Newswire

Newswire

  • Magic's Message

    It was an event that evoked the old Kennedy assassination question: where were you when you heard the news? Word that Magic Johnson had tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, whipped around the country last Thursday like a palm-stinging Magic Johnson pass. The stages of grief in America now move quickly, it seems, from denial to CNN. A few hours after the first news leak, the 32-year-old superstar appeared at a televised press conference, saying, "Because of the HIV virus I have obtained, I will have to announce my retirement from the Lakers today." He admitted having been "naive" about AIDS and added, "Here I am saying it can happen to anybody, even me, Magic Johnson." He also assured the world that his wife, Cookie Kelly, two months pregnant, had tested negative for the virus. As he spoke, Johnson--handsome, charming and easily one of the best basketball players of all time--smiled and promised to battle the disease and "become a spokesman" for it. That direct...
  • Just The Way Walt Made 'Em

    Studios used to have traditions, and pride in them. MGM had its musicals, and now it's tuneless and hobbling. Warner Bros., once famous for its gangster movies, has become an impersonal corporate giant. But at least one tradition survives in Hollywood. When it comes to animation, nobody's done it longer--or better--than Disney. Though this has been a year in which the fortunes of the Walt Disney Co. have been sputtering-and it's looking as though Disney's "Billy Bathgate" will take a bath-it's safe to say that Uncle Walt himself would have crowed with pleasure at the sight of Beauty and the Beast. It's the company's 30th full-length animated film since "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), and it has the feel of a classic.Ironically, Walt himself, in the early days, considered turning the timeless fairy tale into a film. But the studio was stumped by the static second half, which was just a series of dinners between the imprisoned Belle and the romantically imploring Beast. The...
  • Naked Lunch

    It's generally a place where folks want to keep their clothes on. But now a school for striptease has opened in the Siberian city of Omsk. Local girls of all ages, some as young as 14, have applied; but Aphrodite, the company that set up the program, is accepting only those 18 and over. Students have begun performing in an Omsk restaurant for a paltry 10 rubles (21 cents at the tourist exchange rate) a show. But the most talented artists are hoping to land more lucrative contracts abroad. For many of the girls, "Striptease has long been a dream ... and [they say] this is the only place they can realize their potential," says a story in the Soviet youth daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.
  • The Family Takes Command

    One day in 1980, Ian Maxwell, then 24, decided that patching things up with a girlfriend was more urgent than meeting his father's plane at Paris's Orly airport. It wasn't a smart move. Robert Maxwell promptly fired his son as an executive of Maxwell companies in France and Germany. The story, now a fond part of the Maxwell family legend, tells a great deal about the tough, demanding way Maxwell treated and groomed his heirs to take over the family business. So far, the education seems to be working. Within hours of his death last week his two sons, Kevin, 32, and Ian, 35, went from targets of their father's wrath to aggressive, confident bosses. They held news conferences and meetings to calm Maxwell's many bankers and investors, and Kevin flew to New York to soothe American employees and sell copies of the Maxwellowned Daily News. "We're here to stay," he told News employees. It was a plucky performance, but analysts wondered whether the two sons could hold together their father's...
  • Have The Palestinians Changed?

    Instead of hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops last week, Palestinians in the occupied territories tried love-bombing them. Young Arabs heaped olive branches on their jeeps. The new style was a surprise to Israelis and Arabs living under Israeli occupation alike. Yet, however welcome, it may also be short-lived. The problem is that for both peoples, old habits of mistrust die hard. ...
  • Merchants Of Death

    Business is business, and no one does it more single-mindedly than the Chinese. For years Chinese arms merchants have peddled weapons to some of the world's most unsavory customers. They sold Silkworm missiles to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War. They supplied Saddam Hussein with hundreds of tanks. They armed the military dictators in Burma, and their surface-to-air missiles have been deployed to defend Latin American drug dealers' hideouts. Sales of conventional weapons dropped sharply after the Iran-Iraq War. But now the Chinese appear to be moving up-market. They have agreed to sell Iran equipment that could help to make nuclear weapons. And they are selling ballistic missiles to Syria. ...
  • The Killing Fields

