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  • Bring On The Golden Parachute

    One week after paying its former CEO, Bob Nardelli, a severance package worth $210 million, Home Depot raised eyebrows in the business community again today by paying an incompetent sales clerk $12 million "to go away forever."In an official statement released to Wall Street analysts this morning, Home Depot said that it was paying the former salesclerk, Lucas Rekson, 24, the unprecedented sum on the condition that "he never shows up to work again."The $12 million severance package for Rekson of the company's Torrance, Calif., store is believed to be the largest of its kind ever for a low-level, incompetent employee, industry experts said.During his two-month tenure as a salesclerk at Home Depot, Rekson made his mark by repeatedly spilling boxes of nails on the floor and accidentally banging into customers with large pieces of lumber.In defense of Rekson's gargantuan severance package, company spokesman Carol Foyler offered this rationale: "If it means that Lucas will never work for...
  • Oprah Goes to School

    Two thousand and six was the year Africa went Hollywood: Madonna, Clooney, Brangelina. And now, in 2007, the most exclusive spot on the continent will undoubtedly be in the town of Henly-on-Klip, about 40 miles outside Johannesburg. Set on 22 lush acres and spread over 28 buildings, the complex features oversize rooms done in tasteful beiges and browns with splashes of color, 200-thread-count sheets, a yoga studio, a beauty salon, indoor and outdoor theaters, hundreds of pieces of original tribal art and sidewalks speckled with colorful tiles. Julia Roberts, John Travolta, Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela and the reigning African Queen herself--Angelina Jolie--are expected to attend the grand opening this week. By now, you're probably wondering how much a spread like this goes for per night. Actually, it's free. There's only one catch--you have to be a 12- or 13-year-old African girl to get in. As spectacular as this place sounds, it's not a resort. It's a school: the Oprah Winfrey...
  • Mail Call

    How to Leave IraqReaders praised Fareed Zakaria for his Nov. 6 story on the way out of Iraq. One suggested, "Bush should appoint him his political adviser." Another recommended a "change of regime in America." Most others congratulated Zakaria or thanked him for his views "as the only way out." ...
  • A King of Comedy Reclaims His Crown

    From Lil' Kim and Snoop Dogg to Denzel and Whoopi, America's black celebrities are intriguing far beyond the red carpet—sometimes vulnerable, sometimes inspiring, but more than anything else, human. In her new book, 'Off the Record,' NEWSWEEK reporter Allison Samuels looks behind-the-scenes at these boldfaced names of Hollywood, hip-hop and sports. In the following excerpt, she recounts her experience talking to Eddie Murphy right before his career rebounded with “The Nutty Professor.”Back in the high-flying eighties, Eddie Murphy was without doubt the brightest star burning in Hollywood and  beyond. Known as the leader of a Hollywood elite posse called the Black Packers, which included Robert Townsend, Arsenio Hall, and Keenan Ivory Wayans, Murphy had a cutting-edge,  dead-on take on African-American humor that pushed the comedy show Saturday Night Live to new  heights. Even in the face of the dominant stardom of John Belushi and Chevy Chase, Murphy held his own and shined in silly...
  • Letters to the Magazine

    Readers responding to our cover story on the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group were nearly unanimous that a new direction is necessary. One said, "The realities articulated by the ISG are some of the loudest, most credible and brutally honest wake-up calls aimed at the president." Added another, "The president is under heavy pressure to consider the commission's well-reasoned conclusions to reverse a failed policy, and I'm delighted that he is now leveling with the American people." One viewed the ISG report as merely "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," while another recalled that the president is elected to do what is in the nation's best interest, "not satisfy his ego or stick to misguided beliefs. The midterm elections have clearly shown that we are fed up with this Iraq misadventure wasting national resources and sullying America's reputation."James Baker and Lee Hamilton of the Iraq Study Group came up with a revelatory conclusion about the war in...
  • Wanna Buy a Bridge To Big-Time Debt?

