Keith Naughton

Stories by Keith Naughton

  • Moneymaker: Fanning The Flames

    The stock market may be suffering, but Operation Iraqi Freedom has sure been good for business at Halliburton, the Houston oil-services company famous for its former CEO, Dick Cheney. The vice president hasn't entirely severed his financial ties to the big defense contractor. Even while Halliburton is scoring Army contracts that could top $2 billion, Cheney is still receiving annual compensation from the company he led from 1995 to August 2000, NEWSWEEK has learned.When Cheney stepped down from Halliburton to run for vice president, he sold his company stock and gave profits from his stock options to charity. But he still had more compensation coming. Rather than taking it in a lump-sum payment of about $800,000, Cheney opted for "deferred compensation," Wendy Hall of Halliburton tells NEWSWEEK. Cheney chose annual payments of "less than $180,000" from 2001 to 2005, says Hall, which offers a tax benefit. Cheney, through spokeswoman Cathie Martin, contends he has no financial ties to...
  • Full-Metal Traffic Jam

    When all those limos pull up to the red carpet at the Oscars this month, some will be outfitted more elaborately than the stars. Beneath their shiny exteriors is the hottest new automotive accessory--bulletproof armor. Just ask David Seelinger, president of Secure Car Worldwide. He's struggling to keep up with calls from VIPs eager to pay $2,000 a day to ride in his steel-plated limos. CEOs are armoring themselves against terrorism, movie stars are getting death threats and rappers fear assassination. To keep up with demand, Seelinger has more than tripled his armored fleet to 10 cars. "This is absolutely a sign of the times," he says.With homeland insecurity rising, the car business is going ballistic. Ford is introducing the $140,000 Lincoln Town Car BPS--for Ballistic Protection Series--which can stop an AK-47 and block a grenade. Later this year GM will roll out an armored Cadillac Deville capable of deflecting bullets from a .44 magnum. At last week's Geneva Motor Show, BMW...
  • Pixels To Pavement

    When Mazda decided to bring back its legendary RX sports car a few years ago, it feared it would be eating the Nissan Z's dust. The resurrected Z would hit the streets a year ahead of the RX-8. To get a jump on the competition, Mazda considered running RX-8 teaser ads. But still, that didn't seem enough to overcome the deafening buzz the Z was generating. So Mazda tried something radical: it launched the RX-8 in Sony's Gran Turismo 3 videogame two years before the real car debuted at January's Detroit auto show. Mazda execs admit it was risky, revealing their shark-nose sports car in pixels so long before it hit pavement. But that's what it takes, they say, to get in the game.Automakers are beginning to think inside the Xbox. After all, games like GT3 and Need for Speed by Electronic Arts are turning millions of couch potatoes into living-room racers. Far from being a child's plaything, videogames are becoming the new virtual showroom and design studio for automakers. Videogame...
  • My Engine Is Bigger Than Your Engine

    Maneuvering among all the SUVs on the road used to be a white-knuckle ride for Judy Podkulski. Her car, with its puny four-cylinder engine, was no match for the monsters of the motorway. So Podkulski traded in her economy car and bulked up to a 240-horsepower engine--under the hood of a sensible Honda Accord. "I used to be intimidated by all those macho tailgaters," says the 45-year-old mother of two. "Now I can take 'em."America's horsepower arms race is escalating. And it's not just sports cars and SUVs. Tame family cars like the Nissan Altima and the Toyota Sienna minivan are packing power once found only in muscle cars. For all the overwrought talk of an SUV backlash and the rise of "green cars" like the Toyota Prius, Americans are actually pumping up the juice in all kinds of cars. But unlike politically incorrect SUVs, the traditional car with massive horsepower is virtually guilt-free, a stealth excess. And plenty of us are doing it. Sales of V-8 engines accelerated 15...
  • Fiat: After Agnelli, A Sale?

    Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, 81, died last week just hours before a family meeting to decide the fate of his beloved but broken-down car company. Now it looks as though General Motors may reluctantly ride to the rescue of the debt-ridden Italian automaker. GM already owns 20 percent of Fiat, and the Italian automaker has an option to sell the entire company to the General in 2004. The strong-willed Agnelli, once a rival of Henry Ford II, fiercely opposed letting the Americans take the wheel. But now that younger brother Umberto is in charge, analysts expect him to turn the keys over to GM so he can focus on Fiat's more promising ventures in newspaper publishing, jet engines and soccer. A GM spokeswoman declined to comment, but the No. 1 automaker cannot relish the prospect. GM has already written off nearly all of its original $2.4 billion investment in Fiat, and repairing the automaker won't be easy in a country where strong labor unions resist U.S.-style downsizing. (Fiat...
  • Periscope

    TerrorismMan on the RunOne of the most wanted terrorists today is a 36-year-old Palestinian Qaeda leader known as Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, who has been linked to recent Qaeda activity and possibly even Iraq. Wanted by Jordan since 1999, when he allegedly plotted to bomb U.S. targets in Amman, Zarqawi is supposed to be one of Al Qaeda's top experts on chemical and biological weapons. Some investigators believe he is behind a recently foiled London plot to poison food at a British military base with ricin. Jordanian authorities believe Zarqawi was involved in the murder of a U.S. foreign-aid official late last year.Zarqawi evaded capture in Afghanistan after 9-11 by crossing the border into Iran, according to intelligence reports. After sojourning under what some Pentagon officials believe was the protection of Iranian "security forces," Zarqawi supposedly went to Baghdad, where doctors amputated his leg (injured in Afghan fighting) and replaced it with a prosthesis. Later, so the story...
  • The Fast And The Luxurious

    Detroit isn't known for its fashion shows, but this past Sunday it hoped to create a buzz machine that even New York would envy. To set the stage for a big coming-out party at this week's auto show, General Motors spent nearly $1 million converting the august Detroit Opera House into a trendy cocktail lounge for one night. The Italianate theater's seats were covered with a wood floor and redecorated with modular leather furniture and indigo lighting. As a string quartet played against a techno backbeat, the silhouette of a long, low-slung car appeared behind an opaque curtain and slowly revolved on a turntable toward the audience. Its engine roared to life and the dark sedan eased down a draped runway. It's the most outrageous car to come out of Detroit since tail fins flew: a $250,000 Cadillac made entirely of aluminum, with a steroidal 1,000-horsepower, V-16 engine. The car's driver--and driving force--is Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman and chief of product development. "This car...
  • Ford's New Muscles

    Bill Ford Jr. desperately needs a hit. As the car company his great-grandfather founded prepares for its 100th anniversary, things have rarely looked worse. Sales are skidding, profits are nonexistent and its reputation has been sullied by the Firestone debacle. But at this week's auto show, the scion CEO hopes to show there's gas left in the tank when he wheels out a new racy Mustang and brawny F-150 pickup. This beauty-and-the-beast duo account for a quarter of the company's sales. And if Bill Jr. wants the family firm to be around for another century, he's got to get both of them right.The new Mustang doesn't go on sale for a year, but Ford is trying to build buzz. The retro fastback styling recalls the hot wheels Steve McQueen drove in 1968's "Bullitt.'' But Ford also hopes to attract the "Fast and the Furious" Gen Y crowd with a beefy 400-horsepower V-8 engine and edgier look. Its long, sharp snout is meant to evoke a shark on the attack. "It gives the feeling that this thing's...
  • The Ceo Party Is Over

    It's official. After all the perp walks, Martha's mess, Jack's divorce and implosions of companies like Enron and WorldCom, CEOs now rank below funeral directors and lawyers in a new Gallup poll. Worse still, they're even facing the wrath of what was once their biggest cheering section: their boards of directors. "Lousy performance won't be tolerated," says Barbara Franklin, who sits on five corporate boards. "Now we're trying to get ahead of the curve and make changes before you have an absolute crisis." Franklin should know. This month the Dow Chemical board she sits on canned its CEO after just two years on the job. She declines to discuss details, but the company said the board dumped the CEO because of Dow's "disappointing financial performance."The Year of Scandal in Corporate America is about to give way to the Year of Atonement. Wall Street brokerages just agreed to pay more than $1 billion in fines to settle charges that they misled investors. But that's just the beginning....
  • Kicking Hyundai Into High Gear