    The elephants are running. Months of blazing heat have dried up the seasonal ponds scattered throughout Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. Desperate for water, the beasts rush headlong toward the Chobe River, which straddles the border with Namibia. After slaking their thirst, they begin foraging for food, but there's little to choose from. Thousands of elephants have picked clean some of the forests that once lined the river, cutting a two-mile-wide swath along its banks. The desolate land is strewn with dead acacia trees, their bark peeled off, their branches broken, their trunks uprooted. ...
  • As Derivative As They Wanna Be

    The latest Hollywood truism: art imitates TV. First came film versions of "Batman," "Star Trek" and "Twilight Zone." This Christmas will offer "The Addams Family" and work has begun on "Batman Returns." Meantime, a "Car 54, Where Are You?" feature is in the can at Orion. But that's not all. Look out for Steven Spielberg's "The Flintstones," starring John Goodman as Fred. A sampling of other scripts in development: "Gilligan's Island" at Columbia; "The Saint" at Paramount; and "Dennis the Menace" at Warners. Why all the rehash? "There has never been an overwhelming river of good ideas pouring into town," acknowledges "Addams Family" producer Scott Rudin."
  • Outfoxing The Court?

    Now that abortion-rights advocates consider the overturning of Roe v. Wade almost a certainty, they are pondering how best to use the timing of the decision to their political advantage. Pro-choice groups last week asked the Supreme Court to review a Pennsylvania case that could result in an outright ban on abortion. Some activists hope the justices will agree to hear the case by next spring and rule by the end of the term in July. An antiabortion decision during the heat of the '92 race would focus voter attention on the issue, they reason. But other prochoice leaders say they'd prefer that the court hear the case closer to election day. "That way it will be front and center" just as voters go to the polls, says Kate Michelman, director of the National Abortion Rights Action League. ...
  • Let Them Eat Credit

    Is bankruptcy too easy? Lenders argue that the soaring numbers--nonbusiness filings up 188 percent since 1984, to 811,000 this year--are more than a symptom of hard times. They're also proof of moral decay. Debtors, they say, are shucking their bills as readily as a snake sheds its skin, and with as little thought. ...
  • Mickey Blushed

    What would Walt have thought of this? One new realm of the ever-expanding Disney empire is its recently launched Hollywood Records label, which is pushing a leather-clad heavy-metal band called The Scream. The label is clearly aimed at a more adult audience than other Disney enterprises. But The Scream screams lyrics that Mickey would never whisper to Minnie. (Let's just say the words "Push" and "honey" are used in creative ways.) Disney calls the music "very normal rock and roll."
  • We're Adjusting To The Real World'

    As peace negotiators assembled in Madrid last week there were two contrasting scenes here in the Holy Land. In the West Bank, a bus carrying Jewish settlers was fired on. In Gaza and in Ramallah, Palestinians handed olive branches to Israeli troops to celebrate Madrid. ...
  • Speaking Softly, Carrying No Stick

    A thousand people turned out last week to hear the guru of the men's movement, Robert Bly, share a stage with author Deborah Tannen ("You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation") and they spent the whole time wondering if he would hit her over the head with his mandolin. ...
  • What Japan Will Buy Next

    The "America for sale" show was on again last week in Tokyo. Electronics giant Toshiba teamed up with C. Itoh, a trading company, and dumped $1 billion of their hard-earned yen into Hollywood in the form of a partnership with Time Warner Inc., the debt-laden owner of Warner Brothers. Meanwhile, another sliver of the U.S. semiconductor industry slipped silently into Japanese ownership. Toray Industries, a giant textile company, and Shimadzu Corp., which produces a variety of scientific instruments, paid nearly $70 million for a tiny Silicon Valley firm called Therma-Wave, a maker of sophisticated equipment that detects tiny flaws in computer chips.The deals have a familiar ring to them. After all, in the 1980s, Japanese companies spent nearly $100 billion snapping up assets in the United States--everything from "trophy" acquisitions like Columbia Pictures to California's famed Pebble Beach golf course. But while last week's story line may have seemed the same, the plot of Japan Buys...
  • Everyone Vs. Congress

