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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Ten for '05
We preview the ten hottest, most anticipated movies of 2005

By Greg Ellwood

Are you ready to have some old fashioned fun at the movies next year?
2004 featured media storms surrounding films like "The Passion of the Christ," "Team America: World Police" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," while the genre of choice seemed to be... the biopic ("Ray," "Kinsey" and "The Aviator" to name a few).

Next year's line-up, however, looks refreshingly entertaining and devoid of unnecessary controversy. 2005 promises the return of Darth Vader, King Kong, Martians, Batman and Willy Wonka. What more could you ask for? So, here are the top ten movies you should be looking forward to in the new year:

Are you ready? The final "Star Wars" movie is less than six months away... and there are so many questions that need to be answered. How does Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) finally descend into the dark side and become Darth Vader? What happens to Padme (Natalie Portman), the mother of Luke and Leia? Will Yoda kick more butt? How will Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) get it in the end? And how do the Wookies (who look cooler than ever) fit into all this? It may not have a happy ending, but it's a cultural phenomenon that will have people lining up around the block. Oh, and George Lucas has a chance to make up for the two lousy chapters that preceded this one. (May 19)

'King Kong'

One of the most iconic movie images of the 20th Century was the monster ape King Kong holding the beautiful Fay Wray in one hand and swatting away biplanes with the other as he stood atop the Empire State Building. Fresh off the landmark success of his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson is getting the chance to remake the classic tale he's loved for years. Ignoring the "modern" 1976 version (featuring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange), Jackson's movie will take place as the original did -- in the 1930's. This time, Naomi Watts stars as the object of the ape's affection with Jack Black, Adrien Brody and Andy Serkis (providing the movements for Kong) rounding out the cast. With Jackson's special effects team at Weta Digital in tow, get ready for a dramatic return to Skull Island. (December 14)

More on "King Kong"

'Batman Begins'

After the disastrous "Batman & Robin," Warner Bros. waited seven years before it decided to bring the bat back. The good news is director Christopher Nolan ("Memento") promises to put the "dark" back in the Dark Knight with a story that focuses on the early years of Batman's career. This picture is based on the "Batman: Year One" graphic novels originally written by Frank Miller (see "Sin City"). Dolan has rounded up a stellar cast with Christian Bale as Batman, Michael Caine as his butler Alfred, Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon, Ken Watanabe as the villain Ra's Al Ghul and Katie Holmes as love interest Rachel Dawes. And since it seems Batman can't face just one villain in a movie, he'll also encounter the nightmare-inducing power of the Scarecrow, played by Cillian Murphy. (June 17)

More on "Batman Begins"

'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe'

The first of C.S. Lewis' timeless tales of good and evil within the magical land of Narnia finally makes it to the big screen. Although produced three times for British television, the story was a non-starter for movies. For many years, Hollywood wasn't interested in fantasy projects that required big budgets believing there wasn't an audience for them. It appears that the success of another book series (take a wild guess) proved that theory wrong. With the director of both "Shrek" movies at the helm, expect an adventure the whole family can enjoy. (December 25)

More on "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe"

'Sin City'

Director Robert Rodriguez ("Spy Kids") teams up with acclaimed comic book creator Frank Miller to bring the latter's gritty graphic novel about the underbelly of society to life. Filmed completely on green screen, Rodriguez promises the film will be as faithful to Miller's original film-noir influenced designs as possible. The big name cast includes Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hartnett, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson. (April 1)

More on "Sin City"

'War of the Worlds'

H.G. Wells' landmark story of Martians attacking Earth comes back to theaters... in a big way. The film has been adapted numerous times but Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise's participation provide hope for a blockbuster movie that aims for more than flying saucers and big explosions. When Orson Welles produced a radio play of the book he fooled many listeners into believing the attack was real. Could Spielberg pull off the same feat? He'll have the money to do it, as this is being touted as the most expensive Hollywood film ever made. (July 1)

More on "War of the Worlds"