    Back in 1998, the wheels were coming off at Hyundai. Leno and Letterman regularly made the shoddy Korean car a punch line--to jokes about Yugo. The home office in Seoul couldn't even recruit a seasoned American to jump-start the faltering company. As a last resort, the Korean bosses turned to their corporate lawyer, Finbarr O'Neill, an affable Irishman with no experience running a car company. "We were a company looking over the precipice," says O'Neill. "I kept my law license intact as my insurance policy."O'Neill won't have to hang his shingle any time soon. He has engineered an extraordinary turnaround at Hyundai, where sales have roared ahead 400 percent since he became CEO and now outpace Volkswagen and BMW. How did he turn around Hyundai? With guile and persistence learned from toiling in New York courtrooms and on Irish cow paths. O'Neill concocted some marketing magic four years ago--a 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty to inoculate Hyundai from its rep for miserable quality....
  • Road Test | Lincoln Aviator

    If luxury SUVs had been around back in the days of the Rat Pack, they would have looked like the new Lincoln Aviator. As you slide into the Aviator's leather seats, you're transported back to the midcentury digs inhabited by those finger-snapping hipsters. The clean lines of the Aviator's cowled dash conjure up classic Eames furniture, with warm grainy leathers, walnut trim and satin-nickel-finish doors. You expect to find an atomic clock exploding from the dash, but instead there's a tasteful Swiss-watch-inspired timepiece with brilliant chrome hands. But the Aviator is more than just a stylish cockpit. Open up its burly 302-horsepower engine and you'll be singing "Come Fly With Me." And while the ride is a little floaty, it's cocoon comfy. It's hard to believe this cream puff is built on the chassis of the rugged Ford Explorer. The Aviator has much more in common with its big brother, the Lincoln Navigator. But the Aviator is a lot easier to navigate than its stout sibling, and it...
  • Tech Backlash: Start Me Up (Just Try)

    When you're driving a road rocket like the $70,000 BMW 745i, you need some good tunes to provide a soundtrack to your speed. But as I flouted traffic laws all over Detroit in a wild weekend ride of this new Beemer, I found myself trapped in classical-music hell. The person who test-drove this car before me preset the radio to all-NPR, all the time. And this isn't just any old radio. The 7's stereo is part of the high-tech iDrive system, an onboard computer displayed in the dash and operated by a fist-size mouse in the center armrest. But as much as I torqued and clicked that mouse, I just couldn't dial in my favorite alternative-rock station. Deflated, I finally pulled over, hauled out the owner's manual and spent 10 minutes decoding iDrive. If this is the future of driving, somebody direct me to the nearest exit.Why am I dishing dirt on this dreamboat? Because with the new 7, BMW is letting technology run roughshod. Oh sure, the 7 still drives like the best sports sedan on the road...
  • Living Room, To Go

    So you've had a stressful day at work and now you're bracing for the white-knuckle ride home. You slump in your car, clench the steering wheel and, through gritted teeth, say: "Calm me." Your car feels your strain, recognizes your fingerprint on the wheel and responds. Mood lighting fills the cockpit with a warm fireside glow. Your seat adjusts to a relaxing position and begins gently massaging and warming your aching back. Soothing jazz flows from the digital surround stereo. Your satellite navigation system checks for traffic snarls. And for the final touch, vanilla candle scent wafts from the vents. As you exit the parking garage, you leave the rat race behind and are transported back to the womb.This is no George Jetson commute. All these gizmos are now in the works inside carmakers' research labs. And some--like massaging seats and fingerprint recognition--are already on the road. With weary commuters spending an average of 82 minutes a day in traffic, twice as much as two...
  • Absolut On The Rocks

