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In Brief

News highlights from around the world

Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2002," Dec. 7, 2002

Au revoir, Les Miserables

The beloved Broadway show Les Miserables succumbed to declining New York City tourism. The curtain will fall on March 15, but the play will enjoy new life as a school production.

"Les Miz" turned Victor Hugo's novel into a blockbuster production, with magnificent sets and a nearly three-hour running time. The story of Jean Valjean's flight from Inspector Javert amid political revolution struck a chord with millions. Many Christians saw the classic story as good pre-evangelism.

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This show's student version was launched this year and 70 high schools have scheduled it for this school year. It runs 40 minutes shorter. All songs have been retained with some lyrics trimmed.

It will close as Broadway's second-longest-running show, which started in 1987 and ends after 6,612 performances. (Cameron Mackintosh produced both Les Miserables and the record-holder, Cats.)

Could future shows of this caliber succeed, since tourists aren't as plentiful in Manhattan? Broadway could turn more toward projects that attract New Yorkers but lack appeal to the rest of the world.

As for Les Miserables, the touring company is still criss-crossing America and soundtrack albums remain available. All told, the show cost $4.5 million to produce, yet grossed more than $390 million.

Name dropping

As questions loom about Martha Stewart's finances, her name carries on as a giant American brand. But profits are down.

The scandal concerns Martha Stewart's personal finances-specifically, the controversial sale of ImClone stock-not Martha Stewart Omnimedia. But the publicly traded company that bears the decorating entrepreneur's name reported a sharp drop in quarterly earnings last month. It also announced plans for a new magazine called Everyday Food that debuts without the founder's name.

Ms. Stewart has denied any wrongdoing, but the SEC plans to recommend civil securities fraud charges. The Justice Department is considering criminal charges. Ms. Stewart resigned in October from the New York Stock Exchange's board of directors.

Ms. Stewart's status as a big-name Democratic donor also is shaky. Chellie Pingree, a Senate candidate in Maine, gave back a $2,000 Stewart contribution. She lost anyway.

Soft-core journalism

What was TV personality and former pro football star Deion Sanders-a high-profile Christian convert-doing taking part in the controversial Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on CBS television? Many critics labeled the show soft-core porn because of its scantily clad models. Mr. Sanders told Charisma News Service he was just a "journalist" doing his job: "To go in there and get the story out."

"In there" was backstage with lingerie models, a location that on the air he called a "honeycomb hideout." And "the story" included a discussion with one model about "showing your birthday suit."

"It's a little bit discouraging that one who would profess the gospel of Jesus Christ would also be involved in the solicitation of pornographic broadcasts," said Randy Sharp of the American Family Association. Jan LaRue of Concerned Women for America called the program a "high-tech strip show."

Mr. Sanders said he took his wife along on the assignment, and she didn't think the show demeaned women. He said he had discussed the assignment with his pastor-Bishop T.D. Jakes in Dallas-and he didn't voice disapproval.

Mr. Sanders is a CBS sports commentator. He hosted the Miss USA pageant in March. He became a Christian five years ago after what he says was a failed suicide attempt. Charisma News Service ended its story with a quote from Mr. Sanders in a recent New Man interview: "My problem was women, and we're still fighting today.... If I don't get my Word in me and keep it in me continuously, I shall fall back into the old lifestyle I once lived."

'Bittersweet mixture'

Senate chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie, 72, informed Senate leaders he will retire in March. The evangelical Presbyterian minister said he will return to California to help care for his wife, Mary Jane, who is under treatment for a serious lung ailment.

Rev. Ogilvie became the Senate's 61st chaplain in March 1995. He opens each day of the session with a prayer, provides spiritual counseling to senators, family members, and staff, and leads Bible study groups. He has written books and before coming to Washington hosted a TV ministry and led Hollywood Presbyterian Church in California for more than 20 years.

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said the minister had brought Senate members closer together, despite disparate political philosophies and faiths. "We have prayed together, studied the Scripture together, and together grown close to the ways of the Lord."

On the Senate's last day of business Wednesday, Rev. Ogilvie noted in his prayer that recent weeks in Congress had seen "disagreements, heated debate, and the bittersweet mixture of defeats and victories of legislative life."

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