'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

Can you say "Oompa Loompa"? Another of Hollywood's perfect pairings reunites as Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (who made "Edward Scissorhands" and "Ed Wood" together) slide into the candy filled world of Willy Wonka. Said to be more faithful to the original book than 1971's "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," Burton's version looks like a very trippy ride. (July 15)

More on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'

In what looks like a smart and stylish combo of "The War of the Roses" and "True Lies," Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play a married couple who are secretly assassins without either knowing of the other's true profession. That is until Mrs. Smith is instructed to take out Mr. Smith. With two sexy stars and a killer director ("The Bourne Identity"'s Doug Liman) get ready for some fireworks in and out of the bedroom. (July 10)

More on Mr. and Mrs. Smith

'The Producers'

Mel Brooks' original screen version of "The Producers" put him on the map back in 1968. Over thirty years later it took New York by storm as a Tony Award winning musical. And now it's being turned back into a movie? Why not? The original Broadway team is on board (Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and director Susan Stroman) and the new version promises all the laughs of the original with great musical numbers to boot. Nicole Kidman may have dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, but this is still one to watch. (December 21)

More on "The Producers"

'Memoirs of a Geisha'

Arthur Golden's acclaimed bestseller (and one of Oprah's first book selections) about a little girl who becomes Japan's most accomplished geisha finally makes it to the screen. Rob Marshall, Oscar winner for "Chicago," directs arguably the greatest Asian cast ever assembled for a Hollywood production. Ziyi Zhang ("Hero") portrays the geisha in question with Gong Li ("Farewell My Concubine"), Michelle Yeoh ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), Ken Watanabe ("The Last Samurai") and Koji Yakusho (the original "Shall We Dance?") rounding out the ensemble. (December 16)
More on "Memoirs of a Geisha"

Other notable releases:

From TV To The Big Screen:
Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell discover magic in "Bewitched"; Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson cross paths with Boss Hogg in "The Dukes of Hazzard"; and Charlize Theron brings the futuristic heroine "Aeon Flux" to life.

Remakes and Sequels: The teenage wizard returns in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"; Steve Martin and Beyonce star in a new reincarnation of "The Pink Panther"; Bernie Mac discovers Ashton Kutcher is coming to dinner in "Guess Who"; John Travolta and Uma Thurman tackle the music biz in "Be Cool"; Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds play football in "The Longest Yard"; Lindsay Lohan discover the world of NASCAR in "Herbie: Fully Loaded"; more are watching that tape and dying in "Ring 2"; and Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet star in "All The King's Men."

Animated Adventures: Nick Park, co-creator of the stop-motion animated "Chicken Run," returns with the big screen debut for his signature characters Wallace and Gromit in "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit," while Tim Burton also mines stop-motion techniques in time for Halloween with "The Corpse Bride"; the people behind "Ice Age" bring you "Robots"; and DreamWorks hopes to strike some "Shrek"-like magic with vocal help by Ben Stiller and Chris Rock in "Madagascar."

Drama: Ang Lee directs cowboy love between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain"; Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst fall for each other in Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown"; Ron Howard and Russell Crowe tackle the world of boxing in "Cinderella Man"; Joaquin Phoenix stars as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon is June Carter in "Walk The Line"; and Richard Linklater directs Keanu Reeves in the future world of Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly."

Big Laughs: Jennifer Lopez finds out her "Monster-In-Law" is Jane Fonda; Vin Diesel faces his greatest challenge as a babysitter in "The Pacifier"; Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are looking for love as "Wedding Crashers"; and Tommy Lee Jones discovers sorority life in "Man of the House."

