• Talking Burgers

    Why are stars so touchy about admitting they do commercials? In March, Peri rated TV ads featuring voice-overs by celebs like Michael Douglas . At the time Richard Dreyfuss was said to be doing a McDonald's ad. But his publicist, Richard Grant, told NEWSWEEK his client was doing only "special features on great Americans," adding, "he's not pitching hamburgers"--unlike those other hucksters, presumably. In fact, Dreyfuss's voice can now be heard on a syrupy--and hardly unusual--McDonald's ad, for which he was paid handsomely. "[What I meant] was 'He's not actually talking about hamburgers,' which he's not," Grant says now. "Maybe that's a fine line, but I don't think so." OK, America, you decide.
  • Joy Is A Disease. Meet The Cure.

    A good reference point for A "Wish," the new album by the English band the Cure, is "Back to Mono (1958-1969)," last year's boxed set of the obsessive love epics of producer Phil Spector. Suspended in Spector's signature "wall of sound," his songs' lovers (the Ronettes, Crystals and others) stood forever apart, contemplating not their mates but the minutiae of their own passions. In an era that stressed action and revolution, Spector froze his characters in decadent inertia, making a fetish of each quiver of pleasure or emotion. ...
  • The Future Is Here

    The world's leaders meet in Rio next week for the first Earth Summit. Their mission: to save the ship from its passengers. Their efforts will be judged not by us, but by our children. Let's have no more hot air, then. It's time to talk sense about the environment. ...
  • Blood Oath

    They're Asia's toughest criminals. But even members of the shadowy triad gangs are afraid of AIDS. Recruits of Hong Kong's Sun Yee On triad traditionally gathered in groups for an elaborate induction ceremony. Each new member mixed a small amount of his blood in a communal bowl, then all the members of the gang drank from it. Now they've changed the rules. "They no longer drink the mixed blood in the bowl," says a Hong Kong police detective. "They suck the blood from their fingers."
  • Better Bag It

    Time Warner had a nice marketing gimmick for its Six Flags amusement parks. McDonald's bags now sport coupons for Six Flags, described as "America's most exciting National Parks." But the National Park Service isn't flattered. It plans to educate Time Warner and McDonald's about national parks--and to suggest a contribution to the National Park Foundation. Time Warner will now call them "man-made national parks."
  • The Murphy Brown Policy

    There they go again. Only this time, instead of Willie Horton, the GOP is making Murphy Brown its symbol of what's wrong with the liberal elites. The fictitious Murphy, an unmarried TV journalist, gave birth to a baby boy last week. And Vice President Dan Quayle went nuts. He decried the Hollywood glamorization of Murphy's plight; and, in a neck-wrenching segue, blamed the Los Angeles riots on the "poverty of values" that Murphy's out-of-wedlock momdom represents. Quayle didn't see the show: a spokesman explained that the Quayle family never watches TV on school nights. But the vice president's comments jolted the country, igniting a long-simmering debate about cultural values and the American family. ...
  • Whose Side Are You On?

    Dennis Ross, the State Department's chief Middle East strategist, sat quietly as his fellow panelist at a Jewish donors' conference, California Congressman Mel Levine, ripped into the administration. "President Bush and Secretary Baker appear determined to destroy the special relationship between Israel and the United States," Levine said. Charging that Bush and James Baker have close ties to "despotic leaders of the Middle East," Levine pounded the table as he called on American Jews to "fight back!" The moment was more than a little awkward for Ross, because he, too, is Jewish. As the audience gave Levine a standing ovation, Ross reached for his microphone. "I could start out by saying, 'I've got a tomato in my pocket, and I'm going to smash it on my forehead'," he said with a wry smile. "There, don't you feel better?" ...
  • Capitalist Tool

    The cold war may be over, but is America ready to buy Russian bonds again? Yes, says Lawrence Kudlow, chief economist with the New York investment firm Bear Stearns, which has just submitted a formal proposal to the Yeltsin government for a $500 million bond offering in the West. If Yeltsin OK's the deal and the bonds sell, Kudlow estimates that Russia could raise $50 billion with future offerings. Kudlow admits that in assessing the value of the bonds, Bear Stearns is "flying by the seat of our pants." Still, he believes "professional investors [pension funds, money managers and insurance companies] would be very interested in owning some Russian paper, if only to feel part of this new beginning."
  • Gunning For Gays

