labor leader. Besides being one-sided, it is one- dimensional in confining itself to Hoffa's public life. Nicholson makes a manful effort, but he has no inner man to bring out in the film, which traces Hoffa from the Depression to his unmysterious disappearance. R (profanity, violence).

* This video supplier does not set suggested retail prices on titles it deems primarily for rental.


BLOODSTONE: SUBSPECIES II (1993) (Paramount)* 107 minutes. Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Blair, Ion Haiduc. Hove returns as the evil vampire Radu, pursuing his latest love interest with all the blood and horror he can summon. R.

CAPONE (1989) (VidMark) $89.95. 96 minutes. Keith Carradine, Ray Sharkey, Debrah Farentino. The rise and fall of the infamous Chicago mobster. R.

DOPPELGANGER: THE EVIL WITHIN (1992) (Fox) $89.98. 105 minutes. Drew Barrymore, George Newbern, Sally Kellerman. Barrymore stars as a young woman shy young woman who can't understand why she's a suspect in her own mother's murder. Her new roommate soon figures it out. R.

MORTAL SINS (1992) (Fox) $89.98. 93 minutes. Christopher Reeve. Parish priest Reeve hears the confession of a serial killer, but cannot reveal the name of the next victim. PG-13.

STAR TIME (1992) (Monarch) $89.95. 85 minutes. Michael St. Gerard, John P. Ryan, Maureen Teefy. A deranged man believes he can achieve fame as a TV star by committing multiple murders.

TROUBLE BOUND (1992) (Fox) $89.98. 90 minutes. Michael Madsen, Patricia Arquette, Seymour Cassel. Action: A ex-con traveling cross-country to start a new life stumbles into trouble when he discovers a body in the trunk of his car. R.


THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES AND OTHER FOLKTALES (1993) (Wood Knapp) $14.95. 30 minutes. Three animated stories. Included: "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" and "Suho and the White Horse."

THE EZRA JACK KEATS LIBRARY (1993) (Wood Knapp) $14.95. 45 minutes. Six animated stories by the children's author. Stories include "A Snowy Day" and ''Whistle for Willie."

THE LAND OF THE LOST (1992) (Worldvision) $14.98 each. 45 minutes each. Timothy Bottoms. Six cassettes, each containing two episodes from the Saturday-morning live-action adventure series about a modern-day family transported to prehistoric times.

MAX'S CHOCOLATE CHICKEN AND OTHER STORIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN (1993) (Wood Knapp) $14.95. 36 minutes. Four animated tales by author Rosemary Wells, including "Each Peach Pear Plum."

MORE STORIES FOR THE VERY YOUNG (1993) (Wood Knapp) $14.95. 36 minutes. Five animated stories for young children, including "Not So Fast Songololo" and "Max's Christmas."


BEAU BRUMMEL * * * (1954) (MGM/UA) $19.98. 113 minutes. Stewart Granger, Elizabeth Taylor. Granger plays the court dandy in this lavish costumer about a 19th-century English lover.

THE COMEDIANS * * * (1967) (MGM/UA) $19.98. 148 minutes. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. Generally uninspired version of Graham Greene's novel about corruption and delusion in modern-day Haiti.

CONSPIRATOR * * (1949) (MGM/UA) $19.98. 85 minutes. Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Taylor. A sweet, naive girl discovers that her romantic hero is really a commie pinko spy.

THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING * * (1953) (MGM/UA) $19.98. 69 minutes. Elizabeth Taylor, William Powell. The life of a prominent criminal lawyer is upset by his impetuous daughter's love for a notorious gangster. Great cast, banal script.

THE V.I.P.'s * * (1963) (MGM/UA) $19.98. 119 minutes. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. A lot of rich folks are stranded at a London airport. Margaret Rutherford won a supporting-actress Oscar.


PRIDE AND JOY: THE STORY OF ALLIGATOR RECORDS (1992) (BMG) $29.98. 87 minutes. Charting the history and influence of the Chicago-based record company. Features performances from the label's 20th Anniversary Tour. Available on videodisc.


Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave in HOWARDS END.


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MPAA ratings: Motion Picture Association of America ratings are included for all titles that received them. If the title was reviewed by The Inquirer, further parental warnings (violence, nudity, etc.) are included.

'Boiling Point,' 'Groundhog Day' And 'the Temp'

Posted: August 26, 1993

A thriller that is more than it seems, a comedy with a sense of deja vu and a foreign film that mixes live action and animation top this week's list of new movies on video.

BOILING POINT * * * (1993) (Warner)* 93 minutes. Wesley Snipes, Dennis Hopper, Lolita Davidovich, Valerie Perrine. Despite being touted as an action- thriller, Boiling Point is really a superior contemporary film noir. Rather than a Passenger 57 - Part 2, we're presented with a stylish, reflective, deliberately B-scale movie that boasts a Grade A ensemble cast and emphasizes character over action. R (violence, language). (CC) Available on videodisc.

GROUNDHOG DAY * * * (1993) (Columbia TriStar)* 101 minutes. Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott. This goofball Zen comedy is a funny and occasionally transcendent Twilight Zone joke: What if a man woke up and were doomed to relive the same day over and over again? And what if that man was the affably smug noodlehead Murray? Set in Punxsutawney, Pa., on the occasion of its annual meteorological festivities, the movie is a literal-minded but nonetheless ingenious metaphor for the stuck-in-a-rut syndrome. PG (mild sexual humor). (CC) Available on videodisc.

VOLERE VOLARE * * * (1993) (New Line)* 92 minutes. Maurizio Nichetti, Angela Finocchiaro. Can a man who can't keep his hands to himself be blamed if he is turning into a cartoon? In a world filled with real-life Blutos and Elmer Fudds, can a woman have better luck with a guy who is actually a cartoon? In this blithe mix of slapstick and sophisticated humor, Nichetti lets you draw your own conclusion. R (sex, nudity). Available on videodisc.

THE TEMP * 1/2 (1993) (Paramount)* 99 minutes. Timothy Hutton, Lara Flynn Boyle, Faye Dunaway, Dwight Schultz, Oliver Platt. An unpalatable mash of Working Girl and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, this tale of a psycho secretary climbing the corporate ladder is neither funny nor scary - and it has a clunker of an ending. Boyle plays the tightly wound temp opposite Hutton's ambitious cookie-company exec. It's The Hand That Rocks the Rolodex, but it doesn't work. R (violence, profanity, sexual themes). (CC)

* This video supplier does not set suggested retail prices on titles it deems primarily for rental.


ALBERTO EXPRESS (1992) (Fox Lorber) $89.95. 90 minutes. Sergio Castellitto, Nino Manfredi, Marie Trintignant. Comedy: A man goes to zany lengths to fulfill a strange family tradition: He must repay all the money his parents spent on his upbringing before he can have children of his own. Problem: His pregnant wife is due any day and he still hasn't paid the debt. In French and Italian with English subtitles.

CHAINED HEAT 2 (1993) (New Line) $89.95. 98 minutes. Brigitte Nielsen, Linda Blair. Drama: Nielsen is the cruel warden of women's prison who is running a prostitution and drug-smuggling ring. R. Available on videodisc.

DECEIT (1993) (Columbia TriStar) $89.95. 92 minutes. Scott Paulin, Norbert Weisser. Science-fiction comedy: An alien sent to destroy Earth is determined to seduce a woman from the planet first. R.

DIE WATCHING (1993) (Triboro) $89.95. 92 minutes. Christopher Atkins, Tim Thomerson, Carlos Palamino. Thriller: A Hollywood director lures aspiring actresses to his loft and murders them. R.

TROPICAL HEAT (1993) (Prism) $89.95. 86 minutes. Rick Rossovich, Maryam D'Abo, Lee Anne Beaman. Mystery: An insurance investigator, on the trail of the widow of an Indian maharajah, begins to fall in love with her. R (also available in an unrated version).

WARLORDS 3000 (1993) (Columbia TriStar) $89.95. 92 minutes. Jay Roberts, Wayne Duvall. Futuristic thriller set in the far future in which a lone avenger takes on evil drug lords who control what's left of planet Earth. R.

WHEN THE PARTY'S OVER (1993) (LIVE) $92.98. 114 minutes. Elizabeth Berridge, Sandra Bullock, Rae Dawn Chong. Comedy-drama: A group of young adults live and party together in Southern California, but soon find their lives empty of meaning. R. Available on videodisc.

WISHMAN (1992) (Monarch) $89.95. 89 minutes. Paul LeMat, Geoffrey Lewis. Comedy: Beverly Hills garbage scavenger LeMat discovers homeless genie Lewis, and the two form an uneasy partnership.


DAVID HOLZMAN'S DIARY (1967) (Fox Lorber) $79.95. 74 minutes. L. M. Kit Carson, Eileen Dietz. A young film fanatic becomes more and more obsessed with recording his own life. An undergroung classic that has become a film-course standard.


DAISY AND OTHER THOMAS STORIES (1993) (Strand) $12.99. 30 minutes. The latest installment in the Thomas the Tank Engine series features the adventures of Daisy, a female engine.


BOB DYLAN: THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT CELEBRATION (1993) (Columbia) $39.98 each. 190 minutes on two cassettes. Last year's concert, featuring Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Roger McGuinn, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and, of course, Dylan himself.

CLANNAD: "PASTPRESENT" (1993) (BMG) $16.98. 40 minutes. Compilation of videos by the Irish musical group.

GIPSY KINGS: LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL (1993) (BMG) $19.98. 53 minutes. The European band is seen in a 1989 concert performance. Songs include "Amor Amor" and "Bamboleo."

PAUL McCARTNEY - MOVIN' ON (1993) (MPI) $19.98. 60 minutes. McCartney is seen in rehearsal for his "Off the Ground" tour. Songs include "Penny Lane," "Drive My Car" and "Biker Like an Icon."


THE POSITIVELY TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE ALLEGED TEXAS CHEERLEADER-MURDERING MOM (1993) (HBO) $89.99. 99 minutes. Holly Hunter, Beau Bridges, Swoosie Kurtz. Fact-based, made-for-HBO dramatization of the recent incident in which a mother arranged to kill the mother of her daughter's schoolmate. R. (CC)

THE SEA WOLF (1993) (Turner) $89.98. 93 minutes. Charles Bronson, Christopher Reeve, Catherine Mary Stewart. Drama: Adaptation of Jack London's novel about a brutal sea captain who meets his match in a shipwreck survivor he rescues. (CC)

STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION (1988) (Paramount) $14.98 each. 46 minutes each. Episodes 27 to 30 of the popular TV syndicated science-fiction TV series. Individual titles are The Child; Where Silence Has Lease; Elementary, Dear Data, and The Outrageous Okona.

WILD PALMS (1993) (ABC) $99.98 each. 150 minutes each. James Belushi, Dana Delany, Robert Loggia, Kim Cattrall, Angie Dickinson. Drama: TV mini-series about a technological power grab in the year 2007. Shown in two volumes: Volume 1 is titled The Dream Begins, and Volume 2 is called The Dream Concludes.


The release dates for Chaplin and The Crush, listed in last week's "New on Video," have been changed. Both titles are scheduled for release Sept. 8.


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(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

MPAA ratings: Motion Picture Association of America ratings are included for all titles that received them. If the title was reviewed by The Inquirer, further parental warnings (violence, nudity, etc.) are included.

(CC): Closed captioned.

Latest Goldberg Whoop-de-do Offends Some Jews

Posted: December 02, 1993

Whoopi Goldberg has stirred up the natives again, this time with a recipe she calls, "Jewish American Princess Fried Chicken."

It appears in Cooking in Litchfield Hills, a book benefiting Pratt Center, an environmental education facility. Goldberg, who has a home in Litchfield County, Conn., includes in her directions: "Send chauffeur to your favorite butcher shop, . . ," "hand bag (of chicken) to Cook, . . " "watch your nails," "save the brown paper bag," "have Cook prepare rest of meal while you touch up your makeup," and lastly: "You must be exhausted."

Said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League: ''Number one, I don't think it's funny. It's totally insensitive because it raises all the ugly, anti-Semitic stereotypes."

Responded Goldberg's publicist: "Maybe (her critics) are not aware that Whoopi is Jewish so she is certainly not anti-Semitic."

Less-spicy recipes by Diane Sawyer, Tom Brokaw, Bill Blass and Nancy Kissinger are also in the book.

By the way, the new man in Goldberg's life - two removed from Ted Danson - is hunk-style union organizer Lyle Trachtenberg, 38, whom she met as he checked out working conditions on the set of her latest movie, Sister Act 2. Ted? His divorce is final Saturday.


* Outrage has finally rung, and distancing has begun over a song by Charles Manson on the Guns N' Roses album The Spaghetti Incident? released last week. ''The fact that Charles Manson would be earning money based on the fame he derived committing one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century is unthinkable to me," said David Geffen, head of Geffen Records, which released the LP. Geffen, who knew two of the six victims killed in the Manson-led massacre in 1969, said he only learned the song was on the album from a news report on Monday. GNR bassist Duff McKagan said he never knew the song would be on the album and only learned about it from the media. And reports say Slash argued against its inclusion. Axl Rose, the song's principal supporter, said he "liked the lyrics and the melody of the song. . . . Hearing it shocked me, and I thought there might be other people who would like to hear it." He added: "Most people haven't heard anything Charles Manson recorded." Patti Tate, sister of Manson murder victim Sharon, said: "It really hurts and angers me that Guns N' Roses would exploit the murders of my sister and others for capital gain." There's talk now that the song will be deleted from future pressings of the album.


* Michael Moriarty, the prosecutor on TV's Law and Order, will hold a news conference today in New York where he'll put down efforts to censor TV and argue that legalizing drugs would do more to curb violence. The actor wrote President Clinton calling for Janet Reno's firing after he and NBC execs met with her Nov. 18. Moriarty called her "a mindless attack dog in the spirit of Joe McCarthy" and has challenged her to a debate on TV violence.

A gaggle of actors will gather Monday in Tucson, Ariz., to focus attention on the national debate over censorship. Among the participants in "Tucson Talks: An Issue of Free Speech" at the Temple of Music and Art Theater will be Harry Hamlin, Blair Brown, Mercedes Ruehl, Christopher Reeve, Estelle Parsons, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker.


* This Madonna-has-a-15-year-old-boyfriend story is looking less juicy by the moment. First, the pop star denies ever having met Rodrigo Freire, the football-playing high school hunk from Brooklyn. Second, the kid, who's got a model-slash-actor career a-budding, says he's had only two chance meetings with Madonna that combined were but 20 minutes. But the worst - his agent is Rubin Malaret, believed to be the guy who spread an earlier hoax about movie star Rosie Perez marrying a client, Rocky Santiago. Malaret was also arrested last year and charged with fleecing aspiring actors by promising them work with established stars. Freire, who insists he and Madonna exchanged phone numbers, said of Herself: "She's a nice lady. . . . She said her life was really unhappy." Maybe he does know her!

Wes Studi, who plays the title role in the new movie, Geronimo: An American Legend, and wife Maura had their first kid last week. Named the boy Kholan.

Julianne McNamara, who won gold and silver medals in gymnastics in the '84 Olympics, had her first child, Garrett Todd, last weekend. Husband is St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Todd Zeile. Numerology alert: The boy was born Nov. 27, same as Zeile, who also wears 27 on his uniform.


* Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted two trees yesterday from North Carolina grower Wayne Ayers. The 18 1/2-footer will be decorated with publicly owned trimmings and displayed for tourists in the White House Blue Room. The smaller one will be draped with family stuff and stand in the Clintons' private rooms on the third floor. "We've always had a live tree," said the first lady, who also promised "an incredible display of decoration."

She and the President were said to be deeply moved by a White House screening of Schindler's List, which they watched with its creator Steven Spielberg Tuesday. Also there: the director's wife, Kate Capshaw, and Emilie Schindler, widow of the film's subject, Oskar, a German industrialist who saved the lives of 1,300 Jews during World War II.

Come On Up, Pilots Say- The Weather's Fine! Frigid Air? Better Lift. Nasty Ice? Great Scenery. Winter Just Can't Get Them Down.

Posted: February 22, 1994

Azhar Husain and Fran McCabe went skiing the other day.

They dressed for the cold weather. Husain put on long johns, thick wool socks, pants, a heavy shirt, two sweaters, a jacket and gloves. McCabe was dressed about the same.

But they were not headed for the slopes.

They went flying in an orange-and-white Aeronca Champ, a two-seat plane with a 65-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. And skis.

Husain, 55, a flight instructor for 13 years, taxied the plane over deep snow on the 3,000-foot runway at Van Sant Airport in upper Bucks County, the only grass field in the area. The plane was riding on four-foot-long aluminum skis attached to the wheel axles with wire and bungee cords.

Husain, a native of Pakistan who gave up a lucrative banking career in New York City to become a pilot, slowly pushed the throttle forward as the airplane moved.

The skis slid over the snow, throwing billowing rooster tails of the white stuff into the air. At 60 m.p.h., Husain pulled the nose up slightly and the plane left the earth.


Winter is fine for skiing, ice-skating, ice-fishing and snowmobiling.

But it's also good flying weather.

Pilots know that cold air makes for excellent flying because it is more dense than hot air; the molecules are closer together - a condition pilots call "fat" air. This means the plane will have more lift, take off quicker, and perform better in the sky.

Winter flying is frequently smooth, without the hot-weather thermals that bounce planes up and down.

Also, visibility is much greater without the obscuring hazes of summer, and, at 2,000 feet over Bucks County, pilots and passengers can easily see the skylines of Philadelphia and New York.

"On a cold day or night, it is like you can see forever," said Paul W. Ochadlick of New Hope, a certified flight instructor and lover of flying.

The views of snow-covered landscapes and frozen lakes are spectacular, pilots say, and the towns and farms look like scale models.

"It was beautiful. Smooth as silk," said Barbara Strachan, 52, of Ambler, who recently flew from Perkiomen Valley Airport in Montgomery County to Manassas, Va. "I love flying, so I suffer the cold weather. A whole lot of cold won't stop me."

But there are problems, too, with winter flight.

It is a measure of their love for flying that aviators will put up with all sorts of nasty conditions on the ground to get into the air in cold weather.

On a recent day, the road to Van Sant Airport was covered with thick ice and snow.

"It was harder to get here in my car than to get my plane off the ground," said Bob Hall, the tall, gruff chief pilot at Van Sant.

Airplane batteries are weak in the cold. They must be kept charged, and some pilots, if they aren't going to fly for a week or two, will take the batteries home to keep them warm.

"I've got one now in a downstairs closet at home," Ochadlick said.

Cold, congealed oil and a cold engine and instruments force pilots to preheat their engines before trying to start them. Every airport has portable propane heaters with long hoses that work somewhat like hair dryers, blowing warm air around the engine.

And no pilot in his or her right mind would consider flying without removing all ice and snow from the plane. Even a sixteenth of an inch of snow or ice will destroy the precisely designed contour of an airplane, reducing its ability to fly.

Aviators will claw through layers of wing frost with their fingernails or use brooms and ice scrapers to clear their planes.

"There's a lot more to it than scraping the windshield of your car. People don't realize how much surface there is to wings and the fuselage, and you have to clean the bottoms of those surfaces also," said Kevin Murphy, a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in Frederick, Md.

"The only way around it is to put it in a heated hangar for a while or gingerly break ice free so as not to damage the plane," said Ochadlick.

A third option is to dilute automobile antifreeze with water and pour it on the plane as a de-icer.

"Some people use pure alcohol, which is not a real good idea because it is flammable," Ochadlick said.

Through condensation, a plane's fuel can become contaminated with water in winter and freeze vents and fuel lines. Pilots say they park planes with full fuel tanks to prevent condensation, and carefully check their fuel.

"You've got to make sure there's no water in it," said Cliff Maurer, 51, of Newtown, a pilot for six years, as he was preparing for a flight at Doylestown Airport. "If there's water in the fuel, you'd probably notice the engine not running smoothly or the engine could stop on takeoff. I'd rather not have that happen going down the runway."

Taxiing, taking off and landing on ice and snow call for more caution. Braking is poor, and with skis there is no brake action at all.

"You just let the plane slow down on its own and do whatever you can to keep it going straight down the runway," said Bill Smela, owner of Country Aviation at Van Sant.

Once in the air, the cold-weather pilot must also be alert to the formation of carburetor ice; carbon monoxide poisoning (most small, single-engine planes use heat from the exhaust for the cabin); weather changes, which occur faster than in summer, and navigation, because the landscape looks entirely different when covered with snow and ice.

Despite the problems, there are almost as many recreational pilots in the air in winter as in summer.

"There are some die-hard fishermen who will cut through the ice to fish. It's the same thing with us. It gets into your blood, and you can't be away from flying too long. You need your fix," Ochadlick said.

Gary Ketaily of Telford agreed.

"You get addicted to flying," said Ketaily, 40, after landing on the plowed runway at Doylestown Airport. "Flying is to me what golf or bowling is to others. I'd rather throw my money into the air. It gets my mind off any problems I have on the ground."

Maurer, who was preparing for flight at Doylestown, said he averaged 10 hours flying each month, even in winter.

"Yesterday I went to Reading for lunch. I wanted to fly. I needed a destination, and I was hungry," said Maurer, conceding that lunch was merely an excuse to fly.

Ketaily, too, said he looks for excuses to fly, and often that means flying to another airport restaurant.

"I fly to Reading to the Wild Wings Cafe for buffalo wings; they have good ones there. I fly up to Blairstown, N.J., for breakfast; I like their eggs. And Sky Manor in Pittstown, N.J., has great cheeseburgers. Lancaster has one of the nicer restaurants," he said.

Hall, 70, Van Sant's chief pilot, is one of the oldest instructors in the area, and he teaches in all kinds of weather. He has been teaching for 30 years, and has had hundreds of students.

Hall even taught Superman how to fly.

In the late 1970s, he said, Christopher Reeve, the actor who most recently played Superman in films, was living in Princeton and Hall was teaching at the Princeton Airport. Hall said Reeve wanted to learn to fly.

"I got him up to the stage of soloing and doing cross-country flights," Hall said. "He was a fine pilot, intelligent and quick."

Flying in winter is no more difficult than in other seasons, Hall said. ''If you can start it, you can fly it," he said.

The other day, Hall said, "I poured water on the windshield to get rid of frost. I got ice instead, but I can see through ice."

At Buehl Field in Middletown Township, Bucks County, Ernest H. Buehl Jr. said he had spent a lot of time lately plowing the runway to keep fliers flying.

"We operate year-around when possible. It's actually nicer to fly in the cold. A disadvantage is freezing rain. You can fly in a snowstorm, and it won't bother you at all. You just fly on instruments. More and more people are getting instrument-trained," he said.

John W. Hoffman Jr., 48, of Yardley Borough, was digging his Centurion 210 Cessna out of deep snow drifts at Buehl Field recently.

He was 48 hours away from getting married and 72 hours away from flying his bride to the Florida Keys for a honeymoon.

"You have a plane to fly. You just make sure the wings are clean and that you have a place to land," Hoffman said of winter flying. "You get weather reports and steer around moisture or get through it as quickly as you can."

Bill Holt, 48, of Levittown, set down his turbocharged, twin-engine Comanche Piper at Buehl Field after flying with a friend to Medford, N.J., for lunch.

"Ah, there's nothing like it," he said. "You can see things you can't see in a car. We looked at the snow, and Bowman's Hill Tower at Washington Crossing, seeing what people were doing on the ground.

"A lot of them," he said, "were shoveling snow."

Hopkins, Costner In Dramas

Posted: May 05, 1994

A pair of thoughtful dramas tops this week's list of new movies on video.

REMAINS OF THE DAY * * * * (1993) (Columbia TriStar*) 134 minutes. Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson. A drama about class that is in a class by itself because it considers collusion between the rulers and the ruled instead of the usual collision. Hopkins is astounding in opening up a hermetically sealed butler who has sacrificed body and soul to service in the years before World War II, and realizes too late how misguided his loyalty has been. The house itself serves as a metaphor of the dynamics of fascism. Another brilliant production from the Merchant-Ivory alliance. PG (adult themes, nothing offensive). Available on videodisc. (CC)

A PERFECT WORLD * * * (1993) (Warner*) 138 minutes. Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Laura Dern. Eastwood is better known for more abrupt views of crime and punishment. But this thoughtful and resonant tale of a Texas Ranger on the trail of an escaped convict and the little boy he kidnaps traverses the roots of crime and the way the abused child can be father to the psychotic man. Kevin Costner gives a remarkable and complex account of the fugitive in a road movie that is often very moving. PG-13 (violence). Available on videodisc. (CC)

* This video supplier does not set suggested retail prices on titles it deems primarily for rental.


THE CLUB (1993) (Imperial) $92.95. 88 minutes. Kim Coates, Rino Romano, Andrea Roth. Horror: Six prom-bound high-schoolers find they must confront their deepest fears as part of an initiation for membership in a secret club. R. (CC)

DEAD CENTER (1993) (VidMark) $92.95. 90 minutes. Justin Lazard, Rachel York, Eb Lottimer. Thriller: The government turns a street thug into an assassin. R.

DON'T HANG UP (1990) (Water Bearer) $59.95. 84 minutes. Rosanna Arquette, David Suchet. Comedy: Arquette plays a passionate New York actress caught in a hopeless long-distance relationship with a British playwright.

HOLLYWOOD DREAMS (1993) (Celebrity) $79.95. 88 minutes. Kelly Cook. Drama: A naive Midwestern woman goes to Hollywood in search of fame, but soon finds herself pursued by unscrupulous men. R (also available in an unrated version, which runs 90 minutes).

ICE (1994) (PM) $89.95. 91 minutes. Traci Lords, Phillip Troy, Jorge Rivero. Action: A husband and wife get in over their heads by stealing $60 million in gems from an underworld kingpin. R. Available on videodisc. (CC)

THE MAN FROM LEFT FIELD (1994) (Cabin Fever) $89.95. 96 minutes. Burt Reynolds, Reba McEntire. Reynolds plays a homeless man who finds a new purpose in life when he begins coaching a children's baseball team.

MAX, MON AMOUR (1986) (Connoisseur) $89.95. 94 minutes. Charlotte Rampling, Victoria Abril, Anthony Higgins. Comedy: A proper British diplomat's world is disrupted when he discovers the identity - and species - of his wife's lover.

MURDER SO SWEET (1993) (Academy)* 94 minutes. Harry Hamlin, Helen Shaver. Drama: Hamlin stars as a charming but deadly killer. Based on a true story.

NO ESCAPE, NO RETURN (1994) (PM) $89.95. 93 minutes. Maxwell Caufield, Dustin Nguyen, Denise Loveday. Action: Three renegade cops are hired for a suicide mission against a drug kingpin. R. Available on videodisc. (CC)

TEARS IN THE RAIN (1989) (BFS) $89.98. 100 minutes. Sharon Stone, Paul Daneman, Christopher Cazenove. Pre-Basic Instinct Stone as an American who travels to England to deliver a mysterious letter given to her by her dying mother.


X-MEN (1994) (PolyGram) $9.95 each. 25 minutes each. Two more tapes featuring the animated adventures of the characters from Marvel Comics and Fox TV. Individual titles are Days of Future Past - Part 1 and Days of Future Past - Part 2.


GRAMMY'S GREATEST COUNTRY MOMENTS (1994) (A*Vision) $19.98. 55 minutes. Complilation of country-music performances from the Grammy Awards ceremonies. Included: Roy Acuff, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson.

JOHN MICHAEL MONTGOMERY: KICKIN' IT UP (1994) (A*Vision) $12.98. 30 minutes. Compilation of the country singer's videos. Included: "I Swear" and ''Rope the Moon."


BOB LE FLAMBEUR (1955) (Connoisseur) $59.95. 97 minutes. Isabel Corey, Roger Duchesne. Director Jean Pierre Melville's tale of a small-time Parisian hood whose dream of one last big score - and his infatuation with a seemingly innocent country girl - lead to his downfall. Reportedly the inspiration for Godard's Breathless. In French with English subtitles.


ARMISTEAD MAUPIN'S TALES OF THE CITY (1994) (PolyGram) $19.95 each or $59.95 for the set. 120 minutes each. Olympia Dukakis, Donald Moffat, Chloe Webb. PBS drama with Dukakis as the Bohemian landlady of an apartment house full of oddball characters in San Francisco, circa 1976.


GOLF'S GREATEST SHOTS - VOLUMES I & II (1994) (CBS/Fox) $14.98 each. 30 minutes each. The full titles say it all: Golf's Greatest Shots Volume 1: Unforgettable Moments from the U.S. Open, British Open and More! and Golf's Greatest Shots Volume 1: Unforgettable Moments From the Masters, PGA Championship and More!

HOG WILD!: THE OFFICIAL 1994 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP VIDEO (1994) (CBS) $19.98. 45 minutes. Highlights from the national men's basketball tournament, which culminated with the victory of Arkansas over Duke. Included: off-court footage not seen on TV.


ADVENTURES OF THE OLD WEST (1994) (ABC) $19.98 each (or $99.98 for the set). 50 minutes each. Six tapes, each containing a different tale of the Old West narrated by Kris Kristofferson. Titles: Scouts in the Wildnerness, Texas Cowboys and the Trail Drives, The 49ers and the California Gold Rush, Frontier Justice: The Law and the Lawless, Pioneers and the Promised Land and Great Chiefs at the Crossroads.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (1994) (Columbia TriStar) $19.95 each. Four more episodes from the TV nature series. Titles are: Lost Kingdoms of the Maya (60 minutes), Wild Survivors (45 minutes), Season of the Cheetah (60 minutes) and Survivors of the Skeleton Coast (50 minutes).

VISIONS OF LIGHT: THE ART OF CINEMATOGRAPHY (1993) (Fox)* 95 minutes. A behind-the-scenes look at the people who photograph feature films and at the evolution of their profession.


ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE (1994) (CBS/Fox) $14.98 each. 90 minutes each. Two tapes, each containing three episodes of the British TV series about a retired suburbanite and his long-suffering wife.

THE RED DWARF (1994) (CBS/Fox) $14.98 each. 90 minutes each. Four tapes, each containing three episodes of the cult British TV series about the adventures of the oddball inhabitants of a space freighter.


Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston and Christopher Lloyd in ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES and Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane in ORLANDO.


RoboCop 3 was not released on video last week, as reported April 28. It is scheduled for release May 25.


* * * * Excellent

* * * Good

* * Fair

* Poor

(Videos with no stars were not reviewed by The Inquirer.)

MPAA ratings: Motion Picture Association of America ratings are included for all titles that received them. If the title was reviewed by The Inquirer, further parental warnings (violence, nudity, etc.) are included.

(CC): Closed captioned.


Posted: June 10, 1994


Howard Stern, king of all trash mouths, doesn't buy the accusations in Dian Parkinson's $8 mil lawsuit against Bob Barker in which she claims that the game show host required her to give two extra oral sexual performances weekly.

But Stern says that "The Price Is Right" host at 70 is much too old for that kind of action. There goes the gray-haired vote if mighty-mouth does run for guv of New York.


Some collector put money where Napoleon's mouth had been and picked up the dental set used to clean and remove Bonaparte's teeth for $93,570 yesterday.

Christie's of London said that the scrapers, tweezers and gold scalpels were snapped up by a soldier in 1815 when the French Emperor was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

If dental memorabilia is your thing, check out the auction house's August catalog for Queen Victoria's dental hygiene set. Wonder if it will list what, or who, she sunk her teeth into before the instruments were used.


"Today's" morning glory Katie Couric is hoping her next gig will be an educational news mag show for kiddies. But don't be rushing out your resumes to NBC, because she's planning to stay where she is for a couple of more years.

Couric thinks that the 9- to 15-year-olds have been ignored by TV programming mavens while the prime-time news mag format is overflowing.

The adorable imp joined that competitive field when she added co-hosting NBC's "Now" with Tom Brokaw to her already busy schedule, which includes mommyhood.

But everyone always wants something they don't have. Even Katie. Her ''dream job has always been to work on '60 Minutes,' with that incredibly impressive company" - meaning the cast not the network.


* Christopher Reeve is renting a 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house with pool, poolroom and a great city view in Hollywood Hills while he's there filming "The Rhinehart Theory," a murder mystery, that also stars Joe Mantegna.

* Darryl Strawberry's ex is willing to rent their former love nest in L.A.'s posh Encino area for $4,000 a month. She's even more willing to sell this five-bedroom baby for just under $1 mil.

* There's something out West for buyers, too. Producer Daryl Zanuck's former Bev Hills seven-bath Tudor-style manse is available at $3.9 million. That includes six bedrooms and a library.

The Kissing's A Joy, But 'Speechless' Is Clueless As A Thriller

Posted: December 16, 1994

Geena Davis and Michael Keaton possess two of the sexiest mouths on screen, and the sublime treat of Speechless is the sight of her Marilyn Monroe kisser closing in on his heart-shaped pucker.

This film about speechwriters from rival campaigns who fall in love is a great kissing movie but a ludicrous political thriller.

For reasons best known to the filmmakers, the New Mexico race for a U.S. Senate seat keeps intruding on the romance instead of being background to the forbidden affair between Republican wordsmith Kevin Vallick (Keaton) and Democratic ideologue Julia Mann (Davis).

However much the situation sounds like that of Mary Matalin and James Carville with party affiliations reversed, Speechless was written some seven years ago. A case of art anticipating life, you might say.

In the film, the two insomniac workaholics meet cute - over the last bottle of Nytol in a hotel pharmacy in the New Mexico state capital. Sleepless in Santa Fe, you might say. Since they always see each other at night, each is a little fuzzy about what the other does during the daytime.

But when both show up for a bipartisan career day for a local school, they are dumbstruck to find that they are political competitors. Surely whoever coined the expression about politics making strange bedfellows did not have them in mind. But even though their affair is still platonic, Julia doesn't think she can keep her competitive edge if she's sleepless with the enemy.

The principals, as always, are endearing without being sappy, and they complement each other marvelously. Their sparring strikes the erotic sparks of the Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy comedies, with a switch. Instead of the male always being flinty and the female flighty, Keaton and Davis alternate.

While the byplay between them is a joy, in the film's second half Speechless abandons their sexual tennis match and focuses instead on the corruption in the Senate campaigns they represent. It's as though director Ron Underwood (City Slickers) decided that the backdrop was more important than the actors. While this decision isn't fatal to the movie, the Keaton/Davis kisses acquire a bitter aftertaste. Moreover, Underwood wastes the talents of Bonnie Bedelia and Christopher Reeve, who are on hand to complicate both the romantic progress as well as the political process.

Has Hollywood lost the ability to make a simple romantic comedy? The Nick Nolte/Julia Roberts film Nothing But Trouble got derailed when at midpoint the newsroom comedy turned into an action movie. And Speechless, similarly a workplace romance where the sexiest person in the world is your direct competitor, goes out of bounds when it tries to be a romance that also shows what's wrong with American politics.

Hybrids are fine for fruit trees and rosebushes, but they don't always make for the best of films. As a romance, Speechless is like popcorn without the butter. As a romance/political action picture, it's like popcorn with barbecue flavoring.


Produced by Renny Harlin and Geena Davis, directed by Ron Underwood, written by Robert King, photography by Don Peterman, music by Marc Shaiman, distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Running time: 1:38

Kevin Vallick - Michael Keaton

Julia Mann - Geena Davis

Bob Freed - Christopher Reeve

Annette - Bonnie Bedelia

Ventura - Ernie Hudson

Parent's guide: PG-13 (sexual innuendo, mild profanity, politics)

Showing at: area theaters

They're Chilling Children, A Platinum-blond Plague

Posted: April 28, 1995

For a time there in John Carpenter's remake of the great 1960 spooker Village of the Damned, it looks as if the veteran genre director is going to make some sly observation on the whole pro-life/pro-choice debate. After the lovely seaside burg of Midwich, Calif., is inexplicably beset with mass pregnancies, a federal epidemiologist (Kirstie Alley, behaving secretively and puffing on funny-colored cigarettes) offers the expectant mothers the opportunity to abort their fetuses. She also offers each family a $3,000 monthly fee if they carry the children to term.

One man, whose wife and daughter are impregnated, asks if that's $3,000 per family or family member. When Alley's Dr. Verner responds that it's per member, the guy perks up like a cartoon character with dollar signs in its eyes. So much for the abortion option.

But like so many of Carpenter's movies that flirt with social commentary, the issue is quickly dropped in favor of good old horror-movie scares. Although this new Village of the Damned has one or two enjoyably jolting sequences, it's a pallid endeavor compared to director Wolf Rilla's original. Carpenter, working from a screenplay credited to David Himmelstein (and using both the 1960 script and John Wyndham's 1957 novel, The Midwich Cuckoos, as inspiration), does delve a little deeper into the psychological impact these mystery pregnancies have on the women.

And once the brood is born - within minutes of one another, in a barn- turned-maternity ward - Carpenter pokes fun at the whole build-a-better- baby movement. Sitting there on the floor, one tiny tot is spelling his name in letter blocks. Just a few years later, the demonic kids are seen speed-reading through encyclopedias.

The premise of Village of the Damned remains wonderfully scary: that an alien life force has descended on a community, inseminated its women, and spawned a gaggle of evil brainiacs with platinum-blond hair who can read your mind and do funny things with their eyes. (When the telekinetic kiddies will the weak, emotional humans into acts of self-mutilation, their eyes radiate intense beams of light. This special effect, from Industrial Light & Magic, is hardly more impressive than the one employed in the black-and-white original.)

Village of the Damned, vintage '95, is full of sketchy characters and dialogue that works against the story's unsettling suspense. Alley brings all the authority of a beautician to her portrayal of a brilliant medico with a hidden agenda; Linda Kozlowski conveys bland edginess as a widow with an alien in her womb; and Michael Pare appears fleetingly at the film's outset as a jovial, loving husband. Only Mark Hamill, cast as a troubled town minister, has anything really interesting to do.

Well, Christopher Reeve, assuming the role played by George Sanders in the original, does do some pretty hysterical face-scrunching as things careen toward the climactic finale: Determined to block the children from reading his mind, Reeve's character conjures up the mental image of a brick wall. Carpenter does a close-up of Reeve, brows knotted in sweaty concentration, cuts to those nasty kids beaming their flashlight eyes at him, and then cuts away to a shot of a brick wall. Please!


Produced by Michael Preger and Sandy King, directed by John Carpenter, written by David Himmelstein, photography by Gary B. Kibbe, music by John Carpenter and Dave Davies, distributed by Universal Pictures.

Running time: 1:35

Alan Chaffee - Christopher Reeve

Susan Verner - Kirstie Alley

Jill McGee - Linda Kozlowski

Rev. George Miller - Mark Hamill

Mara Chaffee - Lindsey Haun

Parent's guide: R (violence, profanity)

Showing at: area theaters

The Scares Are Scarce In 'Village Of The Damned'

Posted: April 28, 1995

Although cottony clouds float serenely above the sleepy, coastal town of Midwich, Calif., all is not well.

Midwich, population 2,000. But not for long. That's because this is exactly the kind of whitewashed, picket-fenced, unsuspecting village that terror movies always plague. Scary music please . . . It's the "Village of the Damned."

So when the entire female population - even the local virgin - turns up pregnant after a mysterious six-hour blackout, it's no miracle. In fact, it's a parent's worst nightmare. Except perhaps in the 1960 original version of this film, pregnancy has not been so frightening.

The spawn of this peculiar incubation are creepy, preternaturally intelligent Children from Hell, who somehow scored duds that look borrowed from the Gap Kids Gray Flannel Collection. Snow-blond and evil-eyed, the cherub-faced devils march around town like robotic Stepford children, causing havoc to those who won't bend to their childish wills.

They force the town's grown-ups to do really nasty things, such as thrust hands into boiling water, drip poison into their eyes and jump from cliffs.

As the local preacher man says: "They have the look of man, but not the nature of mankind."

They were born to eliminate their parents and, perhaps, the rest of the human population. (Ho-hum, like we've never heard that one before.) They are emotionless, soulless - kind of like this disappointing movie.

There's nothing worse than an un-scary scary movie. "Damned" is too long on drama, too short on horror and, what is most annoying, too insulting to our intelligence.

Take the unexplained gaps in the plot: The entire female population of the town gets pregnant but only nine kids remain? Or the cheesy special effects: The kids' eyes glow - a lot. And the angry villagers: Has anyone actually seen an angry mob carry burning torches since "Frankenstein," or at least since flashlights were invented?

What was director John Carpenter thinking? He's had better luck with other remakes, including his unsettling "The Thing." Maybe he should stick to making films based on original screenplays, such as his touching "Starman" or the still-sturdy horror classic "Halloween."

The studio could have named this movie the "Village of the Comeback Kids." Stars, such as they are, include Kirstie Alley ("Cheers") as a bitchy, chain-smoking government scientist; Christopher Reeve ("Superman") as a befuddled town doc; and Mark Hamill ("Star Wars' " Luke Skywalker) as the town's minister.