Action Packed: Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch and The Thing battle Dr. Doom in "The Fantastic Four"; Ridley Scott directs Orlando Bloom in "The Kingdom of Heaven"; Matt Damon and Heath Ledger encounter magic in Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers Grimm"; Karl Urban and The Rock pump the popular video game "Doom" into a sci-fi battlefield; and Michael Bay harvests "The Island" with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Top Ten of 2004

2004 had more controversial films in one calendar year than recent memory combined. From the public debate surrounding "The Passion of the Christ" to the grumblings regarding the historical accuracy of a slew of year end bio pics (and not one of them is safe from criticism), the arguments made for and against many films took away from the actual entertainment experience they provided. When people look back at 2004, let's hope these controversies don't overshadow just what a great year for movies it was. That said, here are my personal favorites of the year.

1. "Maria Full of Grace" -- A stunning achievement. Director Joshua Marston's debut about a young Colombian girl who becomes a "drug mule" in hopes of a better life was a riveting journey drenched with a realism usually achieved only by filmmakers twice his age.

2. "Hero" -- Released overseas two years ago, Zhang Yimou's masterpiece of action and tragedy overwhelms you like a kick to the head. We are lucky Miramax decided to release it in theaters here at all.

3. "The Sea Inside" -- The biggest tearjerker of the year also showcases another unforgettable performance by Javier Bardem.

4. "The Incredibles" -- One of the few movies that lived up to its hype, Pixar's latest animated creation may be its best.

5. "Kinsey" -- Laura Linney's stellar performance as Dr. Alfred Kinsey's wife, Clara, is the heart and soul of an important historical drama that is refreshingly humorous and touching.

6. "Sideways" -- You were expecting this at number one? Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor's script was the foundation for a great movie for sure, but unlike many I'm not going to react like it's the second coming. Just felt like number six to me.

7. "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" -- Giant robots, Shangri-la, flying fortresses, underwater battles, ray guns, mad scientists, the fate of the world and witty banter to boot? Oh my!

8. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" -- Inventive, moving, and uncompromising. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry teamed up to create the most original love story of the year.

9. "Hotel Rwanda" -- A movie that is great not just because of the horrifying story it explores, but because it makes that truth so unforgettable.

10. "Farenheit 9/11" -- No matter what your political beliefs, Michael Moore's latest documentary fueled more passion than any other film this year.

Worth Seeing: "Bad Education," "The Aviator," "The Bourne Supremacy," "The Manchurian Candidate," "A Very Long Engagement," "Friday Night Lights," "Kill Bill, Vol. II," "Vera Drake," "Baadasssss!," "Collateral" and "Being Julia."

Great Fun: "Mean Girls," "Spider-man 2," "13 Going On 30," "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," "Shrek 2," "In Good Company," "Dawn of the Dead," "Hellboy" "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Ocean's Twelve."

Unbelievably Bad: "Van Helsing," "Alexander," "Twisted," "I Heart Huckabees," "Beyond The Sea," "Undertow," "Torque," "The Day After Tomorrow," "Touch of Pink," "Little Black Book," "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid" and "Spanglish."

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A New Forum (Blogging) Inspires the Old (Books)

Like many aspiring authors, Marrit Ingman had a tough time convincing publishers that her big book idea - a wry, downbeat memoir of postpartum depression - could sell.

"I had to convince the publisher that an audience for the topic really did exist," said Ms. Ingman, a Texas-based freelance journalist. "The big publishers kept telling us that mothers only wanted prescriptive or 'positive' books about being a parent."

But Ms. Ingman had her own persuader: her Web log. She'd been writing it for two years and had attracted a following of mothers.

"I turned to readers of my blog," she said. "I asked them to comment on whether a book like mine would be relevant to them. Readers wrote back expressing why they wanted to read about the experience of maternal anger. I stuck their comments into my proposal as pulled quotes."

Her readers were convincing. She and her agent, Jim Hornfischer, sold her memoir, "Inconsolable," to Seal Press in August, she said. "The blog showed publishers she was committed to the subject matter and already had an audience," Mr. Hornfischer said.

Bloggers have their own Web sites, on which they write frequently updated posts, almost like online diaries. The postings are about current events, culture, technology or their own lives. Many of their postings contain links to relevant sites.