    For the past few years, Teresa Duke ordered her martinis with Absolut vodka and plenty of olive juice to make them "dirty." "I like them so dirty they're almost kinky," says the 38-year-old physician's assistant from Cleveland. Lately, though, Duke's drinks have a new ingredient--Grey Goose vodka from France. At $10 a pop in her local tavern, a Grey Goose martini is twice the price of the Absolut version. But Duke says she can taste the difference and feels "cool and a little edgy" ordering the priciest vodka. "If you have a chance to drive a Porsche," she says, "you're not going to say, 'Oh, no, give me the Chevette'."It seems like everybody is switching vodkas these days. Even James Bond is now ordering his shaken, not stirred, martinis with Finlandia instead of his old cold-war favorite, Smirnoff. More than 100 new vodkas have hit the market in the past four years and the tasteless alcohol is expected to surpass whisky this year to become America's hard liquor of choice. But...
  • Click Here For A New Sedan! (Not Yet, Alas)

    Buying cars on the internet seemed like such a good idea back in the go-go '90s. After all, most car buyers would rather have a root canal than go toe-to-toe with a car salesperson. And auto companies figured they could turbocharge their profits by wringing out some of the estimated $2,000 per car they spent on a distribution system dating to horse-and-buggy days. But now, several years after predictions of the death of every car salesman, the showrooms remain and the dream of pure, unintermediated online car buying is still just that.The typical Web-savvy customer is like Shekhar Raj of Toledo, Ohio. When the 48-year-old medical researcher set out to buy a new car on the Net, he kicked some virtual tires on a variety of Web sites, speccing out horsepower and creature comforts. Then he found his favorite model's invoice prices--those wholesale prices once known only to car dealers and manufacturers. Finally, Raj clicked a "purchase request" button on the Autobytel Web site. But the...
  • Jack's Toughest Deal

    For all the explosive tabloid revelations in the bitter divorce battle between Jack and Jane Welch, you'd think they would need security guards to keep them apart. First came the former GE chairman's admission of an affair with the editor of the Harvard Business Review. Then Jane made him the poster boy for excessive CEO pay by revealing in court papers the lavish perks-for-life deal GE gave him. But when the sparring partners finally got together last week in a tiny 15-seat courtroom in Bridgeport, Conn., the scene played out more like a board meeting than a title fight. Wearing a pinstripe suit, Jack Welch filed an affidavit that disclosed he is now worth nearly half a billion dollars, down one third from last year thanks to GE's stock plunge. And he expects to pocket $17 million a year in retirement, mostly from his generous GE pension and consulting business. Jane's filings stated her annual income is $136,320 and the additional $35,000 a month Jack pays her now is "patently...
  • Martha's Shrinking Act

    As Martha Stewart's legal troubles grow, finding her face in her magazine is like playing Where's Waldo? The former model was once splashed across the pages of Martha Stewart Living. But in the new Thanksgiving issue, Stewart appears only in an ad for her home-decorating products and a promo for her TV show. Even her signed "Letter From Martha" at the front of the magazine is Martha-free. Instead of her usual photo, we're treated to a shot of her antique rolling-pin collection.Martha's disappearing act might soon spread to her entire company. The investigations into her ImClone stock sale are coming to a head and could cost her her job. Last week sources close to the SEC investigation confirmed she had been served a "Wells notice," signaling the stock-market cops' intent to file civil charges. And the criminal probe into her activities also is heating up, law-enforcement sources say. Martha denies she had any inside info when she unloaded nearly 4,000 ImClone shares a day before...
  • Will She Be In Or Out?

    Can Martha Stewart still command the attention of Kmart shoppers? That's what Kmart CEO Jim Adamson is trying to figure out as the bankrupt retailer prepares to unveil a critically important new line of Martha Stewart holiday wares. Normally, Martha pitches her products in commercials for Kmart. But Adamson is so worried about how tarnished Martha is by the ImClone insider-trading affair, he told NEWSWEEK, he commissioned two versions of the commercial introducing her holiday goods--one starring Martha and one without her. And he says he still hasn't decided which will air when Kmart first offers Martha's wreaths, ribbons and snow globes in early November. "It will be a very difficult decision and I'll make it at the last minute," Adamson told NEWSWEEK. "If I feel that Martha the personality will adversely affect Martha the product at Kmart, then that's what will drive my decision. I'll do what's best for Kmart."Adamson has publicly backed Stewart since the Feds began investigating...
  • Hip To Be Square