Co-produced by David Chackler, directed by John Carpenter, Music by John Carpenter and Dave Davies, written by David Himmelstein based on the 1960 screenplay by Stirling Silliphant and Wolf Rilla and George Barclay, distributed by Universal.

Running Time: 95 minutes

Alan Chaffee - Christopher Reeve

Dr. Susan Verner - Kirstie Alley

Jill McGowan - Linda Kozlowski

Rev. George - Mark Hamill

David - Thomas Dekker

Parents Guide: R.

Showing at: Area theaters

Our movie rating guide:

'Dracula' Star Decides To Try His Hand At Directing

Posted: May 30, 1995

Gary Oldman - the guy with the weird 'do and the unquenchable thirst in Bram Stoker's Dracula - will go behind the lens to direct a movie drawn from his childhood memories of the dreary South London suburbs. "Gary got tired of seeing in British films a description of the suburbs that wasn't at all like the reality he lived through," French filmmaker Luc Besson told the magazine Le Film Francais. Oldman, 37, had a tough go of it after his father, a welder, disappeared when he was 7. Besson - who will produce Oldman's auteur debut - directed the actor in last year's The Professional, in which he played a drug cop gone bad.


* Christopher Reeve's publicist confirmed yesterday that he suffered a neck injury in a weekend accident and said it was too soon to comment on whether damage would be permanent. The Superman star, 42, remained hospitalized in stable condition, two days after he was thrown from a horse during a riding competition in Virginia.

"Mr. Reeve has suffered a cervical (neck) injury from the fall and remains under close observation," publicist Lisa Kasteler said in a statement. "It is premature to comment on any permanent damage."


* Susanna Foo's cookbook (bearing the catchy title Susanna Foo) isn't due out until fall. But the Book-of-the-Month Club has already grabbed it as a main selection.

Actor A. J. Vincent, who plays Harcourt in the current Lust at the Walnut Street Theatre, is editor of The Broadway Celebrity Cookbook (Nautilus Books, $19.95), with recipes and bios of 80 celebs, including Phyllis Diller, Michael Crawford and Nell Carter.


* It's May, and you all know what that means: It's honorary degree time! Latest recipient is Latin jazz great Tito Puente, who got an honorary doctorate from Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music on Saturday in - where else? - San Juan. "I never thought I would get a doctorate in music," Puente said, beaming at the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest. It was the first time Berklee had honored a musician outside its Boston campus.


* Stage fright makes Tim Roth wary of switching from movies to the theater.

"It's that waiting in the wings to go on that makes your hands sweat," Roth told the New York Daily News for a story Sunday. "It's just the fear of walking on stage, just getting out there that's terrifying."

Roth, who played an 18th-century villain in Rob Roy, a Russian hit man in Little Odessa and Vincent van Gogh in Vincent and Theo, says he's been afraid of the stage ever since he won the part of Dracula in high school. "Before I went on, I actually wet myself," Roth said, laughing at the memory. "But after I got out there in front of the audience for the first time, I just fell in love with acting."


* Flavor Flav, 36, the Public Enemy rapper with the big clock around his neck, was sentenced Friday to three months for shooting at a New York neighbor in November 1993. The original charge, attempted murder, was reduced to a misdemeanor: weapon possession. The rapper (a.k.a. William Drayton) also got three years of probation and was ordered to enter drug rehab.


* Two Pennsylvania a cappella doo-wop groups will compete for $10,000 in money and a chance to appear in Paul Simon's Broadway musical The Capeman at an audition tomorrow in New York's Nederlander Theater. In the running are the Fourtet - Charles Elliss, Brendan Brennan, David Schwartz and Marc Miller - of Cheltenham High, and Candlelight - Eric Edwards, Darren Livezey, Chris Hunter and Dustin and Darren Hawks - out of Franklin, Pa. They're among 250 teenagers who hope to land a spot in the show, about a string of New York gang murders in the late 1950s. The musical is scheduled to open in fall 1996.


* Life is sweet for Brooke Shields, who celebrates her 30th birthday tomorrow. She's in love - with tennis star Andre Agassi - and she's a star of Broadway's hit Grease! The reason, say those around her, is a long-overdue break from her hyper-protective manager-mother, Teri, which was hastened by the actress' foot surgery last year. "It was a free-fall time for me, in which there was no structure other than healing," Shields tells McCall's magazine. "I found myself wanting to take the wheel. I've been in the passenger's seat on a lot of bumpy rides, but I've never been in the driver's seat dictating where I was going and knowing I was responsible." Shields signed with the William Morris Agency after jettisoning Teri - rival only to Jody Foster's mom, Brandy, in the stage-mother department.

Bennett Wants To 'Do The Right Thing' In Book Deal

Posted: June 09, 1995

William J. Bennett, point man in the battle with Time Warner over record lyrics, will benefit handsomely from the company: His new book, The Children's Book of Values, has been designated as a main selection this fall of the Book- of-the-Month Club, owned by Time Warner.

The move is estimated to be worth six figures to the author.

"Is this so serious I have to get out of the Book-of-the-Month Club?" said Bennett. "I don't think so."

But he added: "I'm going to think about it. . . . People will weigh in. That will be useful to me. I want to do the right thing. . . . I frankly have more problem with the fact that (his publisher) Simon & Schuster is a division of Viacom, which is tied into MTV. . . . Some days it seems there are only about six (media) companies and you have to sort out what you can live with and what you can't."


* The Roseanne-Tom Arnold matrimonial acrimony - long silent publicly - is apparently quite active off-sight, and the discarded actor may have the upper hand. Else why is Roseanne using next week's TV Guide to complain about the state of their money talks? "Why won't he let me have my baby in peace?" moans the seven-month-preggers Roseanne. "Repeated attempts have been made by my camp to settle the divorce finances and he refuses." She threatens a jury trial if he doesn't come around, which "will be a huge media circus and not to our benefit. . . . (He) has a career and a girfriend. Why can't he leave me alone?"

Donald Trump and Marla Maples, stars of tabs, ski slopes and cocktail parties, did a hand-in-hand walk - to applause - across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday to celebrate his first public stock offering in Atlantic City's Trump Plaza. By day's end it had held its opening price of $14.


* Michael Jackson's double-sided single, "Scream"/"Childhood," has debuted on Billboard's Hot 100 higher than any other record in the chart's 37- year history. Its No. 5 rating - the single sold 64,000 copies in five days - bests the No. 6 debut of the Beatles' "Let It Be" in 1970. Jackson's previous debut high was "Thriller," No. 20 in 1984.

When Lorrie Morgan found out that a Brit fan had flown to Nashville to attend a show she canceled this week to shoot a TV movie in San Diego, the country star got on the horn to make things right. "She apologized and basically told me to prepare for life on the road," said Roy Rudham. "I'm riding on her bus to Atlanta to the show" on Tuesday. "Tell me I'm only dreaming."


* David Sedaris, a commentator on National Public Radio, will read from his book, Barrell Fever, at 7:30 p.m. June 27 at Center City's Borders Book Shop. The book's a collection of essays and fiction.

Sister Atikah Bey, general manager of WPEB-FM (88.1), says the radio station will hold its first youth conference tomorrow at Drexel U.'s Grand Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Philly junior and senior high school kids will talk about teen pregnancy, AIDS, drugs, violence and more with 'PEB staff members. For information, call 215-386-3800.


* Phyllis Cohen, who bought a Big Mac and Coke at a Durham, N.C., McDonald's on her way home from a chemotherapy session, has won the eatery's only $1 mil instant prize in a contest it's running. Said Cohen, 69, who's being treated for breast and kidney cancer: "I'm worried I won't live to collect it. With all that's happened to me, I'll be glad if I reach 70." After taxes, she'll get $35,000 installments over 20 years.

David Smith, ex-husband of Susan, who's accused of drowning their two kids, is poised for the big buildup to sell his new book, Ultimate Betrayal. He's got late-summer TV dates with Barbara Walters, Larry King and Phil Donahue, and his agent is holding out for $100,000 serialization rights. The book was initially set to be a soft-cover, but when one bookstore chain ordered 60,000 copies it went hard.


* Christopher Reeve sat in a chair and ate solid food yesterday and was showing some new movement in his right shoulder muscle. Meanwhile, family members, described by the hospital as "overwhelmed" by the outpouring, have been reading cards and best wishes to the actor. The address is UVMC, Jefferson Park Ave., Charlottesville, Va. 22908.

Billy Graham's people said the hospitalized evangelist hoped to make at least one appearance at his Toronto crusade before it ends Sunday. A taped message by Graham was played at Wednesday's opening session. His spokesman said doctors had discovered "the location of the (internal) bleeding but not the cause."

CNN's Bernard Shaw, recovering from pneumonia, is expected back at his news anchoring job June 19.


* Remember Donna Rice? Think bodacious blonde. Think Monkey Business. Think Gary Hart. Think potential presidency sunk. She's back and not as a party girl, but as media flack for the anti-porn group Enough Is Enough. Now married to high-tech exec Jack Hughes and living in suburban Virginia, Rice, 37, says she hasn't spoken to Hart since their thing blew up in 1987. "I made my own choices and I take responsibility for them and I can't blame anybody else," she said Wednesday in Washington. "There were times during that down time when I was depressed, days when I didn't know how I'd live through another day. It takes a long time to be restored when you've lost everything. Things still bother me, but they don't devastate me. I just have a thicker skin and a new life."

Big Fete For Mike Tyson? Not Here, Says Harlem

Posted: June 14, 1995

A Harlem celebration marking Mike Tyson's first Big Apple appearance since getting sprung from stir has been scaled back after community opposition.

Instead of a rally outside the Apollo Theater Tuesday, a ceremony inside and a 125th Street parade, the ex-con's welcome will be limited to a news conference and a visit to a Harlem charity.

Said Jill Nelson of African-Americans Against Violence: "We expect those who wish to be treated as role models and heroes to demonstrate to the community the importance of respecting women." She added that events to ''promote Mike Tyson are inappropriate, offensive and unacceptable."


* Henry Kissinger will get an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth Tuesday, noting his contributions to Anglo-U.S. relations. The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be allowed to use after his name the initials K.C.M.G. - Knight Commander in the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George - but can't get us to call him "Sir." That's for Brits only.

Prince Edward, asked in a London TV interview yesterday whether nups to girlfriend Sophie Rhys-Jones were in sight, delivered a curt but ringing ''No." Ed, 31, was on the show plugging a documentary he's working on about an esoteric, 400-year-old sport called real or royal tennis. No love!


* A spokesman for Courtney Love, 30, said the rocker was "fine" after her latest drug episode, that she wouldn't drop out of the Lollapalooza tour and would play a scheduled gig next weekend in L.A. He added that Kurt Cobain's widow, hospitalized and released on Sunday, "took too many" of a pill "she takes when she flies - similar to Valium, maybe a little stronger."

Christopher Reeve, 42, sits in a special chair several times a day for 30 minutes at a time, is eating a soft diet, can speak when a ventilator is removed for brief periods, but still can't breathe alone. He has received more then 200 flower arrangments - spread among other hospital patients - and more than 8,000 pieces of mail last weekend alone.

The Rev. Billy Graham, 76, was back in a Toronto hospital yesterday for tests for a condition that has dogged him for the last week. The evangelist's son, Franklin, said his father was "the sickest he's been in recent years" and revealed that last week the preacher was more serious than was let on, having lost "about a third of his blood" before treatment.


* Luther Campbell filed for bankruptcy protection Monday in Miami to keep fellow rapper M.C. Shy D from getting his cash. Last year Campbell was ordered to pay D $1.6 mil in disputed royalties.

Pamela Hyatt, who dropped out of college last week after winning $86 mil in a lottery, was chased down Sunday by a New York waiter who thought she made a mistake by leaving a $100 tip on a $40 check. Said Hyatt, 26: "Now that I have all this money I go out of my way to give extraordinarily high tips to attentive waiters who serve good food. I love to see their responses."


* Bob Dylan will do two unexpected TLA performances June 21 and 22. They will be the rock icon's South Street debut. Tix - $22.50 - go on sale at noon today. Four-tix limit. Dylan, opening for the Grateful Dead at some stadium sites, sprang for the gig to fill in off-days.

Love and Latkas, a Flourtown musical comedy group, is looking for warm bodies to comprise a live audience at a taping for Gene Crane's TV show, Over 50. The taping will be at Channel 10's Bala Cynwyd studios next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Huntingdon Valley's Susan Piper has been named one of six winners - from an initial field of 765 contestants - at the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival's New Folk Concerts for Emerging Songwriters. The singer/songwriter is the first Philly-area talent to win at the 20-year-old fete. Last year Philly's Patti Shea was a finalist. The festival has been a career start for many performers, including Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith.

Frankie Avalon, appearing with Fabian and Bobby Rydell last weekend in Atlantic City, was asked about the movement to have a South Philly street renamed Rydell Drive. "Why shouldn't he have a street named after him?" said Avalon. "I've got a car and a city named after me."


* David Schwimmer, despite public affection for Jennifer Aniston, fellow cast member of TV's Friends, appears most serious about a New Orleans lawyer, Sarah Trimble, 24, who's clerking for a federal judge. They've known each other two years.

Couple du jour: Paula Abdul and Chris Isaak.

New Eagles quarterback Rodney Peete married actress Holly Robinson - Vanessa on TV's Hangin' With Mr. Cooper - last weekend at the Brentwood, Calif , home of CBS exec Leslie Moonves. Jesse Jackson officiated. James Ingram sang. E.J. Johnson, Magic's boy, carried rings.

Cindy Crawford's so-called mystery man, seen in tabloid pix, turns out to be Stephen Knoll, a hairdresser she has known forever. "I hope I've always been the man in her life," said he. "I do cut her hair, you know."

Nicole and Tony Rodham, wed in the White House a year ago, greeted their first child, Zachary, Friday in Miami. He's Hillary's brother. She's Sen. Barbara Boxer's daughter.


* Four ex-bodyguards for Michael Jackson are in an L.A. court this week pressing their case that the pop star dumped them because they knew too much about what they say were his dalliances with young boys. Said their lawyer: ''They were the only people who saw him coming and going because they were the ones at the guard gate." Jackson's lawyers deny such liaisons and charges of a cover-up.

Marcia Clark got a preliminary yes to her request to keep from media eyes details of her child-custody fight with her separated husband. Gordon Clark has often gone public with tidbits of their case. An L.A. Superior Court administrator is expected to decide the privacy issue this week.

In This Hood, He'd Be Sir Jacko

Posted: June 29, 1995

Sir Michael?

He's lost it.

As Michael Jackson rushed to rehabilitate his career this year, his manager discreetly contacted the British embassy in Washington to see if perhaps the empire might help, says the London paper The Independent.

Once the staff stopped giggling long enough to realize the contact was not a crank call, they arranged a phoner between Jackson's manager, Sandy Gallin, and British ambassador Sir Robin Renwick.

Jackson people floated the idea that the King of Pop had done such fabulous work with children that he might be worthy of the highest award - knighthood.

We trust Sir Robin used his best tones to turn him down.

Meanwhile, sales of "HIStory" have reached 391,000, making the album No. 1 on the charts but disappointing some in the industry who hoped the initial sales might reach close to half a million.


In the grand tradition of Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis and the late River Phoenix, actor Keanu Reeves is now sidelining with a rock group called Dog Star. It was either that, or take up a paintbrush like Sly Stallone.

The band will howl here at TLA on July 29; tickets go on sale at noon today at $15 a pop.


The incredible jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton is alert and doing well after a mild stroke Tuesday, said his doctors at a New York Hospital. Still bopping along at 87, the Hamp performed two weeks ago at Marietta State College in Athens, Ga. and was hoping to hit Europe next month.

He had a stroke back in March and spent two months at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he is now.


Dana Morosini says she hopes her husband, actor Christopher Reeve, will make a full recovery from the severe spinal cord injury he sustained when thrown from a horse last month.

Reeve transferred to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J., yesterday.

"We are very hopeful," said Morosini. "We think we made a good choice in choosing Kessler. He is very happy to be here."

His doctor at Kessler, Marca Sipski, said although Reeve remains on a ventilator, he can sit up, mouth a few words and feed himself. To determine just how fully Reeve can recover, he will undergo a series of tests over the coming weeks.

Rehabilitation likely would involve weaning Reeve from the ventilator and fitting him with a wheelchair he could control by moving his eyes, chin, tongue or neck, said Janna Jacobs, the director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.

Wheel Life John Hockenberry, Abc News Correspondent And Paraplegic, Has Filed A Remarkable Report - His Autobiography.

Posted: July 06, 1995

NEW YORK — While her intended has been doing the book promotion bit in the living room, Alison Craiglow, scheduled to be Mrs. John Hockenberry on Oct. 22, has been relaxing with a book in the bedroom, her sole distraction the New York vista that wraps this East Side high-rise like Christo-canvas around the Reichstag.

But now it's time for a second opinion on Hockenberry, the ex-National Public Radio host and current ABC News correspondent for Day One who happens to have published a memoir - a brilliant, explosively thoughtful memoir called Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence (Hyperion, $24.95) - while also planning his first novel, shaping a one-man theater piece, playing his Bechstein piano with sheet music for Die Nebensonnen atop, and preparing for happily-ever-after.

Craiglow, herself a news producer for Day One, generously accommodates.

"Very difficult to get along with," she deadpans.

"DOES HE RUN OVER YOUR FEET?" bellows a nationally familiar voice from the next room.

She laughs. Even this much playacting may be too much for a couple in love.

"Actually," she says, remembering her journalist's obligation to the truth, "he's my favorite person in the whole world."


It's not hard to see why. Beginning in the early '80s, John Hockenberry has stimulated and provoked even people he's never met. In his radio days, Hockenberry, 39, hosted Talk of the Nation, covered the Mount St. Helens eruption and the Middle East, and earned two Peabody Awards.

Then he left NPR in 1992 for ABC News and its Day One newsmagazine. In that role, he's filed reports on Vladimir Zhirinovsky, HIV, and public defenders in New Orleans, and earned an Emmy. (After Day One's demise in September, he'll have other assignments, an ABC spokeswoman said.)

It's a career that gets a fellow to an upper floor in the center of American media culture. And everything about Hockenberry exudes the big-time journalist's can-do attitude.

His muscular arms, folded across his chest. His casual Saturday-morning style in jeans and black T-shirt. His sharp blue eyes. His situation.

Note the language. Not "Even his situation." Rather, especially, particularly, paradigmatically his situation. The way he's mastered it.

How to describe the state of affairs? Hockenberry gives it a shot in starting his seventh chapter:

I'm a crip for life. I cannot walk. I have "lost the use of my legs." I am paralyzed from the waist down. I use a wheelchair. I am wheelchair-bound. I am confined to a wheelchair. I am a paraplegic. I require "special assistance for boarding." I am a gimp, crip, physically challenged, differently abled, paralyzed. I am a T-5 para. I am sick. I am well. I have a T-4-6 incomplete dural lesion, a spinal cord injury. . . . I have a spastic bladder, pneumatic tires, air in all four of my wheels. . . .

Will that do?

"When I came back from the gulf war," Hockenberry explains, outlining how a voice-and-visual man turned to the printed page, "I thought to myself, this would be a good time to put some of that down."

But the larger story - about himself - came only after the incident that launches Moving Violations.

We start out with Hockenberry "on the back of a donkey, plodding through the snow" in Iraq near the Turkish border, heading in March 1991 to Kurdish refugee camps for NPR. In his wheelchair, he had "piled onto trucks and jeeps, hauled myself up and down steps and steep hillsides to use good and bad telephones, to observe riots, a volcano, street fighting in Romania, to interview Yasir Arafat. . . ."

But this time, one angry refugee asked, "Why are you here?" Why, indeed. ''It was habit," Hockenberry writes, "not arrogance, that caused me to insist, 'I'm just fine here on the donkey in the middle of one hundred and fifty thousand starving, war-terrified refugees.' "

Yet it was a habit that needed probing. "I had no good answer for the Kurdish man who insisted that there were already too many people who could not walk in Uzumlu," he admitted. The lesson cut deeper when Hockenberry slipped off the donkey's back while returning, and found himself "prone and unable to walk on the bank of an unswimmable river."

He could see that he'd "made the decision to get on that donkey when I had gotten out of a hospital bed years before and vowed never to allow the world to push me. . . . In Kurdistan, I discovered that the world is a much larger place than can be filled by the mission of one man and his wheelchair."

"I'd always prided myself," says Hockenberry now, "on the fact that I care a lot about the story and I'm there for only that reason. But on that donkey, it occurred to me that I might be there for another reason. . . . It all started right there."

All of the remembering, the self-examination, the moving yet at times amazingly funny story of his fight back from the auto accident that left him paraplegic at age 19: a 200-foot plummet down an embankment off I-80 near Clearfield, Pa., the consequence of a student driver who fell asleep.

Memoirs by the disabled come with moral soundtracks attached. When a fine literary hand arranges the score, as in Helen Keller's Story of My Life or Ron Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July, a reader can do little but surrender to the music.

Moving Violations fits that grid, marshalling expected moral energy and empathy. Some of it comes from Hockenberry's own recovery, the tales of his redoubtable grandfather - an amputee who could tie his shoelaces with one hand - and the story of his retarded uncle, an institutionalized sufferer of phenylketonuria, or PKU, a genetic disorder. Some bursts from his accounts of an obnoxious theater owner, or disgraceful cab driver.

Yet the book's singular excellence emerges from Hockenberry's tour de force of memoir-voices. Hockenberry the clinician documents the incongruities of paraplegic life with fierce rigor and wit. Hockenberry the amateur psychologist delivers deft observations on the link between our sensations and self-identity. The war-story regaler invites us with unprecedented verve into talk of "disabled sex" and telethon culture.

When all the traffic has stopped, Moving Violations deserves not a ticket but a ticker-tape parade, as one of the gutsiest autobiographies of the year.

"Part of the reason to do this book," Hockenberry explains, "is that after 20 years, people are still asking the same stupid questions. . . . If people would just have, after reading this book, the idea that I don't need the elevator door held, but sometimes I need a dark room to empty a bottle or something - we would be in a much better situation."

He means the general public. Within his own fields, understanding and encouragement have always been in strong supply. "The great people at KLLC in Eugene, (Ore.)," he recalls, "the affiliate I worked at, they were very into the kind of, 'Whoa, cool, our volcano reporter, you know, is in a wheelchair, ha-ha, nah-na-na-na-na-na!"

In his modest way, Hockenberry, a self-described loner who "doesn't hang" with the disabled community, continues to support activist groups for greater inclusion, and continues to think about disability.

When actor Christopher Reeve suffered his terrible riding injury in May, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, Hockenberry first thought of Roger, an adolescent friend who shared a similar condition.

But he also thought, "Welcome." And on June 6, he contributed a moving three-minute radio commentary about Reeve on All Things Considered.

Asked if he's thought of sending his book to the actor, Hockenberry says he might, but also makes a point: "When you're figuring this sort of stuff out, the last thing you want is somebody coming in, in a chair, and saying, here's the deal. . . . He will be reconstructing his world in his own way. . . . He'll be starting with the molecules of his universe, and working outward."

Preparing for a multicity tour, Hockenberry knows he'll now be both specimen and star. His thoughts on what to call him suggest both the man's passion and humor.

"I like it that people don't want to say the wrong thing." Hockenberry asserts. "But often to me, it seems as though that's all they want. It's 'Hi, I don't want to say the wrong thing, goodbye.' I would rather that they learn something about me while we're spending time together."

He laughs about simply replying: "Hi. I'm John. Try John."

"But then, if you say that - 'Try John' - they go, 'Oh God, I said the wrong thing!' So you can't win.

"You have to hold your tongue on some of these things," Hockenberry concludes. "You're in a situation where they're fragile. They're the harp seal, and you're the guy with the bat."

Cable Tv Makes Gains As Networks Lose Viewers Some Channels Compete Head To Head With The Networks. Hbo Often Tops Them On Saturday Nights In The Homes Of Its Subscribers.

Posted: August 17, 1995

Cable television is more popular than ever. As a result, programs are improving at least a little each season, and the cable industry is bragging about its current good health.

Here are samples of the upbeat talk heard at cable's recent semiannual press tour in Pasadena, Calif., where the bigger channels preview their new programs and spotlight their progress for more than 100 newspaper and magazine TV critics:

"Business is great for HBO right now," Home Box Office president Michael Fuchs said. "We are growing at least the rate of last year, which was our best in 11 years."

Fuchs is particularly proud of HBO's "extraordinary popularity" among black viewers. African Americans represent 12 per cent of the U.S. population, he said, but make up 18 to 19 percent of HBO's audience.

"The premium TV business is very, very healthy right now," said Matthew C. Blank, president of HBO's chief competitor, Showtime. He said 1994 was Showtime's best year since 1988, with the number of its subscribers up 13 percent.

Showtime now has 13.3 million subscribers, compared with 19.2 million for HBO.

Growth has also been good for several basic cable channels.

Judy Girard, vice president of programing and production for Lifetime, said Lifetime's ratings were up 30 percent over those of a year ago. She gave chief credit to Lifetime's relatively recent addition of one new telemovie per month to its schedule.

The next big telemovie for Lifetime, which has 59 million subscribers, will be Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story, airing Sept. 4. Sela Ward portrays Savitch, the late anchorwoman who went from local stardom at KYW (Channel 3) to network celebrity at NBC.

In the last year, nightly viewership of CNBC, which has 52 million subscribers, has increased almost 25 percent. Recent additions to CNBC's roster of after-dark talk-show stars include former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers as cohost of Equal Time and high-powered defense lawyer Gerry Spence, the host of Gerry Spence.

In a departure from the talk-show norm, Spence says he wants to avoid celebrities as guests. "They make a mess of their own lives," he said. "I don't know why we should listen to 'em."

Five-year-old E! has achieved profitability with 33 million subscribers. President Lee Masters is hoping that ratings will remain 20 percent higher than last year's even after the conclusion of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which the channel is carrying gavel to gavel.

But Masters recognizes that readjustment may be rocky. After the trial is over, he joked, "all employees will be entering a 12-step program."

Two-year-old ESPN2 has already achieved profitability with 25 million subscribers, one of the fastest dives into black ink in cable history. ESPN2 is the baby brother of behemoth ESPN, the biggest of all cable channels with 64.9 million subscribers.

In a striking example of cable's growth during the last decade, the New York Times on Aug. 9 estimated the current value of ESPN at $3 billion to $5 billion. That's a big reason why the Walt Disney Co. decided to pay $19 billion to buy Capital Cities/ABC, which owns 80 percent of ESPN.

Over the last decade, the percentage of prime-time viewers watching the big three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) declined from 76 to 57. During the same period, basic cable's prime-time percentage grew from a modest 6 percent to a healthy 23.

Formerly content to compete mostly against one another, the stronger cable channels have advanced to a level at which they often take aim at the broadcast networks.

HBO, for example, always airs its best new telemovies on Saturday, traditionally the night when network series are weakest. As a result, Saturday is its highest-rated night of the week, with Nielsen numbers that often top the networks in the homes that subscribe to HBO.

HBO's biggest Saturday-night special this fall will be Truman, a telemovie version of David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the same name. Airing Sept. 9, the show stars Gary Sinise as President Harry S. Truman from the age of 33 to 68.

In a notable new example of cable vs. network competition, ESPN is adding 15 minutes to its formerly hourlong pregame pro football show, NFL GameDay. The 75-minute version will begin at 11:45 a.m. on Sundays, giving it a head start on Fox's hourlong NFL Sunday, which starts at noon. ESPN has made clear that its intention is to lure away some Fox fans.

Although cable continues to extend its coverage of sports, one of its salient weaknesses remains the same: a chronic shortage of new half-hour and one-hour series. No cable channel is rich enough to afford the huge star salaries that sustain such long-running network hits as NBC's Seinfeld, ABC's Roseanne, and CBS's Murphy Brown. Ted Turner, who owns TBS, CNN, and four other cable channels, said last month that he needed to buy a network in order to create 30- and 60-minute series.

One partial solution: New shows with low-budget formats, attractive new hosts, and closely defined target audiences. One such is the TV Food Network's How to Boil Water, a half-hour cooking show aimed at absolute beginners in the kitchen. The host is the merry and modest Sean Donnellan, a stand-up comedian who frankly admits that he can't cook. "The theory is, if I can do it, you can do it," he says. A trained chef works with him to make sure he gets the water boiled for TVFN's 12 million subscribers.

Another charmer is Katie Haas, the effervescent host of Wildhorse Saloon on TNN, which has 63.6 million subscribers. Haas is well aware that not everyone tunes in to her hourlong dance series to learn how to execute such current country music steps as the Watermelon Crawl and the Bad Dog Boogie. When a critic told her last month that he watches her show, she wisecracked, "You must be into cleavage and bloomers, sir."

A consistent boon for cable viewers is the high quality of many of the telemovies. HBO and TNT, the industry leaders in this category, routinely spend more on their new telemovies than the broadcast networks do. The difference is visible: As Hollywood moviemakers like to say, "The money is on the screen."

The big ticket this fall on TNT, which has 63 million subscribers, is The Heidi Chronicles, a video version of Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize- winning play of the same name. Airing Oct. 15, the telemovie stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Heidi Holland.

A comparatively recent entrant into the arena of quality telemovies is the Family Channel, which has 61.4 million subscribers. Its autumn showpiece is Kidnapped, a four-hour mini-series adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel of the same name, airing on Nov. 5-6. Armand Assante portrays the hero, Alan Breck Stewart. Assante took over the role after the original star, Christopher Reeve, was badly injured in a horseback-riding accident in May.

In addition to telemovies, another salient strength of cable is "niche channels," aimed at specific slices of the audience. The leaders in this category are CNN, which supplies round-the-clock news to 64.7 million, and MTV, which packages rock music for 59.4 million. The newest niche channel to make a name for itself is four-year-old Court TV, which has 22 million subscribers.

Court TV has covered more than 300 trials, including the Simpson case, but founder Steven Brill thinks the most important in its history will be coming up this fall - opening day not yet set. It's a war-crimes trial to be conducted in The Hague by a United Nations tribunal. The defendant is a Bosnian Serb, Dusan Tadic, 39, who has pleaded innocent.

Other niche channels of note are Discovery, which delivers documentaries to 63 million subscribers, and Nickelodeon, which sends children's programs to 59 million.

On Sept. 11, Nickelodeon will premiere 13 weekly episodes of Maurice Sendak's Little Bear, a series for preschool children based on books about a cub, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Sendak.

On Oct. 15, Discovery will air P. T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman, a three-hour video biography of the circus impresario. Karl Malden will supply the voice of Barnum.

'Bridges' To Be Crossed Off Times' Bestseller List

Posted: September 15, 1995

Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County, on the New York Times bestseller list longer than any fictional book in more than 40 years, will drop off on Sept. 24 after 162 weeks.

The record of 178 weeks is held by The Robe, about the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

"It wasn't just a bestseller," Times book review editor Charles McGrath said of Bridges. "It became a huge phenomenon."

Indeed, in the last year at least 30 couples have wed at covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa, and next month a hundred busloads of pilgrims are set to hit Winterset for the county's 26th annual covered bridge festival.

In other news from the book world, in her autobio, A Hell of a Life, out this week, Maureen Stapleton, 70, gracefully tells of her first date with legendary theatrical figure George Abbott when he was 81. "He took me home and into the bedroom," writes the actress. "And if I recall correctly - and I know I am recalling correctly - we stayed there quite happily for a good long time."


* Hammer is in a major fiscal fix and could lose a real estate empire including his $9 mil San Francisco Bay mansion. He owes $42,000 in taxes on it plus he's defaulted on payments for three other Bay Area properties. One, up for auction Wednesday, got a reprieve when the rapper negotiated a delay until Oct. 16. He's out with a new CD this week, M.C. Hammer V Inside Out. Please!

Anthony Quinn last week closed on a $1.5 mil 15-acre spread in a secluded area of Bristol, R.I. The actor, 80, got the property in a bankruptcy deal. It includes a Bermuda-style main house with blue shutters and white trim, barn, swimming pool, apple orchard, and a view overlooking Narragansett Bay from which Providence, North Kingstown, and the Newport bridge can be seen. Waitress Lucy Pacheco said she served Quinn at a local eatery and when she asked him for a hug "he was very obliging." As always!


* TV religion star the Rev. Robert H. Schuller will sign his new book, Prayer: My Soul's Adventure With God - A Spiritual Autobiography, Sept. 26, 10 a.m. to noon, at Gene's Books in the King of Prussia Plaza. Mr. Schuller, whose Hour of Power is seen in 184 countries, this year marks the 45th anniversary of both his ordination and marriage.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua will get a lifetime achievement award for humanitarian service from the National Italian American Foundation, Oct. 21, at the Washington Hilton Hotel in D.C. NIAF says its annual two-day confabs are the largest annual gatherings of Italian Americans in the nation.


* Lorenzo Lamas, hunkish star of the Renegade TV series, is about to pledge eternal fidelity to Wife No. 4. She's Shauna Sand, 24, an aspiring model- slash-actress. Must be truest love. Didn't he give her a four-carat, pear- shaped diamond? Drive her to Manhattan's Le Cirque in a limo filthy with white roses? Take her on a midnight helicopter ride?

Not all breakups need be vitriolic. Meshulam Riklis led the applause for the Monday performance of his ex, Pia Zadora, in Broadway's Crazy for You. Then afterward he and his new girlfriend took Zadora and her new husband, Jonathan Kaufer, out to dinner.

Sounds weird but the New York Post insists - doesn't say what, mind you - that something's going on between Barbra Streisand and Prince Charles. Says they got on famously when he visited L.A. earlier this year, and a few weeks ago, when Elton John arrived at Charles' Brit digs for what he thought was din de deux, who should be there with fork in hand but Herself. Babs and Chaz?


* Hootie & the Blowfish quietly waited as South Carolina politicos debated whether the S.C. band should get the state's top honor, the Order of the Palmetto. But before a Wednesday concert in Columbia, the band basically told them to shove it. The members said it had become a "political and media issue." Lead singer Darius Rucker added: "I don't want to run for office."

The first Grateful Dead release since Jerry Garcia's death will be out tomorrow. Grayfolded has been in progress for several years. It's the work of Canadian John Oswald, a digital manipulator, who put together a two-CD set of a single song lasting 136 minutes. Raiding Dead vaults, Oswald blended hundreds of performances of the song "Dark Star," done by the band over 25 years, into a single thread. Pieces of 64 drum solos by Bill Kreutzmann have been distilled to a minute.

The first album totally produced by Bruce Springsteen will be out Oct. 10. It's American Babylon and features Pittsburgh rocker Joe Grushecky.


* Director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas are about proudly hyping their offering, Showgirls - out next Friday - the most widely distributed NC-17-rated flick by a major studio. The $39 mil movie about Las Vegas erotic dancers features all manner of nudity and simulated sex. "I decided to make a movie available to the world the way I wanted it to be," said Verhoeven, 57, of Basic Instinct fame. "I wanted to show how people try to survive in a world where decency is not the norm." Eszterhas believes the flick "is important for young people to hear" and encourages them to get ''fake IDs . . . do whatever you have to do to see it." Responded Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America: "If Mr. Eszterhas actually made those remarks he is desperately ill and needs medical attention." The movie opens on 1,250 screens. The last mainstream studio NC- 17er, 1990's Henry & June, played 308 screens.


* Hugh Grant will star in Extreme Measures but Elizabeth Hurley won't. So says a Castle Rock Entertainment spokesman disputing a Hollywood Reporter story saying the two non-reel-life lovers would team up in the movie. The spokesman said Hurley would co-produce it.

Christopher Reeve will give the first interview since his paralyzing horseback riding accident to Barbara Walters. It'll air Oct. 13 on TV's 20/20. His wife, Dana Morosini, will also be interviewed.

Reeve Tells Walters About Suicide Thoughts

Posted: September 29, 1995

Superman star Christopher Reeve briefly considered suicide after he was paralyzed in a fall from a horse.

But the thoughts ended when he saw his children, the 42-year-old Reeve told ABC's Barbara Walters in an interview to be aired tonight.

"I could see how much they needed me and wanted me . . . and how lucky we all are and that my brain is on straight," he said in his first interview since he broke his neck in May, leaving him with no movement from his shoulders down. "The thought vanished and has never come back again."

Reeve needs a ventilator to breathe and is learning to get around in an electric wheelchair.

For eight weeks after the accident, he said, "The demons would get me in the middle of the night. In my dreams I'd be whole, riding my horse, playing with my family. We'd be making love, we'd be doing everything. And then suddenly I'd wake up and it's 2 in the morning and I'm lying in bed and I can't move and I'm on a ventilator. Those are the worst times."

He said that he suggested to his wife, Dana Morosini, "Maybe I should just check out."

"And then Dana said to me, 'You're still you and I love you,' " Reeve recalled.


* Tickets for Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers' Oct. 26 show at the Electric Factory with John Eddie opening go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m., but won't be available at Ticketmaster outlets. Fans desperately seeking Grushecky - whose new album, American Babylon (Razor & Tie), is a collaboration of sorts with a producer, guitarist and songwriter named Bruce Springsteen - can pick up $15 ducats at the Theater of Living Arts or Electric Factory Concerts box offices, or through Ticketmaster charge by phone (215-336-2000). There's a four ticket per-person limit, and it's a 21-and-older show.


* Despite the ads, this weekend's season premiere of the reshuffled Saturday Night Live won't include the artist formerly known as Prince, formerly known as the musical guest for the kickoff show. "Personal reasons" is all NBC is saying about the Enigmatic One's cancellation. Blues Traveler will step in, with Central Park West star Mariel Hemingway as guest host.


* Princess Di, invited to a luncheon of The Literary Review in London , told the assembled literati that she felt privileged to be invited to "a highly exclusive gathering of intellects."

"Apparently, some people are wondering what Diana, that notorious illiterate, is doing at a distinguished scholarly occasion such as this," she said at the lunch.

"I've made time between therapy sessions and secret trysts to attempt to reply," she added. Then, to applause and laughter, the princess let loose with a limerick:

"The princess was heard to declare,

Let gossips poke fun if they dare.

My real inspiration

Is Bron's invitation,

Stick that in your tabloids, so there."


* LeRoy Neiman didn't need a brush or a palette for his latest effort: a $6 million donation to Columbia University.

The donation, the largest ever received by the university's School of Arts, will help pay for The LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia officials said Wednesday. The center, with up to 200 artists, will have studios for lithography, silkscreening, photography and computer art. The painter's gift will also fund a professorship by an internationally recognized artist who will head the center.


* Singer Bobby Brown, husband of Whitney Houston, escaped injury in Boston early Wednesday when a gunman opened fire outside a rundown city bar, but Brown's sister's fiance was killed.

Steven Sealy, 31, of Chamblee, Ga., was shot while sitting in Brown's cream-colored Bentley. Brown, 26, was standing outside the car with a bodyguard. The shooting of Sealy set off a brief gun battle, with more than a dozen shots fired, witnesses said.

The incident took place shortly before 1 a.m. as Brown left the Biarritz Lounge in the city's Roxbury section, a block from where he grew up.

Sealy was shot at least three times in the face and chest. There were bullet holes in the car's windshield and hood.


* Now comes Ivanka Trump, The Donald and Ivana's 13-year old. Ivanka, it is said (by a publicist, of course), wants to be a model. To prepare for the career, Ivanka spent last weekend at Trump's Palm Beach estate, surrounded by photographers, assorted stylists and others expert in building a portfolio.

The Donald says he's very proud of her ambitions but would be ''devastated" if his kid were to get to be more famous than he is.


* The widow of rapper Eazy-E, who died in March of AIDS, has given birth to their second child.

Tomica Woods-Wright had a 7-pound, 5-ounce girl, Daijah Nakia, at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, publicist Norman Winter said Wednesday. The baby is being tested for the AIDS virus.

Eazy-E, whose real name was Eric Wright, co-founded the pioneering ''gangsta" rap group N.W.A. He was 31.

Woods-Wright, 26, and her other child by Wright, 2-year-old Dominick, have tested negative for the AIDS virus.

Giuliani's Wife Wins A Choice Film Role

Posted: December 21, 1995

Donna Hanover Giuliani, wife of Big Apple Mayor Rudolph, auditioned her way into a plum role in the Milos Forman-directed movie, The People vs. Larry Flynt, about the Hustler mag publisher.

The Gotham first lady beat out Sissy Spacek, among others, for the role of Ruth Carter Stapleton, sis of President Jimmy Carter, who converted Flynt to Christianity in 1977.

Giuliani has appeared in five movies, always typecast as a journalist. She's a reporter on the locally produced TV show Good Day New York.


* Christopher Reeve, noting that his medical insurance will run out in 18 months, says he's organizing a benefit for himself and the American Paralysis Association. Tentative date is March 22 at Radio City Music Hall. The actor adds that work is in the wind. Says Warner Bros. has offered him movie voice- over work, while the filmmaking team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant tendered him a directing offer. "My breathing is getting stronger," he said. ''It may take a while but I'll get off (the ventilator). I'm not chained to this machine."

Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Nicole Kidman (To Die For) were picked best actors of 1995 by the Boston Society of Film Critics. Best supporters: Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) and Joan Allen (Nixon). Sense and Sensibility got best film and its Ang Lee and Emma Thompson, best director and best screenwriter.

John Templeton Jr., the philanthropist who established the annual $1 mil Prize for Progress in Religion, announced this week that beginning March 13 he'll give an annual "several-thousand-dollar purse" to be divided between the movie and TV program that "best result in bringing the viewer into a closer understanding of and love for God."


* Richard Gere's latest Cindy Crawford rebound is Carey Lowell, who has made the transition from top model to second-shelf actress. She's best known as the James Bond pretty opposite Timothy Dalton in Licence to Kill. She also has had an up-and-down marriage with Griffin Dunne with whom she had a daughter, Hannah, now 4.

Crawford, meanwhile, is making do with Val Kilmer. Spent a week with him in South Africa where he's shooting the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, then split so he could have some quality time with separated wife, Joanne Whalley- Kilmer, and their two kids.

Laura Bonarrigo, Cassie on the TV soap One Life to Live, wed bizman Marty Hoffman Dec. 9.

Bad moment last weekend between Kathleen Turner and her husband, Jay Weiss. He's doing duty with his band, the Suits, at a North Jersey nightspot when she walks in a half-hour later. Goes right up on stage and embraces Weiss. He dressed her down. After a respite at the bar, she takes the mike and tries to sing. Another dressing-down followed by a personal escort to their Mercedes, where he really unloaded on her.


* The Eagles were the top grossing tour act of 1995, raking in $63.3 mil in 58 dates. Boyz II Men were second with $43.2 mil in 134 shows. Rounding out the top five: R.E.M. ($38.7 mil in 81 shows), Grateful Dead ($33.5 mil in 45 shows) and Jimmy Page-Robert Plant ($32.4 mil in 68 shows). The R.E.M. ''Monster" tour was voted the year's most popular live event in Ticketmaster Online's first "Live Event Poll."

Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Dave Brubeck and Georg Solti will be honored with lifetime achievement awards at the Grammy show in February.


* Author Richard Paul Evans has come up with a rare double. His novel, The Christmas Box, will be No. 1 Sunday on the New York Times' hardback and paperback fiction lists. Evans, 33, a Salt Lake City ad exec, has an unusual contract giving hard and soft rights to separate publishers.

Football great Joe Montana will do a book on the mechanics of gridiron play to be published next year. His co-author, Richard Weiner, said Joe Montana on the Art and Magic of Quarterbacking will be modeled, in part, on Ted Williams' Science of Hitting.

Tom Stanton has just published Rocket Man: The Encyclopedia of Elton John for those who will never know enough about the rock star. "One of the amazing things is that you think you're a huge fan," notes Stanton, "and then you find people more obsessive than yourself."


* Snoop Doggy Dogg, on a break from his L.A. murder trial, was shooting a vid in Brooklyn last weekend when gunshots - real ones - rang out and he took cover. Producer Rich Ford declared it a hit try but Dogg's people denied it. His spokesman called it "a freak occurrence," just a "stray bullet from a drive-by or something (that) hit the side of a trailer."

Chicago's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, in Charleston, S.C., to mark the diocese's 175th anniversary, told reporters recently that doctors have given him a 25 percent chance of living more than five years. Battling pancreatic cancer, Bernardin, 67, noted: "We can face death in one of two ways . . . as an enemy or . . . a friend."


* Tim McGraw's ex-manager is entitled to about $500,000 of the country's star loot, a Louisiana arbitration panel has decided. Carol Booth sued McGraw in 1993, saying that she had invested $15,000 in his career and had a five- year contract with him that expired in 1994. Still to be decided - if Booth has rights to 15 percent of his gross income via a 1992 contract.

Paul McCartney's London home was burglarized and ransacked last weekend while he was off comforting wife, Linda, following breast cancer surgery. A camera and some CDs were reported stolen, though the ex-Beatle said a member of his staff startled the thieves and "nothing of any value was taken."

Chelsea Clinton Is 16, But Can't Keep The 3 Cars

Posted: February 28, 1996

Chelsea Clinton got a teenager's dream yesterday on her 16th birthday. She was offered three cars. All were turned down by the first parents.

The cars were all offered by radio stations seeking max publicity. One, Cincinnati's WOFX-FM, even had its gift, a well-used 1978 Olds costing $1,000, driven to the White House for the occasion.

As usual with the first daughter, details about her day were sparse. A White House spokesman, noting it was a school night, said marking her 16th would be a fam affair with perhaps a bigger celebration later this week with her buds.

Other gifts were not revealed. One disclosure: Somewhere along the line Chelsea started dating.

MUSIC MAKERS * Alanis Morissette got the OK from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to sing as written ``You Oughta Know'' on tonight's Grammy Awards show, even though it contains the f-word and a reference to oral sex. Still, home viewers are safe because stout CBS vows to bleep the earburners. Despite some objections to Joan Osborne's ``One of Us,'' with its references to the Pope and the deity, no deletions will be made.

In his first interview since being acquitted of murder, Snoop Doggy Dogg will appear on MTV at 10 a.m. next Wednesday. It'll repeat four times that day and air twice on March 10. In this week's Newsweek, the rapper said he won't follow O.J. Simpson's example and set up an 800 number ``because that was kind of whack. . . . Every time I see O.J. on TV I want to say, `Yo, homey, please go somewhere and sit down.' ''

MARKINGS * O.J. Simpson sold his Upper East Side Manhattan condo for $1.1 mil last month. He paid $50,000 more for it 6 1/2 years ago. The 1,645-square-foot pad has two bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and fine views. It's been on the market since September 1994.

Rush Limbaugh anted up $6.7 mil for beachfront shelter in Palm Beach, Fla. The North Ocean Drive house has six bedrooms, nine baths and 150 feet of private beach.

Larry King didn't endear himself to at least one reporter while covering Bob Dole's New Hampshire campaign last week. Amid a media horde he picked out Fox News' Rita Cosby to leer: ``Who are you. . . . How come I don't know you?'' Cosby ignored the TV talker as impish media-ites encouraged King to invite her onto his show. ``If I did,'' King noted, ``it would be a private booking.'' Yuck!

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Mayor Rendell will announce today that the Moshulu, said to be the world's largest four-masted restaurant, will return to Penn's Landing. It fell to fire in 1989.

John Taxin Jr., biggest fish at Old Original Bookbinder's, is engaged to Jamie Lindenbaum of New York City. Did it right. Flew her to Paris. Took her to the top of the Eiffel Tower on Friday. Offered her the diamond ring. She accepted. Taxin, reluctant to discuss it yesterday, noted: ``It's a private matter. I hope to be engaged to marry only once and I want to do it right.'' Says they've known each other 4 1/2 years but things picked up about two years ago. The date? ``I've done my part,'' he said. ``That's up to Jamie and her mother.'' The caterer?

Coretta Scott King, due at the Franklin Institute today for ceremonies ending Black History Month, will be a no-show because of the death of her mother, Bernice Scott.

COUPLES * Friends TV star David Schwimmer, 28, has dumped his girlfriend of almost three years, Sarah Trimble, 24, a lawyer clerking for a federal judge in New Orleans. They met before he was famous. He was in the Big Apple last weekend testing the dating waters in several reputed fertile-field bars.

Adua Pavarotti, wife of Luciano, says fear of old age pushed the tenor into the arms of his young secretary. In an open letter to her husband of 35 years, published in Italian papers yesterday, she reminded him: ``When the sunset comes the sense of limitation and loneliness, which hits successful people above all, has to be supported by old, well-rooted relationships.'' Indicating there have been other affairs, she said in an interview that ``this time . . . because of age and the type of aggression [he] faced, he has behaved in a way which has brought him to the point of no return.''

Helen Hunt, star of TV's Mad About You, is reportedly ``devastated'' by her breakup with actor Hank Azaria, whom she caught on the rebound from a friend about a year ago. He might've been scared off by talk of weddings and kids.

Sarah Jessica Parker denies talk that she's preggers by longtimer Matthew Broderick. Next month they're both in the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

SICK-BAY REPORT * Minnie Pearl, 83, is in Nashville's Centennial Medical Center for complications from a stroke, said a hospital spokeswoman who refused to give details yesterday. The country comic had a stroke in 1991 that partially paralyzed her and ended a half-century career.

Paul Newman, 70, is nursing a broken hand he got last week in a traffic mishap. Happened when he was driving a Westport, Conn., backroad with Joanne Woodward. A car suddenly appeared over a crest and headed right toward the actors. It sideswiped their car, knocking off a rear-view mirror.

Indications that life around Christopher Reeve is approaching normalcy: He'll give a speech at the March 10 dedication of a $17 mil rehab center in Green Springs, Ohio, and his actress wife, Dana, will enter rehearsals in April for the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival musical version of Two Gentleman of Verona. She's also taking son, Will, 3 1/2, to a resort this weekend to teach him to ski.

Tammy Faye Messner Is Treated For Colon Cancer

Posted: March 22, 1996

Tammy Faye Messner has colon cancer that required emergency surgery this week. A lawyer for her husband, Roe Messner - sentenced Wednesday to 27 months in jail for bankruptcy fraud - said: ``. . . They hoped it had not spread. I think they found that it has. And she will be undergoing very aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy over the next six to eight weeks.'' The development accounts for the absence of Messner, former wife of televangelist Jim Bakker, at the Wednesday sentencing. The lawyer said Roe Messner has prostate cancer but hasn't been treated because he doesn't have medical insurance.

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Philly jazz guitarist Pat Martino, forced to relearn his instrument after a 1980 brain aneurysm, just got a new contract with Blue Note Records. In a few weeks, he'll begin work on an album that should be out in the fall.

Prospect Park's Philip Yates and Matt Rissinger of Audubon, Montgomery County, authors of The Great Book of Zany Jokes, will do a free stand-up comedy routine for kids - lots of knock-knocks and word plays - tomorrow, 10:30 a.m., at Gene's Books in King of Prussia Plaza.

Event chair David Schwartz says the Arthritis Foundation's local chapter will benefit from its first Oscar-night do, Monday, between 8 and midnight at the Rittenhouse Hotel. For tix: 215-665-9200. Same night, same time, WMMR-FM's Pierre Robert and Michael Norris, who answers questions in the Ritz theaters' house mag, will head up an Oscar party to benefit the AIDS Information Network at the Black Banana, 247 Race St. For tix: 215-893-1145.

SICK-BAY REPORT Michelle Carew, daughter of baseball player Rod Carew, today will undergo a medical procedure to treat leukemia at Children's Hospital in Orange County, Calif. Michelle, 18, who's been waiting for a bone marrow transplant, will instead have an umbilical-cord-blood transplant. In the eight-year-old alternative procedure, cord blood obtained from an unrelated donor will be introduced into her bloodstream. She also suffers from cardiac and kidney dysfunction.

k.d. lang has been laid up this week at the Miami home of a friend, tending to a severe sunburn she got last weekend in the Bahamas. She's due next Friday at a Manhattan fash benefit.

THE MOVIE SET * Nicolas Cage and Susan Sarandon will win Monday's best-acting Oscars, according to more than 150,000 fans who registered their votes with MovieFone, an automated movie schedule service in 26 cities. Other predicted winners, voted on between March 4 and Tuesday: Mel Gibson, best director, and his movie, Braveheart, best flick.

Christopher Reeve has his first post-fall job. He and Amy Grant will narrate the animated special The Lion and the Lamb, which will be shopped around as a Christmas special this year. Part of the show's proceeds will go to spinal-injury research.

Steven Spielberg will give Kirk Douglas his lifetime achievement Oscar Monday, but that's not how it was planned. The initial idea was to have the actor's boys, Michael, Joel, Peter and Eric, do it. But academy officials were scared off by the recent bizarre behavior of Eric, arrested again Monday for letting his dog run wild on an airline flight. Since his absence would be conspicuous, organizers canned all four sons.

WHEN BAD IS GOOD * A testament to the connection of celebrity, media and money is the case of Mike Tyson and the baseball cap with the ``Live Hard'' logo he wore at a prefight news conference last week. The cap was given to the boxer unsolicited last month by Michael Kupferberg, one of the two 26-year-old founders of Chicago-based Live Hard Sportwear, in biz but 14 months. Since Tyson wore the cap, for no fee, Live Hard's 1996 projected revenue zoomed 10-fold, to $10 mil.

MUSIC MAKERS * Native son Glen Ballard, who last week saw official praise from the Mississippi House rescinded when legislators learned the Grammy Award-winning song he cowrote, Alanis Morissette's ``You Oughta Know,'' had naughty words, came back at them Wednesday. ``Mississippi has consistently misunderstood and undervalued its artists,'' said the Natchez songwriter. Ballard cited William Faulkner and Elvis Presley as examples of Mississippi artists ``criticized in their time by some in their native state who decided that their works failed to conform to a narrow sensibility.''

Ready on not, here comes Manhattan Upper East Side rapper Infidel with her first record, ``Good Cop/Bad Cop,'' which supports police. She's the alter ego of Park Avenue shrink Lauren Lawrence. MTV is in receipt of her video, Terrorist Lover. Help, Snoop, help!

MARKINGS * Mexican buffoon ``Superbarrio'' Gomez opened his bid for the U.S. presidency Wednesday in Mexico City. His motto: ``In Wetbacks We Trust.'' Never mind he's not the required American citizen. The caped and spandex-dressed candidate, riding a white limo, believes citizens of all the Americas should be allowed to vote in the U.S. election.

Chris Rock, campaign reporter for TV's Politically Incorrect, describing his journalistic method: ``. . . When the President comes on, I watch for 10 minutes to see if we're at war. And then I turn on the Knicks game or something. I'm not going to die - click.''

A `Braveheart' Victory Cage, Sarandon Also Winners

Posted: March 26, 1996

Braveheart is in the Oscar highlands. The epic about 13th century Scottish patriot William Wallace swept the Academy Awards last night like the ax-wielding warriors in actor-director Mel Gibson's film. It took five Oscars in all, including best picture and director.

In winning the latter prize, Gibson joined the company of actor-auteurs Laurence Olivier and Kevin Costner. ``Now that I'm Oscar's golden boy, what I'd really like to do is act,'' quipped Gibson, graciously accepting his statuette.

The rest of the awards were all over the map. On screen it may have been the year of the hooker, but Susan Sarandon won actress honors for playing a nun in Dead Man Walking, the powerful drama directed by her longtime companion, actor Tim Robbins. She saluted him as ``my partner in crime and all affairs of the heart.''

At the other end of the moral spectrum, Nicolas Cage won the actor award for his part as a suicidal alcoholic in the downbeat romance Leaving Las Vegas.

For the first time in memory there was no clear frontrunner going into the ceremony, which made for an unpredictable evening presided over by a confident and frequently hilarious Whoopi Goldberg.

The thriller The Usual Suspects won two awards, one for its canny original screenplay, written by Christopher McQuarrie; the second for supporting actor Kevin Spacey, who played the role of master manipulator to the hilt.

For her role as the helium-voiced prostitute in Mighty Aphrodite, Mira Sorvino took home the supporting-actress prize.

Emma Thompson, who teased the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility to scenario life, won the prize for adapted screenplay. Now Thompson has a mate for the best-actress statuette she won for Howards End in 1992.

Pocahontas nabbed a pair of awards, one for its musical score and the other for the song ``Colors of the Wind.''

Likewise, two artistic awards - for costumes and art direction - went to Restoration, the sumptuous 17th century comedy-drama. Apollo 13 also took two prizes: for sound and editing. Babe brought home the bacon for the seamless visual effects that had audiences believing that animals could talk. And Braveheart took three additional statuettes - for cinematography, sound-effects editing and makeup.

In winning the foreign-language prize for her movie Antonia's Line, Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris became the first woman in Oscar history to receive an award for directing a feature film.

Despite talk of protests about Hollywood's ``institutional racism'' from Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition, there were no pickets outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where Goldberg swept onstage and introduced herself as ``Mighty Afro-Deity.''

``I have something to say to Jesse Jackson,'' announced Goldberg, ``but he's not watching, so forget it.''

At the request of Mr. Jackson - who said he did not want to put Goldberg or Oscar telecast producer Quincy Jones in an uncomfortable position - demonstrators against Hollywood's ``institutional racism'' took their protests to affiliates of ABC, the network that broadcast the event.

During the telecast, a rally against Hollywood's racial exclusion and cultural distortion was to be held in 25 cities, including Philadelphia, the director of the Rainbow Coalition's Commission for Fairness in Media said yesterday afternoon. Seventy-five people, including Mr. Jackson, turned up at KABC-TV in Los Angeles. A crowd of 200 demonstrated at the ABC affiliate in Washington. But as of 9:30, no pickets were outside Channel 6 (WPVI) on City Avenue.

The protest was triggered by the dearth of African Americans among the 166 Oscar contenders this year. The only black nominee was live-action short director Dianne Houston, who did not win.

In recent months, Hollywood has been a target of political leaders who have criticized the industry for undermining family values. However, at last night's event, all but one of the best-picture nominees was rated G or PG. Braveheart received an R rating - for its violent battle sequences.

Goldberg was in fine form, and tweaked one of Hollywood's leading critics by joking, ``Oscar is 68, younger than Bob Dole. . . . I'm glad he's going to get the nomination because then he'll be too busy to go to the movies.'' She set the tone for the evening, razzing Republican presidential candidates and virtually every other authority figure.

By keeping the emphasis on fun, Goldberg and Jones goosed along the lumbering elephant of a show, which ran three hours and 35 minutes and was broadcast to more than a billion viewers worldwide.

Toy Story animator John Lasseter won a special Oscar over which characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear teasingly fought. Basketball hero Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and action superstar Jackie Chan, measuring 7'2'' and 5'9'' respectively, lightheartedly presented the awards for short subjects. The animated short ``A Close Shave'' netted creator Nick Park the third Oscar of his career.

Kirk Douglas, the cleft-chinned icon who has never won an Oscar, took home a special statuette in recognition of his ``50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion-picture community.''

As the boxer in Champion, the painter Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life, the freedom fighter Spartacus, and the last cowboy in Lonely Are the Brave, Douglas created an extraordinary gallery of roles, many in films that he produced. Douglas, 79, had a stroke earlier in the month, but was on hand to accept the Oscar from presenter Steven Spielberg, who hailed his courage.

Actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in an equestrian accident last year, provided another emotional moment when he took the stage in his wheelchair and received a standing ovation. Reeve introduced a montage of films that inspired social action..

A touching interlude was also provided by tap dancer Savion Glover, performing a tribute to Gene Kelly, who died earlier this year.

Master animator Chuck Jones, the guy who made Daffy Duck run amok and put the lunacy into Looney Tunes, received an honorary statuette from a most animated Robin Williams. Jones, 83, previously won on Oscar for his animated short ``The Dot and the Line'' in 1965.

The awards for both feature-length and short documentaries went to chronicles with Holocaust themes. When Jon Blair, the producer of the feature Anne Frank Remembered, introduced Miep Gies, who found the young girl's chronicle on the floor of her Amsterdam hideout, stunned silence swept the pavilion. It was a sound almost as thunderous as applause.

Shapiro Shows No Love For Others On `Dream Team'

Posted: March 29, 1996

Robert Shapiro, first O.J. Simpson dream-teamer out with a published book, savages his cohorts by characterizing F. Lee Bailey as a washed-up, back-stabbing ``loose cannon'' and faulting Johnnie Cochran Jr. for flirting with prosecutor Marcia Clark and shamelessly playing the race card.

In The Search for Justice, Shapiro blames Bailey for press leaks, adding that he almost quit the team because of them but was dissuaded by Cochran.

``There was no kissing and making up,'' he writes. ``Although [Bailey] never admitted a thing and has repeatedly denied the charges of leaking, I never forgave him - and don't to this day.'' He notes the two haven't spoken since the Oct. 3 acquittal.

Shapiro writes that Cochran's ``cutesy shtick'' and ``flirtatiously friendly'' behavior toward Clark infuriated O.J. He also criticizes Cochran for employing Nation of Islam bodyguards, making a Hitler-like figure of Mark Fuhrman, and ``incessant baiting'' of Christopher Darden.

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Joan Lunden will bring her 50-pounds-lighter body to Gene's Books at King of Prussia Plaza April 11 to sign her new book of 100 low-fat recipes, Joan Lunden's Healthy Cooking. The TV star will be there from noon to 2 p.m.

Jerry F. Leazer, head of Philly's Shooting Star Productions, has taken over operation of a low-powered VHF station, WOCB (Channel 7), which will go on the air Wednesday with a 24-hour format of rock videos and ads. The station, which went off the air three months ago under a different operator, has studios at 1218 Chestnut St. Leazer, raised in Libya, studied visual media at Temple.

Walnut Theater caster Karen Hinton is looking for a girl, age 10 to 13, to play Addie Pray in a musical version of Paper Moon opening this summer in Connecticut and at the Walnut next fall. Wannabes for the paid role must sing and will be required to do so at the April 9 audition. For an appointment, call Hinton at 215-574-3565.

COUPLES * Dennis Hopper will wed longtime love Victoria Duffy April 12 in Boston at a quiet fam bash. The movie star's daughter, Marin, has just been named fash director at Elle mag.

Andrew Young, ex-ambassador to the United Nations, will marry longtime friend Carolyn Watson, a teacher, this weekend in South Africa. Desmond Tutu will officiate. Young, 64, onetime Atlanta mayor, was widowed in 1994 after 40 years of marriage to Jean Childs.

Sculptor Lynn Syms, wife of clothier Sy, whose best customer is an educated consumer, last night unveiled at a dinner for 500 at Manhattan's Hotel Pierre a 500-pound statue she did of her husband. The occasion - the 10th anniversary of the Sy Syms School of Business, where the bust will be installed. The artist said she depicted her husband wearing a Syms suit, ``of course, and a Syms shirt and a Syms tie.'' Undies?

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw this week adopted their second kid, 1-month-old Mikaela George, a girl. It brings their combined brood to six.

THE BOOK BEAT * Out soon - Man of Steel: The Career and Courage of Christopher Reeve, in which author Adrian Havill discloses that the actor had a dream of competing this summer for the U.S. Olympic equestrian team.

George Seminara, author of Mug Shots, containing police pix and arrest records of the famous, said the one he wanted but couldn't get was the one taken when Frank Sinatra was arrested in Las Vegas for assault. After putting the word out that he was looking for it or any other of the singer with numbers on his chest, Seminara got a call from the office of Bruce Cutler, lawyer for John Gotti. Seminara quoted the caller as saying: ``We understand you're looking for information on Mr. Sinatra. Mr. Sinatra would greatly appreciate it if you would cease and desist.'' Seminara did. ``I'm not about to sleep with the fishes,'' he said.

Tim Green, ex-defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons, has an initial printing of 75,000 copies set for his third novel, Outlaws, which combines football with courtroom drama. Green, 32, a Phi Beta Kappa English major with a law degree from Syracuse U., said he made his main character a female defense lawyer ``to broaden the appeal of my novels.'' Also, he said, his law professors ``systematically set out to destroy gender discrimination by using the pronoun she in every case example.''

CUTTING WORDS * The new issue of Cosmo treats us to celeb dissing celeb in its piece, ``Star bright, star bite.'' Ethan Hawke: ``I hate Emma Thompson. I think she and Glenn Close could get together and do a movie called `We Simper Smugly.' Costarring Robin Williams.'' Dolly Parton: ``Recording with Linda Ronstadt was a pain in the butt. She's a perfectionist who loves to live in the studio and works so slow it drove me nuts . . . I wanted to get a cattle prod and say, `Wake up, bitch, I got stuff to do.' '' Janet Jackson: ``Do I hate Madonna? . . . Hate is a strong word. But if I did hate her I'd have valid reasons.'' Bette Midler: ``I've been told that [Geraldo Rivera wrote in his autobio] that I was sexually `insatiable.' Well, in my youth . . . I was a pretty hot number. And I slept with Geraldo. That's a completely humiliating thing to admit. I just deny I was `insatiable.' ''

MARKINGS * Phil Collins is quitting Genesis, noting that after being in the group ``for 25 years, I felt it's time to change direction. . . . For me, now, it will be music for movies, some jazz projects and . . . my solo career.'' Says he remains ``the best of friends'' with the other band members.

Clint Eastwood, who won a $150,000 libel award against the National Enquirer in October, got an additional windfall this week when the judge ordered the tabloid to pay the movie star's legal fees of $653,156. An L.A. federal jury found the Enquirer published a 1993 ``interview'' with Eastwood that never took place.

Daughter Writes Of Life With Margaret Thatcher

Posted: April 03, 1996

Margaret Thatcher was a cold and distant mother who discouraged displays of affection. So says her daughter, Carol, in a new bio of her father, Denis, called Below the Parapet, out later this month.

``As a child I certainly never got into my parents' bed,'' Carol, 42, said in a Daily Mail interview. ``At home there was nothing she couldn't do, but she didn't do it exuding enormous warmth. As a child I was frightened of her and later I was often conscious of talking to her knowing her mind was elsewhere. I used to console myself by thinking, `Carol, maybe it's because you talk such drivel.' ''

Britain's former first daughter said her mother ``did everything at a sprint so she could go to the office. . . . She wanted to be consumed by the job and, by God, she was.''

Carol said she was always second in her mother's affections to twin bro, Mark. ``Unloved is not the right word to describe me, but I never felt I made the grade,'' she said. ``Mark was blond, a very attractive little boy and sporty. I'm an ancient spinster of no fixed abode, living in a rented holiday resort. I still don't measure up awfully well on the Richter Scale, though I have embarrassed my parents less.''

She says of her parents' marriage: ``I think they recognized in the other a partner for the life they wanted to lead. It was an incredibly pragmatic partnership, way ahead of its time, and the ground rules were laid down very early on.''

THE MOVIE SET * Christopher Reeve will be the voice of King Arthur in the Warner Bros. cartoon feature The Quest for Camelot. The studio said the paralyzed actor will record his lines this summer in the Big Apple.

Ethan Hawke has been quietly doing occasional volunteer duty at a Manhattan homeless shelter. Serves dinner, puts out the cots, stays the night, serves breakfast, then puts the cots away at the Religious Society of Friends facility, 15th and Rutherford.

ON THE BOARDS * Tommy Tune, whose light has dimmed on Broadway, is putting together a cabaret act. The showman's two last stage efforts, Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, and Busker Alley, came in duds.

Carol Shaya, that New York cop who was bounced from the force for appearing nekkid in Playboy, makes her acting debut Friday at Manhattan's SoHo Playhouse in Grandma Sylvia's Funeral. Drew Barrymore's mom, Jaid, is also in it.

MARKINGS * Mother Teresa, 85, was released yesterday from a Calcutta nursing home where she was treated for a collarbone broken Monday. Her doctor, who advised her to rest for two weeks, said: ``There is no cause for concern. She's fine in all other respects.''

Lorena Bobbitt, 26, fated forever to be recalled as the wife who cut off her husband's penis, has been unconditionally released from the court-ordered therapy and supervision she's been under for 2 1/4 years. She works at Illusions Hair Salon in Arlington, Va., attends Northern Virginia Community College, and lives with recently emigrated kin from Venezuela. Her lawyer said of John Bobbitt: ``She ignores him completely.''

Alec Guinness' 82d birthday was noted yesterday with the placing of a plaque honoring him outside London's Actors Equity. The actor noted that the union stood up for him 60 years ago when he demanded his weekly understudy salary be upped 50 percent to $4.58. Eddie Murphy is 35 today. Craig T. Nelson, TV's Coach, is 50 tomorrow.

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Le Bec-Fin's Georges Perrier, who declared with much fanfare last month his engagement to Angela Izzo, was struck mum yesterday about their breakup. The mother of the Roxborough model said her daughter doesn't want to talk about it, either, and has fled to Florida ``to get away from all of this.''

Al Teti has pulled out of Zoot, the jazz and seafood joint that's been operating out of the first floor of Old City's Middle East following a stint in Head House Square. Says he's taking himself to Florida. Middle East's Michael Tayoun says a jazz eatery with a light menu will continue in the space, as the Middle East's belly dancers continue to quiver on the second floor.

Comic Claudia Sherman will headline a night of comedy April 18, sponsored by the Young Women's Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Site is the Marketplace Design Center, 2400 Market St. For tix: 215-893-5686.

COUPLES * Suddenly David Justice-less Halle Berry is getting a big rush by the head of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, 30. He's not really her type, but how can you ignore a guy who's 6-foot-4, over 300 pounds and rich?

Reformed porn star Traci Lords is reportedly set to wed Madonna discard John Enos.

John Kennedy and shackup girlfriend Carolyn Bessette are going upscale. After seven years with Calvin Klein's p.r. operation, she's quitting to see where the Kennedy cachet can take her. And he's said to have traded in his roller blades for his first muscle car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO, which will put him back $20,000 to restore.

THE BOOK BEAT * Brit Dick King-Smith, whose book Sheep Pig was the basis for the movie Babe, has sold options to five more of his books to Jim Henson Productions for more than $3 mil. King-Smith, 72, is an ex-farmer who didn't graduate college until 53 and didn't start writing until 60. Since then he's done more than 80 kids' books.

Shel Silverstein is coming out with his first book since 1981's A Light in the Attic next month. It's called Falling Up, a collection of 140 poems and drawings.

TV OR NOT TV * Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Frampton - how'd he get in there? - will be featured on the last seasonal episode of The Simpsons May 19. The show, about alternative rock, is set up by Homer's comment: ``Why do you need new bands? Everyone knows that rock attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact.'' Said Cypress Hill's B-Real: ``We did it so we could joke about it later, to look back five years from now and think how cool and weird it was.'' Added Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo: ``We're somewhat of a cartoon on one level.'' Noted Frampton: ``Don't forget, there is always a chance of a spinoff.'' For you?

Jackie O? Who Needs Her? This Auction Doesn't

Posted: April 26, 1996

Whaddaya bid for a golf party with President Clinton?

We'll know May 4 when that very item goes up at the annual fund-raising auction for Chelsea Clinton's Sidwell Friends School. As part of the deal, the Prez will chase the little white ball with three other duffers at the Army Navy Country Club. However, bidding is limited to the school's 1,060 students, their folks, alumni, staff and their guests.

The school hopes to raise $250,000 through its auction, which also includes tix to the Oscars and a $5,000 cross-country, hotel-hopping tour. The bidding will be shouted at Washington's Omni Shoreham Hotel between dinner and dancing.

KIDDER'S TRAVAIL * Margot Kidder, still held yesterday in a Los Angeles County psychiatric hospital, expressed bizarre behavior to a Tennessee TV crew at LAX at 3 a.m. Sunday, five hours after being dropped off by a friend for a flight to Arizona.

The crew was arriving in L.A. for Wednesday's Academy of Country Music awards. Crew member Ted Hall said the actress asked them if she could hang with them, noting that ``people were after her.'' He said she'd point to some and yell: ``I see your beeper. You've been watching me all night.'' Hall said she followed them to a car rental counter and feverishly passed on notes. One note said: ``Will you take my jacket a few miles and throw it away for me?'' Another said: ``I am dead.'' The actress, who made $100,000 a week playing Lois Lane in the Superman movies, was found with 40 cents on her and in a crazed, disheveled state Wednesday 25 miles away, hiding in a backyard. She also said her husband was out to kill her, Hall said, adding that the last he saw of her was when she got into a cab. Kidder is thrice-divorced. Her exes include novelist Thomas McGuane, who lives near her in Montana and is father of their daughter, Maggie; actor John Heard; and French filmmaker Philippe De Broca. Kidder's agent, Kristine Wallis, said the actress appeared ``perfectly fine'' and ``looked great'' when they spent an hour together Friday as she auditioned for a commercial voiceover.

Kidder's Superman costar, Christopher Reeve, called her ``a dear friend who has always been there for me, and I would do anything to help her.''

MAKING MUSIC * The Stone Temple Pilots canceled three free concerts next week in Chicago, Los Angeles and the Big Apple after revealing Wednesday that lead singer Scott Weiland, 29, has gone into drug rehab. The band said Weiland ``has been unable to rehearse or appear for these shows due to his dependency on drugs.'' Weiland said he was innocent when picked up in 1994 for buying coke and heroin.

Grand Funk Railroad (``We're an American Band'') will reunite for its first tour in 20 years when it opens in Raleigh, N.C., May 27. The three originals, Mark Farner, Don Brewer and Mel Schacher, commenced rehearsals Monday in Detroit.

THE MOVIE SET * Divine Brown was at yesterday's premiere of her first movie, Sunset and Divine: The British Experience, but Hugh Grant was a no-show. He was invited and couldn't plead inconvenience since the theater is in Manhattan's TriBeCa district and Grant's making a movie in the TriBeCa Center. Brown blamed Grant's trespass with her last year on his honey, Elizabeth Hurley. ``You wanna hold your man, you have to know how to entertain him,'' said the celeb hooker. On the other hand: ``If I caught his ass doing me like he did her, he's history, OK? . . . You did it once, you'll do it again, that's it.'' Priorities in order!

MARKINGS * Conductor Mariss Jansons, 53, who collapsed from a heart attack Wednesday in the midst of a performance of the Oslo Philharmonic, was in satisfactory condition yesterday in Finland. Jansons is to take over as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony next year.

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Tracey Matisak of TV's Good Day Philadelphia and City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell will be among nine women to get ``Sistahs!'' awards for outstanding achievement tomorrow, 4:30 p.m., at the Convention Center as part of an all-day celebration of African American women. Toni Braxton will perform and several writers will speak, including Bertice Berry, Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant and Cassandra Marshall Cato-Lewis. Tix are $9.99. Doors open 11 a.m.

The Anna Crusis Women's Choir, a feminist ensemble that's been around here for 20 years, will stage a fund-raising auction, reception and concert tomorrow, at Arch Street Methodist Church, Broad and Arch Streets, at 7 p.m. Tix: $10.

For 50 bucks you get dessert not dinner, as stated here yesterday, at tomorrow's 88-pianist concert at the Convention Center marking the 88th birthday of Settlement Music School. You might sample the music for free, though, if you slip into rehearsals today, between noon and 8:30 p.m., and tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

CELEBRITY DOCKET * Bobby Brown was arrested and charged with drunken driving Monday at 3 a.m. in Atlanta and released later that day on $1,250 bail. A woman who wasn't Whitney Houston was with him, but not charged. A local news report said the singer picked the woman up at a bar. Police said Brown refused to take a breath test, was ``hostile and belligerent'' and took three tries to recite the alphabet.

Movie actress Lori Singer (Fame, Footloose) is battling lawyer Richard Emery for custody of their son, Jacques, 4. She took the kid to live with her in California without Emery's permission. He went to court and got the boy back to New York. They're still hassling it out while sidebarring a tiff over legal fees.

Not Able-bodied, But True Friends

Posted: April 26, 1996

Well, now Margot Kidder knows who her friends are.

Three days after being found confused and grubby in a Los Angeles suburb, she's undergoing psychiatric evaluation, and we haven't heard a peep from her grown daughter or three strapping ex-husbands: novelist Thomas McGuane, actor John Heard and director Philippe de Broca.

But look at who has offered assistance! Two guys with plenty of other things on their minds.

One is Kidder's ``Superman'' co-star Christopher Reeve, who's wheelchair-bound, breathing with the aid of a respirator.

``She is a dear friend who has always been there for me, and I would do anything to help her,'' Reeve said in a statement issued yesterday.

The other is comedian Richard Pryor, disabled by multiple sclerosis. He also vowed to help support Kidder, somehow.

``I love her. She stood by me and begged me to get better . . . and she helped me a lot,'' Pryor told an L.A. TV station.

The actress, who hasn't snagged any big film roles since the mid-1980s, has had financial and health problems since a 1990 car accident. She filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992 and recently moved to Montana.

Kidder was traveling through Los Angeles this week when she failed to catch a scheduled flight, and her manager reported her as missing.

Yesterday, a television news crew that had seen Kidder at LAX Sunday morning said the actress told them an ex-husband - she didn't say which one - had hired someone to kill her. She reportedly pointed at other travelers in the airport as though they were after her.

They said a car-rental employee eventually hailed a taxi for Kidder, and she got in and rode away.

HEY, IT COULDN'T HURT Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon offered to lend her Oscar statue to the New York Rangers - she's a fan - if it would help bring them luck against the Montreal Canadiens this week. She told team captain Mark Messier he could keep it in the locker room.

He apparently declined.

``They seemed to think they'd be OK,'' said Sarandon, who won the Oscar this spring as best actress in ``Dead Man Walking.'' ``Maybe they don't need it.''

Hey, Mira Sorvino. We bet Eric Lindros wouldn't say no.

SHE'S BAAACK One more time: Divine Brown is back. Yesterday, in New York, the onetime hooker-to-Hugh Grant did a quick shill for an upcoming video, which dramatizes her brief brush with fame.

Since her encounter with actor Grant only took about 20 seconds, there's a little padding in the movie, such as a jailhouse sex scene where Brown romps with other inmates atop a satin comforter, Reuter reports.

The XXX video ``Sunset and Divine'' goes on sale May 6.

DRYING OUT Scratch those Stone Temple Pilot concerts in Chicago, New York and L.A. Lead singer Scott Weiland has checked himself into rehab for those late-April and early-May dates.

Weiland ``has been unable to rehearse or appear for these shows due to his dependency on drugs,'' intoned a statement issued by the Atlantic Recording Corp. A spokeswoman for the label declined to comment further on the singer's condition or plans.

SVELTE, BUT SOLD OUT Hey, Janeane Garofalo. You're looking pretty good there in ``The Truth About Cats and Dogs.'' You've changed? Lost weight?

``Over 25 pounds,'' she tells the new Elle magazine. ``And I'm highly ashamed. I want to go on record: I've crossed over to the side of the sellouts.''

Sellouts? Whatever do you mean?

``Well,'' said Garofalo, who left her steadiest gig, ``Saturday Night Live,'' a year ago, ``I was unhappy with the lack of employment. And I realized that as a woman in this business, there is one way to increase my chances of getting hired.

``Because, miraculously, you become more talented as you become thinner. It's like this magical thing where the skinnier you get, the more casting directors seem to respond to your talent.''

Misguided Health-care Decision

Posted: May 24, 1996

Is it churlish to raise questions about Christopher Reeve's success in obtaining an additional $10 million in government money for researchers working on spinal-cord injury?

Clearly yes, given that Reeve, of Superman film renown, remains paralyzed from a riding accident last year. Determined to regain his health, Reeve has been campaigning for an expansion of research to benefit the thousands who share his affliction. In a wheelchair, and dependent on a respirator, he is a heroic figure.

With proper support, he optimistically says, scientists can solve the daunting problem of regenerating severed nerves in five or six years. Recently, in a packed Senate hearing room, Reeve said President Clinton had pledged an additional $10 million for research. Key Senators said they would do their part to provide the money.

A happy outcome, in the best tradition of responsive government? Not at all.

Making health-research choices on the basis of celebrity status and exaggerated hopes of breakthroughs is no formula for arriving at wise choices. This is especially so in an era when health research is facing hard times.

If another $10 million a year for research can indeed solve the mystery of nerve regeneration in relatively short order, then two extremely disturbing questions arise: If that's all that's required, why was it lacking until a dramatically injured Hollywood celebrity took up the cause? And if money won't make the difference, then why is precious money being thrown at this problem?

Daughter Says Flynt Molested Her

Posted: May 25, 1996

Tonya Flynt-Vega, 31, daughter of Larry Flynt, has accused the Hustler mag founder of sexually abusing her from before age 10 until she was 18. Flynt-Vega said she came forward now because a film being made by Oliver Stone's production company depicts her father ``as an American hero and pornography as being harmless.'' Flynt, 53, countered that his daughter has ``serious mental problems'' and ``was a habitual liar [who] would do anything to get attention and that's what she's doing now.'' The movie, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, is now shooting and stars Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love.

MORE FAMILY MATTERS * Woody Allen and Mia Farrow are back in court and their gag-ordered lawyers are mute about it all. But Allen has said previously that he wants to spend more time and have more unsupervised visits with his son, Satchel, 7, who now goes by Seamus. Allen now sees him six hours a week. Farrow and the filmmaker met privately Thursday in a Manhattan courthouse.

TOP OF THE WORLD, MA! * Ang Rita Sherpa became the first person to reach the peak of Mount Everest 10 times after arriving at the top Wednesday without using oxygen. Nepalese Ang Rita, 48, first conquered the world's highest mountain in 1983.

David Breashears, who made it to the top Thursday, became the first person to record his Everest feat in IMAX, the world's largest movie format. Breashears, 41, shot his peak experience on a modified, 33-pound IMAX camera on a single role of 500-foot film. It'll be part of a 40-minute film, Everest: Pinnacle of the World, to be released in late 1997.