During the last year many Web logs, or blogs, have focused on the war in Iraq and the presidential campaign, and as these blogs gained a wider audience some publishers started paying attention to them. Sometimes publishers are interested in publishing elements of the blogs in book form; mostly they simply enjoy the blogger's writing and want to publish a novel or nonfiction book by the blogger, usually on a topic unrelated to the blog.

One of the first to make the transition was Baghdad blogger known as Salam Pax, who wrote an online war diary from Iraq. Last year Grove Press published a collection of his work, "Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi."

In June a former Senate aide, Jessica Cutler, whose blog documenting her sexual exploits with politicos dominated Capitol gossip in the spring, sold a Washington-focused novel to Hyperion for an advance well into six figures, said Kelly Notaras of Hyperion.

Meanwhile, a British call girl with the pseudonym Belle de Jour, who had created a sensation with a blog about her experiences, has signed a six-figure deal with Warner Books to publish a memoir, said Amy Einhorn, executive editor at Warner Books who bought the book.

Ms. Einhorn said that after she heard about the blog, "I downloaded the whole site, read it that night and then bought the book."

In October Ana Marie Cox, editor of, a racy, often wry Washington-based blog, sold her first novel, "Dog Days," a comic tale with a political context, to Riverhead Books. She said she received a $275,000 advance.

Lesser-known bloggers are also peddling books. Julie Powell, a Queens secretary who blogged about trying to make every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume 1)" during the course of a year, signed with Little, Brown to write about the experience..

Gordon Atkinson, a minister and blogger known as Real Live Preacher, published a collection of his work this fall with Eerdmans Publishing Company, a leader in religious books.

An editor "found my blog only three weeks after I started it and asked if I was interested in doing a book," he said, adding, "I was so surprised I thought he was my friend Larry playing a joke on me."

All this has begun to stimulate even more interest among editors and agents. For instance, Kate Lee, an assistant at International Creative Management talent agency in New York, has become a kind of one-woman blog boutique, surfing for the best writers online and suggesting they work with her to develop and sell a book.

"Initially, I was just e-mailing," she said, "and I'd get an e-mail from people saying 'so-and-so said I should contact you,' and I became friendly with this circle of blogger pundits."

Ms. Lee now represents Elizabeth Spiers, who founded, the media- and entertainment-oriented blog, and is now writing a satirical novel about Wall Street. Ms. Lee also represents, among others, Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and political blogger known as Instapundit.

Several factors make bloggers' books attractive to agents and editors. "Word-of-mouth buzz is much more valuable than paid advertising," Ms. Lee said. "I think if there's a reason people come to your site, there's a built-in audience."

Publishers were always happy to have authors who already have a platform, said Mr. Hornfischer, who also has started contacting other bloggers he enjoys. That built-in blog audience is growing; because the Web has no boundaries, it is international. The Perseus Development Corporation, a research-and-development firm that studies online trends, estimates there will be roughly 10 million hosted Web logs by the end of the year. Nearly 90 percent of blogs, Perseus says, are created by people under 30.

"The moment we did the deal" for Belle de Jour's book, said Patrick Walsh, a literary agent who sold Belle's book in Britain, "I got calls from a Portuguese publisher - they were big fans of her blog in Portugal," and wanted the rights.

Charlotte Abbott, the books news editor at Publishers Weekly, cited the hipness factor. "It's still got a sexy quotient from media feature coverage, in part because it's a new medium, and writers are still testing its limits," she said.

Not everyone, though, is convinced that bloggers' skills translate to longer-form books. "The style of blog writing is more oriented towards short form one page, set in the moment," said Scott Rettberg, an assistant professor of new media studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona. "The sense of immediacy is quite important in blogs."

Even bloggers who have sold books agree that there is one topic they would not focus on in the longer-form novel: blogging. "I don't know how interesting a book just about the blogosphere would be," Ms. Cox said. "It'd just be people sitting in front of their computers."