    It's the happiest of New Year's on Wall Street, which is positively awash in money. No, I'm not talking about the jaw-dropping eight-digit bonuses at Goldman Sachs or the even bigger unpublicized paydays for heavy hitters at some hedge funds and private equity houses. Rather, I'm talking about the money sloshing around the Street chasing deals.You can see this by reading recent filings involving the biggest leveraged buyout in history: the pending $36 billion takeover of Equity Office Properties, a big commercial-property owner, by the Blackstone Group buyout firm. There's such hunger to put money to work that three financial institutions--Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns and Bank of America--have agreed not only to lend almost $30 billion to the Equity Office LBO, but to also invest more of their own cash in the deal than the $3.2 billion Blackstone has committed. The three firms are putting up $3.5 billion of so-called bridge equity to get the deal done. What's bridge equity? Good...
  • The Importance of Being Neighborly

    The oil stain on my garage floor has faded to a dusty umber, the same nondescript color as the other random blots that collect on concrete over the years. Once, it was a shallow black puddle, pooling under my neighbor Bill's motorcycle. Now it's an indelible reminder that friendship can be fleeting.It didn't take me long to meet Bill after I moved into the neighborhood in September 1992. Each day, he and his dog passed my house on their morning walk. She introduced herself first, a fetching young malamute who bounded straight for me and threw herself, belly up, at my feet--tail swishing, tongue lolling, eyes pleading. I couldn't resist. We bonded with a tummy rub even before he finished scolding her for scampering away. Pretty Girl, he called her, pronouncing it "Purdy Girl."I pegged Bill right away as one of those fiftysomething counterculture types who'd tried on the 1960s and found a fit for life. From a distance he looked intimidating, with his full, grizzled beard and scraggly...
  • Newsmakers: Clive Owen, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Rosie O'Donnell, Donald Trump, P. Diddy, Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Owen stars in "children of Men," a futuristic thriller about saving the only pregnant woman in a society thought to be entirely sterile. He chatted with Nicki Gostin.I think it's full of humanity. [Director Alfonso] Cuaron has made a film set in the future that's really an excuse to talk about things going on right now.None.I was never offered that part. I promise.[ Laughs ] I always do that.She walked into the read-through and I knew straightaway.It was a little bit Woody Allen-like. She had little Lennon glasses on and all these secondhand books dropping all over the place.Couple of meetings and going to get Ugg boots for my girls.I'm sure you can, but I know they're here.I know. The exchange rate--my God.Why?But I get paid in dollars and live in London. I don't get paid in pounds.[ Laughs ] It's true. I'm not complaining.You have to feel sorry for them, really. They'll never have the Frank Capra holiday you had, with eggnog and cookies, shining lights and beaming faces, humble...
  • A New Era Begins

    Stem-cell research is divided into two major camps: one focused on cells from adults, the other on the controversial technique that destroys embryos. But important research published Sunday supports the idea of a third way, a new category of stem cells that are readily available, perhaps ethically trouble-free and possibly as powerful and flexible in function as their embryonic counterparts: "amniotic-fluid stem cells," found in both the placenta and the liquid that surrounds growing fetuses.The cells are "neither embryonic nor adult. They're somewhere in between," says Dr. Anthony Atala, a tissue-engineering specialist at Wake Forest University who led the research team. (The study appears in the journal Nature Biotechnology.) The "AFS cells" rival embryonic stem cells in their ability to multiply and transform into many different cell types, and they eventually could be hugely helpful to doctors in treating diseases throughout the body and building new organs in the lab. At the...
  • Medication Missteps

    As more details about the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist's battle with prescription medication have emerged, they have focused new attention on how doctors prescribe and monitor people who take potentially addictive drugs.Declassified documents released by the FBI this week paint a picture of an esteemed and learned man who nonetheless fell prey to a long-term debilitating habit while he was a Supreme Court justice during the 1970s. In 1981, five years before he became chief justice, Rehnquist was admitted to George Washington University Hospital for a month in order to be weaned off prescription drugs. During his hospital stay, according to the documents, Rehnquist experienced paranoid delusions and tried, at one point, to escape from the hospital in his pajamas. Shortly before he underwent the treatment his family described him as having a longstanding problem with "slurred speech."And no wonder. The FBI reports that Rehnquist was already taking the powerful...
  • Serious Theater Hits Broadway—At a Price

    Anchored by such old favorites as “Wicked” and “Beauty and the Beast,” Broadway did record-breaking business last year. It took in nearly $30 million in the last week alone. You may say that’s not surprising, considering that tickets run about $100 each. Nor will you be surprised to learn that producers, emboldened by all that success, have decided to hike the top ticket prices to $120 a seat. But there is good news. Broadway is now not just the home of big-budget movie musicals like “Hairspray” but once again a place to see some serious theater. Here are our picks for the hot new shows this winter and spring:Journey's End by R.C. Sherriff (Belasco Theatre, opens Feb. 22)The recent high-profile success of London imports such as “The History Boys” and “Democracy” has meant new opportunities for shows once considered too serious for the Great White Way. Based on Sheriff’s experiences in World War I, “Journey’s End” is not only a beautifully written drama about the horrors of war and...
  • Of Mice and Multimedia