    When Honda's engineers set out to create hot wheels for the under-25 crowd, they didn't just set up focus groups, they visited kids in their natural habitat: the X Games. But they didn't find inspiration at the skateboard half-pipe. Instead, they noticed a long line of young men waiting to get into the Mountain Dew Airstream trailer. Convinced the answer they were looking for must be inside the long silver tube, the Honda gearheads piled in, only to find a bunch of boys lounging on couches, playing video- games and sucking down Dew. It turns out all the young dudes, once they've finished going vertical on their boards, just want to hang out in a big party wagon. So the Honda gang rushed back to their motel room and sketched out a big boxy van with hosable rubber floors, seats that fold into a bed and a removable glass roof. To Honda, a car that keeps the good times rolling was the perfect vehicle to reach out to the next big driving force: Generation Y. Explains Tim Benner, leader...
  • Lending Spree

    Last week marked the start of the 2003 model year, and the hottest offering on the showroom floor remains zero percent financing. With sales stalling, GM, Ford and Chrysler rolled out shiny zero percent deals on their newest models. GM is offering free-money five-year loans on popular cars like the '03 Pontiac Vibe. And GM kicks in an extra $500 rebate on top of the zero percent loans for slower sellers like its minivans. At Ford, you can get an '03 Mustang and a slew of other models with zero percent--but just on three-year loans. Only Ford's Windstar minivan comes with zero on a five-year note. Chrysler matches that with five-year zero percent loans on its popular minivans. Only the foreign auto- makers are resisting zero on '03s. Still, the array of deals this early in a new car-model year brings welcome new meaning to the phrase "sticker shock."
  • 'Angry Cat' On The Prowl

    What was I thinking? On a Saturday-morning drive to Costco with my 5-year-old strapped into his car seat, I threw the new Honda Accord hard into a turn and floored it. Now, I know from Honda Accords. Like the millions of American suburbanites who've made the Accord a perennial best seller, I've been happily driving these sensible sedans for years. But this new model lurched forward with such neck-snapping speed, I had to slam on the brakes to avoid ramming into the SUV in front of me. ("Dad, you're speeding!" my too-observant son admonished from the back seat.) With its redesign of the Accord, Honda achieved only mixed success trying to make it look racy. But with a 240-horsepower V6 and sports-car handling, it now definitely drives like a racer. And while the angry-cat styling doesn't move me, the Bauhaus cockpit is stunning. The backlit gauges glow like a Lexus, and the satin-nickel dash feels like an Audi. Not bad for a car that starts at $16,260 with a four-cylinder engine. (The...
  • The Perk Wars

    More accustomed to being praised than pilloried, Jack Welch tried to make the uproar over his perks-for-life retirement deal go away last week. When his wife's divorce papers this month laid bare the lavish lifestyle General Electric was financing for its former chief, Welch became the latest CEO in the cross hairs. Rather than doling out his storied advice from the gut, Welch was taking one in the gut, being compared to all the scoundrels at Enron and WorldCom. So Welch decided to give it all back (though he'll keep his $9 million annual pension). He'll write GE a check every year for about $2.5 million for all the stuff he was getting for free--the $15 million Manhattan penthouse, the 737s, the helicopter, the limo. But in a combative column in The Wall Street Journal, Welch continued to insist the deal wasn't "excessive." He just didn't want GE's reputation dragged down and to "look like someone who's out of touch in today's post-Enron world."Despite Welch's damage control, the...
  • More Than Zero

    Jim Holton was not in the market for a new car. But last month he bought a $38,000 GMC Yukon on a five-year, zero-percent loan. "It was all I could think about,'' says the contractor. "I had to buy this.''Detroit rolled out zero percent to jump-start the car market after September 11, but the come-on is still packing 'em in. Last month car sales roared ahead to set a record. GM, the first to offer zero-percent financing after the attacks, was assailed for capitalizing on the tragedy and steering the industry into "profitless prosperity.'' Now GM is hailed as the savior of the economy. And GM's prosperity is anything but profitless. Last week GM boosted its earnings forecasts. "What's good for GM is still good for the U.S. economy,'' says GM's chief market analyst, Paul Ballew. Not so fast, says Ford. Though it has followed GM, Ford worries Detroit is feeding a bad habit. "Zero percent is like dope, and each time the addict wants more," says Ford market analyst George Pipas. "But it...
  • Electric Avenue