Ms. Spiers summed up the general feeling: "There are no bloggers in my novel. None."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Notables Who Died in 2004 in the Arts
Associated Press

Marlon Brando screamed "Stella!" and set about bringing a new realism and machismo to the stage and screen. Ray Charles shouted "What'd I Say" and began melding categories of music in ways no musician ever thought of.

Brando and Charles were twin revolutionaries in the arts, transforming their private conflicts into work that captured the hearts and minds of millions and — perhaps even more important — schooled innumerable artists who followed.

They are two of the brilliant figures in the arts and popular culture who died in 2004.

Jack Paar's wit and intelligence made him the talk show host every entertainer who ever sat behind a desk hoped to emulate.

Bob Keeshan, as Captain Kangaroo, taught his millions of little TV viewers about the magic of life.

Christopher Reeve was a respected actor even beyond his "Superman" roles — but then a heartbreaking accident that left him paralyzed pushed him onto an even larger stage, as a passionate advocate for spinal cord research.

Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier-Bresson expressed their artistry through the camera lens; Nobel-winner Czeslaw Milosz through poetry.

Popular culture figures who died in 2004 include Fay Wray, the beauty clutched in King Kong's hand; Julia Child, who taught public television viewers that there was a culinary world beyond Betty Crocker; Rodney Dangerfield, who summarized the plight of every put-upon comic who ever lived with his "I don't get no respect"; and Arthur Hailey, whose novel "Airport" led to the string of all-star disaster movies in the 1970s.

The musical world lost opera singer Robert Merrill, jazzman Illinois Jacquet and rapper O.D.B.

Real-life violence invaded the arts world with the slayings of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh and rocker "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott.

Here, a roll call of artists, performers and pop culture figures who died in 2004.

(Cause of death of younger notables when available.)


Elma Lewis, 82. Her work as a fine arts teacher in Boston's black community won her a "genius grant" and a presidential arts medal. Jan. 1.

Etta Moten, 102. Pioneering black actress-singer; featured in show-stopping "Carioca" number in Astaire-Rogers film "Flying Down to Rio." Jan. 2.

Lynn Cartwright, 76. Veteran actress; portrayed the older Geena Davis character in "A League of Their Own." Jan. 2.

Beatrice Winde, 79. Tony Award-nominated actress (Melvin Van Peebles' "Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death," 1971.) Jan. 3.

Brian Gibson, 59. Director of acclaimed films including "What's Love Got To Do with It?" Jan. 4. Cancer.

John Toland, 91. Won 1971 Pulitzer for nonfiction for "The Rising Sun," on the Japanese empire during World War II. Jan. 4.

Jake Hess, 76. Grammy-winning singer in gospel quartets; influenced Elvis Presley. Jan. 4.

Joan Aiken, 79. Children's book author ("The Wolves of Willoughby Chase"). Jan. 4.

Kiharu Nakamura, 90. Wrote about her experiences as a geisha; consultant on movies, plays. Jan. 5.

Thomas G. Stockham Jr., 70. Engineer, won technical Oscar for research in digital-sound recording. Jan. 6.

Francesco Scavullo, 82. Fashion photographer who made beautiful women even more so; shot many Cosmopolitan covers. Jan. 6.

Ingrid Thulin, 77. Swedish actress acclaimed for work with Ingmar Bergman ("Wild Strawberries"). Jan. 7.

John A. Gambling, 73. New York broadcaster whose "Rambling with Gambling" show, passed from his father to him to his son, extended for decades. Jan. 8.

Philip Geyelin, 80. Pulitzer-winning journalist, credited with turning Washington Post editorial page against Vietnam War. Jan. 9.

Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell, 101. Founded WETA, Washington's first PBS station. Jan. 9.

Georgette Klinger, 88. Beauty expert who treated skin as a living organ. Jan. 9.

Alexandra Ripley, 70. Novelist selected by Margaret Mitchell's estate to write "Scarlett," 1991 "Gone With the Wind" sequel. Jan. 10.