DENIAL RIVER * Madonna's spokesman has put the lie to a report that a sonogram reveals the pop star's fetus to be female, that her name will be Lola, and that the kid will be delivered by C-section. ``It's completely untrue,'' said the spokesman yesterday. ``Madonna does not know the sex of the baby; therefore, how could she name it? She does not know how she will give birth. That will be up to the doctor.''

Prince Albert branded as ``preposterous'' a report that Princess Grace's stuff will go on the block a la Jacqueline Onassis. In New York this week for a Princess Grace Foundation do, the prince said that ``it's never even been an issue. I don't know where that came from.'' The report had the auction take going to the foundation that funds promising artists.

THE MOVIE SET * The Tom Cruise-starrer Mission Impossible set a gross record for a midweek opening movie by taking in $11.75 mil Wednesday and Thursday. That topped Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which raked in $11.66 mil in two days in 1991. Mission also opened at a record number of venues, 2,932 screens. A Manhattan Sony theater is exhibiting the movie on all six screens with showings every half-hour.

Christopher Reeve has signed to direct a one-hour movie for HBO that'll air next year. In the Gloaming, adapted from a New Yorker story by Alice Elliot Dark, is about a young man who returns to his parents' home to die of AIDS and how his return changes the relationships among them. Production is scheduled to begin in the fall. Said the wheelchair-bound Reeve: ``This is a terrific project for me to make the transition from acting to directing.''

MARKINGS * Dan Quayle and a line of almost 600 people waiting for him to sign his book were driven from a Borders bookstore in Scottsdale, Ariz., because of a bomb scare Thursday. Cops searched the place after a phone call was received but found nothing. ``It unfortunately goes with the territory,'' said the ex-veep, who, outside the store, continued to shake hands and sign copies of The American Family: Discovering the Values That Make Us Strong.

Jose Carreras announced in Rome Thursday the full Three Tenors summer tour that opens June 29 in Tokyo. The other stops, starring him, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, are: London; Vienna; New York; Goteborg, Sweden; plus Munich and Dusseldorf in Germany.

At Horse Show, Actor's Accident Is Taboo Subject Riders Are Aware That What Happened To Christopher Reeve Can Happen To Anybody.

Posted: May 30, 1996

DEVON — Almost exactly a year ago today, actor Christopher Reeve was thrown from his horse when it unexpectedly halted in front of a jump at a Virginia competition. Although Reeve was wearing a helmet, he broke his neck, damaged his spinal cord, and is now a quadriplegic.

This week at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, some of the nation's best equestrians make the sport look effortless. The well-postured riders, on their burnished, buffed horses, take difficult jumps with such ease and grace that it is easy to ignore the danger that many say is inherent in the sport.

And Reeve's accident is a taboo subject to many here.

``It was all over TV and the magazines, but I don't think I've ever heard horse people talk about it,'' said Rob Burroughs, a horse groomer at North Run Farms in Buffalo, N.Y. That farm, like many other horse organizations, made the trip to Devon to compete in the horse show, which runs through Sunday.

``Hundreds of people fall off a day,'' Burroughs said, but death or paralysis in the sport is not common. Reeve ``just fell off the wrong way,'' he said.

``I wouldn't think too many people would want to talk about it, but Christopher Reeve is an example of how dangerous this sport can be,'' said Gary Goller, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which performed at the show earlier this week.

Susie Schoellkopf, the owner of SBS Farms in Buffalo, said that the severe nature of Reeve's injuries is an anomaly, and that she does not talk about his accident with her riders.

``We're defensive about it, because it doesn't happen that much,'' she said.

Many of those who spend much of their time around horses say that most are temperamental animals with distinct personalities. Like humans, horses get nervous at big competitions. But unlike their riders, horses lack the cognitive resources to deal with the hubbub of major competitions.

Instead, as people in the horse world put it, horses get ``spooked.'' When frightened, even the best-trained will rear, buck and neigh.

Reeve's accident is widely considered to be a freak occurrence, but, as many riders say, spend enough time riding horses and eventually you'll fall off. To make it in this sport - where the main athletes weigh about 1,500 pounds - you have to be tough as well as good.

Katie Prudent, the owner and rider for Plain Bay Farms in Middleburg, Va., who is trying out for the Olympic equestrian team this year, is living proof.

Six years ago, the horse she was riding fell to its knees after a jump, and she fell off and hit her head. Prudent did not want to discuss the details of the accident, but said she had brain surgery. At another competition a few years later, her horse fell through a jump, and she broke her collar bone.

``I would say almost every rider has broken something,'' she said. ``But at our level, on a percentage basis, you don't see a lot of very serious accidents.''

While walking Brother, an amber-colored American thoroughbred with veins bulging to the size of string beans and nostrils as big as pickles, Burroughs said he once broke a few of his ribs when his horse hit the brakes in front of a jump, sending him sailing.

Patty Foster, a trainer for Rolling Acre Farms in Brookville, Md., said the horse show at Devon is different from other shows, where the rings are surrounded mostly by trees. At Devon, she said, the scene is not as serene: Children run by the exhibit ring, people open umbrellas just a few feet from passing horses, and nearby carnival games and rides create a cacophony that can put even the most docile horse on edge.

In the doorway of the Plain Bay Farm barn at Devon, workers put up a rope to keep the public out. ``Our horses aren't mean, but if they don't know you, they may bite,'' said Rebekah Robinson, a groom with the farm. ``We don't want to be responsible for any little kids getting hurt.''

Amy Grim, a groom for Snooty Fox Farms in Allentown, said someone slammed a window shut in their Devon stable a few days ago, surprising one of the horses. The horse ``freaked,'' she said, and knocked down the stable door with a swift hind-leg kick.

``You never know what's going on in their minds,'' she said.

Di Upstaged As Other Royals Do Consolation Visits

Posted: June 25, 1996

Princess Diana believes her soon-to-be ex-mum-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, is derailing her efforts to comfort victims of disasters.

Friends of the princess say she wanted to visit the Docklands area of London in February after a bombing by the Irish Republican Army killed two newspaper vendors.

But the queen sent Prince Charles.

Diana also wanted to go to Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 children and their teacher were massacred last March by a man who then killed himself. But the queen went there herself with her daughter, Princess Anne.

And last weekend, the Duchess of Kent, the queen's cousin, visited victims of another IRA bomb in Manchester, in northern England. More than 200 people were in that explosion, on June 15.

OMINOUS SILENCE * Elie Wiesel says the rash of black church fires in the United States signals an ominous problem - silence.

The Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner said he worries more about those who don't speak out against the church fires than about the people who set the blazes.

``Wherever fanaticism begins, we must halt it immediately. If not, it will be too late,'' he said Sunday at a speech at Florida State University.

``I cannot understand how it is possible in our society - in this country which was based, after all, on diversity - that there should be today stupid, vile, vicious men who use violence and fire to express their hatred,'' Wiesel said.

DOWNEY ON A DOWNER * Rule One: Don't do 70 m.p.h. along L.A.'s Pacific Coast Highway. Rule Two: If you're going to roar along at 70 m.p.h., don't do so while hauling cocaine, heroin and a concealed weapon.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. apparently ignored both rules over the weekend, according to police reports, and, as a result, found himself booked for investigation of possession of a concealed weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and driving while under the influence. The 31-year-old actor was freed on $10,000 bail. He has a July 26 court date.

The actor, who appeared in Less Than Zero and received an Academy Award nomination for Chaplin, most recently appeared in a film version of Shakespeare's Richard III and in last year's Home for the Holidays.

MORE OF DAVE * Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's, reportedly has made more commercials than any other CEO who has ever hawked his own wares on the tube. To celebrate that dubious distinction, Wendy's is sponsoring a Dave-look-alike contest. The winner will get to appear with Dave in Thomas' 500th commercial. Details at your local Wendy's.

LESS OF MOORE * First it was the clothes. Now it's the hair. Demi Moore showed up Sunday night for the premiere of her new film, Striptease, with a quite uncharacteristic crew cut. The nearly bald look - similar to that of singer Sinead O'Connor - is for a film Moore is working on called G.I. Jane, in which she plays the fictitious first woman to receive training as a Navy Seal commando. Accompanying the actress were daughters Rumer and Scout, and husband Bruce Willis.

EARTH TO HOLLYWOOD . . . * Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis turned out for the opening of Nashville's Planet Hollywood - No. 32 in the chain of movie-themed restaurants. Also at Saturday's VIP party: Charlie Sheen, Luke Perry, Wesley Snipes, Vanessa Williams and Cindy Crawford. ``This is not a party,'' gushed Perry, who recently moved to Nashville. ``This is the party.''

The decor, like the other Planet Hollywood restaurants, features movie memorabilia. An ice pick used by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct is part of the Nashville collection.

HERE AND THERE * John Travolta still insists he fled Paris and The Double because his son was going to have surgery, although he doesn't deny he had big problems with director Roman Polanski. Travolta lawyer Bert Fields says the shooting script was far different from the one Travolta read a year and a half ago when he agreed to make the film. Steve Martin has been brought in to replace Travolta.

Christopher Reeve, Penny Marshall, Patrick Swayze, Alec Baldwin, Tom Petty, David Carradine, Clint Black, Vanessa Williams, Carlos Santana, Don Cornelius, Clive Davis and The Four Tops will get their stars along Hollywood's Walk of Fame in 1997.

A STEAL, DAHLING * Eva Gabor's former home in the West Los Angeles Holmby Hills section has sold for about $2.5 million. The Hungarian-born actress, who played a farm-bound socialite on TV's Green Acres, lived in the house for 20 years. She died last July at 74. The house, built in 1938, also had been leased at various times by David Niven, Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn.

It was bought by Margaret and Murray Black. She is a Dean Witter executive; he heads a drilling and blasting company.

Hemingway Spoke Of Life's Meaning In Interview

Posted: July 04, 1996

In her final interview, done June 7 in cyberspace, Margaux Hemingway said she had learned the secret of life.

``You have to keep fighting. That's what life is all about - leading with your heart,'' Hemingway said.

Hemingway, 41, was found dead Monday in her Santa Monica, Calif., apartment. Her observations on life and other subjects were made during a ``Celebrity Spotlight'' cyberchat on the Prodigy online service.

She said that she had been plagued with dyslexia most of her life and that she had suffered from diabetes and epilepsy as well. Friends of the actress said they believed the latter condition may have contributed to her death.

Hemingway, who was the granddaughter of two-fisted literary giant Ernest Hemingway, said in the chat that she fondly remembered ``Papa.''

``I remember sitting on his knee when I was a baby and him being very big and burly,'' she wrote. ``He died in 1961 when I was quite young.''

MUNSTER MASHED * Butch Patrick, who spent his childhood in pallid makeup and a widow's peak as Eddie Munster, was arrested last week after allegedly pulling out in traffic and hitting another car. Booked under his real name, Patrick Alan Lilley, he was charged Friday with driving with a suspended or revoked license and failure to yield. He was released the same day after posting about $1,200 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 7. Lilley, 42, said his license was revoked in California because he refused to pay insurance there and in Georgia, where he now lives. He has been seen most recently on television as the grown-up Eddie in a Little Caesars Pizza commercial. The woman whose car he hit, Wendy Rutecky, didn't recognize him as the boy in the 1960s TV hit The Munsters.

``I thought he was just an ordinary person,'' she said. Maybe he should have kept on the ghoulish costume.

CAN'T FORGET HIM * Hundreds of rock fans, many clutching flowers and some in tears, made a pilgrimage yesterday to the grave of Jim Morrison, 25 years after the cult singer-poet of The Doors died of a drug overdose in Paris.

Police guarded the Pere Lachaise cemetery to turn away those planning to mute their grief with drugs or alcohol. Other guards struggled to keep mourners, many born after the American's death, from trampling nearby tombs or scrawling graffiti. Hey, people are strange.

Mourners, ranging from teenage girls to aging bearded rock fans with shoulder-length hair, stood silently by the tomb, covered with a huge wreath of red roses and marked ``James Douglas Morrison. 8.12.43 to 3.7.71.''

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Rodney Hicks, 22, a Mount Airy native, has been added to the cast of Rent, the popular, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that is running at the Nederlander Theater in New York. He was also a member of the musical's cast when it opened off Broadway. Hicks graduated from Roxborough High in 1992 after attending the High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

HE'S BACK * Christopher Reeve has agreed to play a small but key role in a CBS movie, his first acting job since he was paralyzed last year.

The movie is about a mother, played by Judith Light, whose insurance company refuses to pay for her paralyzed son's rehabilitation. The family meets Reeve's character, a quadriplegic who counsels them and gives them hope.

Filming begins this month, with the Superman star scheduled for about one day's worth of work. An airdate has yet to be set.

Reeve is also planning his directorial debut with the HBO movie In the Gloaming and is providing narration for an HBO documentary Without Pity.

Reeve, who uses a respirator-equipped wheelchair, was paralyzed from the neck down after a May 1995 fall in a horseback-riding competition.

SICK CALL * Former NBC News anchorman John Chancellor, who has battled stomach cancer for two years, was listed in fair condition at the Princeton Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. She said Chancellor, 69, was admitted Monday but declined to give further details.

Chancellor retired from NBC in 1993 after 43 years with the network. He was the anchorman of the nightly news from 1970 to 1982 when he became the program's commentator, a post he held for 11 years.

He also covered four wars for the network and was its White House correspondent.

LEGAL BRIEF * A waiter at an upscale restaurant in Charleston, W.Va., has been suspended for being rude to daughters of Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.

Actress Shari Belafonte, her sister Adrienne Belafonte Biesmayer, Pamela Poitier and Alycia Allen, North Carolina's teacher of the year, were refused service despite a reservation at Laury's.

Biesmayer said that she does not believe the June 22 incident was racially motivated, but that she had a hard time convincing her companions of that.

``I'm 47 years old and a resident of West Virginia for 30 years,'' she said. ``This is the first time I've had such an experience.''

Owner Fazo Mirzakhani suspended the unidentified waiter for a week. He said it is not Laury's policy to discriminate.

``If he was being racial, I'll fire him,'' he said.

DOIN' IT * Rapper/actor/self-proclaimed lover LL Cool J has been hit with a sexual discrimination/breach of contract suit by female rapper LeShaun. She's suing because she said he refused to use her in the video for the popular track ``Doin' It,'' which she cowrote, because she was pregnant. (The ironies here are endless.) And she's also ticked because he used a remix of ``Doin' It'' called ``Doin' It Again'' on The Nutty Professor sound track without asking her or her label, Tommy Boy Records. She hasn't been paid for the remix or the sound track.

New Hope For Injured Spinal Cords A Finding On Rats Could Help Humans.

Posted: July 26, 1996

With a feat of ultra-delicate surgery considered impossible just a few years ago, researchers have partially repaired the severed spinal cords of 22 rats, enabling the once-paralyzed animals to move their legs and take a few stumbling steps.

This accomplishment, along with a handful of other recent advances, opens the possibility that doctors one day will be able to restore some feeling and movement to people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.

Lars Olson and H. Cheng of Sweden's Karolinska Institute took a graft of threadlike nerve fibers from another part of the rats' bodies, attached them across the severed area, and coaxed them to start growing down the rat's spinal cords.

``This is the first time that anyone has shown regeneration in a completely severed spinal cord,'' said neurosurgeon Wise Young of New York University Medical Center.

While the finding is being announced in today's issue of the journal Science, rumors of the astonishing work have for weeks buzzed through the community of researchers working on spinal cord injuries.

Many warn against raising false hopes of a ``cure'' for paralysis, but researchers agree that there is real hope that doctors in the future could restore at least some of the lost function in paraplegics and quadriplegics.

Any improvement would come as a godsend to people such as Christopher Reeve, whose fall from a horse left him paralyzed from the shoulders down and unable to breathe for more than about an hour without a respirator, according to New York University's Young, who has treated the actor and many other spinal cord injury patients.

``Suppose we could get him off his respirator - or give him just a little movement in one hand,'' said Young. ``It would have an enormous impact on his life.''

``Walking is not the be-all and end-all for spinal cord injury,'' he said. ``Independence is.''

Perhaps one of the most tragic quirks of the human body is that the nerve fibers of the spinal column, once torn, never heal. About 100,000 people in the United States have suffered injuries that have left them trapped in permanently paralyzed and numb bodies.

For years, no one knew why these nerve fibers wouldn't heal inside the spinal cord, though scientists realized it must have something to do with the environment of the spinal column, since the same type of nerve fibers grow and heal in other parts of the body.

In the 1980s, Swiss researcher Martin Schwab discovered that the coating surrounding the nerve fibers contains a protein that stops the nerves from growing. In his experiments with rats, in which he severed their spinal cords two-thirds of the way across, Schwab was able to improve their ability to walk by disabling this protein.

Schwab then tried to coax the nerves to grow better by adding substances called growth factors, which, in other parts of the body, aid growth and healing.

In the study reported today, Olson and Cheng started with a complete cut. In fact, they left a gap of one-fifth of an inch.

The placing of the cut determines the extent of the paralysis. They made it at a point along the back that left the front legs working but rendered the back ones paralyzed.

Then, in each mouse, they detached 18 of the invisibly thin nerve fibers from under the rib cage, and, using a microscope, attached them to both sides of the gap, forming a bridge.

Just bridging the gap wasn't enough. ``It's not like repairing an electrical wire,'' explained Young. Olson and Cheng needed to get at least a few nerve fibers to grow several centimeters down the spine, to the junction with the motor neurons that control the legs.

Normally, the growth-stopping protein found in the spinal cord would keep this from happening. To avoid this stumbling block, the researchers tried something never done before: They used the central part of the spinal column, called the gray matter, where the nerve fibers threading down the cord don't normally run.

Because the gray matter is free of the growth-inhibiting proteins, they attached one end of the nerve bridge to this region, hoping it would provide a better environment for these nerves to grow.

The operation took several hours of steady-handed work.

Over a period of weeks, the fibers grew about one-half inch down the spinal column, enough to allow the rats to move their legs.

Olson cautioned that the rats didn't exactly start scampering around. ``They are by no means normal again.'' But the creatures did go from dragging their limp hind legs to ``using them in a helpful way.''

Their recovery took four to six weeks because the fibers grow only about a millimeter a day. That would translate into years of slow recovery for humans.

Cheng and Olson also did the repair immediately after cutting the cords, so it remains to be seen whether the technique could ever apply to people with old injuries.

``I don't want to give spinal cord injury victims false expectations,'' said Olson, who was moved to devote his life to this problem years ago after a young friend became paralyzed in a diving accident.

Olson also cautioned that the surgery is still too dangerous to be tried on humans, who could lose what little nerve function they might have retained from an accident.

``It's important not to take advantage of the desperate situation these people are in,'' Olson said.

Meanwhile, other researchers are developing alternative approaches. A team at the University of Florida is encouraging rat nerves to regrow with the help of transplanted fetal cells.

Others are using steroid drugs and growth factors to restore small amounts of function in both rats and humans. A North Carolina researcher has used a substance called AP-4, which helps the remaining nerves to conduct more electricity. Several long-paralyzed patients regained some sensation, and one man reportedly regained bowel and bladder control, and sexual function, after 15 years of paralysis.

``The good news is there are a variety of strategies now,'' said Fred Gage of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Christopher Reeve has been quoted saying he has set a goal of standing up and toasting his family on his 50th birthday, seven years from now. Whether that happens may depend on the resources directed at the problem.

Scientists say the excitement over today's news will encourage more research.

Spinal cord injury research is a sort of cottage industry, said Andrew Blight, a neurosurgeon at the University of North Carolina. ``We have just a few people doing research in a fairly modest way.

``If we threw the resources into this that we put into the moon shot,'' he said, ``then we could make real progress.''

Perhaps a few small steps for mice will mean a few small steps for man.

L.a. Lakers Sign Trevor Wilson

Posted: August 16, 1996

The Los Angeles Lakers continued their busy off-season by signing free agent forward Trevor Wilson, who spent a brief time with the 76ers last season. Terms were not disclosed.

The 6-foot-8 Wilson, 28, appeared in six games with the 76ers last December, averaging 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds. He spent most of the season in the CBA and averaged 14.1 points and 6.6 rebounds with Chicago and Sioux Falls.

Wilson becomes the sixth free agent to sign with Los Angeles. Shaquille O'Neal was the Lakers' major free-agent acquisition, and was followed by centers Sean Rooks and Travis Knight, guard Rumeal Robinson and forward Jerome Kersey.

* Dan Majerle can choose between a $247,500 offer from the Phoenix Suns and a multimillion-dollar deal with the Miami Heat, a source close to the negotiations said.

The source said that Majerle was unlikely to decide before the weekend and may wait until next week.

The free-agent swingman would prefer to play in Phoenix, where he lives and owns a popular restaurant, but the Suns can offer him only the NBA minimum pay because they're over the salary cap.

Heat coach Pat Riley reportedly offered Majerle a three-year, $8 million deal.

A Heat official said Riley still wanted Majerle, who was expected to sign with the team Tuesday but then had second thoughts and returned to Phoenix.

HOCKEY Boston Bruins goaltender Bill Ranford will make $1.75 million next season, down from about $2.1 million, following an arbitrator's ruling in favor of the team.

Ranford requested $2.75 million for the 1996-97 season, with the Bruins offering $1.75 million, The Boston Globe reported.

Claude Foisy, in a decision based almost entirely on statistical comparisons with other goalies, ruled that the Bruins offered appropriate compensation.

* The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim signed defenseman Ruslan Salei, their first-round pick in the June NHL draft, to a three-year contract today. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The 6-2, 190-pound defenseman had seven goals and 23 assists in 76 games with Las Vegas of the International Hockey League. He is expected to be one of the few draft picks able to play in the NHL in the 1996-97 season.

* Forward Tony Granato, who underwent surgery in February to remove a blood clot from his brain, signed a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks.

Granato, a free agent who played for the Los Angeles Kings last season, got medical clearance from his doctor, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and San Jose's team physician.

Granato, 32, had 17 goals and 18 assists in 49 games with the Kings before he slammed headfirst into the boards at Hartford on Jan. 25.

He played against the Mighty Ducks two days later, but soon began experiencing severe headaches, dizziness and memory loss.

On Feb. 14, he underwent surgery at UCLA Medical Center to remove a clot with an abnormal cluster of blood vessels.

JURISPRUDENCE West Virginia starting fullback Leroy White was charged with forging $1,769 in checks to buy a TV, a VCR and other items, a Monongalia County sheriff's detective said.

White faces two counts each of forgery and uttering, which is the act of passing a forged check. Each count carries a penalty of one to 10 years in prison, Detective Walter Fumich said.

The junior from Washington, D.C., who averaged 6.2 yards a carry as a backup last season, has been suspended indefinitely from the team pending the outcome of the case, coach Don Nehlen said.

White was the third Mountaineer football player to run afoul of the law this summer.

Kicker Bryan Baumann of Erie, Pa., was charged with drunken driving over the Fourth of July weekend and safety Vann Washington of Monticello, Fla., was charged with domestic battery July 26. Nehlen has restricted Baumann from going out at night, but he has not announced any punishment for Washington.

TENNIS Carlos Costa lost control of a racket as he was about to lose his match at the Croatian Open in Umag, striking a line judge in the head.

Costa, the fifth seed, lost, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, to Austria's Gilbert Schaller, dropping the final nine games of the match.

At 0-4 in the third set, the Spaniard hit the ball out of the stadium and got a warning. At match point, Costa again sent the ball out of the stadium, and appeared to lose control of his racket, which struck a line judge in the head.

Umpire Gerry Armstrong said Costa would be fined, but did not elaborate.

* Lionel Roux of France scored his second straight victory over a seeded player, knocking No. 9 Stefan Edberg out of the RCA Championships, 6-3, 6-4, in Indianapolis.

Roux, ranked 112th in the world, handled Edberg a day after ousting No. 7 Jason Stoltenberg. He earned his first quarterfinal birth of the year.

Tommy Haas, an 18-year-old German playing in his first tour event, also won his second straight match against a seeded player.

Haas, ranked 390th in the world, defeated No. 10 Mark Woodforde, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2. A day earlier, Haas defeated No. 8 Renzo Furlan.

Haas will need to continue his good play. His next opponent will be top-ranked Pete Sampras, who had little trouble with Marcos Ondruska in a 6-1, 6-2 victory.

No. 2 Goran Ivanisevic defeated No. 16 Petr Korda, 6-3, 6-3; fourth seed and defending champion Thomas Enqvist ousted David Wheaton, 6-4, 6-3; No. 5 Todd Martin defeated Chris Woodruff, 6-4, 6-3; and No. 13 Bohdan Ulihrach beat the benefactor of Andre Agassi's Wednesday night default for cursing an umpire, Daniel Nestor, 6-2, 6-2.

MISCELLANY Fans not ready to let go of their Olympic euphoria returned to Olympic Stadium in Atlanta by the thousands last night for the opening ceremony of the 1996 Paralympics.

Less than two weeks after the Olympic flame was extinguished, the crowds came back to cheer the 3,500 disabled athletes from more than 120 countries competing in Atlanta's second round of games.

Actor Christopher Reeve, paralyzed from a horse-riding accident, was master of ceremonies.

All 65,400 opening ceremony tickets, ranging from $15 to $100, were sold by Wednesday.

DIVING Troy Dumais, the 16-year-old diver being touted by many as the next Greg Louganis, beat defending champion Dean Panaro on the 1-meter springboard for his first national title in the National Diving Championships in Moultrie, Ga..

Dumais beat Panaro by 15 points and is believed to be the youngest male diver to win a national crown. Louganis, who won a record 47 national titles, won his first at age 18 in 1978.

Dumais narrowly missed making the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team on platform with a third-place finish in the Olympic Trials. Louganis won a silver medal on platform in the 1976 Olympics.

Streisand To Sing At Clinton Benefit

Posted: August 24, 1996

Barbra Streisand will perform live for the first time in two years at a Sept. 12 fund-raiser in Bel Air for President Clinton.

The do, at the estate of supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle, will cost attendees $2,500 each. The Eagles and the Neville Brothers will also perform.

Listed among the party-givers: Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, Norman Lear, MCA chief exec Lew Wasserman, and Seagram CEO Edgar M. Bronfman Jr.

Kenny G is set to provide the Democratic Convention's first anticipated emotional moment Monday when he performs a tribute to Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who died in an airplane crash April 3.

THE MOVIE SET * Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg and Bridget Fonda have signed on for the Christopher Reeve-directed HBO movie In the Gloaming, which starts shooting next month. It's about an AIDS victim who returns to his parents' house. The doomed man is played by Robert Sean Leonard, who was in last year's movie Safe Passage and starred in Tom Stoppard's Big Apple stage hit, Arcadia.

Jason James Richter and August Schellenberg will reprise their roles in the third installment of Free Willy, which has begun shooting in Howe Sound in Vancouver, British Columbia. Director is Sam Pillsbury (The Scarecrow).

Heather Matarazzo and Brendan Sexton Jr., teen stars of Welcome to the Dollhouse, are shooting a new movie in Manhattan's East Village. Jared Harris, Andy Warhol in I Shot Andy Warhol, is also in it. Hurricane is about a kid who falls in love the day a meteorite falls on Tompkins Square.

Fine Line will make a movie about Adm. Jeremy ``Mike'' Boorda, the Joint Chiefs of Staff member who killed himself earlier this year. The film will be based on Paul Alexander's article in the September issue of George mag, ``Brothers in Arms.''

COUPLES * Paula Zahn, 40, and husband Richard Cohen expect their third child Jan. 15. She recently left CBS This Morning but will turn up Sept. 14 as new anchor of the network's Saturday evening news show.

Pia Zadora expects her third next spring. She miscarried in February. Zadora, 40, has two kids by her ex, Meshulam Riklis, whom she divorced in 1993. She's married to writer/director Jonathan Kaufer.

Ex-world champion ski jumper Matti Nykanen, 33, (The Flying Finn) married Sari Paanala last week in Uurainen, Finland, and took his wife's name. ``I wanted to put behind the life of ski jumper Matti Nykanen,'' he said. ``I have a new life now.''

Vogue mag publisher Ron Galotti split with writer Candace Bushnell, causing a call-off of the big party he planned this weekend in the Hamptons in honor of Bushnell's new book, Sex and the City. Hate when that happens!

TV OR NOT TV * Sheela Allen-Stephens, who had a heart attack Sunday, was released yesterday from Allegheny University Hospitals, Center City, and has returned to her Main Line home.

Keith Hamilton Cobb, who's played hunkish Noah Keefer on All My Children the last two years, will leave the soap by the end of the year. The dreadlocked 6-foot-4, 220-pound actor says he's not mad at anybody, it's just that the role is ``not big enough for me. . . . It's not fair to me or the fans or ABC for me to do the job if I'm bored.'' The classically trained Cobb, 34, says he's had offers, but nothing solid.

MUSIC MAKERS * Madonna is said to be royally ticked at dance-music producer Junior Vasquez for using telephone messages she left on his answering machine in his latest club hit, ``If Madonna Calls, Tell Her I Am Not At Home.'' He didn't ask her permission, figuring she wouldn't mind. Wrong.

Snoop Doggy Dogg's lawyer says the reason the rapper gets into trouble with the law is because there are a lot of people who don't like his rapping. ``The nature of his music has been such that there are portions of society who don't care for it,'' David Kenner said Thursday in an L.A. court, where Dogg faces a gun-possession rap. ``That has a lot to do with what's going on.'' The judge said he'll rule on the case Sept. 27.

Reeve Carries A Plea For Disabled The Actor Asked For More Spending On Research. His Theme Was One Of Family And The Obligation To Help Those Who Are Suffering.

Posted: August 27, 1996

CHICAGO — Once he was Superman, the heroic image in four blockbuster movies of ``truth, justice and the American way.''

But last night, Christopher Reeve came to the Democratic National Convention as a paralyzed actor with a heartfelt plea on behalf of all disabled Americans.

He rolled to the podium in a wheelchair powered electronically by puffs of his breath - the only muscle power he can muster now.

Opening with a reference to President Clinton's pokey train to Chicago, and to his own Superman role, Reeve joked: ``Sir, I've seen your train go by - and I think I can beat it.''

The audience sat in rapt, silent attention as Reeve took ``family values'' for his theme.

``We're all family, and we all have value . . . we have to recognize that many members of our family are hurting,'' Reeve said, his voice clear but slightly croaking as he spoke in measured phrases to conserve his breath.

Reeve called for increased spending on research to enrich the lives of Americans suffering, as he does, from spinal-cord injuries, and also from such disabilities as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

``Sure, we've got to balance the budget,'' he said. ``And we will. We have to be extremely careful with every dollar we spend. But we've also got to take care of our family - and not slash programs that people need. We should be enabling, healing and curing.''


In giving their stage to Reeve, the Democrats turned to a man who is not a politician, but is instead a national symbol of many things.

After breaking his neck when thrown from a horse in May 1995, Reeve is a paraplegic, unable to move a muscle below his shoulders, confined to a wheelchair that he operates by blowing into a tube - and a symbol of how arbitrary and cruel human fate can be.

Here Reeve was asked to represent something more - hope and struggle, personal responsibility and shared burdens, and the obligation of Americans to help one another in time of need, sometimes through government.

Since his injury, he has dedicated his life to overcoming his limits - and helping others overcome theirs.

Citing a slogan favored by NASA astronauts, ``We found nothing is impossible,'' Reeve said: ``Now that, that should be our motto. It's not a Democratic motto, not a Republican motto. It's an American motto. It's not something one party can do alone. It's something that we as a nation must do together.''


The decision to highlight Reeve on the opening night contrasts with the more traditional choice of Republicans at their convention two weeks ago when retired Gen. Colin Powell gave the prime-time address.

Reeve's prime-time billing reflected a calculation by convention planners that viewers were more likely to relate to a public figure with a compelling story than party leaders with a partisan message.

But critics might suggest that Reeve's starring role at the Democratic convention is the final proof that the conventions have been transformed into public-relations gimmicks that rely more on Hollywood's entertainment values and celebrities than on political ideas.

Reeve uses his celebrity to spearhead a lobby representing 250,000 paralyzed Americans. They seek help from government as well as private charities - mainly money for research.

Only a year after the accident that broke his spine, Reeve persuaded President Clinton to promise an additional $10 million in research money to the National Institutes of Health budget. Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.), who heads a key subcommittee overseeing that budget, offered to boost that to $40 million.

In his new campaign book, Between Hope and History, Clinton wrote that government must ``come to our aid when disaster strikes'' and ``ensure the health and well-being of the weakest among us.''

Reeve helped the Democrats put a face on that sentiment.

Unlike Gop, Democrats Lack The Stars

Posted: August 27, 1996

CHICAGO — The Republicans gave us Colin Powell. The Democrats gave us Christopher Reeve.

On the first night of the GOP convention, back on Aug. 12, the featured speaker was a party superstar, a gulf war hero with presidential credentials. In last night's Democratic convention opener, the top attraction was a Hollywood actor who, until his tragic accident, was best known for wearing a cape and flying around with Margot Kidder.

The Republicans also showcased three ex-presidents (two in person), and showed off some of their politically potent big-state governors. The Democrats have only one living ex-president (Jimmy Carter), but he's not here. And they don't have any politically potent big-state governors. Nor do they have any senators with national star power.

It's one of the uncomfortable truths at this convention: Behind the imposing facade of the Clinton-Gore ticket, the Democratic Party looks surprisingly weak.

Not only does this party need to decide whether it stands for something more than ``Republican Lite,'' but it is also burdened by a serious dearth of heavy hitters. Party leaders insist that they would rather showcase ``real people'' at this convention - hence the inspirational stories from Reeve, gun control activist Sarah Brady, wounded Officer Mike Robbins, and auto worker Todd Clancy - but some Democrats are willing to 'fess up.

``We have no bench strength right now,'' said party consultant Brian Lunde. ``We don't have enough major league talent to showcase. In the 10 largest states, we don't have a single senator or governor who'd be considered a presidential candidate in the near future.

``This hasn't happened to us overnight. It's been a slow erosion over the past 20 years. We've been losing ground at all levels of government. The long-term [conservative] trend in public opinion has benefited the Republicans.''

In 1994, for example, the Democrats lost both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Meanwhile, in state legislative elections, 470 Democratic seats were lost to Republicans; by contrast, the Democrats picked up a grand total of eight Republican seats. And consider this: Since 1988, in the 28 states that permit registration by party, the GOP has enrolled 4.2 million new members - triple the number of new Democratic voters.

Charles Cook, a Washington political analyst, said yesterday: ``It's clear that the Democrats are bereft of political role models and heroes. There aren't many people in their elective ranks that they want to put up there in prime time. And some don't want to be up there anyway.''

How about Mario Cuomo again? No, the New York governor was dumped by the voters in 1994. He's not even a delegate this time.

Ann Richards? The Texas governor suffered the same fate in the same year, and she's not a delegate this time, either.


Bill Bradley? The New Jersey senator galvanized nobody when he spoke in 1992. He is here as a delegate, but he will retire at year's end.

Sam Nunn? The Georgia senator is also retiring, and he didn't even bother to show up in Chicago.

Jim Hunt? The North Carolina governor didn't show up, either. He's locked in a tough reelection race, and a close link with Clinton won't help, not in the home state of Elizabeth Dole.

Bob Kerrey? The Nebraska senator and failed '92 presidential hopeful will speak briefly, at an hour when few viewers are watching. No fan of Clinton's, he has told people here that he would have preferred to skip the whole event.

So that leaves some of the old party warhorses:

How about Walter Mondale, the '84 nominee? A delegate this year, but otherwise invisible.

Geraldine Ferraro, Mondale's running-mate? Defected to CNN.

Michael Dukakis? Forget it. In this party, his name is synonymous with failure.

Jesse Jackson and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy? They're here, but they were given twilight speaking slots, tonight and Thursday, long before the networks' prime-time TV coverage.

As for the non-appearance of Jimmy Carter, that's a touchy subject around here. One political source insisted yesterday: ``He was finally invited, but he didn't hear anything until very recently, and by then he had already made vacation plans. You could tell he was a little miffed.''


David Eichenbaum, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, chose his words carefully: ``There was no effort to exclude him. An invitation was made.''

The party still could have showcased its congressional leaders - namely, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt. But it chose otherwise. All podium appearances by Daschle and Gephardt will take place before the networks gear up. Why? Because the Clinton camp believes that the electorate does not want to see a lot of politicians from Capitol Hill, and because Clinton has sought to distance himself from Congress anyway.

And there's another reason, according to one top Democrat: ``[Vice President] Gore and Gephardt are already rivals for the campaign in 2000, and Gore didn't want Gephardt up on that podium for any longer than necessary.''

Cook, the analyst, said: ``So apparently, if the Democrats don't want to showcase any of their past, and if they're not going to highlight their congressional leaders, and they don't have any big governors, and they don't want any ex-presidents up there - then they'll go with whatever alternative they've got.''

The Democrats insisted yesterday that they always intended to feature ``real people'' on opening night.

``But the bottom line,'' said Lunde, ``is the party needs to put more good people back in office.''

Princess Stephanie Seeks To Divest Herself Of Mate

Posted: September 12, 1996

Nothing but bad news out of Monaco yesterday.

Princess Stephanie says she wants to divorce husband of 14 months, Daniel Ducruet, and pix of Princess Caroline published in an Italian mag show her bald and looking poor of health.

``Princess Stephanie . . . will very certainly move toward divorce,'' said her lawyer, Thierry Lacoste. But he added: ``In a case like this, where feelings can fluctuate, the position of one day may not necessarily be that of the next.'' Europe-1 radio reported that Steph is determined to dump Ducruet, caught in nude pix with Fili Houteman, 26 - Miss Bare Breasts of Belgium 1996 - and will meet with him next week to hammer out terms.

The Caroline pix, Oggi mag says, were taken recently at a secluded villa in southern France and showed her bone-thin, ``almost as if she just came out of a concentration camp.'' Caroline, 39, has been semi-reclusive since the 1990 death of her husband.

THE ROYAL WATCH Princess Diana was reported furious over descriptions of her as a schemer and actress by former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie in his bio. Yesterday's Daily Mirror said she told friends: ``I'm appalled. I'll never forgive him for this. . . . I thought he was a supporter and a personal friend. It's treachery.'' Di also faulted the clergyman for leaking details of a pre-nup meeting she and Prince Charles had with him.

The Duchess of York will talk it up with David Letterman on his Nov. 18 show. Fergie's got books to sell.

Sweden's King Carl XVI and Queen Silvia - your nice royals - arrived in the Big Apple Tuesday for a U.S. tour marking 150 years of Swedish emigration. After a day in New York, today they'll head for Minnesota and Illinois, both faves of Swede settlers.

LOCALLY CONNECTED Manayunk native Tara Carnes, 26, is in the movie Girls Town, opening tomorrow at the Ritz. The Temple grad plays Heather, a preppie high schooler.

Self-help author Wayne Dyer (Your Erroneous Zone) will give a three-hour seminar at 7 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn in King of Prussia. Cost: $35. For info, call 610-965-2892.

Tix on sale tomorrow for Los Lobos' Oct. 12 gig at the Electric Factory.

TV producer Aaron Spelling will hold auditions for his new soap, Sunset Beach, tomorrow and Saturday at Franklin Mills mall from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Men and women between 18 and 25 are sought and they should be ``attractive, dynamic and physically fit.'' Male auditions tomorrow; females, Saturday. The show will start airing Jan. 7. Also at the mall Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Kibbles 'n Bits will audition dogs for a TV ad.

CELEBRITY DOCKET Clint Eastwood, 66, sabotaged the film career of ex-live-in Sondra Locke, 49, her lawyer told a Burbank court yesterday at the opening of her civil-lawsuit trial against the movie star. For this, she wants ``in excess of'' $2 mil. At issue is an alleged secret agree-ment Eastwood made with Warner Bros. to underwrite losses on any movie Locke directed, thereby messaging the industry ``that Locke was not to be taken seriously.''

Christopher Reeve is concerned about a lawsuit against a doctor who's been treating him for breathing problems. Harlan Weinberg, a critical care specialist who sees Reeve at his home, is being sued for violating a ``no-compete'' clause by opening a separate practice within a 15-mile radius of Weinberg's partners' location, which is where Reeve lives.

MUSIC MAKERS Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill has tied Whitney Houston's debut CD for best-selling album ever by a female singer. With 12 mil copies sold, both singers stand No. 4 on the list of best-selling debut albums topped by Boston's Boston (15 mil).

China is reconsidering its intention to have Luciano Pavarotti perform at a 1997 celebration marking the country's takeover of Hong Kong. The problem - money. Both the tenor and magicman David Copperfield want about $900,000 each to show up. A China newspaper said the opera star's negotiations began at ``more than'' $7 mil. Noted Chinese official Raymond Wu: ``We have to see whether it is worthwhile spending that much.'' Have him throw in Carreras!

