Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Paying the price," Feb. 9, 2002

HISTORY HYSTERIA: What's American history without George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? The Pilgrims? All these were deleted from the New Jersey Department of Education's Core Curriculum Content Standards, reports The Washington Times' Ellen Sorokin. The word war is out too, replaced by conflict. "Also gone are most references to the inhumane treatment many American soldiers endured in wars overseas during the 20th century," Ms. Sorokin writes. Although the Founding Fathers aren't mentioned, less central names like anti-slavery activists Theodore Dwight Weld and Angelina and Sarah Grimke do appear, at least in a draft. The standards, which represent "the essential knowledge and skills" the state believes students need to have, face a series of public hearings before becoming official. LEFT AHEAD: Today's college freshmen are more liberal than any freshmen since the early 1970s. The Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Trounson reported on a UCLA study that points to growing popularity of left-wing ideas. The poll found that 57.9 percent support gay marriage, 32.2 percent oppose capital punishment, and over a third support marijuana legalization. While about half considered themselves "middle of the road," 29.9 percent define themselves on the left. About 21 percent say they are on the right. Ms. Trounson also pointed out that "a record 15.8 percent of freshmen said they have no religious preference, up slightly from last year and more than double the figure in 1966," when the survey started. Ms. Trounson quoted Alexander W. Astin, the survey's founder, who called the results "a broad-based trend toward greater liberalism on almost every issue we look at." The education professor also said that there are more protests today than in the past, though fewer people participate. Mr. Astin's survey examined 281,064 students at 421 schools. ELLEN'S NO-SHOW: It appears CBS is quietly trying to end Ellen DeGeneres's new show. Variety reports that while the network has not formally canceled The Ellen Show, it stopped production after 18 of 22 episodes. The official explanation is that the season is being shortened due to Sept. 11 and the Olympics. The Hollywood trade paper reported that the decision adds "an air of uncertainty to a show that has searched all season for an audience." The sitcom scored a mediocre 102nd place out of 170 shows in the Nielsen ratings. HONEY MONEY: The Magic Kingdom could become a lot smaller if Disney loses the rights to Winnie the Pooh. For years, a court battle of very little notice has been underway over royalties to A.A. Milne's creation. Stephen Slesinger, Inc., which bought the merchandising rights to Pooh back in 1929, filed suit against Disney in 1991. It claims the company did not report $3 billion in merchandise sold based on the characters and owes royalties of over $35 million. New York Post reporter Nikki Finke reports that losing the suit could mean losses of up to 25 percent of Disney's annual gross revenues. She says Slesinger wants to terminate its Pooh licensing contract due to material breach, and she cites court documents saying that Pooh is the "most lucrative" Disney character, generating more revenue than even Mickey Mouse. Ms. Finke and reporter Linda Stasi also note that unsealed court documents show that Disney was destroying "massive amounts of documents ... hundreds of boxes and thousands of pages" that might relate to Pooh royalties. "The total destruction-estimated at 400 to 500 boxes, including records from the years 1982 to 1997-is 10 times bigger than even a Los Angeles judge thought when he sanctioned Disney for discarding boxes of files," they write. A restraining order was issued last year barring further destruction, including one box marked "Winnie the Pooh-legal problems."

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