• 'Whatever It Takes'

    Jesse Jackson was rapping away the other day, cataloging the shortcomings of the candidates, listing all the downtrodden constituencies that are not being sufficiently loved. When his litany reached "our forsaken farmers," the 1992 campaign reached the level of cabaret. ...
  • An American In Paris

    Some might call it culture schlock. "Formidable," the Moulin Rouge revue, features a horse, topless dancers, jugglers, three crocodiles and La Toya Jackson, who rides a flying carpet above the Paris nightclub audience. Jackson sings " The Locomotion!' and, in phonetically learned French (she doesn't know the lingo), the Edith Piaf classics "La Vie en Rose" and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien." No wonder: for a year's engagement, Michael's sister (who, yes, stays clothed throughout) is reportedly receiving $5 million. For all that, she could invest in a new number, " Puttin' on Berlitz."
  • The Healing Touch

    Burning. Of the species of physical pain, it is the one most often pressed into metaphorical service (lovers' hearts, souls in hell ... ) precisely because it is the most intense and enduring. We've all singed a finger on a pot or scalded ourselves with hot coffee. Those are usually first-degree burns; the pain of third-degree burns over most of one's body must be literally inconceivable. And the outcome-serious disfigurement for the rest of one's life-is also unthinkable. Photographer Lynn Johnson spent nearly four years documenting the work of the burn center at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, which admitted nearly 400 people in 1991, some for as long as nine months. She found the plight of the children particularly moving. "They must learn a whole new way to look at themselves," says the center's director, Dr. Harvey Slater. "There's no way to tell them it's OK, or that no one will notice that their ears are burned off. We do the beat we can."
  • Talking Mighty Like A Rose

    The fans phoned in about baseball, basketball, even underwater hockey, but no one asked the burning question, "So, what's the morning line?" Pete Rose dialed up a new career last week as host of a nightly sports radio call-in show in West Palm Beach, Fla. " He has charisma like Frank Sinatra," says producer Jerry Gross, apparently complimenting Rose. Baseball's all-time hit man is an obvious smash. His show is going national this spring. You can bet on it.
  • The Gloom Behind The Boom

    Fernando Wachnovetzky, a Mexican who makes teddy bears, doesn't share President Carlos Salinas de Gortari's enthusiasm for free trade with the United States and Canada. Ever since Mexico opened its protected economy to outsiders in the late 1980s, many smaller businesses like Wachnovetzky's have struggled with the new competition. Shortly after higher-quality U.S. imports started to pour in, a third of the companies in Mexico's toy industry went belly up. As for Wachnovetzky's firm, it has lost half its domestic-market share. Why? Mexican suppliers, unlike those north of the border, cant provide him with the fabric and parts he needs to make a soft teddy bear that closes its eyes--now a must among Mexican children. "Mexicans now think any import is better than what we make," he says. ...
  • The 'Who Lost Russia' Debate

    Just three little words, but what political dynamite: WHO LOST CHINA? And who knows that better than Richard Nixon? As a young member of Congress from California after World War II, Nixon launched a political career by smoking out "fellow travelers," including those who had allegedly let the Communists triumph in China. Last week the former president went on a new crusade, warning that tomorrow's zinger could well be, WHO LOST RUSSIA? In a series of carefully placed memoranda and editorials, Nixon accused George Bush of a "penny-ante" approach to aiding the former Soviet Union. "In light of the stakes, the West must do everything it can to help [Russian President Boris] Yeltsin to succeed," Nixon wrote in The Wall Street Journal. "If Mr. Yeltsin fails, the prospects for the next 50 years will turn grim." ...
  • Caught In The Act

    In the wake of the congressional check-bouncing scandal, members rushed forward to confess. But with voter outrage running high, many may be banished from their kingdom on the Hill. ...
  • Another Tempest In A C Cup

    Breast surgery is a $300 million U.S. industry--or was, until a U.S. Food Band Drug Administration advisory panel recommended last month that the use of silicone-gel implants be severely limited. Breast augmentation and reconstruction have been the most popular forms of plastic surgery in the United States, accounting for more than 130,000 operations annually. Fees range as high as $5,500. Facing the loss of a substantial and lucrative part of their practices, some surgeons are furious at the FDA-and ready to do battle for their livelihoods. Armed with the belief that the advisory panel was stacked against them and that some under-endowed women need breast implants for self-esteem, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons has launched a $3.5 million campaign to convince the public and the FDA that the devices do more good than harm. ...
  • Forcing Lee Iacocca's Hand?

    What was going on at the secret Chrysler board meeting in New York last weekend? Sources said the board's nominating committee gathered to force Lee Iacocca to name a successor. The legendary CEO is slated to step down Dec. 31, but he has been vague about his plans and who will replace him. Board members were reportedly concerned about Wall Street's reaction to the waffling. The last straw, said a source, was Iacocca's outspoken performance in Japan with President Bush in January: "[The board] was thoroughly embarrassed and began to see that Iacocca really didn't want to go." Last month Chrysler vice chairman Robert Miller became the latest possible heir to quit-in frustration over the lack of succession plans, sources say. Whom might the board tap? The favorites were Chrysler president Robert Lutz; Gerald Greenwald, a former number two, and GM's European operations president Robert J. Eaton. A Chrysler spokesman declined to comment.
  • From Biker Chic To Biker Cheek