Roland Cene announced yesterday that next year Albania will hold a medieval music festival in a 12th-century castle in the town of Gjirokaster, where he heads the cultural center.

MARKINGS Bill Monroe got a roaring send-off of gospel and bluegrass music at a Nashville funeral attended by more than 2,000 people yesterday. Among the performers - Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs (doing ``Rawhide''), Marty Stuart, Patty Loveless and Emmylou Harris. The 90-minute ceremony ended with everybody singing, ``Go Rest High on That Mountain,'' after which the casket was escorted out of the old Grand Ole Opry building to ``Amazing Grace'' played by a pipe and drum corps. He'll be buried in his birth town of Rosine, Ky.

Hulk Hogan's son, Nicholas Bollea, 6, is OK after getting stitches in a Sunday boating accident. The wrestler was driving a Jet Ski off Clearwater, Fla., and pulling his boy in an inner tube when the tube hit a post.

TV OR NOT TV In a typecasting coup, South Philly phave Eddie Fisher will play himself in a future episode of Ellen that stars his daughter, Joely.

Leslie Uggams will join the soap All My Children on Oct. 15. She'll play Rose Keffer, mother of Keith Hamilton Cobb.

12 New Offerings On Cable Worth A Look-see

Posted: September 15, 1996

During the last two decades, few U.S. industries have advanced as expansively and increased their profits as substantially as cable television. Cable saw a need, responded to it, and has been rewarded beyond the expectations of all but a few visionary dreamers.

The modern cable era began on Sept. 30, 1975, when Home Box Office bounced its signal off a satellite to create the first national cable programming. At that time, viewers were limited to three broadcast networks - CBS, NBC, and ABC - essentially the only video games in town.

Now, it is routine for your local cable company to offer 50, 60, 70 channels or more. To help you make choices from among this abundance, here is a chronological list of 12 new cable offerings deserving notice this fall.

Debt, the most innovative new game show to appear in this decade, premiered June 3 on Lifetime. Contestants are limited to hard-luck cases who are struggling to pay off big credit-card bills. Since Americans currently owe credit-card companies more than $400 billion, no shortage of desperate contestants is likely. Wink Martindale is the sympathetic host, 6:30 each weeknight on LIF.

The Big Easy, a video version of the 1987 movie of the same name, premiered the first of 13 new episodes Aug. 11 on USA. They proved so popular that soon, USA bought nine more. Set in New Orleans and particularly appealing in its music, this Sunday night crime series stars Tony Crane as detective Remy McSwain and Susan Walters as assistant district attorney Anne Osborne, roles undertaken in the film by Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin.

Great Books premiered yesterday on the Learning Channel and concludes today with hourlong discussions of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince at 2 p.m., Richard Wright's Native Son at 3, Herman Melville's Moby Dick at 4, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter at 5, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels at 7, Joseph Heller's Catch-22 at 9, and Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams at 10. The host is Andre Braugher, who stars as Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street.

VH1, whose programing has noticeably improved this year, hits another sweet chord with Legends, a quarterly documentary series profiling prominent musicians, premiering Oct. 6. First up is an hour about Janis Joplin, narrated by Kris Kristofferson, a friend of hers who wrote her best-known hit, ``Me and Bobby McGee.''

Christopher Reeve, prominently featured as a speaker at the Democratic National Convention last month, narrates Without Pity, a documentary depicting the lives and struggles of people who are, like him, disabled. An episode of the excellent America Undercover series, it will premiere Oct. 8 on HBO and will be repeated several times.

Nickelodeon, the cable king of kid-vid, adds another star to its children's crown with The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, the first TV series based on the works of the beloved author. Since it's coming from Jim Henson Productions, the home of the Muppets, quality is assured. Seuss' the Cat in the Hat is the host, with new Henson-created characters including the Gink and the Zubblewump Bird, premiering Oct. 13 on Nick.

Abortion is the topic of If These Walls Could Talk, a telemovie airing Oct. 13 on HBO. Starring as three women considering abortions in three different decades are Demi Moore as Claire Donnelly in 1952, Sissy Spacek as Barbara Ryan Barrows in 1974, and Anne Heche as Christine Cullen in 1996.

Many small farms are still struggling, and Willie Nelson will be back on stage to help their owners as he hosts Farm Aid '96, a six-hour musical special Oct. 19 on the Nashville Network (TNN). In their hometown of Columbia, S.C., Hootie and the Blowfish will rock in support with the Beach Boys, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Tim McGraw, John Conlee, and Martina McBride, among many other performers.

TNT's solid reputation as a producer of quality telemovies should be augmented by The Man Who Captured Eichmann, airing Nov. 10. Robert Duvall stars as Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi architect of the Holocaust, with Arliss Howard as Peter Malkin, the Israeli Mossad agent who led the expedition that captured Eichmann in Argentina. The able Lionel Chetwynd wrote the script, based on Malkin's book, Eichmann in My Hands (1990).

Earl ``The Goat'' Manigault is widely considered to be the greatest New York City playground basketball player who never achieved stardom as a collegiate or professional player. His signature stunt was the ``double dunk,'' in which he would leap, dunk the ball through the hoop, catch it and dunk it again, all before returning to earth. Don Cheadle plays Manigault in Rebound, a biographical telemovie airing sometime in November on HBO.

TNT is the TV home for well-done Bible stories. Next up is Samson and Delilah on Dec. 8, with Elizabeth Hurley delivering history's most famous haircut and Eric Thal bringing the roof down on the Philistines.

Showtime's showpiece for the fall is Bastard Out of Carolina, a searing telemovie based on Dorothy Allison's 1992 novel of the same name, airing sometime in December. Jena Malone stars as Bone Boatwright, a young girl sexually abused by her stepfather, Glen Waddell (Ron Eldard), in South Carolina in the 1950s. Jennifer Jason Leigh portrays her mother, Anney Boatwright.

Hbo Special Takes Look At The Lives Of The Disabled

Posted: October 08, 1996

`Without Pity: A Film About Abilities'' is harrowing to watch. But if you can sit through its full hour, you will be moved by the determination and fortitude of seven people refusing to be crushed by catastrophe.

This documentary about disabled people, at 10:30 tonight, is part of Home Box Office's America Undercover series. It is narrated by actor Christopher Reeve, a quadriplegic since a horseback-riding accident on May 28, 1995.

Reeve does not appear on camera, nor mention his case. He said this summer, ``With my involvement, perhaps it will reach a wider audience.'' Let us hope that turns out to be true, since this is an informative and valuable show.

``Without Pity'' begins with pretty young Samantha, a cerebral palsy victim, arriving at her wedding in a wheelchair. She met her handsome husband, Jay, who is not disabled, when he was working with disabled people.

So Jay knew what he was getting into, knew that he would have to feed, bathe, and dress her. When she became visibly pregnant, says Jay, ``The amount of prejudice we had to face really exploded.'' People would stop and stare, he recalls, as if to say, ``Why did this girl even have sex?''

Samantha gave birth to a normally healthy girl. But Jay found it difficult to care for both mother and daughter. Eventually they separated and Samantha moved in with her mother.

Paul was disabled by polio when he was 5. He walks awkwardly but, at age 49, he is a university professor who teaches the history and social problems of the disabled.

An eloquent speaker, Paul says Nazi Germany had a euthanasia program for disabled people and killed at least 100,000 of them. ``The first gas chamber built in Nazi Germany was built in a hospital,'' he says. ``The Holocaust began with people with disabilities.''

Doctors cannot explain why Charley Gentry was born without arms or legs. His mother says she prayed many nights that when she woke up, ``there would a limb growing. Of course, there never was.''

At home, Charley moves around by rolling across the floor. He attends school in a motorized wheelchair. His mother, Cheryl Gentry, took him into every classroom so that students could ask questions.

The best friend of first-grader Charley is third-grader Bo Christiansen, who says, ``I met him when I was outside playing and I tripped over him.'' The scenes of them together are touching portraits of childhood friends at play.

Now, Reeve reports in an epilogue, Charley is in second grade and has learned to skateboard.

Josh, 25, has been paralyzed below his chest since he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident eight months ago. Reeve says 250,000 Americans have spinal-cord injuries and there are 12,000 more each year, increasingly from gunshot wounds.

Josh's older sister, Donna, cares for him at home. He couldn't do without her, but his life is still almost unimaginably tough. He says, ``I have to put on a facade for people because if I were to let out the anger inside of me all the time, nobody would want to be around me.'' Many nights, he says, ``I've wondered how I could kill myself.''

Reeve remarks, ``In one fateful moment, a young man's destiny changed and he cannot imagine his life ahead. His mind and spirit suffer along with his body. It is the incomprehensible loss of spinal-cord injury.''

In an epilogue, he says Josh has since graduated from college and is feeling better about himself. Surely no viewer could meet him and Samantha and Charley without heartfelt wishes that life proceed as well as possible for them.

The Yorks, Together Again! (it's Financial, Folks)

Posted: February 28, 1997

The Duchess of York has moved back into Prince Andrew's digs, but it's not that way. She's doing it to save money and is camped with their two girls in the servants' quarters at Sunninghill, the home 25 miles west of London that the ex-coup had built in 1986 as the everlasting love nest.

Fergie had been paying $10,000-a-month rent for a six-bedroom country house south of London. Sarah and Andrew, who appear to be writing a slightly different version of happily ever after, recently took the girls on a skiing sortie.

GRAMMY REDUX * Beck, winner of two awards, was asked what he'd do with his pair. ``I will find a trophy cabinet or put 'em in the fridge, I don't know,'' he said.

Backstage, Sheryl Crow expressed displeasure at Wal-Mart for banning her self-titled CD last year because of criticism of the chain in song lyrics. ``I was surprised,'' she said. ``. . . I think that is in direct opposition to the First Amendment.'' She also noted that she came from a small town where Wal-Marts ``wipe out mom-and-pop businesses.''

Other significant wins: Conductor/composer Pierre Boulez got his 19th award. Boulez is now fifth on the all-time list, tied with Stevie Wonder; only Quincy Jones, Vladimir Horowitz, Henry Mancini, and all-time winner Georg Solti have won more. David Foster got his 13th and 14th, Chet Atkins his 14th, and Vince Gill his ninth and 10th. Andy Griffith won his first (Southern gospel) for his CD, I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns, and Cissy Houston, Whitney's mom, won for best traditional soul gospel. American composer John Corigliano, 59, pulled off an unprecedented classical hat trick with three awards - his First Symphony, String Quartet, and chamber music played by the Cleveland Quartet.

After getting her Grammy, Hillary Rodham Clinton had to split for a White House dinner for Chile prez Eduardo Frei. ``That's the country Chile,'' she told the pop reporters; ``we're not serving chili.'' Duh!

COUPLES * Patti D'Arbanville - Lt. Virginia Cooper on TV's New York Undercover, ex-live-in of Don Johnson, and inspiration for the Cat Stevens ditty ``Lady D'Arbanville'' - has filed for divorce from husband No. 3, Big Apple firefighter-turned-multiple-bar-owner Terry Quinn. In 1994 she said of the marriage: ``I finally have everything I wanted.'' Not. The big problem: They have their names tattooed on each other - her ``Terry'' is about her ankle. Second problem, they have three kids and a custody fight is expected. D'Arbanville, who has beaten several substance problems, also has a son fathered by Johnson.

Eric Clapton has something going with actress Moira Kelly, who plays Gena Rowlands' surly teenage daughter in the movie Unhook the Stars.

Toni Braxton's escort to the Grammys was New England Patriots footballer Curtis Martin.

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Ray Charles will headline a July 4 concert before the Art Museum. It'll be one of 40 free Sunoco Welcome America! events held around town June 27 to July 6. The Charles gig'll be carried live by WPVI-TV (Channel 6).

Tenor Charles GaVoian will play the title role in The Mario Lanza Story, opening April 17 for a four-week run at Society Hill Playhouse. The musical play had a nice run last year in L.A. For tix: 215-923-0210.

Curtis Institute-trained soprano Heather Dials is Anne Trulove in the Opera Company of Philadelphia's production of The Rake's Progress, opening 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Academy of Music. Dials was the youngest voice student accepted at Curtis since Anna Moffo, and was one of Seven Arts mag's 1996 gallery of ``50 Names to Remember.'' For tix: 215-893-1999.

Ex-Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder will discuss changes in national health services at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rutgers' Campus Center on Camden's Third Street near Cooper Street. It's free. Schroeder is leaving Princeton U. to head the Association of American Publishers on June 1.

Chris DiCroce, a Garnett Valley High grad, will perform his ``street-wise'' music at 9 p.m. Wednesday at North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar Streets. Admission: $5.

THE MOVIE SET * Jack Valenti, who's headed the Motion Picture Association of America for 30 years, has just sold his first movie product. RKO Pictures gave him mid-six figs for a political thriller he wrote five years ago, Protect and Defend. Screenwriter is Erik Tarloff, who, when asked if the book's any good, replied: ``It has some terrific commercial elements.'' The only kind!

Argentina President Carlos Menem, displaying uncommon political independence, said that despite all the flak about Evita, he'll reserve judgment until he actually sees it. To a call for a boycott of the film by Vice President Carlos Ruckauf, who labeled it ``an insult'' to the memory of Eva Peron, Menem said: ``That's the opinion of a colleague I respect, but I don't think in the same way. First, I want to see the movie and then I will give my opinion.''

SICK-BAY REPORT * Elizabeth Taylor marked her 65th birthday quietly with her fam yesterday at her Bel Air estate. Her head covered in a dark scarf, the actress made no comment but smiled and waved as she left an L.A. hospital Wednesday a week after brain surgery. A hospital spokesman said she has made ``an excellent recovery.''

New-age icon Ram Dass, 66, is in stable condition at a San Francisco area hospital after suffering a stroke last week. His speech has been impaired, but he has been improving quicker than expected. Noted his counterculturist bud Wavy Gravy: ``He'll get good material out of this. He always used his experiences as a springboard.''

Christopher Reeve was treated last weekend for a blood clot in his leg. His spokeswoman said the paralyzed actor is ``fine.''

MARKINGS * The kid who got that $20 mil settlement from Michael Jackson a few years ago is named in Penthouse mag's March issue, and there's a pic of him in this week's Globe. The tab says he's 17 now and has a head for money. Says he invested $3.8 mil in stocks and bonds, bought into the private school he attends when he saw how high tuition was, and, when he saw how much it cost to gas up his Nissan Pathfinder, bought shares in three oil companies. Shops Banana Republic and wears Armani pants when playing steet hockey.

The third album, Secret Samadhi, by the York, Pa., band Live debuts on the charts this week at No. 1.

Riddick Bowe says it wasn't the physical training that got to him in his 10-day stint as a Marine but the ``complete shock'' at the loss of control in his life. ``Every waking hour as a recruit, you are told what to do,'' he said. ``How fast, when and where, even when it comes to personal things. There were day and night body inspections as we stood naked near our bunks. Drill instructors always yelling commands every step of the way.'' Those nasty, nasty men!

Bono Toasts Frank With Musical Shots

Posted: June 06, 1997

SATURDAY: Sixers guard Allen Iverson zips 22; Jewish Exponent entertainment editor/playwright Michael Elkin creates 48. SUNDAY: South Philly's James Darren directs 61; WXTU DJ Lani Daniels discs 40.

Set 'em up, Joe. Here's a little story I think you should know . . .

Frank Sinatra's unlikely fan, U2's Bono, has penned a tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes. ``We wrote a tune for him, myself and Edge,'' the U2 guitarist, the singer told the syndicated show ``Access Hollywood.''

``I guess he's not going to be singing it now, he's not in a singing frame of mind right now. But it's called `Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad.' ''

Bono offered his remarks after the band's recent concert in North Jersey's Meadowlands - which put the rocker in a Sinatra state of mind.

``The spirit of New Jersey himself, and I felt him in spirit somewhere close to the building,'' he said. (Or was that Jimmy Hoffa?) ``Of course, Frank's the man, and we're all guests on Frank's planet as far as I'm concerned.''

``Access Hollywood'' said Sinatra, moved by Bono's paean, sent along the comment: ``Lyrics are the soul of a song. Bono shows he's hip to this. He's a good man and I wish him many, many shots of happy.''

Mr. Reeve goes to D.C.

Christopher Reeve remains busy, busy, busy. The wheelchair-bound star stopped by Congress yesterday to lobby for increased medical research funding and changes in health insurance.

The actor, paralyzed from the neck down since a riding accident two years ago, spent the morning testifying to a Senate appropriations subcommittee. His mission: rustling up more federal money to study brain and spinal cord injuries. Claiming researchers are close to learning how damaged nerve cells can be regenerated, he asked for funds ``to get the job done.''

``It is imperative the public and, more importantly, our elected representatives understand that research today is not speculative. It is not a waste of money,'' Reeve said.

Later, the star urged legislators for a bill that would raise the current $1 million cap on health insurance policies to $10 million. As health-care costs soar, $1 million doesn't cover catastrophic injury the way it did when the existing law was passed some 20 years ago, Reeve said.

Couple stuff

* ``Baywatch'' star Gena Lee Nolin gave birth to an 8-pound, 1-ounce boy Tuesday. No name announced. Father is hubbo Greg Fahlman. Nolin's comment: ``I feel so complete as a woman, wife and mother.'' Yikes!

* Peter Berg, that hot-headed Dr. Kronk on ``Chicago Hope,'' has filed for divorce from wife Elizabeth Rogers. They've been married a little less than four years.

Clint: Not feeling lucky

Whaddya know, not everyone thinks golf is so trendy. A California Superior Court judge has temporarily halted construction on a 1,060-acre golf course and subdivision in scenic Carmel, Calif., being developed by Clint Eastwood. The Sierra Club took the star to court, arguing that rare coastal prairie grassland and Monterey pine savannah would be harmed by the project. The case should go to trial later this summer.

Not famous, just naked

The guys in Tattle's office are all atwitter over the latest Penthouse magazine, which claims ``a first for a national men's entertainment magazine - an erotic photo shoot showing a picture of a couple having sexual intercourse.''

After weirded-out male colleagues handed us the July issue, which indeed does feature ``performance artists'' Saxon and Steele in mid-deed, we decided: This is no nastier than the usual Penthouse.

The mag specializes in the sort of view one would get from the gynecologist's chair - if the gynecologist's patients were in the stirrups wearing thigh-high boots, ostrich feathers and silver body paint in place of little paper gowns.

And Saxon appears in the usual Penthouse context. What we suspect grosses out the fellas is not that she's shown having sex - but that she's shown having it not with a pole, not with some other pneumatic babe but with a full and frontally naked man. Nobody's used to seeing that in a ``national men's entertainment magazine'' (as opposed to nasty, step-into-the-back-room-please-type porno rags).

Guys alarmed to see men used in the same cheesy way women are should pay attention to Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, who's very enthusiastic about this latest milestone. Wasn't Penthouse the first ``mainstream'' mag to depict pubic hair in the 1970s? he points out.

And to publish close-ups of women's genitalia in the '80s? And hey, how about that shot of May's Pet of the Month having a pee?

The sky's the limit for our man Steele.


Posted: December 24, 1997

I'll tell you whom I envy - and you'll be surprised.

I don't envy those who are younger, better-looking, more successful, more famous, with more apparent potential or with more ``goodies.''

Nope. I don't begrudge others the fruits of their honest labor, nor have I been motivated by competitiveness. I envy those who face incomprehensible suffering with dignity, grace, courage and a determination to make their lives meaningful despite the conditions or the outrageousness of the challenge.

I envy them because I wonder if I have it in me to respond to such devastating circumstances without dissolving into terminal despair.

I envy a 25-year-old newlywed who woke up one morning unable to feel her hands. She was diagnosed with a progressive and incurable neurological disorder. Yet her reaction is that God is with her as she faces this struggle. Her reaction is to deepen her relationship with her new husband and to find a way to make her life meaningful in the context of her suffering.

I envy Christopher Reeve. From a wheelchair, barely able to turn his head by himself and dependent upon a machine for his very breath, he is actively campaigning for funds directed at spinal-cord-injury research, directing movies and preparing to star in a remake of ``Rear Window'' (1954).

I am not glorifying tragedy or suffering - it scares me as much as it scares you. I'm moved by the tenacious spirit of some people to respond to tragedy and suffering with dignity and a determination to make something meaningful out of it.

In ``Man's Search for Meaning'' (Touchstone Books, 1984), Viktor E. Frankl tells about an interview given by a Polish cardiologist who, during World War II, helped organize the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The interviewer exclaimed at the cardiologist's heroism.

``Listen,'' the doctor calmly replied, ``to take a gun and shoot is no great thing, but if the SS leads you to a gas chamber or to a mass grave to execute you on the spot, and you can't do anything about it - except for going your way with dignity - you see, this is what I would call heroism.''

Most of us seek purpose and meaning in our lives by our creative work and hobbies, our relationships to family and other loved ones, or our spiritual search. We tend to see adversity and suffering as rude interruptions.

We are therefore stunned and insulted by adversity and too often respond with rage or withdrawal. Our denial of the ultimate realities of life - mortality and suffering - leaves us ill-prepared to incorporate those experiences as a normal part of human existence.

It is not circumstance that has the power to destroy us. It is our response to circumstance that has the power to elevate us to a new and special level of meaning or result in our giving up on life or taking our pain out on others.

I envy the people who rise to the challenge - they are my heroes. I worry, though, that they are just ``made that way,'' and the rest of us might be relegated to sinking. I pray that heroism is a choice, and that we can all make ourselves that way.

Send questions to Dr. Laura Schlessinger c/o the Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. You can hear Dr. Laura on WWDB (96.5-FM) from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays.

Christopher Reeve: He Thought Of Ending His Life

Posted: April 29, 1998

NAMES — Christopher Reeve reveals that in the early days after his paralyzing accident three years ago his mother sought to put him out of his misery by getting docs to ``pull the plug'' and that later he thought he should go that way, too.

``At one point, in a moment of real despair,'' writes the actor in his book, Still Me, out Monday, ``my mother told [his father-in-law], `Tomorrow we're going to do it.' '' But, he adds, docs ``told her to calm down, to wait and see what would happen.''

Reeve said his own breakthrough in choosing life came when he told his wife, Dana, ``Maybe we should let me go,'' and she replied: ``I am only going to say this once: I will support whatever you want to do because this is your life and your decision. But I want you to know that I'll be with you for the long haul no matter what. You're still you. And I love you.''

Reeve, 45, notes that he was sustained by those who wrote him more than 400,000 letters. ``The fact that I was in a wheelchair,'' he writes, ``unable to move below my shoulders and dependent on the support of others for almost every aspect of my daily life, had not diminished the fact that I was - and always would be - their Superman.'' He adds that he almost died when he tried an experimental drug and that he even tried a faith healing, ``episodes'' he describes as ``ultimately very depressing.''

LOCALLY CONNECTED * Looks like Patricia Arquette (Nightwatch, Flirting With Disaster) has got the movie role Chrissie in the David Rabe drama In the Boom Boom Room, which will start shooting hereabouts later this year or early next. The play, set in the Philly area, had its first stage performance in 1972 at Villanova.

Erin Murphy, Tabitha Stephens on TV's Bewitched, will be one of the judges of the tailgate-picnic competition Sunday at Winterthur Museum's 20th annual Point-to-Point do in Delaware. It includes steeplechase races, dog-jumping contests, and a carriage parade. For tickets: 302-888-4992. Murphy now lives in Newark, where she runs a Bewitched memorabilia biz and is raising three boys with husband Eric Eden, lead singer of Hey Jupiter.

Channel 10 newsie Ken Matz will be auctioneer at a Sunday do at Bensalem's Congregation Tifereth Israel, 2909 Bristol Rd., at 6:30 p.m.

Lynne Abraham, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, Sharon Pinkenson and Marcy Abramson Shoemaker will panel the discussion ``Characteristics of Successful Women,'' 4 p.m. Tuesday at Montgomery, McCracken, Walter & Rhodes, 123 S. Broad St. Tickets: 215-790-5100.

Christina Pirello, star of the TV's Christina Cooks, is looking for ordinary guests for her show. Entry blanks are in Barnes & Noble stores in Center City, Moorestown, Marlton and Bryn Mawr until May 17. A guest will be picked from each store for the show taped at WHYY-TV.

Ex-TV dancers Arlene Sullivan, Carmen Jimenez, Frank Spagnoula, and Carole Scaldeferri and her husband, Richard Spada, will panel a discussion about teen-TV stardom on the 1950s' Bandstand show, 2 p.m. Saturday at the Atwater Kent Museum, 15 S. Seventh St. Also there, John A. Jackson, author of American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock & Roll Empire. WOGL-AM's Bob Charger will moderate.

COUPLES * The new man in Jennifer Aniston's life is Paul Rudd, her costar in the movie Object of My Affection and Alicia Silverstone's nerdy bro in Clueless. The Friends TV star did an el ditcho on boyfriend of two years, Tate Donovan, apparently for delaying nuptials action. They exchanged Irish Claddagh rings in November 1996, which, according to Donovan then, were ``to let the world know we are taken.'' But close inspection revealed a month ago that Aniston had abandoned the ring, telling inquirers at the time: ``I was not engaged. I just didn't put all my jewelry on this morning.''

Janet Jackson and Rene Elizondo ring choices are for toes. Yes, the two - linked for 13 years - appear close to nups. And, yes, a barefoot nups appears in the offing. She's telling buds to buy baby stuff for the wedding, to take place later this year. He's her manager and a vid director.

Mary McCartney, Paul's daughter, is engaged to her boyfriend, Alister Donald. They got semi-united shortly before the death of Linda McCartney, who reportedly was jubilant over the news and was already planning summer nups. Mary, 27, has been dating the TV producer for three years.

Duo du jour: Brad Pitt and model citzen Caprice Fisher, 27, clothes horse for the new Jockey undies campaign.

THE SKIN GAME * Nudies of Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell will be in the June issue of Penthouse. Mag won't say who took the pix, but they're apparently from the Spicer's soft-porn days, or what she calls her ``glamour modeling'' career.

Alyssa Milano, 25, a Melrose Place TV star, is expected to bring legal action this week against several sites that display and sell nude pix of her and other notables. The action is seen as the first big celeb offensive against the lack of control of their images on the Web. Her lawyer said some of the actress' pix are from a film she dropped dress in, but others are faked. ``This is the tip of the iceberg,'' he added. ``Celebrities are realizing for the first time that the Net is a dangerous force if not corralled.'' One defendant, John F. Lindgren, 21, of Minnesota said that if the suit comes, he'll take down Milano's pix but continue to operate his site, which brings him more than $10,000 a month.

OFFSPRING * Actress Emma Samms gave birth to her second child, Beatrice, March 30. She and husband John Hollaway also have a boy, Cameron, 1 1/2.

Villi Faulaau, 14, whose second-time impregnation of teacher Mary Kay LeTourneau, 36, landed her back in jail, says he'll wait for her ``no matter how long,'' citing their ``deep, spiritual relationship.'' In a Globe interview, the Seattle schoolboy - who was LeTourneau's pupil in the second and sixth grades - detailed their intimacies, noting that once they almost got caught by cops in a van. Insists Faulaau: ``She wasn't taking advantage of me or talking me into something I didn't want to do.''

MARKINGS * Monica Lewinsky's lawyer said he approved her photo shoot Friday with fash fotog Herb Ritts because this client needed a change. ``She was becoming very depressed by this torture that she is going through,'' William Ginsburg said yesterday. ``I thought it would be a good idea. This young lady needs to feel good about herself.'' The ex-White House intern was lensed in the Malibu surf wearing a black cocktail dress. Pix will be in a future issue of Vanity Fair. .

Jeong Kim, who came to the United States from South Korea 23 years ago and worked at a 7-Eleven to pay his way through school, this week sold his six-year-old, Landover, Md., communications firm to Lucent Technologies for $1 bil. Said Kim, 37, who'll pocket $510 mil from the deal: ``People can look at someone like me, they see someone who looks different, who speaks with a funny accent. And maybe they'll say, `If I set my goals high, maybe I can succeed like that.' ''

Such A Nice Guy To Have Created The Bizarre `Celebrity Deathmatch'

Posted: July 30, 1998

NEW YORK — The thing is, Eric Fogel looks like a perfectly nice guy.

Quiet and unassuming, a wedding band on his finger and a picture of his wife's ultrasound on his bulletin board.

You wouldn't look at him and think, this must be the guy who gave the world Celebrity Deathmatch, a half-hour MTV spectacle of blood, guts and clay, where foot-high clay and foam replicas of movie stars and musicians punch, pummel and rip each other's guts out, with predictably gross results.

But there's a history here. As an undergrad, Fogel created a half-man, half-mutant character called the Mutilator. At the tender age of 25, he went to work for MTV and invented the Head, ``a guy who's got a giant head because there's a purple alien living inside,'' and who, therefore, spends a lot of his time hanging around the Human Anomalies Group, which also includes a rat-faced girl and a guy with a lawnmower blade embedded in his face.

It wasn't always this way. Young Eric, a Long Island native, actually got his start in unicorns. ``I had something called Sculpey . . . you bake it in a toaster oven and it gets hard, and I used to make a lot of these figures. There was a time when I'd take requests in school. I had a little business going. Unicorns were huge. Garfield was, too,'' Fogel said.

From humble beginnings, greatness was born. Influenced by Ray Harryhausen, a pioneer of stop-motion animation who created monsters in such films as Jason and the Argonauts and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Fogel kept up with the clay all through high school and New York University film school, where he studied animation. MTV initially was interested in his student project, The Mutilator, which featured a day in the life of the post-apocalyptic superhero. The plan was to have animated stars Beavis and Butt-Head watch episodes of The Mutilator between videos. Then the antiviolence crackdown began, and the fearless duo had to stop joking about setting fires and the like, and the Mutilator was suddenly unwelcome. (``We talked about calling him Joe of the Wasteland instead of the Mutilator, but it just wouldn't work,'' Fogel said.)

Then came the Head, the first of Fogel's MTV-sponsored forays into the world of the bizarre. ``My favorite film is The Elephant Man. I'm fascinated with humans who are somehow not quite human,'' Fogel said.

Which led, naturally enough, to celebrities. He pitched the idea of animated celebs in brawls to end it all. MTV bigs loved it. ``I guess celebrities and wrestling and animation just have universal appeal,'' Fogel said. And a series was born. Celebrity Deathmatch premiered with a fantasy fight between Charles Manson and Marilyn Manson in the fall of '97. (They fought for the title of ``Most Evil Man in America.'' Marilyn won.)

And who could forget January's Super Bowl half-time special, Celebrity Deathmatch Deathbowl '98? Not Kathie Lee Gifford. A tabloid report had the perky daytime queen practically spitting nails over her Claymation bout with shock jock Howard Stern, especially over the part when Stern bested her with an act that can't be described in a family newspaper.

Other match-ups followed each Thursday night at 10 p.m. - the Spice Girls versus Hanson. Jay Leno against David Letterman. Monica Lewinsky taking on Hillary Rodham Clinton (the First Lady bashed the former intern senseless). And Oprah Winfrey tangling with Rosie O'Donnell (the two will square off again, with Jerry Springer thrown into the mix). Tonight, Garth Brooks takes on the ubiquitous Marilyn Manson, wafer-thin Fiona Apple fights family-sized John Popper, and Gary Oldman battles Christopher Walken.

Clay animation isn't easy - or quick. Celebrity Deathmatch employs 16 animators, who work up to 14-hour days, painstakingly moving the figures a fraction of an inch, photographing them, making another minute movement, taking another picture. The end result looks like the real thing, right up to the way the lips move when the characters talk. It takes four to five weeks to animate a 22-minute show. All the voices are provided by celebrity sound-alikes, with the exception of professional wrestler-commentator Stone Cold Steve Austin and referee Mills Lane, who do their own voices.

Fogel's favorite match so far? Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. ``It has always been a personal fantasy of mine to see those two together.''

His dream warrior? Wheelchair-bound Christopher Reeve. (An MTV publicist winces visibly when Fogel mentions this one). ``Standards and practices looks very closely at this show,'' Fogel says. So Reeve is probably a no-go, even though Fogel can see pitting the former Superman against, say, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. ``This can be a wheelchair-friendly program,'' he says.

And his favorite part of it all? ``I still get a chill every time I hear Mills Lane say, `Let's get it on,' '' he says.

Short stuff. Because one old guy deserves another, Walter Cronkite returns to the airwaves Oct. 29 to report on Sen. John Glenn's return to orbit. Cronkite, you'll remember, anchored for CBS in 1962 when Glenn took his first trip around the earth. Cronkite also will interview Glenn on CBS's 60 Minutes in October. . . . The View's Meredith Vieira will cohost this year's Miss America Pageant, airing Sept. 19 on ABC. Vieira will also act as inquisitor to the five finalists during the ``spontaneous questioning'' segment.

Television's Prime-time Magazines: Bad News They Can Be Stirring, But Only ``60 Minutes'' Delivers Much Actual News.

Posted: November 22, 1998

``News'' magazines: Who knows whom they're fooling?

An examination of 12 installments of Dateline NBC, 20/20, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes from Nov. 11 through Wednesday revealed instances of exaggeration, deception and hyperbole so bald-faced that it's hard to imagine even the most naive viewer falling for the bait.

There was, however, a wide variation in content and style, not just among the shows, but within the shows. All the programs were short on facts, but some offered stirring and, yes, emotional entertainment.

With but one episode each in the eight days, it's difficult to generalize about CBS's 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. Dateline and 20/20, closer kin, provided more fodder - 10 episodes of cornpone altogether.

There is little news to speak of, even by the generous standards that the shows' executives espouse, since most stories cover events that happened months, or even years, ago, if they cover an event at all. At times, the magazines can be entertaining. They are rarely informative or even provocative. More than any other programming, they have moved the mission of the networks' news divisions away from the serious journalism of CBS Reports and NBC's White Paper toward the titillation of Unsolved Mysteries and Rescue: 911.

Dateline preferred a prick of the tear ducts and a pluck of the heartstrings, with stories about cute quadruplets, a woman battling Parkinson's disease, and adorable, endangered little animals. 20/20 tried to tingle the spine, warning about the dangers of hot cars and soft toys.

Appallingly, 20/20 spent close to 15 minutes on a fawning interview with Christopher Reeve, who, an on-screen title said, brought ``An Amazing New Dimension to an Old Thriller,'' Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.

When it was all over, Barbara Walters, in one of those pseudo-folksy little wrap-ups that she (and every two-bit local anchor in the land) does, said, ``By the way, this movie will take the place of 20/20 next Sunday.''

``By the way,'' my eye. Disguised to the end, the entire exercise was designed as a tricky promo for an ABC special.

Dateline was more clever, but it also lapsed into the kind of flack attack that characterizes local news shows, preceding NBC's big premiere of Twister with a 90-minute special on bad weather, including a segment on tornadoes.

``I think we make deals with the devil,'' said 48 Hours executive producer Susan Zirinsky, who called her show ``a newsmovie,'' in a phone interview. ``You have to find something in your soul that you feel is journalistically sound that the audience will watch.''

As with local TV news, the audience, not the story, is the bottom line with the prime-time magazines. They are an easy source of profit for the networks - a switch to turn when, in the words of former NBC Entertainment boss Warren Littlefield, a network ``needs to keep the lights on.''

The magazines can also deliver an audience that may be valuable to certain advertisers.

Infatuated by a new process that can culture monkey cells inside cows' eggs, 48 Hours did a medical show called ``The Quest for Immortality.'' Advertisers included an herbal diet supplement, Ultra Slim-Fast, Unisom sleeping pills and Bayer aspirin, whose claim, ``It has now been proven that Bayer may actually stop you from dying during a heart attack,'' sounded like something from the ``news'' part of the program.

From klieg lights to performers' salaries, the networks own the newsmagazines, and they control the costs. A typical episode of Dateline or 20/20 costs about $500,000, versus more than $1 million for an hour-long TV drama, which may turn out to be a flop.

``The sad fact is that economics, in no small measure, drives the networks out of the entertainment business,'' Don Hewitt, the legendary executive producer of 60 Minutes, said Wednesday.

``The networks use the so-called newsmagazines as filler, simply because they have no alternative. Behind almost every ersatz TV newsmagazine, there's a failed sitcom.''

Hewitt, of course, does not include his show, founded 30 years ago primarily to meet an FCC requirement for ``informational'' programming Sundays at 7. But he does accept blame for the current proliferation of magazines, soon to grow to 12 hours a week.

``We're the culprit. We showed them that a television newsmagazine can be worthwhile and profitable. The trouble is they only listened to half that equation.''

60 Minutes is indeed different. Rarely going for tears or fears, it generally fulfills Hewitt's stated mission, which is to be ``a magazine about the times in which we live.'' Last Sunday's installment included stories about nuns who buy stock in big corporations and then try to prod them to be socially responsible, a convicted murderer suing his psychiatrist for not preventing the crime, and the British government's attempts to refurbish the country's image.

The world portrayed by the ``filler'' magazines is no world at all. Because they're supposed to strike a chord with ``you,'' wherever you are, many stories did not identify their setting. Just one - a 20/20 scare story on the hazards of rubber duckies - went outside the United States.

Usually, Dateline would visit another country only if there were a war going on. Executive producer Neal Shapiro said, in fact, that he was all ready to scrap last Sunday's bad-weather show and spend an hour with stories about Iraq, if American missiles had flown.

``We're the newsiest of the newsmagazines,'' Shapiro said by phone, though the only breaking news Dateline saw fit to cover in six hours from Nov. 11 to 18 was - you'll never guess - the release of the Monica Lewinsky tapes. It did, however, also look back at Watergate, interviewing some of the members of Congress who voted to impeach President Richard M. Nixon, and providing illuminating historical context to current events.

(20/20's impeachment context came in a story about women in jail for committing perjury about their sexual affairs.)

``Dateline is not a predictable show, by design,'' said Shapiro. ``We have the widest variety and the least structure. It's as if you were getting Time, Newsweek or U.S. News five times a week.''

Actually, it's a lot more like getting People (with which Dateline teamed in an ``exclusive'' story on a model who is also a rodeo bull rider) or Good Housekeeping. And while segment lengths and topics are varied, Dateline's overall structure is numbingly predictable.

Tuesday's installment tells that tale: 10 minutes, 47 seconds of advertising; 4 minutes, 47 seconds of NBC and Channel 10 promos; 5 minutes, 47 seconds telling you what was coming up or what you'd just seen, and just 38 minutes, 19 seconds of stories.

Some of the stories are pretty gripping. Dateline presented a heartwarming segment about the joys and sorrows of a young couple who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant, very unexpectedly with quadruplets. A piece on electric brain implants that alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease was astounding, as Dateline cameras covered the surgery. With the flick of a switch, a severely handicapped woman could walk - and smile - again.

But Dateline deceives in its storytelling, frequently using re-creations (unidentified as such), camera tricks, mood music and fuzzy information to augment emotionalism. Like the supermarket tabloids, and contradicting its name, it either glosses over the date when it's telling an old tale, or omits it entirely.

Deception is inherent in a structure that ends every episode with anchors of Dateline and other NBC shows pretending to talk live to each other, though their words and faces were taped hours earlier.

ABC's 20/20 frequently goes farther down the low road than Dateline. It was a bad week for Barbara Walters, with stories on Reeve, ``surprisingly sexy'' Mariah Carey, Ira Einhorn and a report by Bryan Ross. All those R's.

On Nov. 11, 20/20 showed you ``The Last Diet You'll Ever Need.'' On Wednesday, it had a new diet: You pray instead of eating. I am not making this up.

Diane Sawyer, the Martha Stewart of newsmagazine anchors, introduced ``an urgent warning'' for parents about the dangers of leaving a baby in a hot car. The only thing urgent about the topic in cool November was that it was ``sweeps'' time.

The story included fuzzy footage of a car-seat-bound, red-faced doll to which someone had apparently applied a glycerin solution to resemble sweat.

Another hot topic was a cure for severe sweating, ``which affects more people than you might think.'' The magazines frequently use such vague and exciting statistics and rarely provide numbers.

After demonstrations by those reliable folks at Greenpeace, little Denmark has banned soft toys containing chemicals called phthalates, which kids have been chewing on for 40 years.

20/20 went crazy over the danger to American children from sucking phthalates out of toys, finding a conspiracy of toy manufacturers and the federal government. Buried deep in the story was this statement: What is ``still being researched is how much comes out and how much it takes to be at risk.''

Nor does anyone know exactly how many hours of TV magazines puts a society at risk. Since everyone in television believes they're not going away, it might be a good idea at least to identify them for what they are.

``Is what's in prime time on these newsmagazines actually news?'' 48 Hours' Zirinsky repeated to an interviewer. ``You're asking an enormous question.''

Six Golden Globe Nominations For `Shakespeare' And `truman' ``saving Private Ryan'' Had Five. The Awards, Seen As Indicators Of Oscar Favorites, Will Be Given Jan. 24.