    My gasoline-and-electric-powered Civic Hybrid died in traffic. Repeatedly. On purpose. Turns out the gas-stingy Hybrid shuts off when it comes to a stop. But as soon as I pressed the accelerator, Honda's new high-tech marvel sprang to life, its electric motor and tiny four-cylinder engine humming quietly and air conditioning pouring from the vents. (Don't want to swelter in a standstill? You can override the AC shutdown--but you'll use more gas.) Along with nifty ice-blue gauges that show when the electric motor assists the gas engine, it's the only way to tell you're not driving an ordinary Civic. You never plug in the car--just gas it and go, go, go. After 300 miles I'd burned only half a tank. But it isn't cheap being green. The Civic Hybrid costs $2,300 more than a comparable conventional Civic and $7,740 more than the cheapest model. With today's low gas prices, it'd take 10 years to get that money back at the pump.Tip: This green car is about saving the planet, not greenbacks.
  • More Head Wind For Martha

    Even when Martha Stewart cooperates with the insider-trading probe that's dogged her all summer, she still manages to appear less than forthcoming. Last week her lawyers delivered more than 1,000 pages of e-mails, phone records and other documents to congressional investigators demanding the domestic diva clear up discrepancies in her story about her ImClone stock sale. Stewart met the deadline for the document dump with an hour to spare. The only problem: investigators couldn't read portions of her documents because they were blacked out. Stewart's people contended the blacked-out sections "had nothing to do with ImClone." But investigators had run out of patience. "Her credibility has been stretched pretty thin," says congressional spokesman Ken Johnson. Late last week Martha's lawyers appeased investigators a bit by returning to Capitol Hill with unedited documents.Stewart herself may be trudging up to Capitol Hill soon. Congressional investigators, annoyed that she continues to...
  • Autos: Deals On Wheels

    Forget about bargain hunting in the wreckage of the stock market. The best deals these days are on new-car lots. That might sound like some car-dealer come-on, but as the auto industry closes out its 2002 model year, rebates, cut-rate financing and lease deals have never been better. Car sales remained strong during the recession thanks to the zero percent financing offers that began last fall, and buyers are hooked: when Detroit tried to back away from cut-rate loans this spring, sales tanked. So the Big Three brought back zero percent and dialed up rebates to record levels. In the first half of August, auto incentives averaged $3,200 per car, up 26 percent from last year, according to CNW Marketing Research. "This is a much better fire sale than you usually have at the end of a model year," says CNW analyst Art Spinella. "It's not a question of getting a good deal; it's whether you can get a great deal."The best way to move from good to great is to look beyond the nationally...
  • Honda's Midlife Makeover

    When Charlie Baker set out two years ago to redesign the Honda Accord, America's favorite family car, he spent many boring hours listening in on consumer focus groups. As the Honda chief engineer peered through a one-way mirror in a California research lab, he heard owners of his chief competitor, the Toyota Camry, drone on about their car as if it were a dependable household appliance. Drivers of his beloved Accord dutifully explained that they bought out of habit. But when the VW Passat owners appeared on the other side of the mirror, sporting piercings and goatees, they gushed about the Passat's sleek, industrial design and how cool they felt tooling around in the car. Stunned, Baker turned to a colleague and said: "Fifteen years ago, these were our buyers."Honda, like many of its baby-boomer customers, is suffering a midlife crisis. And in September it will try to recapture its lost youth by unveiling a dramatic makeover of its flagship model, the Accord. Instead of trying to...
  • The Mighty Fall