    When Bill Moggridge bought a digital watch for his son in 1983, it took him “20 minutes of concentrated effort” to set the alarm so his boy wouldn’t miss his paper route. Then daylight savings time came and the younger Moggridge gave up his early mornings. Dad was enlisted to cancel the alarm and reset the time, but of course the instructions were long gone. You’d think Moggridge, who designed the first-ever laptop computer in 1980 (the GRiD Compass ), would be able to figure out how to reset the time on a dinky watch with only four buttons. You’d be wrong.Today Moggridge, who has since founded the influential Silicon Valley-based design firm IDEO, holds the watch up as an unshining example of bad industrial design. In his new book, “Designing Interactions,” Moggridge conducts 40 interviews with industry pioneers who do the job right. Ever wonder why Google is the dominant search engine or how the mouse on your desktop came into being? This accessible book endeavors to answer those...
  • With a Song in His Heart

    The significance of a mix tape—think back to the '80s and early '90s, before digital this and iPod that—was huge. A mix tape was this carefully selected, tailor-made collection of songs, but more than that, the emotional statement of the songs connected the giver and recipient. You could gauge a warming romance on the horizon by the mix tape—thrilling at the sight of the names of songs handwritten by the object of your affection. A mix tape was something special. The songs held serious weight inside those plastic cassettes. And cassettes were ultimately the lasting love letters to each other that Rob Sheffield could hold onto after his 31-year-old wife, Renée, died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism just after she'd had her morning coffee and toast. It was 1997 and they'd only had five years together.In "Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time," Sheffield writes elegantly about his young wife’s sudden death without turning it into a depressing tale of love stolen...
  • HPV Vaccine Is the Hot Shot on Campus

    When Dr. James Turner gave his freshman-orientation health talk at the University of Virginia, he spotlighted one thing: a new vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), the fastest-spreading sexually transmitted disease and the main cause of cervical cancer and genital warts. After he mentioned that nurses were standing by to give shots to female students, "parents grabbed their kids and said, 'Come on, we're going to get that'," he said.As school starts, health officials are promoting the HPV vaccine to teens and twentysomethings who rarely see a doctor but need protection the most. A national plan calls for most girls to get it between the ages of 11 and 13 (it's recommended for females ages 9 to 26). Playing catch-up with older teens is tough. Some Los Angeles high schools aim to offer it in area clinics, where it will be free for many through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Other schools are mulling similar plans.But the VFC doesn't cover those over 19, and...
  • Hidden Treasures in Secret Spaces

    By Tara PepperVisiting a great museum doesn't have to mean enduring crowded lines of pretentious would-be art connoisseurs in bustling cities. A plethora of smaller galleries lurk near windswept beaches, in idyllic rustic villages, and other out-of-the-way locales, and many house remarkable treasures. NEWSWEEK suggests stopping by a few of the best:The striking Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, set among sweeping lawns and ancient trees on Denmark's windswept North Zealand coast, was established in 1958 to elaborate the connection between visual art, architectureand landscape. The museum houses well-known works by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, and its sculpture collection is particularly strong, featuring 13 of Alberto Giacometti's spiky, surrealist bronzes. In the park, visitors can admire other sculptures by the likes of Alexander Calder and Joan Miró, and marvel at their juxtaposition with the trees, grass and water ( louisiana.dk , €11.90).A short walk from Croatia's unspoiled...
  • ‘I Just Want to Play’

    For a tennis player who is impressively vocal and aggressive behind the net, hunky Rafael Nadal is surprisingly demure off the court. There is almost a little-boy-lost quality about him. Nadal still lives with his parents and grandparents in a four-story apartment building in Manacor, Spain, where his favorite pastime is fishing....
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    Marriage by the Numbers

    Twenty years since the infamous 'terrorist' line, states of unions aren't what we predicted they'd be.
  • Twenty Years Later

    It turns out that getting married after age 40 wasn't quite as difficult as we once believed.

    To See And Be SeenBy Rukhmini PunooseFeel like you've got-ten all the fashion mileage you can out of your scarf, belt or purse? Try a new pair of custom glasses--and never mind if your vision is 20/20. Boutique opticians are springing up around the world, and they are definitely less concerned with how you see than with the way you look. Robert Marc started the trend 20 years ago, when he opened his first custom-glasses shop in New York. Among his early memorable designs: Woody Allen's signature black-frame glasses. Marc now has nine stores in the United States and sells his wares at luxury opticians from Europe to Asia. He has designed frames for Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz ($295 to $1,295; 212-319-2000).In many eyewear boutiques, no two pairs are alike. Designers cater to consumer tastes, using unique materials like buffalo horn, rhinestone, leather, silk, wood--as well as white gold and diamonds--or sourcing rare antique gold frames from the 1930s....