Posted: December 18, 1998

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Shakespeare in Love and The Truman Show got six Golden Globe nominations apiece yesterday, while Saving Private Ryan was close behind with five, and Bulworth, Elizabeth, Gods and Monsters and Little Voice got three nominations apiece.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes, has only 92 members, who are lobbied hard and showered with gifts. Still, its choices, to be announced Jan. 24, are seen as a bellwether for the Academy Awards - although unlike Oscars, Globes also go to television shows. The association also divides some awards into drama and comedy/musical categories.

This year, the comic film category runs the gamut from the low-brow humor of There's Something About Mary to the literary wit of Shakespeare in Love, with Bulworth, The Mask of Zorro, Patch Adams, and Still Crazy in between.

Nominated dramatic films, in addition to Truman and Saving Private Ryan, are Elizabeth, Gods and Monsters and The Horse Whisperer.

In television, the WB network's much-hyped newcomer Felicity, was nominated for best drama, and its star Keri Russell for best actress. Actor Christopher Reeve was named for his role in the made-for-TV movie Rear Window, and Jimmy Smits for his final season in the cop drama NYPD Blue.

Joining Felicity in the drama category are NBC's ER and Law & Order, ABC's The Practice, and Fox's The X-Files. TV comedy nominees are Fox's Ally McBeal, ABC's Dharma and Greg and Spin City and NBC's Frasier and Just Shoot Me.

Among films, Shakespeare in Love, the story of the Bard as a struggling young playwright, was nominated for top musical or comedy film, best actress Gwyneth Paltrow, supporting actors Judi Dench and Geoffrey Rush, director John Madden and screenwriters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard.

The Truman Show, about a man who unwittingly stars in a 24-hour TV show, was nominated for dramatic film, star Jim Carrey for best actor, supporting actor Ed Harris, director Peter Weir, screenwriter Andrew Niccol and score.

The gritty World War II film Saving Private Ryan was nominated for dramatic film, star Tom Hanks, director Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Robert Rodat and score. A notable snub: the year's other World War II movie, The Thin Red Line. A critical favorite, the dark comedy Happiness, got just one nomination - a screenplay nod for Todd Solondz, who also directed.

Nominated directors, with Spielberg, Weir and Madden: Shekhar Kapur for Elizabeth and Robert Redford for The Horse Whisperer.

Nominees for best dramatic actress are Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth; Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station; Susan Sarandon for Stepmom; Meryl Streep, One True Thing and Emily Watson, Hilary and Jackie.

Comic actress nominees, besides Paltrow, are Cameron Diaz, There's Something About Mary; Jane Horrocks, Little Voice; Christina Ricci, The Opposite of Sex; and Meg Ryan, You've Got Mail.

Best dramatic actor nominees, with Carrey and Hanks, are Stephen Fry, Wilde; Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters; and Nick Nolte, Affliction. For comic actor, the nominees are Antonio Banderas, The Mask of Zorro; Warren Beatty, Bulworth; Michael Caine, Little Voice; John Travolta, Primary Colors; and Robin Williams, Patch Adams.

Actresses cited for TV dramas besides Russell are Gillian Anderson, The X-Files; Kim Delaney, NYPD Blue; Roma Downey, Touched by an Angel and Julianna Margulies, ER.

Along with Smits, the dramatic actor nominees are David Duchovny, The X-Files; Anthony Edwards, ER; Lance Henriksen, Millennium; and Dylan McDermott, The Practice.

Christina Applegate won a best comic actress nomination for Jesse, as did Sarah Jessica Parker for Sex and the City. They're up against Dharma and Greg's Jenna Elfman; Ally McBeal's Calista Flockhart, and Just Shoot Me's Laura San Giacomo.

Comic actor nominees are George Segal, Just Shoot Me; Michael J. Fox, Spin City; Thomas Gibson, Dharma and Greg; Kelsey Grammer, Frasier and John Lithgow, 3rd Rock From the Sun.

Kobe's 32 Fuel Red-hot Lakers

Posted: March 04, 1999

Laugh at Dennis Rodman all you want. His teams win.

Rodman had 17 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers remained unbeaten in four games since he joined them, beating visiting Phoenix, 101-95, last night.

The Lakers have won five straight since coach Del Harris was fired and replaced by coach Kurt Rambis.

Kobe Bryant had 32 points, 23 in the second half, for Los Angeles.

Cliff Robinson scored 20 off the bench for the Suns, and Tom Gugliotta had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

The Lakers' winning streak began a day after Del Harris was fired as coach a week ago, when they were in a three-game losing slump. They are 4-0 since Rodman joined them and Kurt Rambis was named coach.

In other news:

JORDAN: Makes People list

Michael Jordan is the only athlete selected as one of the "25 Legends of the Past 25 Years" by People magazine for its 25th anniversary issue.

Among the others picked by the magazine were Tom Cruise, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Christopher Reeve.

SONICS: Polynice fined

Seattle SuperSonics center Olden Polynice was fined $5,000 by the NBA for making an obscene gesture Monday night toward the fans at Sacramento after a boo-filled return to Arco Arena.

NETS: Sign Overton

The New Jersey Nets signed free-agent guard Doug Overton, the team said. Terms of the contract weren't disclosed. Overton was waived by Orlando last week.

NUGGETS: Add Herrera

The Denver Nuggets signed free-agent forward Carl Herrera, who was waived Sunday by Vancouver. The move came six days after rookie center Raef LaFrentz went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Taught In The Act Stars Of Stage And Screen Share Their Secrets On `Inside The Actor's Studio' Bravo! `actor's Studio' Offers An Insider's Look At The Craft

Posted: April 02, 1999

INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO. Bravo Network, 8 p.m. and midnight Sunday.

By conventional television standards, ``Inside the Actors Studio,'' should be a bomb, an out-and-out stinker of a TV show.

No action, no drama, no comedy, no cleavage. Just two people sitting in chairs on a nearly bare stage, talking about the craft. In the audience, young actor/director/writer wannabes sit transfixed by what they hear.

But the television equivalent of watching paint dry has found a devoted audience. And they're all not fledgling Brandos and Spielbergs.

Started in April 1994, ``Inside the Actors Studio'' has become the top-rated show on the Bravo cable network. Bravo, which carries award-winning American and international films, and performing arts programs, is available to 38 million homes across the country.

Granted, we're talking cable here. And the audience size for ``Inside the Actors Studio'' is piddling by network standards (.6, .7 (networks execs won't give exact numbers. I have a call in.) But in the niche cable network universe, it's the sun around which the Bravo network revolves.

``It's the only opportunity where actors and directors can talk about their craft in detail with someone who is their peer,'' said Frances Berwick, senior vice president of programming at Bravo. ``When the show first started, no one had heard of it. Now we're at the point where people, leading artists, want to be on the show.''

No one is more pleased at the show's success than Jim Lipton. He's dean of the Actors Studio Master of Fine Arts degree program at New School University and executive producer of the show. He chaired the committee that created the school and the masters course.

And he's also the show's host.

``When we created it, I didn't dream anything like this would happen,'' Lipton said. ``I did know it had the potential of being a unique archive of theater and film because of the people who initially responded to our letters,'' such as Paul Newman, Sally Field and Alec Baldwin.

So Lipton asked his attorney to find a network that might be interested in carrying the interviews. ``Bravo stepped up,'' he said.

``The biggest surprise I have had is that by focusing on craft, which makes the artist feel at home and have faith because they know they won't be ambushed, we opened a massive door,'' Lipton said.

Since April 1994, more than 60 actors, actresses and directors have walked through that massive door, people such as Field, Newman, Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn, Laurence Fishburne and Steven Spielberg - who was so noteworthy that the show's usual one-hour format was lengthened to two hours.

``In the age of the Barbara Walters interview, having a show like this so tightly focused on craft and the work, you watch people who sometimes don't give many interviews relax,'' said Matt Roush, TV critic for TV Guide. ``It's not a show going for cheap emotion.''

Robert Thompson, professor of television and film at Syracuse University, said the show ``looks so much not like `ER' and all the rest of them. Strangely enough, with every show shouting for attention, the quiet nature of `Inside the Actors Studio' draws attention.''

The show's popularity is interesting on a couple of fronts. The subject matter smacks of elitism, yet has found an audience with everyday men and women. Participants appear without commercial motives, such as shilling for their latest movie or tell-all book. This in a world where lightweight sound-bite interviews are the norm and sappy celebrity-dependent shows such as ``Entertainment Tonight,'' and ``Access Hollywood'' still hold sway.

And ``Inside the Actors Studio'' exemplifies the early promise of cable's Brave New World.

When cable television started expanding about 20 years ago, the thinking was that viewers would get ``this utopia of great alternative programming,'' Thompson said. ``In many ways that hasn't borne out. So much of what is on cable are reruns of network shows.''

Every ``Inside the Actors Studio'' show has the same format: For the first 45 minutes or so, Lipton sits across from the guest and asks questions recorded on a stack of blue index cards. At the end of the session, Lipton asks 10 specific questions which he credits to French interviewer Bernard Pivot: What turns you on/off? What sound or noise do you love/hate? What profession would you like to attempt/not attempt? What would you like said when you arrive at the ``Pearly Gates''? And the bonafide giggle-getter, what's your favorite curse word?

In the final 15 minutes, students in the audience ask the guest questions.

``It has become at last what I had intended,'' Lipton said. ``A conversation.''

With a, shall we say, very accommodating Lipton at the helm, actors and directors willingly come to the stage in the New School auditorium.

One night last month, Kim Basinger was the guest. Looking effortlessly beautiful in a dark pants-suit and white top, Basinger often reached to her shoulders and flipped back her long blonde hair.

Lipton was his usual self, starting with questions about Basinger's childhood in Athens, Ga. (``I'm a mutt,'' she says, explaining her Swedish, Irish and Native American heritage), her relationship with her parents (her mother was ``a crazy, crazy crazy woman''). She admits to having ``done some garbage'' in her career and says she hates nude scenes (``Your imagination is such an under-used thing''), but there are ``times when it's appropriate.''

Questions about the movie ``9 1/2 Weeks'' get a typical Lipton precaution: ``We don't have to talk about it at all,'' he tells her benevolently. But Basinger plows forward. ``It was the hardest, most difficult time,'' she says. More than once during the interview Lipton calls her brave. And when the movie for which she won an Oscar, ``L.A. Confidential'' is brought up, the audience applauds. (By the way her favorite sound is her daughter saying ``mama''; her favorite curse word is s- - -.)

After the taping, Basinger agrees to do a public service announcement for Bravo. Outside in the hall, Tatiana Prisco, 23, a first-year acting student from Brazil who had been in the audience, says she likes the ``human contact'' the show offers the students and the chance to see the interview without going through the filter of a reporter. ``It's very relevant, very inspiring,'' she said. ``They bring a lot of honesty and eagerness to the show.''

Doug Wilcox, 24, a first-year acting student from Westport, Conn., likes the intimate setting and the ``opportunity to have this exchange.''

``I want to be a storyteller,'' Wilcox said. ``I want to be able to reach out and touch someone, as corny as that sounds.''

A fine cast of characters

Actress Kathy Bates will be featured Sunday on ``Inside the Actors Studio.''

Upcoming shows:

Gary Sinise, April 25

Ron Howard, May 9

John Hurt, May 23

Coming this summer: Donald Sutherland, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kim Basinger.

Some actors and directors who have appeared on ``Inside the Actors Studio'' (and can be seen in repeat broadcasts):

Lauren Bacall

Alec Baldwin

Matthew Broderick

Carol Burnett

Ellen Burstyn

Glenn Close

Billy Crystal

Willem Dafoe

Robert De Niro

Matt Dillon

Stanley Donen

Faye Dunaway

Sally Field

Laurence Fishburne

Danny Glover

Whoopi Goldberg

Lee Grant

Holly Hunter

Dennis Hopper

Anthony Hopkins

Anjelica Huston

Norman Jewison

Tommy Lee Jones

Harvey Keitel

Martin Landau

Nathan Lane

Jessica Lange

Jack Lemmon

Sidney Lumet

Shirley MacLaine

Paul Newman

Mike Nichols

Arthur Penn

Sean Penn

Sydney Pollack

Anthony Quinn

Christopher Reeve

Julia Roberts

Meg Ryan

Mark Rydell

Susan Sarandon

Martin Short

Neil Simon

Steven Spielberg

Meryl Streep

Sharon Stone

Steven Sondheim

Christopher Walken

Gene Wilder

Shelley Winters

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Jackson Reveals He Was Princess Di's Confidant

Posted: April 15, 1999

Michael Jackson says in an interview that Princess Diana used to telephone and confide in him.

The American singer was quoted in the London tabloid the Mirror as saying that he also knew Diana's companion Dodi Fayed. This made Jackson's grief worse when both were killed in a Paris car crash in 1997.

"They were a match made in heaven," Jackson said.

He said Diana was a wonderful person who had proved she really cared about people.

"She went round the world as a philanthropist just like Mother Teresa," said Jackson.

"She used to confide in me. She'd just call me on the phone and we would talk about everything that was happening in her life.

"The press were hard on her in the same way they were hard on me and she needed to talk to someone who knew exactly what she was going through. She felt hunted in the way I've felt hunted. Trapped, if you like."

Meanwhile, Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, accepted an undisclosed settlement yesterday from a newspaper that questioned the handling of money raised by a concert staged in her honor.

Spencer had sued the Express on Sunday for libel over its Dec. 16 story.

His attorney, Simon Ekins, said the story "gave rise to the inference" that the earl had control over the concert proceeds and may have used some of the money to defray the high costs of running his country estate.

In fact, Ekins said, the June 28 concert at the estate was organized by an independent company and Spencer had no control over the proceeds.

The newspaper withdrew its allegations and apologized, citing an editing error.

The concert raised $320,000 for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

Super speaker Christopher Reeve will give this year's commencement address June 6 at Williams College in Massachusetts. The Superman star was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1995 riding accident and has become a spokesman for the disabled and spinal cord research. Reeve traces his theater career to 1968 when at age 15 he got a summer apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theater Festival. He has a home in Williamstown.

Body slam for McMahon First, Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota, and now Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Federation, is going to Harvard. McMahon will be at Harvard Law School on Sunday to give a talk entitled "First Amendment: First Hand," to hundreds of Harvard's law and undergraduate students. Should be first rate.

Yoko sues former aide Yoko Ono continued a long feud with a former assistant to John Lennon, suing him Tuesday and claiming he stole priceless personal items after the ex-Beatle was killed in December 1980.

In a federal lawsuit, Ono contends that the former aide, Fred Seaman, agreed in 1983 to return boxes of Lennon's personal items but has held onto hundreds of photographs.

The lawsuit was prompted by Seaman's claim in a February letter to Capitol Records that a photograph of Lennon with his son Sean, overlooking a beach in Bermuda, was improperly included in a recently released CD box set.

Glenn Miller-linked logbook sold A World War II aircraft logbook possibly linked to the death of legendary U.S. bandleader Glenn Miller was sold to an American bidder for $35,260, Sotheby's auctioneers said in London.

"I am truly staggered at the price. It was over 20 times more than I expected the book to realize," said Stephen Maycock, an aeronautics specialist at Sotheby's. The logbook had belonged to the navigator of a British warplane that jettisoned bombs that may have caused the plane carrying Miller to crash into the sea off England in December 1944, said a Sotheby's statement.

"Sold with the logbook was a letter from the Ministry of Defence, in which it is stated that the authorities think the jettisoned bombs are the most likely answer to what happened to Miller," the statement said.

William Suitts of Bolder, Colo., who bought the logbook, said he had been unsure about making a bid.

"But when I heard that June Allyson, who starred with James Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story, was visiting Denver and then after that I heard a Glenn Miller tune playing on the radio, I knew that I had to bid in the sale," Suitts said.

Miller's death has been the subject of much speculation. One popular theory is that the plane carrying the bandleader to a concert date in Paris was brought down during bad weather over the English Channel.

She drew her own conclusions Drew Barrymore might be a Hollywood veteran, but she still did her movie homework before producing her first film. After teaming up with 31-year-old Nancy Juvonen, Barrymore rolled up her sleeves and spent two years deconstructing the film business. The duo converted a room in Barrymore's home into an office, formed a production company, pored over scripts and met with agents and studio executives.

They also dissected and analyzed their own tastes in movies to try to determine what young audiences want to see. Then they made their first movie - Never Been Kissed. "We wouldn't have the wholeness without each other," Barrymore, 24, said. "Everyone wants that producer plaque on their door, but it takes an extraordinary amount of work to get there." The gambit seems to have worked. Never Been Kissed opened in second place behind The Matrix last weekend, bringing in about $12 million.

Barrymore, who is John Barrymore's granddaughter, grew up in Hollywood and starred in E.T. - The Extraterrestrial at age 6.

Locally connected Homer H. Hickham Jr., author of the book Rocket Boys, which has been rocketing sky high at the box office as the movie October Sky (same letters, simply rearranged), will appear on The Irreverent News Show with Brian C. Greenberg today at 5 p.m. on WNJC-AM (1360).

Ladies and gentlemen, in the center ring, presenting: Cotton candy when you file your income taxes. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which opens a 10-day run at the First Union Spectrum today, is providing free cotton candy to people dropping off tax returns outside the Spectrum in one of several on-site U.S. Postal Service vehicles between 5 and 9:30 p.m. Becky Guthrie, who's promoting the circus for Feld Entertainment, says she hopes that everyone filing at the site - preferably, from her point of view, on their way to the circus - had a sweet year. Almost makes paying taxes worth it. Almost!

You can emulate Imelda Marcos by putting your best foot forward to help the Pennsylvania Ballet. Shoe designer Donald J. Pliner will be at Mainly Shoes, 4410 Main St., Manayunk, to sign shoes from his collection from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday. Pennsylvania Ballet dancers will also be on hand - or should that be on foot? - to sign autographs. A donation will be made to the Ballet for every pair of shoes bought from Pliner's collection during his appearance. En pointe!

George Karusky, executive chef of Siggie's L'Auberge in West Conshohocken, will do contemporary French cuisine on Saturday's edition of CBS This Morning. Karusky will be the fourth and final chef from Philadelphia featured on the program's "Chef on a Shoestring" segment, which can be seen about 8:40 a.m.

Tickets for the Cranberries' April 30 concert at the Tower Theater are available at all Ticketmaster locations and at the Electric Factory box office at 1231 Vine St. They're priced at $26.

A limited number of tickets go on sale today for "An Acoustic Evening with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt." They'll appear at the Tower on May 2. Tickets are priced at $50 and $40. They're also available at Ticketmaster outlets and at the Electric Factory.

William Labov, professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, will discuss the singular speech of Philadelphians in a program, Phillytalk, at the Atwater Kent Museum, 15 S. Seventh St., at 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission to the program is free. Information: 215-922-3031.

Contributing to this report were the Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, the New York Daily News and the New York Post.

Reeve Is Honored 1st Bancroft Award Is Presented At Phila. Fete

Posted: September 18, 1999

Hollywood on the Schuylkill it was not, but the cause had more significance than any movie opening or book signing.

Academy Award winner Joe Pesci presented actor and director Christopher Reeve with the first ever Bancroft NeuroHealth Award last night at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel in Center City.

The award presentation kicked off a three-day conference on brain injury sponsored by Bancroft NeuroHealth of New Jersey.

For the conference, the Haddonfield-based brain injury rehabilitation organization also attracted numerous leaders in the field, including assistant U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Mark L. Rosenberg and Allen I. Bergman, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association.

However, Reeve, paralyzed from the neck down in an equestrian competition in May 1995, drew the most interest.

During a press conference following the award presentation Reeve said he believed that scientists will soon be able to help those with brain injuries as well as those with paralysis to lead fuller lives.

"For 4,000 years, it was assumed that a spinal cord injury could not be cured," he said. But within the last five years "there have been discoveries in antibodies and stem cells," that show promise for a cure, he added.

Pesci said he and Reeve had not seen each other in 20 years, though they were good friends. In addition to his friendship with Reeve, Pesci was drawn to the event by a daughter who receives services from Bancroft, he said. He did not elaborate on her condition.

"She's doing extremely well," said George W. Niemann, Bancroft CEO.

Reeve, who gained fame in the 1970s and '80s portraying "Superman," said he set a goal for himself to be able to walk by his 50th birthday. "There is reason to believe that there is hope to make that happen," the 46-year-old actor said.

He said the message he wants to convey to others during the conference is, "That all of us have inside of us many more resources than we know, and when we are faced with a tragedy of some kind, we should challenge ourselves to go beyond any level that we have gone before."

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Reeve Shows Superhuman Resolve To Exit Wheelchair

Posted: January 24, 2000

QUOTE "My show was canceled. I was sad."

- Former sitcom star Ellen

DeGeneres, reflecting on her plan

- never realized - to abandon


"Superman" star Christopher Reeve, paralyzed since a 1995 horse-riding accident, remains doggedly optimistic about someday getting out of his wheelchair.

But the star, 47, admits he's had to scale back his expectations a bit.

"I hoped by my 50th birthday I would be able to stand and thank everybody. That probably won't happen that quickly, but within the next to four to five years I shall begin to start the process of recovery," Reeve, in London, told the BBC yesterday.

"I'm going to go forward and get out of this."

The actor, always hooked up to a respirator, also continues to believe he will someday breathe on his own.

"I'm trying to get rid of this breathing hose. I'm now on a program where if I work very, very hard, I may be able to get off this hose within a year," he said. "That would be a gift because, you know, this is not a very nice necktie."

Reeve, a fervent activist and fund-raiser for spinal-injury research, says he works with scientists and rehab specialists several hours a day.

He admitted that his insistence on recovery left many friends and physicians shaking their heads.

"People sort of looked at me as if, you know, 'Poor guy, he's delusional,' " Reeve said.

"The thing is, I have opportunities - to speak up for the disability movement, to push the researchers as far as they can go and to move from acting and directing, which I always wanted to do.

"In a way, some people say breaking my neck was a good career move, but I don't recommend it," he said. "There's other ways to work up."

Legal notes

Eriq LaSalle has asked a judge to sort out the mess left behind after the "ER" star broke his engagement to Angela Johnson, his girlfriend for five years. The actor's lawsuit alleges LaSalle and Johnson bought a house using his money and her name ("for purposes of maintaining his privacy. . .and security"). Now that they're over, Johnson apparently wants cash for half the house's value. LaSalle, according to the Los Angeles Times, would like the court to rule that he "owes his former fiancee nothing."

* An on-line firm has allegedly registered the Internet domain name in hopes of selling it back to John Tesh. But the mellow keyboard artist is having none of it. He's sued, claiming the name "John Tesh" "is a recognized family brand whose ability to promote products and family values has been recognized worldwide." A lawyer for the musician also fretted that the nonofficial site could detract from the star's own site, Kenny Rogers and Brad Pitt recently filed similar lawsuits under a new law prohibiting "cybersquatting" amongst celebrity domain names.

Couple stuff

* The course of true love has never run smooth for Fox News star Kristen Gesswein. First she was dumped by "Today" show host Matt Lauer after a two-year engagement. Then on Jan. 15, a Manhattan priest refused to marry Gesswein and new fiance Stephen Fealy. Her intended, a surgeon, was reportedly distraught over injuries to his hands, and family members were also said to be bickering about the pending union. "There are jitters, and then there are jitters," the pastor explained to the New York Times. So the couple canceled the wedding, but still held the reception. On Thursday, they snuck off to Mexico and got married on the beach there.

* Supermodel Claudia Schiffer, having made magician David Copperfield disappear, is now engaged to art dealer Tim Jeffries. The New York Post says Schiffer is the proud new owner of "a sizable rock," but cautions that Jeffries has been engaged before, most notably to that other pretty girl, Elle Macpherson.

Never mind

* Hey, Mel Gibson. What's this about you pulling down $25 million - a record payday for an actor - to star in "The Patriot," an upcoming historical drama? "I wish," the star told USA Today.

* So there we were in the "12-items-or-less" line. How could we miss the screaming National Enquirer headline: "Celine Dion Pregnant With Twins!" "She's not pregnant and she never has been pregnant," a very patient flack explained to the New York Daily News. "She wishes she was, but it's not true." Dion recently began a two-year sabbatical from the diva business, with the stated intention of having a child and caring for cancer-stricken hubbo Rene Angelil. Send e-mail to

The Bowl Runneth Over Super Bowl Xxxiv Gives Great Action But Some Lackluster Ads

Posted: January 31, 2000

For once, the game was actually worth watching. The battle of the ad airwaves was a bit more forgettable.

With the exception of E-Trade and a couple of other Internet entries, the Dot.Coms were Dud.Coms. And at $2.2 million a 30-second spot, there's a good chance some of the flops won't be around next Super Bowl.

Other companies - Visa, Tropicana, General Motors - have money to burn, and did. And some didn't have to spend a dime to reap millions in free publicity from an event seen by more than 220 million people.

Here are the best and worst of the Ad Bowl:

Best Ad Series: 7-UP. The Un-Cola had the niftiest spots, anchored by a likeable young actor with Eddie Murphy appeal. One showed a coach being pummeled to unconsciousness after a "Gatorade Shower" of the soft drink. "Maybe next time we'll take it out of the cans," said the guy.

Anpther spot featured a vending machine being placed in a "high-traffic" area - in the middle of an interstate. And lastly, there was "Show us your can." Uh, you get the picture . . .

Best Ad Series, Runner-Up: E-Trade. The first ad featured a monkey and two guys in a garage dancing to nonsensical music. The kicker: "Well, we just wasted two million." Then came "He's got money coming out of the wazoo." If you didn't see it, just use your imagination. These web guys are so virtual.

Most Clever: EDS - Cats, er, hats off to Electronic Data Systems and its hilarious western spoof on cowboys who brave the open plains to herd . . . cats.

"Herding cats," says one grizzled cowpoke. " . . . Don't anyone ever tell ya it's easy."

What this has to do with electronics or data is our guess. But remember, this is Ross Perot's company.

Real Biggest Waste of $2.2 Million: Visa. Actually it was $4.4 million, for two lame ads. One featured synchronized swimmers spelling out - you guessed it, Visa. The other showcased a female pole vaulter. Didn't you know there was going to be a woman's pole vault competition at the Olympics this year? And that you can't use American Express to see it? Oh boy!

Second Biggest Waste of $2.2 Million: The singing sock-puppet dog made us long for Lambchop.

Best Ad for Listerine: Pepsi One. The spot showed cans of Coke and Pepsi One being accidentally exchanged and sipped by commuters on a ferry listing from side to side.

Cheapest Ad: Retired Bronco quarterback John Elway, interviewed on the sidelines in the first half, managed to sneak in a plug for his own business, All he had to do was talk to Lesley Visser.

Cheapest Ad (spiritual division): The Almighty. From Steve McNair's pre-game gesture to the heavens to Ram QB Kurt Warner's post-game podium yell of "Thank you, Jesus!" God got a free ride.

Most Moving: Nuveen. Through the aid of digital enhancement, an ad for the investment firm, John Nuveen & Co., showed a paralyzed Christopher Reeve walking across a stage, followed by a group of other "paralyzed" people. A tad contrived, but tugged at the heartstrings.

Barely Moving: Budweiser. The beer giant's attempt at sentiment - a vet leaves his black tie affair to deliver a baby Clydesdale - was pure schlock.

Poem Most Traveled: Their obtuse use of Robert Frost's classic verse, which unfolds on a city street in black and white, epitomized the pretentiousness of all the cash-flush, profit-poor e-businesses that dropped millions yesterday.

The Greatest: WebMD. Maybe not the best, but the WebMD spot featuring Muhammad Ali shadow boxing (in silence, save for the sounds of his breathing) into a tightly focused camera catches you like a left jab.

Most/Least X-citing: Mountain Dew. In the case of the Dew, it meant a somewhat tired play on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and relying on the X-Game acrobatics of previous ads. This one was more rewarding, with a mountain biker racing down a cheetah and extracting his Dew from its belly. "Bad Cheetah," said the dude.

Best of the Brews: Bud Light. Where the guy gets his hand stuck in the elevator - exposing his sixpack of Bud Light to its occupants - and leaving him in big trouble when the operator goes "Up."

Most Subtle: Titleist. At the beginning of the game, the ABC intro featuring Tiger Woods lining up what appeared to be a tee shot. Was that a Titleist glove he was wearing?

Most Eg-Regis Promo: ABC. ABC just couldn't stop flogging itself and its ratings-hot "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" host.

Best PR: Pennsylvania Blue Cross. They didn't have to spend a dime, but you know they're going to "lean on" Super Bowl poster boy Dick Vermeil. Any chance they'll drop the co-pay?

Best Local Action: WPVI-TV. Surprisingly, the best in-house network ad came from our own WPVI-TV, which spoofed a Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol showing up at the home of a family that won't answer the door because their watching "Action News."

Gary Numan Fan Club: Oldsmobile. Leave it to Oldsmobile - one of the few car makers to buy "Super" ad time, to resurrect the one-hit eighties wonder and his song "Cars" to try and appeal to the GAP generation.

Wimpy Blimpie: Too windy outside to show blimp shots of the Georgia Dome? No problem for TV - just get a helicopter crew up there and superimpose a picture of the blimp at the bottom of the screen.

It's Nice to See Him Working Again: Freshly fired Saints coach Mike Ditka (a Super Bowl winner in 1985 with the Chicago Bears) showed he belongs on the airwaves instead of the sidelines, showing a sense of humor in a Blockbuster ad for the video release of "Runaway Bride."

"Help me out here," the coach begs. "I can't afford to lose this job, too."

It's Not Nice to See Him Working Again: Was that Rich Kotite playing the father of the basketball star who just wants to "dance" on an E-Trade commercial? Without question.

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Stem Cells And Frankenstein Rhetoric Scientists And Senators Clash Over A Ban On The Use Of Cells Derived From Fetal And Embryonic Tissues.

Posted: May 07, 2000

How differently scientific experimentation might have been viewed had Mary Shelley not written her often-misunderstood Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus and had Robert Louis Stevenson not written The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Despite what their authors may or may not have intended, these two books - and others like them - reflect and even perpetuate fears that persist about the potentially dire consequences of what goes on in science laboratories.

The possibilities of progress through biochemistry - a great hope for humanity - can still be clouded by the same emotions Shelley's and Stevenson's fantasies stirred up years ago. Such emotions are gathering again - this time around the burgeoning area of stem-cell research. Undifferentiated stem cells recovered from harvested fetuses and embryos have remarkable regenerative powers. They're called "undifferentiated" because they haven't become blood, brain, bone or skin cells yet - they are precursor cells with the potential to become almost any of these. Their potential may eventually be farther-reaching than the most optimistic prognosticators are imagining.

Undifferentiated stem cells can be nudged into replicating many kinds of cells in the body. Therapy using such cells someday may be able to ameliorate or eradicate, for instance, life-threatening heart and nerve disorders. People suffering from debilitating spinal injuries or deteriorating conditions - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease - may stand to benefit.

Until recently, the major sources of stem cells have been tissues from embryos and fetuses. (Cells harvested from adults have shown some promise for treatments involving the lungs, brain and spine, but so far they are not as effective in as many applications as are the cells from embryos.) Federally-funded laboratories were banned from using embryonic and fetal tissues during the Reagan administration. And it is true that some labs did procure these tissues from hospitals and abortion and fertility clinics.

But labs no longer have to do that. Cultured lines of stem cells are available from at least two vendors. Problem is, both vendors started these lines from either fetuses or embryos. Demagoguing politicians then say, "Well, then! If cells even came, however remotely, from such sources, their use by federally-funded labs should be banned." Then the Frankenstein rhetoric comes in, the mischaracterization of science - not to mention implications of butchery, cannibalism and women getting pregnant so they can sell their fetuses and embryos.

Scientists find these arguments frustrating. There is hypocrisy and ideological grandstanding in the ban. After all, no such ban exists in the private sector, where labs can get fetal and embryonic tissues any way they please. And the whole point of allowing the use of the cultured lines is to allow scientists to get to the point at which they no longer need to use them.

There is, however, a comfort zone in which both human rights and scientific imperatives can be accommodated. Cooler heads in the debate counsel further fact-finding and dialogue before reaching any final conclusions. When people keep their heads, the reasons for the ban boil down to none. Indeed, once the use of embryonic or fetal tissues is eliminated from the discussion, debate immediately cools.

And that lays bare the real problem: This line of reasearch has been taken hostage by the abortion debate.

On April 26, several prominent researchers and advocates testified in favor of stem-cell research before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services and Education, where a bill is being readied. Proponents claim that both government funding and federal regulation are necessary if research is to continue. Without federal backing, experimentation will certainly proceed, its fruits will be delayed - which may seem unfair to people currently in the early stages, or even the later stages of, say, ALS. Regulation is also crucial: No need to encourage women to become impregnated simply so they can sell their embryos to the highest private bidder.

(The implications and ramifications of stem-cell research are also being tackled in Europe, according to an article in the Feb. 25 issue of Science. In Austria, the right to life cannot by law be applied to embryos. In France, research on embryos is done freely; in England, liberal legislation have been enacted; in Belgium, it's unregulated.)

Christopher Reeve, actor and activist, was one of those addressing Sen. Arlen Specter's subcommittee last week. He told me it was difficult for him to listen to critics likening stem-cell research to medical experiments carried on during the Holocaust. After all, he suffers from paralysis due to spinal injury - and at the hearing, he was seated next to a 35-year-old women afflicted with ALS. He told me that one thing he wished he'd said at the hearing was that in some ways the situation reminded him of Prohibition. "People are going to do it anyway," he said.

What he means is that stem-cell research has long been a reality, and that since it's unlikely to be outlawed, it will continue with or without government supervision. He makes a great deal of sense when he suggests it's the better part of wisdom to take well-thought-out regulatory measures and support them with adequate funding.

After all, we've come a long way since Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde. Why don't we act like it?

David Finkle is a freelance writer in New York. His e-mail address is

Reeve To Help Raise $ For Spinal Research Foundation Picks A Super Man As Guest Speaker

Posted: June 13, 2000

Actor Christopher Reeve and Geoffrey Lance have a lot in common. They're both handsome, both more than 6 feet tall, both supremely talented athletes - and neither can walk.

It is not surprising, then, that Reeve, an accomplished equestrian and a former top-ranked high school ice hockey goalie, will be the featured speaker tonight at a fund-raiser for the Lance Foundation. The dinner will take place in the Jefferson Room of the Four Seasons Hotel on Logan Square.

Reeve's paralyzing accident in 1995, when he was thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Virginia, is well-known. Lance's story is not.

A former lifeguard surfing the relatively flat waters of Newport Beach, Calif., on July 29, 1998, found a riderless surfboard in the water. She then found the rider, floating face down in the surf.

That man was Lance, 25, of Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County, who had apparently hit the ocean floor and broken his neck. In addition, he was drowning and slowly suffering brain damage from a lack of oxygen.

"He wasn't breathing and he basically had no pulse," said Jessica Schwartz, 24, of Yorba Linda, Calif., who administered first aid and CPR until additional help arrived. "We were able to get a pulse, but it went away and then we got it back again."

After eight months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, the former top-ranked Penn State and University of Nebraska tennis star's spine has been fused, and he must use a wheelchair.

Lance and his mother, Patty, met Reeve at a fund-raiser at Toronto (Canada) General Hospital a year ago, at which point Reeve agreed to speak at tonight's dinner. In exchange, the Lance Foundation will donate 70 percent of its fund-raising efforts to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

The rest will go to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's spinal-cord center, one of only 18 such centers in the United States.

"Our goal was to raise awareness of the need for money for spinal-cord-injury research in the Philadelphia region," said Patty Lance, 51.

The Lance Foundation expects to raise $200,000 this year, she said.

The co-chairmen of the fund-raiser are former Mayor Ed Rendell and 76ers president Pat Croce. Tonight, the Lance Foundation will honor Dr. John DiTunno, head of the spinal-cord-injury unit at Jefferson.

Patty Lance, who credits her Quaker upbringing for her ability to aim high, said the value of Reeve's presence tonight is incalculable.

"He is single-handedly responsible for getting research laboratories to where they are today, and that's the only way we're ever going to find a cure," she said. "In the world of spinal cord, injury, Christopher Reeve really is Superman."

For more information about the Lance Foundation, call 1-877-GLANCE1.

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Declaration Copy Was Mia The Document Declaring Independence Got Bumped . . . By Clinton.

Posted: August 18, 2000

Now it can be told: The Declaration of Independence was missing.

It was Monday night, backstage at the Staples Center. The rare copy of the 224-year-old document, which TV producer Norman Lear and entrepreneur David Hayden bought online last month for $8 million, had been watched by guards in a secure room after it was spirited through the loading dock at 4 a.m.

But when handlers went to fetch it for its prime-time appearance with actor Dylan McDermott, they opened the door and found . . . President Clinton, said Laura Bergthold, executive director of the Lear Family Foundation, yesterday.

After a few nerve-jangling moments, the guards and the Declaration were found nearby. They had been moved to accommodate Clinton. Deep sighs all around. "We never really lost it," Bergthold made clear. "It was just moved."

Lear, who hopes to take the document on tour, will not actually take custody of the Declaration until the fall, Bergthold said.

Until then, it is in Sotheby's hands in New York. On Sunday, the auction house slipped it into a black, nondescript artist's portfolio and loaded it and a Sotheby's employee on an airplane. Once at LAX, police drove it to a Sotheby's vault; it later was shuttled to the center. After the session, it and the employee were flown back to New York.

The Rendell watch. ABC reporter Brian Ross buttonholed former Mayor (and party chairman) Edward G. Rendell on Sunday at a party at Armani and asked him about campaign spending. "Listen to me for a second. Shut up for a second," he told Ross. "We are in a competition, but we are the party that wants to change this."

"Do you have to burn the village to save it?" Ross asked.

"We have to win," Rendell replied.

Creatively speaking. Former first son Ron Reagan attended both political conventions, working with the Creative Coalition, a nonpartisan group of Hollywood types dedicated to exploring social issues. Reagan is backing Ralph Nader.

The coalition and George magazine honored the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation on Wednesday at the mansion of producer Lawrence Bender (Good Will Hunting).

It was a name-dropper's paradise: Melissa Etheridge, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Goldie Hawn, Melanie Griffith, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino. Langhorne's Sesame Place handed out 600 Beanie Babies as party favors.

The glow from all the stars can be a mixed blessing, Cheri Honkala, Kensington Welfare Rights Union leader, said backstage when Bonnie Raitt sang for protesters this week.

"It can bring out a variety of people who will come out simply to hear her" and ignore the messages, Honkala said.

"Politics and strange bedfellows" department. New Jersey Sen. Robert G. Torricelli was spotted on the convention floor Monday night with onetime close friend Patricia Duff, a Bill Clinton fund-raiser and ex-wife of billionaire Ron Perelman. There had been tabloid reports of a Torricelli-Duff split. Back together? asked the New York Times. "There is a bond between all the Democrats who were on the convention floor," Torricelli demurred, "but it is something short of marriage."

Boyz II Men bumped. The Philadelphia quartet, booked to sing the national anthem last night, was axed from the lineup. Spokeswoman Raymone Bain said the four were tied up in rehearsal at the Shrine Auditorium and got caught in traffic.

Quote board. From The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: "The Democrats have pulled off a spectacular feat. They've managed to make Philadelphia look like a much more entertaining city than Los Angeles!"

From Slick Times magazine: "If a tree falls in the forest, it would look like Al Gore dancing."

Michael Klein's e-mail address is

Inquirer staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen and Inquirer wire services contributed to this article.

Former Miss America Weds Kentucky Beau

Posted: October 29, 2000

Former Miss America Heather Renee French married Lt. Gov. Steve Henry in a lavish ceremony Friday night that was the social event of the year in Kentucky. About 1,200 guests, from politicians to beauty queens, gathered inside the historic Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville for the nearly hourlong ceremony, broadcast live on television.

The crowd gasped, cameras flashed, and the 47-year-old Henry became emotional as French, 25, strode down the aisle in a white, strapless wedding gown and a $1 million diamond tiara once worn by Princess Diana. The tiara that French chose for the wedding was reportedly borrowed from its owners in Belgium.

French, whose reign as Miss America ended this month, said that everything about the ceremony, down to the musical selections, symbolized the couple's feelings about each other and the seriousness of their vows.

"I want people to know how much Stephen and I appreciate each other and love each other," she said. "It has nothing to do with titles, it has nothing to do with the crown, but it has everything to do with us."

SIMPSON HOUSE TO BE SOLD The San Francisco house that O.J. Simpson bought for his mother is heading for the auction block. The sheriff's department has posted a notice announcing plans to sell the two-story home at a public auction Nov. 30. The house is in Simpson's name and is being sold to help pay off a judgment he owes to the guardianship of his two children, according to the sheriff's notice. Simpson bought the house for his mother, Eunice Simpson, now 79, in the late 1970s when he was playing football for the San Francisco 49ers. Experts value the house at $300,000.

