Culture Notes


Issue: "Pensacola," Dec. 20, 1997

In Brief

"Beware Bill Gates." That was the message of media mogul Barry Diller of Home Shopping Network, as he warned peers and colaborers in the cable television industry not to let the billionaire Microsoft chairman dominate interactive television in the way he has the computer industry. Time-Warner's Ted Turner seconded the motion. "Anytime you have too much power in one place ... it's not healthy for anybody," said Mr. Turner, the cable entrepreneur who in 1995 closed the deal on the largest media merger in history, between Time-Warner and Turner Broadcasting. Remembering Ronald Reagan. At its 25th anniversary gala, the Heritage Foundation last week offered a tribute to the conservative movement and, in particular, Ronald Reagan. There was a video narrated by Charlton Heston and a keynote address from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who recalled some of her fondest memories of her association with Mr. Reagan. One incident in particular: When Mr. Reagan was governor of California, his limousine was surrounded by a mob of protesting students carrying placards reading, "We are the future." The future president scribbled a reply and held it up to the car window: "I'll sell my bonds." But don't sell your stock in Republic Pictures. NBC, according to The Washington Post, has inked a three-year extension of its exclusive right to the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life. The network, which will carry the film again this Dec. 20, plans to air it through the year 2003.

Supply and demand

The market has sent mixed signals on Diana paraphernalia for Christmas. The album Diana, Princess of Wales-Tribute-featuring pop stars such as Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, and Sting, and opera legend Luciano Pavarotti-sold poorly. The British HMV chain of 100 stores sold only 7,000 copies the day it went on sale. An HMV spokesman said albums by hot artists can sell 100,000 copies on the first day. Meanwhile, Ty Inc., maker of Beanie Babies, has introduced a limited release of a new purple bear named for Princess Di. Stores that carry the Beanie Babies brand will get only about a dozen each. Some stores will raffle them, and others plan charity auctions of the popular toys, which retail for under $10 each but will fetch much higher prices. The manager of the downtown Chicago Sue's Hallmark, fearing a riotous shopping crush whenever the bears go on sale, did not even order the Diana bears. Ty Inc. is donating profits from the bears to the Diana memorial fund.

Bikers and brewers

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Bikers have a rough and rowdy reputation, but they often turn out to be solid citizens with strong principles. Such is the case with some officials of Harley-Davidson, manufacturer of the venerated motorcycle, which is suing a California filmmaker for using Harleys in a pornographic video. Though corporations often actually pay to get their logos and products into films, Harley-Davidson believes Anabolic Video's "movie," which was shot at a motorcycle dealership (whose owner has come under company discipline), "disparages our trademarks and severely tarnishes the image, reputation, and goodwill of Harley-Davidson." The suit is for unauthorized use of the Harley logo. Beer industry officials have agreed to stop advertising on MTV, with its almost exclusively underage viewers. The Beer Institute, composed of the nation's major brewers, issued new industry guidelines that require all ads and Internet sites to be aimed exclusively at adults. The policy comes a year after the Federal Trade Commission started an investigation into why beer companies were advertising on the music channel, which had no problem accepting the ads.


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