    Times are tough enough for Steve Miller, the chief executive who's trying to lead troubled Bethlehem Steel out of bankruptcy. But he never thought the rapidly expanding rogues' gallery of CEOs would make his job even harder. Last month Miller appeared before an angry group of workers at Bethlehem's mill in Steelton, Pa., to explain why he might have to eliminate their pensions. As he urged workers to "stay on board" through this financial crisis, one man stood and shouted out: "Mr. Miller, the CEO of Enron told his people to hang in there and all he did was feather his own nest. How are you any different?" Stunned, Miller, a veteran of corporate turnarounds, said he didn't negotiate a golden parachute or big stock deal when he became Bethlehem's CEO last year. "I have no financial incentive to kid you about anything," he said. "But at the end of the day, you'll have to make up your own mind if you trust me."But trust in CEOs has fallen faster than the stock market in recent months....
  • More 'Ridiculousness'

    Wielding a big knife and a look of determination, Martha Stewart kept her head down while chopping cabbage on CBS's "The Early Show" last week. But even in her weekly cooking segment, Martha couldn't escape the insider-trading scandal that's tarnished her homemaking empire. CBS brass warned her beforehand that she had to address the growing controversy if she wanted to come on "The Early Show" to whip up her summer salads. Stewart, after consulting her lawyers, agreed to take questions, but only if she didn't have to leave her kitchen to sit for a separate interview. So with Martha whacking away at the chopping block, anchor Jane Clayson laid out the worsening crisis and attempted to get the domestic diva to explain herself. "This will all be resolved in the very near future and I will be exonerated of any ridiculousness," Martha said, rolling her eyes and resuming her cabbage shredding. But Clayson, usually Martha's kitchen helper, continued to grill her. Exasperated, Martha huffed...
  • Road Test: Backroads Bully

    I'm aiming the hulking new Hummer H2 SUV straight into a yawning hole in the earth. As I go vertical, I see only mud through the windshield. I'm certain I'm about to be planted six feet under this ridiculous off-road course in Indiana. But as I slam into the ground, the H2 roars and crawls out like an angry grizzly. In this moment of weak-kneed relief, I realize the $49,000 H2 is no poor relation of the $103,000 Hummer H1 of gulf war fame. The H2--built on the same platform used in the Chevy Silverado--is the real deal. It's an unrepentant road hog that plows through anything in its path. All that 'tude will make the H2 the hip-hoppers' new gotta-have SUV. The rest of us, though, will enjoy how civilized this quiet, smooth-riding Hummer is on the open road.Tip:Get off the parkway at the next exit and climb a mountain in this beast.
  • Martha's Tabloid Dish

    As Joelle Kheel riffled through a stack of Martha Stewart pastel bedding at a Kmart in Manhattan last week, she became annoyed. "I don't know why I'm even looking at her products," huffed the retired actress. Kheel had heard Stewart was linked to the insider-stock-trading scandal at ImClone, and she isn't buying the domestic doyenne's claim of innocence. To Kheel, this is proof that Martha is not who she appears to be. "She has this pearly white name," says Kheel, shoving a Martha mattress pad back onto the shelf, "but something about her does not ring true."America has always had a love-hate relationship with Martha Stewart, with her maddeningly perfect hand-carved ice wreaths and Scandinavian cloudberry cakes. But now the multimedia domestic goddess is serving up a tasty new dish the tabloids are devouring. Here's the recipe for what the New York Post calls "Martha's Stewing." First, whip in the Wall Street scandal du jour: the arrest last week of Martha's old pal, former ImClone...
  • A Dash Of Style

    When office-furniture designer John Kaloustian first saw the interior of the Audi TT, he was sold. He couldn't resist the thick rawhide stitching on the tan leather seats. "Those baseball-glove seats were a must-have," he says. But Kaloustian has learned that it doesn't take a designer's eye to appreciate the TT's Bauhaus interior, with its brushed-aluminum gauges and riveted air vents. Wherever he parks his $37,000 roadster with the top down, it draws a crowd. The only problem: when admirers start fingering the upholstery, they set off the alarm. "It makes me a little nervous," says Kaloustian. "I feel like I'm going to get carjacked."Forget about looking under the hood. These days, interior decorating counts for more than horsepower. Drab plastic dashboards with a few cup holders just won't do. Auto-interior designers, once the Rodney Dangerfields of the auto industry, are now crafting sleek postmodern dashboards with metallic finishes and clocks that look like expensive jewelry....