REEVE OPTIMISTIC Five-and-a half years after being paralyzed in a horse riding accident, actor Christopher Reeve said Thursday that advances in spinal-cord research give him hope of someday leaving his wheelchair. Reeve and Latin pop singer Gloria Estefan, who suffered a broken back when her tour bus was hit by a truck in 1991 but fully recovered, took part in the formal opening of a new $37 million spinal-cord research center at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami. Reeve said spinal-injury research was in an "incredible new era," citing as particularly exciting recent developments in the use of stem cells to regrow spinal-cord tissue. "I can get up every day and look somebody in the eye who's just been injured and say, 'You have no idea what's coming. Keep the faith," ' he said. "The research is not speculative." Reeve, 48, who has said he expects to walk by the time he is 50, said his own injury is limited to a small area of his spine around his second vertebra, lending hope that he can be cured. "The latest assessment of my condition is that over the five years, I've been improving," he said.

PRESIDENTIAL TIMBER The White House has selected a Douglas fir from Schuylkill County's Evergreen Acres tree farm, run by Paul Alan Shealer's family, to be the Christmas tree for the President's family. Gary J. Walters, chief White House usher, said the Christmas tree picked must be small enough to be carried into the Blue Room and not dominate it. "It's just the right width. It won't eat up the Blue Room," Walters said of the Shealer tree. The tree is 23 years old, said Shealer, who planted it in 1980 when it was a three-year-old seedling. It is scheduled to be cut down after Thanksgiving. Officials plan to take it to Washington Nov. 28 for a horse-and-carriage presentation ceremony.

'Ice Age' (with a 'Star Wars' icicle) is tops

Posted: March 19, 2002

Ice Age froze out the competition at movie theaters as the animated film about prehistoric pals debuted with a whopping $47.9 million over the weekend, a record for a movie opening in March. The three-day take for Ice Age nearly pays for its production - the film had a $50 million budget. Many movie fans told the New York Post they were really attending Ice Age to see the new trailer for Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones. They included parents, who grew up with Star Wars and normally wouldn't go to an animated movie with their youngsters.

Opening in second place was the video-game adaptation Resident Evil with $18.2 million, while the Robert De Niro/Eddie Murphy comedy Showtime was No. 3 with $15.4 million.

Powered by Ice Age, the overall weekend box office soared to levels normally seen only in busy seasons. The top 12 movies grossed $124.2 million, up 71 percent from the same weekend a year ago and up nearly 50 percent from a week ago.

Wrong note

* Alicia Keys played the piano and sang "Killing Me Softly" and her hit single "Fallin' " for London schoolchildren in a building connected to Parliament. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Opposition Liberal Democrat legislator Paul Tyler went nuts. He was not impressed with the five-time Grammy winner's performance, saying Parliament facilities had effectively been used to promote a musician's albums. "House authorities may have unwittingly created a precedent for all sorts of commercial events. How can they now resist the Brit Awards, Miss World, or the launch of a new deodorant?" Lighten up, Paul.

'Borders' dispute

Ethiopian officials have complained that a movie starring Angelina Jolie being filmed in Namibia gives a biased portrayal of their country, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ethiopia lodged a complaint with the Namibian government over the film, Beyond Borders, saying it portrayed only the 1984 drought and starvation in the country and none of the progress made since then. The film is a drama in which Jolie falls in love with a doctor who travels to Cambodia, Chechnya and Ethiopia to help war victims.

E.T. gets face-lift

Director Steven Spielberg gave E.T., the spindly alien star of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a face-lift for the movie's 20th-anniversary rerelease. Spielberg had more than 140 shots reworked and filmed again for the updated version of his classic, set to premiere Friday.

Special-effects artists digitally manipulated E.T. to make him/it appear more lifelike. Even the movie's signature shot of the boy Elliot riding his flying bicycle in front of a full moon was reshot to replace a figurine used in the original with an actual child.

"What worked in 1982 doesn't quite hold up," said Bill George, who supervised the updated special effects.

Where's Gore's beard?

Al Gore shaved his beard while Tipper was mulling over running for the Senate from Tennessee. "It was to show support for Tipper's potential Senate campaign," Gore said. Mrs. Gore later announced she would not run. Gore has not announced whether he will run for president again. No word on the fate of the hair on his head.

Reeve update

Christopher Reeve may not be walking on his 50th birthday in September as he once promised, but he isn't giving up hope on a cure for his paralysis. When he's not working on his second book, Reeve is lobbying to lift restrictions on stem cell research and exercising almost daily. He rides a bike 10 miles a day three times a week while using electrical stimulation to move his legs, he said at a recent fund-raiser in Vail.

Open mouth, insert foot

Mayor Willie Brown has drawn criticism from a fellow mayor while visiting Paris to promote tourism. Responding to questions about safety in San Francisco, Brown said: "I think you've got us confused with Miami." Miami Mayor Manny Diaz wasn't laughing. He wrote Brown saying that he was "very dismayed" and that crime had decreased significantly in Miami, a major destination for French tourists.

Apolo, lover boy

Olympic gold speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, 19, was greeted like a rock star - with screams, squeals and sighs. The Seattle crowd's large female contingent waved signs with messages from the standard "We love you Apolo" to the more inventive: "I'll flash for your autograph!" "You smelled my hair in 7th grade English!" "Apolo, will you be my prom date?" There were also plenty of copycat soul patches - the tuft of hair just below Ohno's lower lip that spurred a stick-on craze in Salt Lake City.

Standing-room-only sick bay

Neil Young has the flu so Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concerts in Washington and Oregon have been postponed for a month.

Billy Joel and Elton John have postponed the rest of their U.S. concert dates together to allow Joel to recover from an illness. He's being treated for an inflamed vocal cord and an upper respiratory infection.

Barbie the movie star

Barbie, the high-fashion doll who has held some 80 jobs over more than 40 years, has signed a deal for her second straight-to-video movie, Barbie as Rapunzel, set for release in October. (Her first star turn was in last fall's Barbie in the Nutcracker.) The computer-animated Barbie will play the part of Rapunzel, the maiden locked away in a castle tower in the classic fairy tale. But she'll be a courageous, imaginative girl who "magically paints her way to a life of freedom and love." Girl power!

Army awards Connie Stevens

Connie Stevens' USO trips in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf have paid off beyond the satisfaction she gets from entertaining the troops. She has been awarded the Army's Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.

Contact Gayle Ronan Sims at 215-854-4185 or

Inquirer wire services contributed to this column.

Media massing for McCartney's wedding

Posted: June 07, 2002

An international media horde began gathering yesterday at a remote Irish castle hotel where the owner (who can't keep a secret) declared that Paul McCartney and his fiancee, Heather Mills, will have their wedding reception next week.

"We are told vaguely it is next Tuesday, but it is all secret. I have to keep it dead-secret," said Sir John Leslie, owner of Castle Leslie, an offbeat luxury hotel in County Monaghan bordering Northern Ireland. "They might do something at the last minute or change it. You never know."

Facing the music

Drug charges against Dionne Warwick were dropped this week after a Miami-Dade County judge agreed to a plea bargain that included a drug-treatment program.

The singer, who was not in court, was arrested May 12 at Miami International Airport after baggage screeners said they found marijuana cigarettes in her lipstick container.

Warwick, a cousin of singer Whitney Houston, became famous in the 1960s for songs such as "Walk on By" and "I Say a Little Prayer." More recently, she has been a spokeswoman for the Psychic Friends Network.

Houston was involved in a similar incident two years ago, when airport security in Hawaii said they found a half-ounce of marijuana in her bag; charges were dismissed.

Missing in action

Vietnam has no record that disgraced former British pop star Gary Glitter has entered the country from Cambodia, and would not let him stay if he were found, an official said yesterday. Glitter, 57, who served a four-month prison sentence in Britain in 1999 for possessing child pornography, left Cambodia last week and headed to Vietnam, according to Cambodian police. Glitter, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd and who rose to fame in the 1970s, is on the sex offenders register in Britain.

Who's to blame?

Chris Gratton, a tour manager of rock-rap band Limp Bizkit, told an inquest yesterday that concert organizers were to blame for the death of a 15-year-old fan who was crushed during a show in Australia last year.

Gratton said the concert promoters had failed to control the "absolute crowd mayhem." He rejected claims that Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst aggravated and provoked crowd members by screaming obscenities at them.

Jessica Michalik, 15, died after suffering a heart attack when she was crushed in January 2001. Gratton said Michalik's death could have been prevented if the promoters had stopped the show.

Clinton's new buddy

Not that he is shamelessly trying to gain points with Ireland, but former President Bill Clinton revealed in Northern Ireland that his new dog will have an Irish name - Seamus. At the recent opening of a peace center named for him, Clinton encountered a chocolate Labrador retriever (wonder how he happened to be there?) and told the crowd that his own chocolate Lab will be called Seamus, the Gaelic form of James.

The dog is still being trained at the Maryland kennel where he was born in February and is expected to join the former president at his Chappaqua, N.Y., home later this month. At the kennel, he was called B.B., for Bill's Boy, while Clinton decided what to name him.

Clinton's White House dog, Buddy, was killed by a car in Chappaqua in January, an event the ex-president said was "by far the worst thing" to happen to him since leaving office. Seamus was sired by Buddy's nephew and seems much like Buddy, "except that I think he's probably a bigger eater. From what I have seen of him, his sole ambition 24 hours a day is to eat," Clinton said. Clinton has been accused of the same behavior.

Casting notes

Patricia Clarkson, of Six Feet Under, has been picked to play the mother in NBC's three-hour adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie, Variety reports. Angela Bettis has been cast in the title role.

For the cause, or the cameras?

Check out the glitterati who have shown up at congressional hearings recently: Julia Roberts, Mary Tyler Moore, Christie Brinkley, and Michael J. Fox and former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who told members of Congress last month that more money is needed for Parkinson's disease, which both have.

But it's Backstreet Boy Keith Richardson who has Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) fuming, calling his appearance yesterday a "sideshow" and a "joke." Voinovich boycotted the hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works clean air subcommittee to protest Richardson's appearance. A spokesman for Sen. Joe Lieberman (D., Conn.), who invited Richardson to testify, said the pop star's environmental group, Just Within Reach, has been active on the issue of mountaintop removal mining, used in Richardson's home state of Kentucky.

Some political analysts say there's a fine line between celebrities with expertise and those who appear before Congress for media attention.

Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, said, "If they get a celebrity in there, the cameras will follow, and what might have been a hidden or invisible issue will suddenly become a matter of public discussion."

Other celebrities who have appeared on Capitol Hill in the last few years have included Christopher Reeve, Katie Couric, and Tony Bennett.

Contact Gayle Ronan Sims at 215-854-4185 or

Inquirer wire services contributed to this column.

At the Prince, serious and silly films based on comic books

Posted: August 16, 2002

The Film at the Prince folks have come up with another winning program: comic books. Taking a cue from the recent box office successes of Spider-man, X-Men and The Flaming Carrot (OK, forget that last one - but check out Bob Burden's book featuring "the world's first surrealist superhero"), the Prince people have put together a late-summer series teeming with caped crusaders, Japanese anime, vintage noir, '60s camp, and other cool stuff adapted from and influenced by comics.

The action begins tonight with Joseph Losey's 1966 study in pop-art cinema, Modesty Blaise. Italian sex bomb Monica Vitti brings va and voom to the titular role of a mod secret agent slinking around after international diamond thieves, keeping company with the blue-eyed Terence Stamp, and striking various poses in fab '60s gear. Based on the British comics series by Peter O'Donnell and Jim Holdaway, Modesty Blaise served as more than a little of the inspiration for Roman Coppola's recent CQ.

Also beginning tonight: Superman: The Movie (1978), Richard Donner's deft retelling of the Man of Steel story, from his Kryptonian infancy to his foster childhood with the lovable Ma and Pa Kent to life in the big city, where a bespectacled Clark Kent went to work for a major metropolitan daily and spent a lot of time sneaking off to phone booths and bathrooms so he could dress up in tights. Christopher Reeve stars.

Tomorrow night, it's Supey's dark-humored DC Comics brother, Batman, who heads the lineup - although really there's nothing dark at all about Leslie Martinson's 1966 Batman movie - a spoofy, feature-length spin-off of the popular TV series starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as his trusty sidekick Dick Grayson/Robin. Exclamation marks abound in this goofball adventure, pitting the Cowled Crusader against a quartet of nutty nemeses: Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin).

Speaking of Batman, the Gotham City crimebuster's comic book creator, Bob Kane, glommed more than a little inspiration for his superhero from Roland West's 1930 thriller, The Bat Whispers, which deploys innovative camera work and way-cool miniatures to satisfyingly creepy effect. (And here's some coincidental trivia for you: 1930's The Bat Whispers and 1966's Batman share a West and a Ward connection: in the former, it's director West and actor Chance Ward, and the latter stars a West and a Ward. Wow!)

Then there's Akira (1988), Katsuhiro Otomo's groundbreaking Japanese animated feature about a band of kids caught up in a top-secret military experiment that may destroy all of Tokyo. Violence and sexual brutality make this anime hallmark - released in a restored, newly translated version - unsuitable for children. The first of Akira's four showings is Wednesday.

Next Friday, filmmaker Robert Emmons presents his comic book documentary Enthusiast: The Ninth Art, which takes the brilliant observations of Scott McCloud's book, Understanding Comics, and puts them on the big screen. Emmons will be on hand along with Philly artist and author Brian Biggs, whose Dear Julia comic has been turned into a nifty little short (that will be screened, too).

The saucy, sexy, '60s superheroine, Barbarella - starring Jane Fonda and directed by her then-hubby Roger Vadim - will get the Chumley and Carlota talk-back treatment (Philly's answer to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang) on Aug. 24. This is the movie that gave '80s band Duran Duran its name, and gave its star a lot of headaches when she became a Serious Actress and had to explain why she was doing sex-kitten stripteases in some seriously silly sci-fi trash.

For times and ticket info, call 215-569-9700 or check

Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or

Vatican Radio skewers 'Magdalene Sisters'

Posted: September 11, 2002

Vatican Radio lambasted The Magdalene Sisters, winner of the Venice Film Festival's top honor, and the jury members who chose it because the film "likens the Catholic Church to the Taliban." Last week, a Vatican newspaper called it "an angry and rancorous provocation."

Directed by Peter Mullan, the film tells the story of an abusive convent run by nuns on behalf of the Catholic Church. The last Magdalene convent closed in 1996 in Ireland.

Mullan said the film was "about all faiths, all fundamentalist faiths, that believe they have the right to oppress young women."

Vatican Radio said that "awarding top honors to Magdalene was the most offensive and pathetic page written by the jury." The jury was headed by Chinese actress Gong Li and included Easy Rider cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, French writer-director Jacques Audiard, actress Francesca Neri, producer Ulrich Felsberg and Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu.

Reeve's progress

Seven years after a horse-riding accident paralyzed him from the neck down, Christopher Reeve has regained some movement and sensation in his hands and feet.

The Superman star also can breathe on his own for 90 minutes at a time, according to an article in the Sept. 23 issue of People magazine. "To be able to feel just the lightest touch is really a gift," he said.

Reeve can move the fingers on his left hand and the toes on both feet. He can feel a pin prick on most parts of his body.

"No one who has suffered an injury as severe as Chris', and failed to have any initial recovery, has regained the amount of motor and sensory function he has," said John McDonald, medical director of the spinal cord injury program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Reeve had hoped to walk again by his 50th birthday, Sept. 25. He says he's still encouraged, even though he won't reach that goal: "The fact is that even if your body doesn't work the way it used to, the heart and the mind and the spirit are not diminished. It's as simple as that."

Humanitarian award

Oprah Winfrey will be the first recipient of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award to be given at the 54th annual Emmys. Bryce Zabel, chief executive of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, described Winfrey as a "truly qualified individual . . . whose deeds and actions have had a lasting impact on society."

The award was established this year and will be presented by Tom Hanks at the Sept. 22 ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Among other things, Winfrey is being honored for the work of her Oprah Winfrey Foundation, a charity that aids women, children and families.

More heat on Ryder

Prosecutors in L.A. have filed a motion to admit evidence of alleged previous misdeeds by actress Winona Ryder in her forthcoming trial on shoplifting charges, officials said yesterday.

The motion was entered late Monday as prosecutors sought to buttress their case against the Oscar-nominated actress, accused of stealing $4,800 worth of clothes and other items during a Beverly Hills shopping spree in December.

The case has stirred controversy over whether celebrities are singled out for special treatment - either harsher or more lenient - than ordinary people who have a similar brush with the law. Prosecutors say details of the case should be made public, while Ryder's lawyers say she is the victim of a "prosecutorial feeding frenzy." Ryder, 30, is supposed to be in court tomorrow, at which time a judge is scheduled to set a trial date.

Governor Reiner?

Actor-turned-director Rob Reiner, sometimes talked about as a potential candidate for California governor, isn't ruling out a run for office.

"That's a big decision," Reiner told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview about Proposition 10, the 1998 initiative he supported that hiked the cigarette tax to fund early-childhood development programs statewide.

"Right now, I'm focusing on making Prop 10 a success. I'm starting a film in a few weeks. What's down the road you can't ever say," he said Monday.

Pit stop

Cosmopolitan magazine breaks a showbiz story - actor David Arquette really loves smelling the odoriferous armpits of his wife, actress Courteney Cox Arquette.

"Courteney may be pretty, but if she's not on top of it, she smells like a truck driver and I like it," he said. Thanks for sharing, fella.

Drought watch

The clincher was the puddles. Cops caught Whitney Houston and husband Bobby Brown with wet curbs and charged them with breaking New Jersey's water-use restrictions.

The sprinklers were left on overnight at their estate in Mendham Township. A neighbor ratted them out, and police issued a summons. "Nobody gets special treatment here," police Lt. Jim Hughes told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

Spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer said the couple have not been at the 10-acre estate for some time because Houston has been working on an album, Just Whitney. "A judge will understand that someone taking care of the property obviously made a mistake," she said.

To the moon, Alice!

Everyone knows that astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin walked on the moon as part of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Everyone, it seems, but Bart Sibrel. Beverly Hills police responded to a complaint that Sibrel, 37, had been punched in the face by the 72-year-old Aldrin. It happened after he had asked Aldrin to swear on a Bible that he really had been to the moon, said Police Lt. Joe Lombardi. Aldrin was not there when police arrived. Sibrel said he didn't believe Aldrin or anyone else had been a lunar visitor.

Don't buy the cigars, either

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura wants President Bush and a State Department official to apologize for asking business leaders "not to participate in sexual tourism" - prostitution that often exploits children - when they visit Cuba with him in two weeks.

The Prez hasn't said anything, but Otto Reich, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, did try to dissuade Ventura and business people from visiting an agricultural exposition in Havana.

"First, I would ask them not to participate in sexual tourism, which is one of the main industries in Cuba," Reich said of his advice. He said Fidel Castro has "promoted this exploitation of women and children as one of the biggest reasons why European tourists go to Cuba."

Ventura said the remarks were offensive and he wanted an apology to his family. Charles Barclay, a State Department spokesman, said Reich was giving advice he gives to all going to Cuba. "This was not to single out any particular group of travelers. Any misunderstanding is regrettable."

Sick bay

A clean bill of health for Doylestown's Kathy Guarini, mother of American Idol finalist Justin Guarini. While Justin competed in the Fox talent show, Kathy sought medical attention in Los Angeles for what she believed was a pulled muscle. Doctors found a tumor on her pancreas. They removed it, along with a kidney. Yesterday, from a friend's home in L.A., she said the mass was benign.

Actor honored

The Boston Film Festival honored William H. Macy with its 2002 Boston Film Excellence Award. He got an engraved crystal vase Monday before a packed Loews Boston Common theater, where Welcome to Collinwood, his latest movie, was shown.

"On the one hand, one wants to make sure that you don't live and die by winning awards. You've got to keep them in perspective," the 52-year-old actor said. "On the other hand, I did win it. I'm so happy I don't know what do."

Welcome to Collinwood is coproduced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, who also stars.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, Cosmopolitan, People, Inquirer staff writer Michael Klein, and Inquirer wire services contributed to this column.

Reeve criticizes Bush, Catholic Church

Posted: September 18, 2002

Christopher Reeve said yesterday that the Catholic Church and President Bush had obstructed research that might help free him from his wheelchair. The actor told Britain's Guardian newspaper the Bush administration had caved in on the issue of embryonic stem-cell research after the Catholic Church expressed opposition to cloning.

Reeve, paralyzed seven years ago when he was thrown from his horse, said he was "angry and disappointed" that Bush had hampered developments in stem-cell research that might have led to human trials aimed at rebuilding the nervous systems of quadriplegics. Reeve is backing a bill in Congress that would support therapeutic cloning while punishing those who carried out reproductive cloning.

In response, Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "Bush has placed no restrictions on stem-cell research but has limited funding. Mr. Reeve's Paralysis Foundation has millions of dollars to spend on research and is spending most of it on other avenues because they are more promising. His research has shown adult bone marrow stem cells can produce an ample supply of nerve cells for therapies."

Tonight at 10 on ABC, Christopher Reeve: Courageous Steps shows the Superman star moving his right wrist, left fingers and both legs - developments that few in the scientific community predicted. The documentary, directed by Reeve's 22-year-old son, Matthew, and narrated by Reeve, shows his intensive exercise regimen and life in New York with his family over a yearlong period.

But his regained motion and sensation (he can feel a pinprick on the majority of his body) falls short of his widely quoted pledge to walk by his 50th birthday on Sept. 25. "I feel that we've lost almost four years of significant progress," he said.

Name game

It's been Angelina Jolie on movie billboards, but now it's official. A Los Angeles County judge granted a petition by the actress, whose legal name was Angelina Jolie Voight, to drop her last name. The actress, who won a supporting-actress Oscar in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted, has been publicly feuding with her father, Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, and in July filed for divorce from actor Billy Bob Thornton after two years of marriage.

Jolie, 27, also petitioned to legally change the name of her infant son to Maddox Chivan Thornton Jolie. The child, whose given name was Rath Vibol, was recently adopted in Cambodia.

Baby Gates

It's back to diapers for Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. Their third child, Phoebe Adelle, was born Saturday in suburban Bellevue, Wash. The couple have a 6-year-old daughter, Jennifer, and a 3-year-old son, Rory.

Otis Redding in bronze

The late Otis Redding, the soul singer best known for "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," has been honored in his hometown of Macon, Ga., with a 7-foot bronze statue that shows him sitting on a dock, playing his guitar. Redding's widow, Zelma Redding, attended the unveiling on the banks of the Ocmulgee River Sunday. "Today, he would say, 'I finally got all the respect I deserved,' " she said. Redding was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 10, 1967, on the way to a concert in Wisconsin. A tribute concert will be held in Macon on Dec. 7, the 35th anniversary of the hit song's recording.

All Courtney

You've really gotta love Courtney Love if you tune into MTV2 this weekend. For 24 straight hours, the rock diva will be in control of the music network. She'll play the videos she likes, invite her friends over for an on-camera gabfest, and do whatever else she pleases. Love won't even need to stay awake the entire 24 hours; an MTV spokesman says when she sleeps, the network will probably show snippets of her dozing.

The former lead singer of Hole and the widow of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain will take over the MTV studios in Times Square for 24 Hours of Love at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Star salesmen

Is that Tom Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson, selling jewelry on the Home Shopping Network? The actress is right alongside new pitchwomen Lauren Hutton and Stephanie Seymour. Network veterans like Suzanne Somers are being joined by big stars on the once-lowly sales channel for - you guessed it - money. "In four hours you can sell a quarter of a million dollars," raves Joel Warren, whose mid-priced Warren Tricomi hair-care line sold out during its first show a few months ago. "We could do a million dollars in four or five hours. That's huge! You couldn't have those returns in retail!"

On second thought

Because of the positive response at last week's Toronto International Film Festival, Miramax will release the year-old The Quiet American in December. It had looked as if Phillip Noyce's movie would not be shown in the United States after a test audience objected to a scene about American-sponsored terrorism aimed at convincing the world that communists had to be stopped. The director has softened some scenes in the film, which is based on Graham Greene's novel about U.S. involvement in Vietnam. It stars Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.

No show

Curly-top Justin Guarini, who came in second on Fox's American Idol contest, has decided not to fight a traffic ticket from a March accident in Bethlehem, Pa. Guarini, 23, of Doylestown, had been scheduled to appear today in Northampton County Court but decided it wasn't worth a trip from Los Angeles, where he's recording music, his lawyer said.

"Flying across the country is a little extreme for a traffic ticket," said attorney Douglas C. Roger Jr., who is also the singer's uncle. Guarini was cited by police for following too closely in a March 12 traffic accident. The offense carries a $25 fine and $75 in court costs.

Contact Gayle Ronan Sims at 215-854-4185 or

Inquirer wire services contributed to this column.

'Joe Millionaire' star's brief exposure

Posted: January 08, 2003

Average Joe, eh? Apparently Joe Millionaire construction himbo Evan Marriott has done some modeling in his past, displaying his corporeal talents. Though no Russell Crowe, Marriott can be sighted at wearing the "Gladiator brief" in the sale section.

Alas, for all of you doing early Valentine's Day shopping, the brief appears to be sold out. Marriott was paid $1,000 for the modeling job two years ago. Don't think it will pay the Bordeaux bill at the chateau. Incidentally, the debut of the Fox show won its hour Monday.

Consider going steady

No, no, no, Drew Barrymore insists. She is not traipsing down the altar a third time, this time with Fabrizio Moretti, drummer for the New York garage-rock band The Strokes. (The group is fronted by Julian Casablancas, scion of notorious babehound and Elite Modeling founder John Casablancas.) Wags were saying the two were all set to wed at the Italian villa belonging to George Clooney, Barrymore's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind director.

Clooney has vowed never to take vows again. Perhaps Barrymore should take a page out of his playbook?

La Dolce Drew, you may recall, was married to bartender Jeremy Thomas for 19 days in 1994 after an extended six-week courtship. Next up to bat was undernourished Canadian "funnyman" Tom Green in 2000. That union lasted five months - just long enough for Drew to ink thank-you notes for the Tupperware. Last fall, Green said: "Maybe the smarter thing would have been to not get married."

Barrymore reportedly met Moretti last April. Slow down. The woman is all of 27.

Nothing like a dame

Speaking of nuptialphiles, she has fame, a knighthood, two Oscars, and more baubles than her pudgy little fingers can sport, but that doesn't mean that Elizabeth Taylor has class. During her induction at the Kennedy Center Honors, presenter John Travolta revealed that, as a younger man, "I dreamed you were naked." In front of a crowd including President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, La Liz responded so that many could hear: "I don't have any panties on tonight." CBS was kind enough to edit the retort out of the Dec. 27 broadcast.

Royalty report

Apparently, Britain's Prince Harry - the spare of the "heir and the spare" - is more interested in military service than hitting the books, taking after uncle Prince Andrew rather than his Cambridge-educated father, Prince Charles. The redheaded prince, 18, wants to join the Welsh Guards rather than follow older brother Prince William, now at St. Andrews University in Scotland. According to British reports, his father isn't keen on the idea - even though he holds the rank of colonel in the elite regiment himself - but Harry hasn't been wild about school, experimenting with marijuana and failing important exams at Eton, the rigorous English prep school. "By nature, Harry is not an intellectual," a senior royal aide told a British tabloid. "He has knuckled down at school since the disappointment of failing two of his , but it is becoming clear that he is not an academic." Like mother, like son? His mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was not a top student, either.

In other reality-television news

A member of Britain's other royal family, director Guy Ritchie - consort of Madonna - came up with the idea for the new English reality show Swag that's already gotten into trouble before airing. Ritchie, known as Mr. Madge by those Fleet Street wits, came up with the idea for the hidden-camera series in which ordinary folks are tempted into committing crimes. Things went wrong during an early shoot when a cameraman was stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver by two toughs caught on tape. The crew member suffered a minor injury and was back at work the next day. A rep for Ritchie said the show "is Guy's concept, but he had nothing to do with production. Clearly, this is a story meant to boost ratings. Guy wishes the producers well."

Local performance

* She may not make any best-dressed lists - though she could - but violinist Viktoria Mullova's deft, intense playing surely puts her in the realm of fine soloists. She'll perform works by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Ravel at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, Broad and Spruce Streets. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Call 215-569-8080.

Locally connected

Area talent Tiffany Evans, 10, a singer from Ocean City, N.J., will be featured on Thursday's Star Search, scheduled for CBS broadcast from 8 to 9 p.m. The program helped launch the careers of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ray Romano, Sinbad and Martin Lawrence.

The envelope, please, Mr. Blackwell . . .

Another day, another list. No, not the winners of the Nobel Prize, only this year's compendium of Mr. Blackwell's "best and worst dressed women." As far as we can tell, Mr. has no first name, visible means of employment, or reason to make this annual sermon of snarky comments from a Hollywood mount, but here goes.

The best: Reese Witherspoon, Debra Messing, Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Princess Firal of Jordan, Rene Zellweger, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston.

But that's not what you care about, is it? The worst: Doylestown's Pink ("Out of the blue, pops Pink, and I'm seeing red!"), Christina Aguilera ("barely-there bimbo"), Meg Ryan ("swap-meet fashion queen"), Donatella Versace ("flash-fried Venus"), Anne Rice ("cross between Queen Victoria and Vampire Lestat"), Princess Anne ("royal dowager drag"), Cameron Diaz ("looks like she's dressed by a color-blind circus clown"), Shakira ("overwrought and underdressed"), Kelly Osbourne ("stuck in a goth prom gown") and Anna Nicole Smith ("Don't bother with a new designer, Anna, just hire a structural engineer").

He gives some super advice

Christopher Reeve will give Clark Kent some advice in a February episode of the WB television show Smallville. Reeve, who rose to fame as Superman, will play Dr. Swan, a brilliant scientist who gives the show's teenage Clark Kent (Tom Welling) insight into his superhero future, TV Guide will report in its Jan. 18 issue. The network offered Reeve, paralyzed from the neck down since a 1995 horse-riding accident, a unique incentive to take the part. The network will run a public-service announcement at the end of the show for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

Inquirer staff writer Michael Harrington, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, People Online Daily, and wire services contributed to this report.

Bet J.Lo & Ben move to Vegas

Posted: January 08, 2003

ALL BETS ARE off regarding when, and if, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez will wed, but the Las Vegas Sun reports that Tattle's favorite sweethearts are house-hunting in the posh Sin City neighborhood of Lake Las Vegas.

The idea of Affleck living in the gambling capital of America has raised some eyebrows. "Ben's been known to enjoy himself at the casinos," says one source. "I hope this isn't something that could get out of hand."

Ben was rumored to have dropped 100 grand playing blackjack, poorly, at Atlantic City's Trump Marina while in Philly filming "Jersey Girl."

J.Lo herself has talked about Ben's love for gambling, but Sin City insiders assure Tattle that even if Affleck loses his shirt gaming, he'll be able to wager a night with the Bronx beauty at any $5 blackjack table.

Drunk punk

Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was arrested early Sunday morning in Berkeley, Calif., on suspicion of drunken driving, the Bay Area's KRON 4 "Morning News" reported yesterday.

The 30-year-old punk rocker was pulled over about 1 a.m. and officers say he was not able to complete or successfully pass a field sobriety test.

Insert Liz joke here

Here's something you didn't see in last month's CBS telecast of the Kennedy Center Honors, according to the New York Post.

While John Travolta paid tribute to "Cleopatra" legend Elizabeth Taylor he mentioned that he pined over her as a young man "and I dreamed you were naked." This got a chuckle from the crowd, which included the president and first lady Laura Bush.

Perhaps hoping the "Saturday Night Fever" hunk would make a good eighth husband, the 70-year-old Taylor responded, "I don't have any panties on tonight."

Though edited out of the broadcast, Taylor's frightening remark surely turned Travolta's dream into a nightmare.

Get well soon

"The View's" Star Jones was rushed to the Aspen Valley Hospital on Christmas Day reports US Weekly. It seems Jones, 40, thought she was having a heart attack, but she was actually suffering from altitude sickness.

After being given oxygen in the hospital to relieve her lightheadedness, she was spotted the next night lugging an oxygen tank to an Aspen eatery.

Pop mystery

Turning over in his grave is an understatement for what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will be doing when he hears that pop tart Britney Spears is in negotiations to play a female version of his legendary pipe-smoking slueth Sherlock Holmes in a movie called "221bCAUSE," as's The Scoop reports.

We hear Brit's first case is to crack the mystery of why she's not selling records anymore.

Still super

Christopher Reeve, the now-paralyzed actor who soared to movie fame as Superman, will appear in an upcoming episode of the WB series "Smallville," about a teen-age Clark Kent.

Reeve will guest star in an episode next month as a scientist who provides young Clark with insights into his superhero destiny.

According to the report in TV Guide's next edition, the Vancouver-based production will be shot in New York City to accommodate Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1995 horseback riding accident.

Those hoaxing hippies

Vermont jam band Phish has apologized for tricking fans, and Tattle, into thinking Tom Hanks was part of its New Year's Eve show in New York.

The group announced the former "Bosom Buddy" at the start of its Madison Square Garden set and a man who looked like Hanks stepped onto the stage to wish fans a happy New Year. According to, the band now says it wasn't really Hanks, but a relative of band leader Trey Anastasio who is always told he resembles the "Cath Me if You Can" star. *

'Sopranos' put on ice till di$pute's whacked out

Posted: March 14, 2003

HBO HAS indefinitely postponed filming of "The Sopranos' " fifth season, pending resolution of the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by star James Gandolfini and HBO's $100 million countersuit. The show was to start production March 24 in New York.

The rancor between Gandolfini and HBO erupted late last week after lengthy tense talks regarding a salary increase for the Emmy-winning actor.

Gandolfini is reportedly seeking a boost to more than $1 million an episode from his current $400,000 per-episode fee. His camp has stressed that he is underpaid compared to other TV stars because HBO produces only 13 episodes per season instead of the 22-24 for most broadcast network dramas, nor have the actors shared in the windfall that HBO has reaped from DVD sales of the series.

Yo, Tony, do the Bada-Bing girls share in your profits?

* Lefty satirist Michael Moore,

Oscar-nominated for "Bowling for Columbine," is yakking with HBO about doing a nonfiction series, presumably like his previous newsmag efforts, "The Awful Truth" and "TV Nation."

Perhaps Moore's first report could focus on how evil HBO is exploiting poor, underpaid migrant worker James Gandolfini?

Jacko must give backo

A California jury decided yesterday that Michael Jackson owes German concert promoter Marcel Avram $5.3 million for backing out of two concerts planned to celebrate the millennium on New Year's Eve 1999.

The verdict came in a $21 million breach-of-contract suit Avram filed against the singer.

* More legal trouble for Michael:

He may have violated zoning rules at his Neverland Ranch when he claimed a tax break for preserving agricultural land, Santa Barbara officials said.

The 2002-03 assessed value of the 2,600 acre Neverland Ranch is $12,292,618, according to the county assessor's office. Jackson's property taxes this year are estimated at $13,000.

If the county finds Jackson in violation, he may need to reduce the number of buildings on his ranch or lose the tax break, which would increase the property value by about $6 million.

Lear takes walk in 'Park'

Norman Lear, the 80-year-old, Emmy-winning producer of "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son," "Maude" and "The Jeffersons," said Wednesday he will collaborate on several episodes of "South Park." Among the subjects he hopes to mock are the U.S. push for war in Iraq, reality TV and immigration.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who created "South Park" and voice most of the characters, said they became friends with Lear by appearing with him on panels to discuss censorship.

The new season of "South Park" starts at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Comedy Central.

Every breath you take

Doctors at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, have implanted electrodes in Christopher Reeve's chest - an experimental procedure that could one day enable the "Superman" star to breathe without a respirator.

It has already enabled the actor to regain his sense of smell.

Over time, the implant also should allow Reeve to speak more normally and it could greatly reduce other medical complications caused by the respirator.

Reeve is the third person to undergo the procedure.

"My recovery doesn't mean anything if it doesn't translate into better care for other patients," he said.


* Ex-Fly Girl Jennifer Lopez may dance again opposite Richard Gere in Miramax's "Shall We Dance?" - a remake of the 1996 Japanese romantic comedy about a man who takes ballroom dancing lessons to impress a beautiful young dance teacher. Shooting is set to begin in June after Lopez wraps "Unfinished Life" with Robert Redford.

* WRAZ-TV, a Fox affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., has pulled the network's unscripted series "Married by America."

Unfortunately it yanked the show because it "demeans and exploits the institution of marriage" and not because it demeans and exploits the institution of television.

* Us Weekly reports that a New York model is claiming she's pregnant and the father is playboy actor Colin Farrell.

Tattle bets she won't be the last woman to make this claim.

* With her own private infirmary in attendance, eight-month-pregnant and ready-to-pop "Chicago" star Catherine Zeta-Jones is not going to just sit cross-legged at next Sunday's Oscars - she plans to perform! In a move sure to elicit roars for either its bravery or insanity, the actress hopes to join Renee Zellweger to sing "I Move On," the movie's Oscar-nominated song.

* Alas, Eminem has chosen not to attend or perform his nominated song, "Lose Yourself" at next Sunday's Oscars.

The audible sigh you heard was the ABC censor.

* Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell told the London Sun yesterday that she has had a brief encounter with another woman, but denies she is a lesbian.

She refused to cite the date, but said "It was somewhere between the ages of 16 and 30. It was just a drunken moment."

In America, women call this college.

The singer also said she was not in a relationship at present. "I would like to be in a loving relationship but it has to be with someone who is trustworthy and kind and sweet - and also my equal," she said.

Hey, Jer, Baby Spice is single. *

'Hairspray' wins eight Tonys, taking actor, actress, musical

Posted: June 09, 2003

It may have been a lost weekend for Funny Cide, but Hairspray encountered little opposition in winning its own theatrical triple crown - best musical, actor and actress - at last night's Tony Awards ceremony.

The show both celebrates and sends up the '60s, centering on a chubby teenager who stubbornly follows her dream. The creators and cast realized some of their own dreams, winning a total of eight Tonys. It was a beehive bonanza for a musical that was the odds-on people's favorite, but it fell short of the record 12 Tonys registered two years ago by another movie adaptation, The Producers.

Fittingly, Jason Alexander and Martin Short, the stars of the Los Angeles production of The Producers (which is still going strong on Broadway), passed the torch by awarding the best musical to Hairspray.

An inspired treatment of the John Waters camp cult-film, Hairspray launched the Broadway season late last summer on a note of high optimism. The Broadway season turned out to be a roller coaster that saw war, economic woes, and a brief musicians strike before it closed on an upswing this spring with strong box office for Gypsy and Long Day's Journey Into Night.

The best actor in a musical category provided the most intriguing and amusing confrontation. Harvey Fierstein, a man playing flamboyant mom Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, bested that uber-ladies man Antonio Banderas, symbol of the strong Hollywood presence on Broadway this season.

"Boy, am I glad this wasn't a beauty contest," a relieved Fierstein declared as he accepted his fourth Tony.

Marissa Jaret Winokur, Edna's daughter and the determined young heroine of Hairspray, beat out beloved Broadway veteran Bernadette Peters' Mama Rose in Gypsy. The vote may have reflected Peters' cancellations of several shows early in the musical's run, causing some Tony voters to miss the performance. There was also sentiment among some critics that the role - despite Peters' abundant talent - was beyond her natural range. The tide continued to turn against Gypsy when Banderas and Nine upstaged it as the best revival of a musical.

The Tyrone family and its many demons in Eugene O'Neill's tragic masterpiece Long Day's Journey Into Night took the award for best revival of a play. Vanessa Redgrave won her first Tony in a storied career for her heartbreaking portrait of Mary Tyrone. Brian Dennehy, a brilliant complement as her alcoholic husband, won as best actor in a revival.

Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out, which deals with the repercussions that arise after a a star baseball player announces he is is gay, won for best new play to absolutely no one's surprise. It also took best director and featured actor (Denis O'Hare). The anemic competition that Greenberg faced, such as the affably superficial Say Goodnight, Gracie, only highlighted the dearth of quality new plays on Broadway.

Despite last year's dismal ratings - the worst ever for a Tony broadcast - CBS upped its commitment from two to three hours. The producers delivered on their promise to cut down on the gushing thank-you speeches for which the Oscars are notorious and increase the entertainment value with a generous sprinkling of stars. Indeed, Oscar could learn a lot from Tony when it comes to crisp tempo.

X-Men's Wolverine, Hugh Jackman, who will star in The Boy From Oz on Broadway next fall, hosted the evening. Billy Joel, whose songbook inspired nominee Movin' Out, opened the show with "New York State of Mind" and Banderas sang "Guido's Song" from Nine.

Presenters included Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, Sarah Jessica Parker, her husband, Matthew Broderick, and Danny Glover. Even Barbara Walters took a break from hearing celebrity confessions to present an award.