    HOTELS: MAY I SHINE YOUR SHOES?The word butler still conjures up visions of a Wodehousean gentleman in coattails, effortlessly managing every detail of an English country estate. But thanks to a growing trend at luxury hotels from Tokyo to Las Vegas, manservants are getting a makeover. Instead of the famously stolid butler of Victorian descent, today's version is a warm and affable personal concierge-cum-valet. And all you need to do to get one is make the right reservation.Relying on individualized service to set them apart, tony boutique hotels have turned to butler services in an effort to lure customers away from large five-star chains. Like the butlers of yesteryear, these majordomos are apt to look upon an unstarched collar with a somewhat jaundiced eye. But they're also trained to surf the Internet, play the sommelier, unobtrusively pack and unpack bags, plan parties and arrange itineraries. They can even organize hot-air-balloon rides. "Any hotel can provide all the...
  • A Conversation With a Basketball Legend

    Renowned UCLA coach John Wooden, who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships, died Friday night at 99. In 2005, NEWSWEEK spoke with Wooden about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and whether the dunk should be banned. Read the interview.
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    I Married R. Crumb

    The underground comic-book artist's wife discusses 30 years of living with a 'cranky old guy'
  • Brave New Babies

    Parents now have the power to choose the sex of their children. But as technology answers prayers, it also raises some troubling questions.
  • Long Odds In Powerball Jackpots

    With those huge Powerball jackpots, do the odds of winning change substantially between buying $1 and $5 in tickets? —Dustin Ivanic, Gilbert, Ariz. Unlike a raffle, with Powerball your chance of winning isn't affected by how many tickets are sold. So if you get a $5 ticket with five different number combos, you're exactly five times as likely to win. But the probability of hitting is still astronomically small. (Let's face it, there's not much difference between 1 in 50 million and 5 in 50 million.) Also, since the big prize encourages people to play, the odds that you'll end up having to share the jackpot greatly increase.
  • Please Ask Me Who, Not 'What,' I Am

    I've been thinking a lot about that "Seinfeld" episode where Elaine is dating this guy and it's driving her nuts because she doesn't know "what" he is. They ultimately discover that neither is exotic enough for the other and they're so disappointed that they stop seeing each other.It's the story of my life these days. Each new guy I meet, it seems, is fascinated by my ostensible failure to fall into an obvious racial category. Last year we could opt out of defining ourselves to the Census Bureau, but that option doesn't seem to have carried over into real life. I've lost track of how many flirty men have asked me what I am.The first time, I was in Iowa and snobbishly dismissed the inquiry as rural provincialism. Then it happened again while I was on a date in San Francisco, a city that prides itself on its enlightenment.Isn't it rude to ask "what" someone is when you've just met? Common courtesy would suggest so. But many people seem to feel uncomfortable if they can't immediately...
  • We've Got Mail—Always

    It saves time and wastes it, makes life simpler and more complicated, brings us together and pushes us apart. Love it and hate it, it's everywhere, all the time and here to stay.
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    The Blair Witch Cult

    Two young filmmakers have set the summer—and the box office—on fire with a creepy tale audiences love or hate. The making, and marketing, of a stealth smash.
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    Growing Up In The Spotlight

    Going to school at MGM was a nightmare. It wasn't really like going to school. No two kids were the same age. You couldn't even cheat and look over someone's shoulder. I was a total daydreamer, and I was constantly rapped on the knuckles: "Elizabeth, stop daydreaming!" I'd go into the bathroom and do my daydreaming there. My teacher would say, "Elizabeth, you were in the bathroom 15 minutes." I would say, "Oh, Miss McDonald, if you don't believe me, I suggest you go in and smell." ...
  • Single Motherhood Is A Joy, Not A Disaster

    Just after Christmas '97, I went to Video Thunder with my mom and my grandmother. We were three single mothers in search of a way to spend a cold New Hampshire evening. My mother was divorced, my grandmother was recently widowed and I was three weeks shy of becoming an unwed mother.My grandmother held up a video box and hollered across the store to me: "Oh, this is it! The perfect movie for you." In her hand was the movie "Bastard Out of Carolina." I laughed and told her I'd already seen it. I'd rented it after I'd discovered I was pregnant.I was 25 and had just received a master's degree from the University of North Carolina. A week after listening to graduation speeches telling me how far I could go, I sat on the edge of a twin bed, listening to the object of my affection give me his canned "It's not you--it's me" speech. Two weeks after that I sat at Planned Parenthood, where I'd gone for a $10 pregnancy test, waiting for my name to be called. A hip 22-year-old told me I was ...
  • Hold Your Horsepower

