The Editor's Desk

We don't do "Hollywood covers" very often, and we don't always get them right. In retrospect, we've done some that were pretty silly. ("Can a Movie Help Make a President?" was our line for the 1983 astronaut epic, "The Right Stuff." Within months the candidate in question, John Glenn, withdrew from the race.) We've also lived to regret putting a movie our reviewers didn't like on the cover because we thought it would have big box-office--and newsstand-- sales. (Remember "Pearl Harbor"? Disappointing on both counts.) But we've done many show-business covers we're proud of, and they usually have one of two things going for them. They tap into meaty social, political or historical debates ("JFK," "Saving Private Ryan," "Malcolm X"). Or they introduce our readers to an actor or director who is particularly promising--well ahead of the media pack.

Jeff Giles sensed that about M. Night Shyamalan as soon as they met in 2000. Then only 29, Shyamalan had directed the sleeper hit "The Sixth Sense," and Jeff invited him to our editorial Oscar Round Table. Shyamalan confidently declared his ambition to make quality blockbusters, and got into a tiff with Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") by complaining that critics only like films that "break the rules." Yet like Steven Spielberg (or Alfred Hitchcock), Shyamalan is an artist as well as a crowd-pleaser. He writes his own scripts, and films them around his native Philadelphia, rather than in L.A. And while his plots involve ghosts and extraterrestials, they revolve around characters and emotions more than special effects. Coming between "Goldmember" and "XXX," his haunting, touching new film, "Signs," may be the best horror flick and the best family movie of the summer. And as you'll see from Giles's profile, "Night" has the talent, vision (and healthy ego) to be a force for years to come.

A note to all the brokers who wrote after the last Editor's Desk: I'm not looking for more financial help. But it was nice to see the stock market calm down, at least for now. This week, Howard Fineman assesses the politics behind the Bush administration's crackdown on crooked CEOs, while Jane Bryant Quinn looks for refuge in foreign funds. And Peg Tyre reports on the growing crusade to hold fast-food companies liable for health problems they help create, particularly among kids. Any parent will want to read her piece on whether "Big Fat" could become the next "Big Tobacco."

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