A special and well-deserved award went to the vibrant young leads of La Boheme, who form the rotating cast of Baz Luhrmann's superb staging of the Puccini opera. Their joint account of its most celebrated duet was one of the evening's most beguiling moments.

The Tony Awards are administered by the League of American Theatres and Producers, an alliance of Broadway and touring presenters, and the American Theatre Wing, a theatrical service organization. A group of theater professionals chooses the nominees, and the winners are voted by more than 700 theater professionals, producers and journalists.

The 2003 Tony Awards

Play: Take Me Out.

Musical: Hairspray.

Book of a Musical: Hairspray, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan.

Original Score: Hairspray, music, Marc Shaiman, lyrics, Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman.

Revival-Play: Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Revival-Musical: Nine.

Special Theatrical Event: Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.

Actor-Play: Brian Dennehy, Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Actress-Play: Vanessa Redgrave, Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Actor-Musical: Harvey Fierstein, Hairspray.

Actress-Musical: Marissa Jaret Winokur, Hairspray.

Featured Actor-Play: Denis O'Hare, Take Me Out.

Featured Actress-Play: Michele Pawk, Hollywood Arms.

Featured Actor-Musical: Dick Latessa, Hairspray.

Featured Actress-Musical: Jane Krakowski, Nine.

Direction of a Play: Joe Mantello, Take Me Out.

Direction of a Musical: Jack O'Brien, Hairspray.

Scenic Design: Catherine Martin, La Boheme.

Costume Design: William Ivey Long, Hairspray.

Lighting Design: Nigel Levings, La Boheme.

Choreography: Twyla Tharp, Movin' Out.

Orchestrations: Billy Joel and Stuart Malina, Movin' Out.

Special Awards: Cy Feuer; Paul Huntley; the principal ensemble of La Boheme; Johnson-Liff Casting Associates; The Acting Company; Regional Theater: The Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis.

J.Lo's 'good nose' finds new scent to push

Posted: July 28, 2003

FORMER department store fragrance hawker Jennifer Lopez and Coty have developed a second perfume to appeal to a more sophisticated, mature customer.

The scent, called Still Jennifer Lopez, is for the singer-actress' glamorous, movie-star side, explained Michele Scannavini, president of Coty's prestige fragrance division. (Glow, J.Lo's first scent, is more for her friends back in the Bronx, if youse catch our drift.)

"This is the second step of building the Jennifer Lopez beauty house," Scannavini said last week, giving fiancee Ben Affleck another reason to reconsider.

According to Scannavini, Lopez "has a very good nose," and was involved in every step of the perfume's development.

Yeah, that's it, she "has a very good nose."

Scannavini went on to say that the perfume's unusual top note of sake was entirely Jen's idea.

You'd think if they're calling it Still they'd at least put in a top note of moonshine.

Rumor is that Lopez will come out with a third scent after "Gigli" is released Friday.

It's called Flop Sweat.

* The London Sun says that Michael Jackson is following in the footsteps of every hip hop artist in the world and launching his own line of men's clothing.

Yes, men's clothing.

For the time being the clothes will only be sold in Japan, which could make for some strange sights on the Tokyo subway.

Why Japan? A spokesman for Wakita, the company that will produce the Jackson duds, says, "There is a growing popularity among young men in Japan for dark suits. Jackson, who has a huge following here, fits that rising fashion image."

Reeve tours Holy Land

On a more serious note, paralyzed former "Superman" Christopher Reeve will visit Israel this week to study the country's treatment of spinal injuries and further his campaign for stem cell research.

Israel is a major center for stem cell study, which is championed by Reeve as offering hope for people with spinal cord injuries.

During the five-day trip which begins today, Reeve will visit Israeli researchers and tour facilities for the disabled.

Many scientists believe stem cells from human embryos could be used to treat a vast array of conditions, from spinal injury to diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

U.S. federal law, however, strictly limits stem cell research and Reeve has criticized the government's stance.


* "CSI: Miami" will be upping its celeb quotient, kicking off the season with three episodes of stunt casting.

In the season premiere, it's Miami "Fashion Week." Supermodel Heidi Klum and MTV's Quddus will play themselves and Chad Lowe will guest as a modeling agent.

The following week Bridgette Wilson-Sampras stars as a trophy wife whose husband is murdered. "Animal Planet" star Jeff Corwin will play himself in episode three, involving a crocodile who's bitten off a girl's arm.

We think producer Jerry Bruckheimer should tie together two of his projects by having the "CSI: Miami" team solve all the collateral damage killing that took place on the Miami highways in "Bad Boys II."

* Meanwhile on "The Practice," a stunt casting specialist over the years, Chris O'Donnell ("The Bachelor") will guest in the show's season-opening three-episode arc as a man accused of murdering his pregnant wife.

* NBC and producer John Wells may have relieved themselves of the headaches caused by the late, over-budget scripts of "West Wing" creator/guru Aaron Sorkin, but don't expect smooth sailing (or better writing).

The New York Post's Page Six reports that Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and John Spencer are going to seek more money, even though they have three years left on their contracts. The "West Wing Four" as they were labeled during their last heated negotiation, reportedly make $90,000 per episode but are peeved that President Martin Sheen makes $300,000 per episode.

Hey, President Bush is peeved President Sheen makes $300,000 per episode but you don't see him renegotiating.

* Famed playwright Arthur Miller ("Death of a Saleman," "The Crucible"), now 87, is working on a new play.

This one's about the booze and pill problem of his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe.

It's called "Finishing the Picture," and it's supposed to loosely be based around Marilyn's final film, "The Misfits." A previous Miller play, 1964's "After the Fall" was also about Monroe.

Miller and Monroe were married from 1956 to 1961. Monroe died from a drug overdose in 1962. She was 36.

* So after a little more than a year, Liza Minnelli and David Gest are separating.

It's a shame. Now, they won't have a chance to consummate the marriage. *

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Jerry Lewis working his way off steroids

Posted: November 16, 2003

Jerry Lewis has checked himself into a Las Vegas rehab. But it's not what you may think: The 77-year-old comedian, who partied into the night with cohort Dean Martin in the 1940s and '50s, has been weaning himself off steroids prescribed in 2001 to fight pulmonary fibrosis. The medication caused him to gain so much weight that he has appeared bloated.

"I would say in a few months he's going to be active again in the business," his agent said. "He's slimming down to his normal weight. This is all a good thing."

Lewis has been plagued in recent years by several ailments. Besides pulmonary fibrosis, which is an increase of fibrous tissue in the lungs, he has had spinal meningitis, chronic back pain and diabetes.

Reeve's new breathing aid

* In more upbeat health news, Christopher Reeve, paralyzed in a horseback-riding accident in '95, says a device implanted in his chest lets him breathe without a ventilator for hours at a time.

Interviewed by ABC's Barbara Walters on Friday's 20/20, Reeve said the device "gives me now, a sense of one more piece of the puzzle being solved . . . because a spinal-cord injury affects every system in the body: bladder, bowels, sexual function, everything."

Reeve underwent the procedure at the University Hospitals of Cleveland on Feb. 28, becoming the third person in the United States to undergo the procedure, called diaphragm pacing via laparoscopy.

"Do you think you will walk again?" Walters asked Reeve. "I still think I will," he replied. "I'm not sure when it's going to happen."

"P. Diddy" spreads the wealth

* Hip-hop mogul and fashion entrepreneur Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who turned in a solid 4:14:54 running in the New York Marathon on Nov. 2, has given the Big Apple's public schools half the $2 million he raised. At a City Hall news conference last week with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Combs said the other half will go to other charities.

"It's an honor and blessing to do something good for the city," said Combs, whose children attend private schools. He added that he'd run next year's race if donors pledged $10 million.

Combs has also been spreading the bucks - this time his own - in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that he bought a seven-bedroom, European-style mansion on seven acres in suburban Dunwoody for $2.6 million. The pad has 11 bathrooms, a five-car garage, pool, and of course, tennis courts. Combs, who owns Justin's Restaurant in Atlanta, also owns a house in suburban Fayetteville, N.C.

Schwartzman cracks up Fox

* Jason Schwartzman, who played the nebbishy-yet-oddly-studly wunderkind in Wes Anderson's movie Rushmore, has signed to star opposite Molly Shannon and Chris McDonald in Fox's midseason comedy Cracking Up, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Schwartzman, 23, who has rekindled his high school romance with Elf's 23-year-old pixie beauty Zooey Deschanel, will play a psychology grad student who moves into the home of a nutty Beverly Hills family to counsel their youngest son.

Contact "Newsmakers" at 215-854-5797 or

This column includes information from the New York Daily News and Inquirer wire services.

'Death With Dignity,' Jill? Ask Christopher Reeve

Posted: July 26, 2004

COLUMNIST Jill Porter says everyone should have the "privilege" of "dying with dignity" by committing suicide.

We live in a disposable, self-centered society. If something is broken, we throw it away; if things are difficult, we blame others and look for the fastest fix. Euthanasia is just another symptom of a world that continually devalues human life and suffering.

I work in a home for incurable cancer where our patients are cared for with dignity, love and respect. We try to make their last days peaceful, and we treat death as a natural part of life. We do not prolong their lives, but make their last days as comfortable as possible.

Think of Morrie Schwartz, Christopher Reeve or Anne Frank. What if they had decided to throw in the towel and end their seemingly hopeless lives? Instead, they have inspired millions, not to mention those close to them, by their perseverance and hope. While I sympathize with the Wallaces' feelings of despair, the answer is not making it easier for others to turn to suicide in the midst of fear and hopelessness.

Instead, we should aim to give those facing suffering and disease care that is dignified. We should allow them to live their last moments in peace, rather than torment.

Anne Marie McKnight, Philadelphia

Thanks, Jim

I want to thank Councilman James Kenney for all his hard work and dedication in getting the mayor to see the light and open the Philadelphia Core Scholarship Program to all children in the city.

Elaine Brown, Philadelphia

Charity begins at home

I applaud President Bush for his stand against giving more aid to U.N. family planning. Let the European and other countries pick up the slack. When there is not one starving or sick legal American in this country, then we can aid other nations.

Thomas M. Regan, Narberth

Take-out Berger

The top news on July 20 was the admission by Sandy Berger, a John Kerry adviser and national security chief under President Clinton, that he took documents pertinent to the 9/11 commission hearings. Why did the Daily News bury the story on Page 27? Had it been a Bush official, it would have been on the front page for a week.

Lon Levin, Philadelphia

The little engine that can

Re the letter from Charles T. Gondos Jr., supposedly of Roxborough in support of our losing Engine 39:

Before we accept this cut with an "oh-well-that's-the-way-the-cookie-crumbles" attitude, we should think about the fact that if it's icy or there's a traffic problem at Green and Main, that engine won't be available to us.

The engine in Chestnut Hill can't cross the Bells Mill bridge and would have to go all the way down to Walnut Lane to get to us, costing tons of time even on a good day with no traffic issues. The engine at Shawmont and Ridge hopefully won't be on a call or stuck in traffic on Ridge. (After all, Ridge is never snarled with traffic, right?)

Engine 39 is the most centrally located engine in Roxborough. Without an independent study, it makes no sense to close it, especially when you takes into consideration all of the new construction in our area.

Our neighborhood keeps adding population, not losing it.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Philadelphia

George W. 'Girly-Man'

By Arnold Schwarzenegger's standards, I guess George W. Bush is a "girly-man" since he didn't have the guts to defend himself in front of the NAACP convention.

Michael Taylor, Philadelphia

Man of iron will dies of heart failure INFECTION TIED TO PARALYSIS BLAMED

Posted: October 12, 2004

CHRISTOPHER REEVE leaves the world with an enduring example of courage, though not because he starred in "Superman" movies of the 1980s.

It is no particular act of bravery, after all, to face bullets when you are bulletproof. It's what Reeve did when he was confronted, cruelly and suddenly, with human vulnerability that gave us all a lesson in heroism.

In 1995, on a spring day in Virginia, Reeve was thrown from his mount during a riding competition. He fractured his neck, damaged his spinal cord and was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.

When the strapping, vigorously athletic Reeve awoke from a four-day coma to face his paralysis, he was (he later admitted) stricken with a deep depression, and consumed by the impulse to end his own life. Those feelings faded during hospital visits from his three children - his youngest boy, Will, was only a toddler.

"I could see how much they needed me and wanted me," Reeve told Barbara Walters. So he fought for his life, then for a life with dignity - a fight that ended early yesterday when he died of heart failure linked to an infection that is common to victims of paralysis.

His family was by his side. It was for their sake, Reeve said, that he initially endured the confinements and humiliations of his injury. As time went on, however, he came to see that the intersection of his celebrity and his condition made him an ideal spokesman for physically challenged and for such causes as stem-cell research.

Reeve realized he had a responsibility. To live. To improve. To raise awareness, money.

"I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life," Reeve once said. "I don't mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful toward recovery."

A bit daunting? Physicians who examined Reeve in the early days of his recovery said he had virtually no chance of achieving the slightest physical autonomy. Reeve defied them, enduring months of painful therapy, and achieving the ability to breathe for a time on his own, and even to use his index finger.

These small things had enormous implications for Reeve - he could act again, direct, and make public appearances. And he did. Reeve was an honored guest at Democratic political conventions, making an appeal to ease federal restrictions on stem-cell research in the hope that it could successfully treat spinal cord injuries. Sen. John Kerry has made such research a part of his platform in his presidential bid, and in his last days Reeve had campaigned actively for Kerry.

Reeve also appeared at the Academy Awards, urging actors and filmmakers to use their influence as entertainers and storytellers to tackle tough issues. He received a standing ovation. It was an unlikely moment on the Oscar stage for Reeve, who as an actor was rarely given the kind of roles that merited award consideration.

Reeve, who graduated from Cornell in 1974, was tall, broad-shouldered and handsome, and predictably landed one of his first acting jobs on a soap opera - "Love of Life." He was cast as a bad guy, and probably had to work overtime to keep his inherent likability from showing through. Affable, friendly, supernaturally good-looking - those are the attributes that led producers to pluck Reeve from a pool of 200 unknowns who competed for the lead role in the blockbuster "Superman" project.

Reeve had the title role but received third billing when the movie was released in 1979 - behind Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Marlon Brando as Superman's father. Reeve made three more Superman movies, none memorable, and had a small role in the Oscar-winning "Remains of the Day." Most of his work in the '80s and '90s was unremarkable.

Two exceptions: "Street Smart," as an unprincipled journalist in the movie that made Morgan Freeman a star, and "Somewhere in Time," a romantic fantasy/melodrama that has built a formidible cult following. INSITE (International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts) still meets annually at the Midwestern resort hotel where the movie is set.

By the mid-1990s, when he suffered his accident, he was spending more time riding than acting. He was happily married to Dana Reeve, and a devoted father to son Will. (Reeve has two children, Exton and Alexandra, from a previous relationship).

Acting was no longer much of a challenge, and Reeve may have been the sort of man who needed one to show his mettle. Fate gave him that chance. And so he will be remembered not as the man of steel, but as a fellow with an iron will. *

A story of anger, sadness

Posted: October 15, 2004

When I heard the news of Christopher Reeve's death, I felt great sadness, fear, anger and some loneliness.

Only quadriplegics and their loved ones know what we go through. Christopher Reeve died of an infection related to a decubitus ulcer. Most are unaware that we get these ulcers (also known as pressure sores or bed sores) from sitting in one position for up to 18 hours a day.

Most also don't know about the wild fluctuations in blood pressure or the bladder infections or of the consequences of catheters or the difficulty regulating bowels or the violent spasms that can wreak havoc with our daily lives. Most just think we are paralyzed and would like only to walk.

Personally, I don't care about walking. I have a pretty nifty wheelchair that takes care of that. But if someone could find a way to make my bladder work, now that would change, and certainly prolong my life.

My story can be repeated for everyone who has spinal-cord injury. It can be repeated for anyone who has diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or all of the other illnesses in which stem-cell research could have an impact. When it comes to diabetes, most of us think they just have to test their blood, watch their diet, and take their insulin. We don't know about the wounds that don't heal, the blindness, amputations and often premature death that often go with diabetes. We don't see the suffering.

And the suffering sometimes becomes unfathomable. Not just for those with these horrible illnesses, but for their families. For the rest of my life, I will be haunted by the look in my parents' eyes the first time they saw me in a wheelchair. I hope no one suffers like they did. But they will.

When Reeve died, I felt sadness in the same way a soldier must feel when a friend dies in combat. I lost a fellow quadriplegic - a fellow warrior. He was a man about my age who lived with his injury for nine years. I've lived with mine for 25. That's why the sadness. That's why the fear. But I am not so much concerned about me. I've had 25 years to accommodate this disability. My fear is for those behind me.

I recently saw a 16-year-old boy for consultation. He had been a quadriplegic for six months. His young mother accompanied him and both looked dazed. But I was most struck by the beauty of his innocent face. He told me that his girlfriend had left him, and he cried when he said he would never know what it would feel like to make love or dance at his wedding.

Nevertheless, the consultation went well. He asked me many questions about how I managed my life and for the first time since his accident, he felt both understood and hopeful. I showed him around my house, invited him to see my van, which was adapted so that I can drive independently.

At the end of the consultation, he smiled for the first time. He was truly grateful for what he received and said so as he and his mother turned toward the door. As I heard his wheelchair go down the hall, instead of feeling gratification, I wept. I cried for all of the suffering I knew he would endure.

And why am I angry about Reeve's death? I'm angry because we have policy being made by the Bush administration that is based on personal religious dogma and rubber stamped by an obedient Congress. Decisions are made which honor only one's personal beliefs and fail to make genuine eye contact with those who suffer. Sen. John Kerry talked about using stem cells from frozen embryos, and not the destruction of life. President Bush clings tenaciously to his beliefs and turns his back on everything else.

Stem-cell research is not a miracle. But it does offer hope to those who suffer that tomorrow can be better than today. And most of us who suffer aren't asking for miracles. We would be happy with one extra year of clarity, the ability to heal a skin wound more quickly, or even a working bladder.

Like George Bush, I pray. So now I will pray that no other parents have to experience the agony my parents lived with.

Dan Gottlieb is an Inquirer columnist and the host of "Voices in the Family" on WHYY-FM (90.9).

Contact Dan Gottlieb at

Exploiting stem-cell issue for political gain is outrageous

Posted: October 18, 2004

After the second presidential debate, in which John Kerry used the word "plan" 24 times, I said on television that Kerry has a plan for everything except curing psoriasis. I should have known there is no parodying Kerry's pandering. Days later, the Kerry campaign announced a plan - nay, a promise - to cure paralysis: Vote for Kerry.

John Edwards last Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa, said: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Deliberately raising for personal gain false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.

Where does one begin to deconstruct this outrage? First, the inability of the spinal cord to regenerate is one of the great mysteries of biology. The answer could take a generation. To imply, as Edwards did, that it is imminent if you elect the right politicians is scandalous.

Second, if the cure for spinal-cord injury comes, we have no idea where it will come from. Stem-cell research is just one line of inquiry, and a very speculative one at that. For 30 years I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student). The last fad was fetal-tissue transplants. They were thought to be "a sure thing." Nothing came of it.

As a doctor by training, I have tried in my counseling of the newly spinal-cord injured to place the chance of cure in abeyance and to encourage them to make a life with the hands they are dealt. The enemies of this advice are the snake-oil salesmen who promise miracles. I never expected a candidate for vice president to be one of them.

Third, the implication that Christopher Reeve was prevented from getting out of his wheelchair by Bush stem-cell policies is a travesty.

Bush is the first president to approve federal funding for stem-cell research. There are 22 lines of stem cells available, up from one just two years ago. As the head of the President's Council on Bioethics, Leon Kass, wrote, there are 3,500 stem-cell shipments waiting for anyone who wants them.

Edwards and Kerry talk of a "ban" on stem-cell research. There is no ban. You want to study stem cells? You acquire them from the companies that have them and apply to the National Institutes of Health for federal funding.

In an Aug. 7 radio address, Kerry referred four times to the "ban" on stem-cell research instituted by Bush. Then, Christopher Reeve was alive, so not available for posthumous exploitation. But Ronald Reagan was, having recently died of Alzheimer's.

So what does Kerry do? He begins his radio address by claiming a stem-cell "ban" is blocking an Alzheimer's cure.

This is an outright lie. The President's Council on Bioethics, on which I sit, had one of the foremost experts on Alzheimer's, Dennis Selkoe from Harvard, discuss the most promising approaches to Alzheimer's. Selkoe reported remarkable progress in biochemically clearing the "plaque" deposits in the brain that lead to Alzheimer's. He ended his presentation without the phrase "stem cells" having crossed his lips.

So much for the miracle cure. Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem-cell researcher at NIH, has admitted publicly that stem cells as an Alzheimer's cure are a fiction, but that "people need a fairy tale." Kerry and Edwards certainly do. They are shamelessly exploiting this issue, having no doubt been told by their pollsters that stem cells will play well politically for them.

Politicians have long promised a chicken in every pot. It is part of the game. It is one thing to promise ethanol subsidies here, dairy price controls there. But to exploit the desperate hopes of desperate people with the promise of Christ-like cures is beyond the pale.

There is no apologizing for Edwards' remark. It is too revealing. There is absolutely nothing the man will not say to get elected.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post

Charles Krauthammer ( appears regularly.

Notables in Washington, Hollywood join to commemorate life of Reeve

Posted: October 31, 2004

More than 900 people gathered Friday to commemorate the life of actor and real-life hero Christopher Reeve, who died Oct. 10 at the age of 52. The service, at the Juilliard School, where Reeve first trained as an actor and returned to receive an honorary doctorate in 1997, included a performance by Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell, singing "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.

Attendees included Sen. Hillary Clinton and Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate; actresses Glenn Close, Mary Tyler Moore and Susan Sarandon; television hosts Larry King and Katie Couric; and director Mike Nichols.

"His courage and inspiration will live on," Clinton said of Reeve, who devoted much of his life to helping to find a cure for paralysis after a horse riding accident rendered him a quadriplegic in 1995.

Other speakers included Reeve's wife, Dana; his Juilliard roommate and lifelong friend, Robin Williams; and actress Meryl Streep. Reeve's three children, Matthew, Alexandra and Will, had prepared a 20-minute film about life with their father, and Reeve's brother, Benjamin, planned to share memories of their childhood.

The memorial closed with the cast of Broadway's The Lion King performing "Circle of Life."

Cannibal prequel in the works

* While the latest flicks made from Thomas Harris' Hannibal books left much to be desired (face it: Hannibal was dreadful, while the Red Dragon remake of Manhunter was redundant, at best), the books continue to sizzle. And soon, there will be a new one. Behind the Mask, due out next year, is a prequel that will show just how mild-mannered Dr. Hannibal Lecter became evil Hannibal the cannibal. Publisher Bantam Dell whets our appetite: "Millions of readers in 25 languages have wondered how Dr. Lecter developed his particular appetite for evil. This novel will satisfy their curiosity." Bon appetit!

Moss on sale

* Painter Lucian Freud, who is known for his brutally realistic portraits of very mortal-looking men and women, may have gotten his eye for capturing gross human imperfections from grandpa, Sigmund Freud. The 81-year-old British artist's sitters have ranged from his friends to Queen Elizabeth II, as well as that other revered public figure, Kate Moss. That last portrait, a near-life-size nude of a pregnant Moss titled Naked Portrait 2002, is expected to fetch $6.4 mil when it is auctioned Feb. 9 in London, according to Christie's auction house.

While we've all seen Moss' waif-like cuteness in countless glossy mags, we imagine that Freud's take on the supermodel will be a tad different. After all, he is quoted as saying he likes to do nudes because "one of the most exciting things is seeing through the skin, to the blood and veins and markings." Yikes!

Jolie with the refugees

* While some celebs' pronouncements on things political make us cranky, others' acts on behalf of the needy return our faith in celebdom. The latest act is from Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie, a U.N. goodwill ambassador who visited Sudan last week to see refugees who had fled from the war-torn western Darfur region.

About 70,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million forced to leave their homes since February 2003, when two rebel groups took up arms against the government and pro-government ethnic Arab Sudanese. Those refugees are now being urged to return home.

Jolie said continued violence would make return dangerous. "This is the worst situation I have seen," said Jolie, who has visited 20 countries as a goodwill ambassador. "The fact is, it is just one of the worst things that has happened on the planet to a people."

Contact "Newsmakers" at 215-854-5797 or

This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.

Brando's onetime business manager alleges harassment

Posted: December 26, 2004

Holidays or not, people staking a claim to Marlon Brando's millions continue to be combative and, above all, litigious.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Brando's former business manager, Jo An Corrales, has filed a $3.5 million sexual-harassment claim against the estate of the late acting legend.

The action, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that Brando "caused a hostile work environment due to his continuous acts of sexual harassment" during her employment from December 2000 until last March.

She also says Brando breached a contract by removing her as a coexecutor of his will days before his death.

Brando, who named nine children as beneficiaries in his will, died of lung failure July 1. He was 80.

Other claims against the Brando estate have been filed by his caretaker, Angela Borlaza Magaling, who is seeking title to a 1992 Lexus, severance pay, and a house in California's San Fernando Valley; and his personal assistant, Alice Marchak, who wants a bungalow Brando bought in Bora Bora.

Christmas at Camp David

* President Bush gave his wife, Laura, dessert plates to complement her china pattern, and she gave him a raincoat in their Christmas gift exchange yesterday, a White House spokesman said.

Joining the get-together at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains were Bush's parents, former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, plus twin daughters Barbara and Jenna.

Also on hand were virtually all of the expanded Bush family, with the exception of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his family, said Taylor Gross, the spokesman.

The party was to dine on turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries and gravy, followed by pecan and pumpkin pie, Gross said.

Reeve gives again

* Christopher Reeve's family continues to walk the Superman star's altruistic path, this time giving the late actor's specially equipped van to a 14-year-old from Charlestown, N.H.

For nearly a decade, Tyler Howard, a quadriplegic, could go almost nowhere but to school and his doctor's office because he needed a van that could accommodate his wheelchair and medical equipment.

"I'm free; I'm free," Tyler said Thursday, excited by the gift. "I can go where I want."

Reeve's family heard about Tyler's situation from a local resident who passed along news of a fund-raiser to buy the teen a van.

The gift came with a note from Reeve's widow, Dana. "I hope the van brings you great joy and freedom as it did for Chris," she wrote.

The actor, paralyzed after falling off a horse in 1995, died Oct. 10.

Reunion brewing?

* Potentially psychedelic news from England as Eric Clapton tells BBC Radio 2 that the legendary 1960s band Cream is planning a reunion, with four shows in May at London's Royal Albert Hall, E!Online reports.

The last time the trio of guitarist Clapton, singer-bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker were onstage together was in 1993, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The group, which played such mind-blowing (or -expanding, depending on your take) songs as "Strange Brew" and "Tales of Brave Ulysses," broke up soon after playing the Royal Albert in 1968.

There has been no official comment from the other musicians.

Contact "Newsmakers" at 215-854-5797 or

This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.

Ashanti escorts cousin's body from S. Africa

Posted: April 18, 2006

R&B singer Ashanti flew home from South Africa yesterday, bringing back the body of her cousin, Quinshae Snead, 20, who was killed Saturday after her car was struck by an unlicensed 17-year-old drunken driver in Johannesburg.

Snead reportedly had been running an errand for Ashanti, who was in South Africa for a concert with several other performers. Ashanti canceled her appearance.

In the horrific crash, the teenager struck the vehicle in which Snead was a passenger, and Snead was thrown into the path of an oncoming car. Her driver was hospitalized, but is expected to recover. The teen, who had stolen his mother's car, also was hospitalized. He was arrested for drunken driving and may be charged with homicide.

The Boss' Seeger shows

* Rock legend Bruce Springsteen and his Seeger Sessions Band will begin their U.S. tour April 30 in New Orleans, arriving at the Tweeter Center in Camden June 20. Their folk-tribute record, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, is due next Tuesday.

Pitt the reader

* The much-discussed, much-pooh-poohed, much-ballyhooed Brad Pitt movie about slain journalist Daniel Pearl is a go. According to the New York Times, Pitt and his gal Angelina Jolie will adapt A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl, Marianne Pearl's book about her husband, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in '02 in Pakistan. Marianne Pearl said five studios bid for the story, but she gave it to Pitt because with all the Ivy League-educated execs clamoring for it, Pitt "was the only one who had read the book."

U.K.'s fave words

* Is its message pantheistic or monistic? Monotheistic or agnostic? Sexual or spiritual? Whatever it is, the favorite line of music among Brits is "One life, with each other, sisters, brothers." Responding to a VH1 poll, fans said a big "yes" to Bono's life-affirming, unity-embracing, world-uniting words from U2's '92 tune, "One."

Balancing Bono's cosmic smiley-face, The Smiths' verbose cry of anguish - "So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home, and you cry, and you want to die" - from "How Soon Is Now" came in second.

Piloting Calista

* reports ABC is paying Rachel Griffiths and Calista Flockhart - who will be making her post-Ally McBeal return to the boob tube - $200,000 apiece for its pilot for Brothers and Sisters. The network will also pay $100,000 per gal per episode, with a guarantee of six. Some speculate her $800,000 payday may finally allow preternaturally svelte Calista to stock some food at the house.

Waiting for 'Apocalypto'

* Apocalypto, Mel Gibson's follow-up to his epoch-making epic The Passion of the Christ, will be released Dec. 8, instead of Aug. 4. Production on the film, about the origin, meaning, significance, importance, and future of Mayan civilization, language, religion and food, has fallen behind because of heavy rains at its locations in Mexico.

Vamping on tramp TV

* Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who 25 years ago elicited the first stirrings of my Goth-lust, is shopping around a reality show that pits black-lipstick-brandishing wannabes to inherit her crown as the stygian version of models who vamp it up at car shows and mall openings. Ne Cassandra Peterson, Elvira tells the Hollywood Reporter, "Obviously, I don't want to be walking around dressed up like Elvira when I'm 105 years old." (No Elvira visits to my nursing home to look foward to?)

Mega-carat joint tour

* Jewel, whose next CD, Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, is due out May 2, will join singer Rob Thomas (and opener Toby Lightman) for a seven-week tour starting May 23 in Clearwater, Fla., with stops at the Borgata in Atlantic City June 2 and 3.

'Baywatch' baby

* Former Baywatch babe Gena Lee Nolin and her hockey player bloke Cale Hulse had their first baby, Hudson Lee Hulse, Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz., People reports. Nolin, 34, has an 8-year-old son, Spencer, from her first marriage to video producer Greg Fahlman.

Single? Narcissistic?

* Then apply here: Producers of ABC's The Bachelor are casting for "ambitious, charming and successful" guys "who are looking to find love." If you are an "attractive, single, 28- to 35-year-old accomplished CEO, architect, lawyer, entrepreneur or businessman and think you can handle 25 beautiful women," send photos, a brief biography and contact information by next Tuesday to:

Sad confessions

* Robin Williams tells GQ he spent his days at the Juilliard School "hoping for the fallout of girls that would go for" his school bud Christopher Reeve. "I was kind of his fool." On a more important matter, Robin finally answers the question that's been itching our collective consciousness for decades: He and his Mork and Mindy costar Pam Dawber "never did it, because thank God she was smart enough to know better."

Contact "Newsmakers" at 215-854-5797 or This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.

A superhero we've never seen Richard Donner's cut of "Superman II" is finally out.

Posted: December 01, 2006

How can you have a director's cut of a movie that has never been seen? Well, not only was Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut never released, it also was made before Richard Lester's Superman II.

This DVD version, starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, owes its existence to the Internet. For years, fans have been posting on Web sites material from Donner's footage, such as photo stills and storyboards. There was even a petition sent to Warner Brothers seeking a Donner cut. The studio realized a "new" movie was available (at relatively little cost), and is releasing this with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and the four other Reeve Superman films (including Lester's Superman II).

Producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler planned to make Superman and its sequel simultaneously beginning in March 1977. Christopher Reeve's first day on the set was to film a scene with Marlon Brando as his father for Superman II. The second film was to feature Superman and Lois Lane revealing (and reveling in) their love, oblivious to how three Kryptonian villains banished in the first film by Brando come to Earth and conquer it.

But the relationship between Donner and the producers deteriorated as the film fell behind schedule and over budget, costing millions. All parties agreed to finish the first film and then complete the sequel later - but Donner finished all of Superman II's scenes with Brando and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Donner said he had completed about 70 percent of the second film.

After Superman opened, the producers let Donner go and hired Lester to not only complete Superman II, but also to film new scenes, ostensibly so Donner wouldn't get a director's credit. And for financial reasons, Brando's part as Superman's father also was cut. Lester's Superman II opened in the summer of 1981, with about 30 percent to 40 percent of Donner's footage included with Lester's new material.

Donner associate Michael Thau has taken all of Donner's footage for the sequel, including Brando's, and kept in necessary scenes from Lester to complete this film, which includes a scene cobbled together from Reeve and Margot Kidder's screen tests. Thau oversaw the project, but Donner was by his side, giving input.

An accompanying documentary, "Restoring the Vision," shows how the six tons of material filmed 30 years ago was pieced together. What's missing are interviews with cast members, who were upset when Donner was taken off the project back in 1979.

The commentary by Donner and writer Tom Mankiewicz (credited as "creative consultant") is incredibly bitter, saying "criminal," "stupid" and "grow up" when discussing what the producers and Lester did to their vision of the film.

Brando's restored footage is quite heavy, especially where he sacrifices himself to save Superman.

So how does this version compare to Lester's? Some of it is darker, but overall it's smarter. Lester tried to get laughs by having the villains fight with good 'ol boys speaking in twanging accents, and his scene in which Lois discovers that Kent is Superman is very lame.

Among the best parts of the Donner cut are a dazzling opening and the moment at the end when Lois and Superman realize they can't be together; Reeve and Kidder are convincing in showing their heartache. These sequences show Donner and writer Mankiewicz at their best, in making a comic-book movie that was sophisticated and real.

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

With Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando and Margot Kidder.

Price: $24.98

Parent's Guide: PG (violence, some sexuality)

The extras: *** Audio commentary by director Richard Donner and writer Tom Mankiewicz; a documentary on restoring this version; deleted scenes.

Embryos, stem cells, slippery slopes

Posted: January 15, 2007

When President Bush announced in August 2001 his restrictive funding decision for federal embryonic stem cell research, he was widely attacked for an unwarranted intrusion of religion into scientific research. His solicitousness for a 200-cell organism - the early embryo that Bush declared should not be destroyed to produce a harvest of stem cells - was roundly denounced as reactionary and antiscientific. And cruel, to boot. It was preventing the cure for thousands of people with hopeless and terrible diseases, from diabetes to spinal cord injury. As John Edwards put it most starkly and egregiously in 2004: If John Kerry becomes president, Christopher Reeve will walk again.

This kind of stem cell advocacy did not just shamefully inflate its promise. It tended to misrepresent the basis for putting restrictions on embryonic research, insisting that it was nothing more than political enforcement of the religious fundamentalist belief that life begins at conception.

This has always been a tendentious characterization of the argument for restricting stem cell research that relies on the destruction of embryos. I have long supported legal abortion. And I don't believe that life - meaning the attributes and protections of personhood - begins at conception. Yet many secularly inclined people like me have great trepidation about the inherent dangers of wanton and unrestricted manipulation - to the point of dismemberment - of human embryos.

You don't need religion to tremble at the thought of unrestricted embryo research. You simply have to have a healthy respect for the human capacity for doing evil in pursuit of good. Once we have taken the position of many stem cell advocates that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail or an appendix, then all barriers are down. What is to prevent us from producing not just tissues and organs, but human-like organisms for preservation as a source of future body parts on demand?

South Korea enthusiastically embraced unrestricted stem cell research. The subsequent greatly heralded breakthroughs - accompanied by lamentations that America was falling behind - were eventually exposed as a swamp of deception, fraud and coercion.

The slope is very slippery. Which is why, even though I disagreed with where the president drew the line - I would have permitted the use of fertility-clinic embryos that are discarded and going to die anyway - I applauded his insistence that some line must be drawn, that human embryos are not nothing, and that societal values, not just the scientific imperative, should determine how they are treated.

The Senate will soon vote on a House-approved bill to erase Bush's line. But future generations may nonetheless thank Bush for standing athwart history, if only for a few years. It gave technology enough time to catch up and rescue us from the moral dilemmas of embryonic destruction.

It has just been reported that stem cells with enormous potential can be harvested from amniotic fluid.

This would be a revolutionary finding. Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the womb during pregnancy. It is routinely drawn out by needle in amniocentesis. The procedure carries little risk, and is done for legitimate medical purposes that have nothing to do with stem cells. If it nonetheless yields a harvest of stem cells, we have just stumbled upon an endless supply.

And not just endless, but uncontroversial. No embryos are destroyed. The cells are just floating there, as if waiting for science to discover them.

Even better, amniotic fluid might prove to yield an ideal stem cell - not as primitive as embryonic stem cells and therefore less likely to grow uncontrollably into tumors, but also not as developed as adult stem cells and therefore more "pluripotential" in the kinds of tissues it can produce.

If it is proved that these are the Goldilocks of stem cells, history will record the amniotic breakthrough as the turning point in the evolution of stem cell research from a narrow, difficult, delicate and morally dubious enterprise into an uncontroversial one with raw material produced unproblematically every day.

It will have turned out that Bush's unpopular policy held the line, however arbitrary and temporary, against the wanton trampling of the human embryo just long enough for a morally neutral alternative to emerge. And it did force the country to at least ponder the moral cost of turning one potential human being into replacement parts for another. Who will be holding the line next time, when another Faustus promises medical nirvana if he is permitted to transgress just one moral boundary?

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.

Charles Krauthammer ( appears regularly.

N.J. Hall of Fame lists nominees for '12

Posted: October 12, 2011

TRENTON - The New Jersey Hall of Fame has announced the nominees for its 2012 class: 50 historical figures, artists, entertainers, and innovators, all with ties to the Garden State.

The nominees include former Vice President Aaron Burr, former President Grover Cleveland, and the early woman's rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the historical category.

The salsa singer Celia Cruz, the actor Christopher Reeve, and the jazz great Dizzy Gillespie are among the nominees in arts and entertainment.

The enterprise category includes the chef Alice Waters, the electronic-communications inventor David Sarnoff, and the newspaper publisher Samuel I. Newhouse.

The sports category includes Bill Parcells, who coached the New York Giants and Jets; Wellington Mara, who owned the Giants; and broadcasting icon Dick Vitale.

The artist Alexander Calder, who popularized the mobile; the writer Joyce Carol Oates; and the cartoonist Charles Addams, who inspired The Addams Family, are included in the general category.

Voters have until January to go online to choose their favorites. The Web address is

The nominees are for the hall's fifth class. It is the most nominees ever, in part because residents have suggested "so many remarkable individuals over the past 12 months," said John O'Brien, chairman of the group's voting committee.

The top vote-getter in each category will be inducted. Top runners-up will also be chosen for induction, said Don Jay Smith, spokesman for the hall.

The hall celebrates New Jersey's history by honoring its many talented residents and former residents. Gov. Christie is scheduled to announce the new class in January.

6 notables entering N.J. Hall of Fame

Posted: February 11, 2012

TRENTON - The newest inductees into New Jersey's Hall of Fame include the actor Christopher Reeve, the E Street Band, and New York Giants owner Wellington Mara. Others winning induction this spring include the actor Michael Douglas, the singer Sarah Vaughan, and the author Joyce Carol Oates.

Gov. Christie announced the names Friday afternoon.

Rounding out the hall's 2012 class are basketball coach Bob Hurley, publisher Samuel I. Newhouse, Olympian Milt Campbell, markswoman Annie Oakley, and John Dorrance, the chemist who invented condensed soup.

The public induction ceremony and red-carpet entrance will be June 9 in Newark.

A Hall of Fame member, the architect Michael Graves, is designing a mobile museum for the hall that would travel from school to school. The hall also exists online at

The hall honors New Jerseyans who have made their mark in history, entertainment, enterprise, and sports. There's also a general category for educators, military leaders and politicians.

Many inductees were born or raised in the Garden State; some live here or have other significant ties to New Jersey.

Reeve, of Princeton, was best known for portraying Superman. He was paralyzed after a horse-riding accident and then lobbied on behalf of people with spinal-cord injuries until his death in 2004. Oakley, born in Nutley, overcame poverty to achieve success, her life later immortalized in Irving Berlin's musical Annie Get Your Gun. Hurley won 26 state championships and amassed more than 1,000 wins in 39 years at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City.

Recipients were chosen by fellow New Jerseyans, who voted online from a list of 50 nominees, and by a voting academy made up of 100 state organizations.

Previous inductees include Bruce Springsteen, Albert Einstein, Thomas A. Edison, and Yogi Berra. Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Les Paul, Count Basie, and Carl Lewis were inducted in May.

Springsteen's E Street Band will be touring out of the country in early June, so its induction has been postponed.

Hall of Fame organizers have invited inductees from the first four classes who could not accept their awards in person previously to join this year's awards ceremony.

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