    The first time I saw Congress I was 12 years old and on a classic family tour of Washington. We sat in the gallery and looked down on a chamber peopled by only a handful of senators, none of whom seemed to be listening to the orator and one of whom was reading a newspaper, the funnies, so far as we could see. This spectacle became a staple of our conversation when we got home: You should have seen the Senate ... all these guys not even paying attention while somebody gave a speech and ... reading the funny papers! What a disgusting sight! All this occurred almost half a century ago, but I can still remember how the people at home resonated to our account of a mindless, lazy, disorderly Congress-sort of like now. ...
  • Line Of Duty

    Police like to talk about the thin blue line, but that line always seems to be moving. In San Jose, Calif, a cop working on a prostitution sting apparently got too caught up in his work when he stripped off his clothes and let a nude woman straddle his legs and rub his back and buttocks with Old Spice for 30 minutes. Then he arrested her. The local district attorney has dismissed the case--as well as a handful of other similar "arrests." California police are allowed to undress because hookers are sophisticated enough to know that a john who won't take his clothes off is probably a cop.
  • Can Sweden Clean Up On American Graffiti?

    Graffiti artists beware. You've got an enemy out there that is cleaning up in Europe and is about to land in America. A Swedish company recently launched a marketing campaign to coat America's walls with a high-tech wax coating that claims to protect against graffiti better and longer than other products. Tensid USA, the Houston-based distributor of Graffi-Coat 3, says the nearly invisible coating can be sprayed on practically any surface. High-pressure hot water washes away any painted graffiti. "Freedom of expression goes just so far," says Tensid president John Hagerman. "We've found that once you take away their canvas they go haunt someone else." ...
  • Visions Of Venus

    The tip-off came after the 950th of what is now 2,900-plus orbits, as the 7,568-pound Magellan spacecraft dutifully sent its crackling, hissing radio signals flying at the speed of light toward the cratered, channeled, eroded, splotchy, lined, windblown, mountainous surface of Venus. Most of the little bundles of energy bounced right back. Their round-trip time told the on-board computer the height of the reflecting surface they had hit, and t intensity of the signal hinted at what the reflecting surface was made of. But then a bunch of radio waves failed to show up. Something on the Venusian surface was acting like an extraterrestrial Stealth bomb completely absorbing Magellan's radar. ...
  • Trading Arms For Drug-Free Fields?

    In a remote northern corner of Myanmar near the China border, a new world order is emerging. There, Kachin rebels have battled the Burmese government for three decades. Recently, Chinese officials-alarmed by the influx of opium and heroin from Myanmar-encouraged the Kachin rebels to launch an anti-drug campaign. In response, the guerrillas declared the region opium-free and planted potatoes in many fields where opium poppies once grew. Now the rebels, who are short of weapons for their long-running campaign against the government, are looking for something in return. Local Chinese officials are so pleased with the Kachin opium ban, says one recent visitor, that "they may turn a blind eye to rifles falling off trucks" over the border. The guerrillas are delighted, but the arrangement can hardly please China's friends in the Burmese regime.
  • You May Be Right, She May Be Crazy

    She probably figured a sequined miniskirt would chafe in the saddle, so Uptown Girl Christie Brinkley saddled up in Western duds last week for a cutting-horse demo at the National Horse Show in New Jersey. Lest animal activists get riled, the vegetarian model explains this cutting doesn't hurt horses a bit. The sport requires a rider to get and keep a cow away from a herd--without using hands. "It's thrilling, " says Brinkley, who started after hubby Billy Joel gave her a horse. "Once you get the cow away, it's like hockey. The cow is the puck and you are the goalie." The New York area, Brinkley's home, isn't big on cutting--no room for cows. But maybe she'll set up a taxi-and-pedestrian version for the off-season.