    It's a union made in designer heaven: Hells Angels meet Charlie's Angels. At last, someone's thinking of the poor fashion victim loath to shed her biker gear when the weather heats up. Rev up your surfboards-here comes the Harley-Davidson swimwear collection. From the look of it, the designers of motorcycles and maillots share a common goal: to pack as much power into as little space as possible. How to translate the aura of leather and chains to a wisp of Lycra and tricot? It's simple, says Michael Eisenberg of T.K MAB, the official licensee for the bathing line: " We all ride. We design with the bike in mind." The result is an array of "wet leather" and bugle-beaded tanks, denim and tattoo-print bikinis, and daintily studded push-up suits, all embroidered with those potent symbols of rebellion: the eagle, the bar and shield or the motto LIVE TO RIDE, RIDE TO LIVE. For the not-so-Wild One, there are demure little " mechanic jumpers," "swim bomber" cover-ups and microscopic, lace-up...
  • The Money In Mortgages

    A few months ago, I got a cold call from a stock-broker, pitching me on a "high-rate, triple-A mortgage investment, government guaranteed." When I asked what's the catch, he said no catch. "You're only risk," he joked, "is that you'll get your money back too soon. ...
  • So Much For Family Ties

    Jackie Collins, call your agent. Have we got a script for you! The sharp-tongued wife of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur gets awarded control of her husband's company in a divorce settlement. He lives in a tony Chicago condo, married to a younger woman, while his ex-wife and CEO son run the company. But, apparently, egged on by her glamorous and ambitious daughter, Mom engineers the sudden resignation of her well-respected son. ...
  • Jerry Lewis: Points Of Spite

    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chairman Evan Kemp Jr.'s feud with comedian Jerry Lewis may cost Kemp his job. Kemp angered Lewis with an October press release alleging that Lewis's annual muscular dystrophy telethon demeans the disabled by presenting them as "objects to be pitied." In a letter to President Bush, Lewis accused Kemp of "misusing the power of his governmental office" by making statements that could hurt the telethon. " If ever there was a 'Point of Light'. . I'm it!" wrote Lewis. Administration sources say Kemp, a wheelchair user with a neuromuscular disease, will likely stay on the commission but lose the chairmanship. The White House declined to comment.
  • Russ: A Creature Of The System

    Until last week, Jack Russ was one of the invisible potentates in the byzantine world of Capitol Hill--a tough guy and a go-getter who had the knack of making friends in high places. Then the House banking scandal broke wide open and Russ was gone, leaving only a courtly letter of resignation behind. A victim of the system, some in Congress said: too bad the buck had to stop with him. But Russ, who as House sergeant at arms commanded a salary of $119,120 a year and oversaw a $1.3 million budget, was more than a bystander to the latest congressional train wreck. For as last week's report by the House ethics committee made perfectly clear, Russ was one of those who benefited personally from the casual accounting rules at the House bank. Between July 1988 and August 1989, the committee reported, Russ cashed 19 rubber cheeks with an aggregate value of $56,100. ...
  • Peri Picks

    Hollywood is finally coming to its senses. It has stopped routinely forking out $1 million-plus for every mediocre Bruce-Mel-Kevin vehicle that comes in over the transom. In 1990 "The Ticking Man," about a nuclear-bomb-armed robot terrorizing Moscow, sold for $1 million with Willis in mind for starring role. Bruce passed--and now it's the town's priciest doorstop. An update on other bonus scripts: Tom Schulman got $2.5 million for this tedious rain-forest romp. It's earned an unspectacular $34.6 million.Big-budget Willis romp has performed only so-so, considering Shane Black's script sold for $1.75 million.Columbia sank about $40 million into this bomb about child abuse, including $1.1 million to writer David Mickey Evans. Joe Eszterhas's $3 million script outraged gays and feminists. With a $49 million budget, it'll be hard to break even.
  • Playing Hardball

    George Bush and his advisers discussed the 1992 campaign, one kind of prospective opponent made them nervous. Mr. Wrong would be a young, aggressive Southerner with solid experience and a centrist message that could lure conservative Reagan Democrats back home. They concluded that only Tennessee Sen. Al Gore, a 1988 also-ran, embodied those virtues. When Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton's name surfaced, Bush's team dismissed him with a single word: " Women. " ...
  • Uninvited Dinner Guests

    After more than 30 years as a newsman and four years in my own business, I have a Pavlovian reaction to a ringing phone. I have to answer it. I cannot ignore that noisy piece of machinery. I'm used to calls at all hours. But over the past couple of years, at least 10 times a week, the person on the other end of that ringing annoyance isn't a friend or relative or business colleague. He or she wants me to buy something or give to some organization. ...
  • Domesticated Bliss

    Lee Ryan and Robin Leonard have lived together for eight years. Last July they went to city hall in San Francisco and made it legal. While a friend took photographs, Ryan hummed wedding marches in Leonard's ear. It was, says Leonard, 31, a lawyer and editor at Nolo Press, "a wonderful emotional experience." At work, colleagues hung up streamers and put a JUST DOMESTICATED Sign over the door. Leonard and Ryan, a 33-year-old law librarian, are lesbians, and the license they picked up at city hall certifies them as "domestic partners." Christine Farren, 37, and David Ferland, 33, live in Waterbury, Vt. The town doesn't recognize domestic partnerships, but Ben and Jerry's Homemade, Inc., where Farren is an administrative assistant, does. Since 1989, the ice-cream company has offered unmarried couples the same benefits, including health insurance, that married employees receive. Ferland, manager of a small hotel with no group-health plan, is now covered through Farren. Without the policy...
  • Falls Guys

    Is Niagara Falls ready for a New Age theme park? The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation, and Canadian magician Doug Henning have been secretly buying up land in Ontario, near the falls. This week the guru and the magician will announce plans for a 1,400-acre, $1.5 billion park featuring magical rides, a Vedic (higher consciousness and all that) health center, a TM university and a residential development. The name: Maharishi Veda Land Canada.