    Folks in the small Michigan town where I grew up revere the work ethic. Our entire culture lauds those who are willing to work their tails off to get ahead. Though there's nothing wrong with hard work, I suggest that our youngsters may be starting too young-and for all the wrong reasons.
  • Jane Austen Does Lunch

    How about a lifetime Achievement Oscar for Jane Austen at the next Academy Awards? Might as well, in view of the outpouring of films based on the work of the great 19th-century English novelist. After the superb "Persuasion" earlier this fall, we now have the brilliant Sense and Sensibility, with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, to be followed in January by the BBC's delightful mira-series of "Pride and Prejudice" on the Arts & Entertainment network, Late 1996 will bring a movie version of "Emma" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, followed by a TV version of that novel from ITV. (And let's not forget this past summer's "Clueless," with Alicia Silverstone as a Beverly Hills reincarnation of Emma.) If all this strikes you as a hypermassive dose of Jane, think of it as an antidote to the fungus infection of Joe Eszterhas ("Showgirls," "Jade"). ...
  • Dress For Success

    Designer Cynthia Rowley doesn't have red hair, but there's something about her that inevitably evokes comparisons to Lucille Ball. Maybe it's her angular face, which she's forever scrunching in displays of mock horror. Maybe it's her '50s-style showroom, with furniture the color of gumdrops. Or maybe it's her sitcom sense of adventure, which prompted her to pose for a recent NewsWEEK photo session hanging, like some little frock, from a dress rack. Even Rowley admits she can't escape her Lucy-ness: "My life's like the chocolate-factory episode-the one where she can't wrap it fast enough. That's how I feel on Seventh Avenue. I'm not all-professional and glamorous, like a designer. It's like, how did I get here? This has a life of its own that I'm trying to keep up with." ...
  • Calvin's World

    America's Best-Known Designer Drops His Controversial 'Kiddie Porn' Ads Under Pressure. He's Poised To Expand His Empire Worldwide, But Will His Shock Tactics Still Sell?
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    Madonna's 'Sex' Book: The New Voyeurism

    If Madonna wants her book of erotic pictures to shock us, she's got stiff competition. With more skin in advertising, movies and on television, voyeurism is becoming the safest sex around.
  • The Lowdown On Hip-Hop: Kids Talk About The Music

    Every rap song is a testament to the power of talk. So what better way to get into the music than to discuss it with a group of teenagers? NEWSWEEK invited 12 New York City-area students-black and white, city dwellers and suburbanites-to share their views on rap at the magazine's Manhattan headquarters. The black teens were Dwight Chapman, 19, from Borough of Manhattan Community College; Trevor Trotter (a.k.a. GizmO), 18, graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx; Deonna McWilliams, 15, a student at Manhattan's Cathedral High; Robert Jackson, 14, from the Fieldston School in Riverdale; Jessica Jenkins, 16, Uniondale High, Long Island, and John Bailey, 15, the Anglo-American International School in Manhattan. The white teenagers included Daniel Morris, 16, and Bree Pinsker, 16, both students at Ossining High; Jeff Neale, 13, entering New Rochelle High in the fall; Scott Smith, 18, a 1992 graduate of the Collegiate School in Manhattan; Erik Berkule, 18, from Cornell...
  • A Dumping Ground For Granny

    The sad scenario goes something like this: an elderly man is brought to a hospital emergency room by family members who say he is confused, not eating or wandering away from home. Tests find nothing specifically wrong with him, but when doctors try to contact the family, the phone number they left has been disconnected and the address proves fictitious. Or nursing-home staffers transport a resident complaining of chest pains to an emergency room. When physicians stabilize her and attempt to return her, the nursing home says her bed has been filled-usually by someone better able to pay the fees. Sometimes there is no accompanying paperwork on the patient, so doctors can't determine if the ailment is a chronic condition or something new, and they have to order a battery of expensive tests. Either way, the hospital is left caring for the patient sometimes for days or weeks on end, and sometimes with no one to bill expenses to....
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    The Most Hated Man in Baseball

    New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is taking heat from the fans, the press, and the commissioner—and relishing each battle.
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    Has Joe Lost His Smoke?

    From the Newsweek archives. Charles Leerhsen on the former heavyweight champion’s return to the ring.
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    The Long Hot Summer

    Donna Summer may insist she's "a performer, not a disco performer," but in the end her audiences get what they've paid to see.