    Military historians looking for instances of gay vulnerability to blackmail generally have to reach back to 1912, when the notorious Austrian colonel Alfred Redl betrayed his country's secrets to the Russians. But somehow the charge that homosexuals present a security risk has lingered, along with the idea that their presence undermines military morale. The Pentagon-which officially bans gays from uniformed service expels about 1,000 men and women every year on account of their sexual preference. It is an open secret, however, that tens of thousands more are in uniform; gay advocates argue it's time to bring policy in line with that reality. Last week several members of Congress introduced a bill aimed at dismantling what Rep. Patricia Schroeder called "the final bastion of discrimination in the military." ...
  • A House Of Cards

    No more, it seemed, would winter be punctuated by the crunch of snow underfoot. Global temperatures had reached record highs. The worst seemed confirmed when an expert at England's staid Royal Meteorological Society declared that a greenhouse effect had begun. The earth would heat irreversibly. ...
  • A Message To The Generals

    Abramowitz, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was U.S. ambassador to Thailand 1978-81. ...
  • From Russia With Love

    They're cheap, they're blond and they enrage the Moroccan-born prostitutes who got to Israel first. Russian immigrants turn tricks for as little as $4, one fifth the going rate; both Jewish and Arab clients seem to prefer them to darker North Africans. After some fistfights, a truce took hold. Moroccans now work mostly the streets; the newcomers stick to massage parlors.
  • '92 Campaign Edition

    Perot's whole point is to shatter institutions like the CW. But the CW, attuned to polls that show him up by 13 points in California, loves him anyway. PLAYERS Conventional Wisdom R. Perot (+) Old CW: Amusing diversion. New CW: It Can Happen Here. G. Bush (-) Why get on the wrong side of 38 million Murphy Brown fans? Wouldn't be prudent. B. Clinton (-) Bill who? Some guy who says he's governor of Arkansas? Oh, right, him. D. Quayle (-) Attaboy Danny! You're a big poverty expert now! But no more TV before bedtime. M. Brown (+/-) Great publicity, but if got it before the show, ratings would have gone through roof. J.Carson (+) Johnny! Johnny! Carnac, Aunt Blabby-they'd all beat Bush, Clinton and Perot.
  • Rescued: An Archive Of Horrors

    Kurds have long charged Saddam Hussein with genocide in his campaign to kill their dream of independence. Now the Kurds may have proof. In northern Iraq last week, U.S. troops collected an estimated 14 tons of Iraqi records rifled from police stations and stashed by Kurdish rebels during last year's uprising. The archive of horrors will be airlifted to the United States for analysis by human-rights activists. Their goal: a war-crimes trial for Saddam.
  • Buzzwords

    The beach season has finally begun. While you're tanning and snorkeling, here's a sampler of what the seaside cops are saying into their walkie-talkies: Day-trippers and other nonlocals.Naked sunbathers.When cops confiscate beer cans.Jaybird whose rear end is showing.People who hike around the sand dunes.Looking for couples having sex on the beach.Squatters who live on the beach illegally.No traffic jam is too big to stop them.
  • Hooking Up At The Big House

    It should be a TV programmer's dream: more than a million viewers with nothing better to do than sit in front of the tube all day. But this audience is really captive; they're inmates in the nation's 4,000 prisons and jails. Faced with severe overcrowding and limited budgets for rehabilitation and counseling, more and more prison officials are using TV to keep inmates quiet. "I don't want to call it a babysitter, but it's certainly an adult-tender," says Donald Cline, associate superintendent at Missouri's Jefferson City Correctional Center. ...
  • My Father's Legacy

    May 29 would have been my father's 75th birthday. Maybe because he's not with us, I've thought a lot recently about what was important to him, and how we can make up for how much we miss him still. For years I've been reluctant to discuss this publicly; I still am. But I worry sometimes that the larger message of his life is being obscured. ...
  • The End Is Not At Hand

    Whoever coined the phrase "save the planet" is a public-relations genius. It conveys the sense of impending catastrophe and high purpose that has wrapped environmentalism in an aura of moral urgency. It also typifies environmentalism's rhetorical excesses, which, in any other context, would be seen as wild exaggeration or simple dishonesty. ...
  • Sobering Words From Hallmark

    You've had a drug problem and you've been nasty to your wife, lied to your mother and stolen the pennies from your kid's piggy bank. Now you're straight, saddened and sorry, but you don't know how to apologize. Well, lighten up. Hallmark has a new series of "Just for Today" greeting cards that has just hit the stores, along with "related gifts," such as T shirts, mugs, key chains and self-stick notes. Though you have 51 "inspirational" messages to choose from, you'll probably go for the one that reads, "I'd like to make amends for things I've done in the past that have hurt you ... I'm a different person now. And I want to apologize for who I was and what I did. . ." ...