Spalding Gray, 62. Actor-writer who laid bare his life in acclaimed monologues like "Swimming to Cambodia." Jan. 10. Apparent suicide.

Max Duane Barnes, 67. Country songwriter, wrote for greats like George Jones. Jan. 11.

Randy VanWarmer, 48. Had 1979 hit "Just When I Needed You Most," then a successful Nashville songwriter. Jan. 12. Leukemia.

Uta Hagen, 84. Actress who dazzled Broadway for more than 50 years; was brutal Martha in Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Jan. 14.

Ron O'Neal, 66. His role as cocaine dealer Youngblood Priest in "Superfly" epitomized "blaxploitation" films. Jan. 14.

Olivia Goldsmith, 54. Her novel "The First Wives Club" became a revenge fantasy for abandoned wives. Jan. 15. Complications of plastic surgery.

Noble Willingham, 72. Played saloon owner in "Walker, Texas Ranger"; ran unsuccessfully for Congress. Jan. 17.

Ray Stark, 88. Hollywood power broker; produced "Funny Girl," "The Way We Were." Jan. 17.

Jerry Nachman, 57. Colorful, award-winning journalist; editor of the New York Post, later vice president and host on MSNBC. Jan. 20. Cancer.

George Woodbridge, 73. Illustrator for Mad magazine for nearly 50 years. Jan. 20.

Bernard Punsly, 80. Last surviving member of movies' "Dead End Kids." Jan. 20.

Billy May, 87. Grammy-winning composer, trumpeter; arranged such standards as "Take the `A' Train." Jan. 22.

Ann Miller, 81. She fast-tapped her way to immortality in musicals like "Easter Parade" and "Kiss Me Kate"; dazzled Broadway in "Sugar Babies." Jan. 22.

Milt Bernhart, 77. Big band trombonist known for solo on Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin." Jan. 22.

Bob Keeshan, 76. He gently entertained generations of youngsters as TV's mustachioed Captain Kangaroo and became an outspoken opponent of violence in children's television. Jan. 23.

Helmut Newton, 83. Acclaimed fashion photographer, explored gender roles and an icy sexuality. Jan. 23.

Eddie Clontz, 56. King of the supermarket tabloids as editor of Weekly World News. Jan. 26. Diabetes.

Jack Paar, 85. Made the "The Tonight Show" the talk show everybody talked about, setting the stage for Johnny Carson and others to follow. Jan. 27.

H.B. "Hard-Boiled" Haggerty, 78. Professional wrestler turned snarling actor and stuntman. Jan. 27.

M.M. Kaye, 95. British author of sumptuous best seller "The Far Pavilions." Jan. 29.

Janet Frame, 79. Overcame mental illness to become one of New Zealand's top authors. Jan. 29.

Mary-Ellis Bunim, 57. Reality TV pioneer with MTV's "The Real World." Jan. 29. Breast cancer.

Malachi Favors, 76. Jazz bassist; played with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Ensemble of Chicago. Jan. 30.

Frank Mantooth, 56. Grammy-nominated jazz musician. Jan. 30.

Robert Harth, 47. Led Carnegie Hall into an adventurous new era. Jan. 30. Heart attack.


Frances Partridge, 103. British diarist, part of the literary Bloomsbury Group. Feb. 5.

Robert Colesberry Jr., 57. Co-created the HBO drama "The Wire" and played a detective in it. Feb. 9. Complications from heart surgery.

Jan Miner, 86. New York stage actress best known as Madge the manicurist in Palmolive television ads. Feb. 15.

Frank del Olmo, 55. Pulitzer-winning Los Angeles Times reporter and editor, voice for Hispanics. Feb. 19. Apparent heart attack.

Don Cornell, 84. Big band singer; hits included "It Isn't Fair." Feb. 23.

John Randolph, 88. Tony-winning character actor ("Broadway Bound"); Roseanne's father in "Roseanne." Feb. 24.

Daniel J. Boorstin, 89. Former Librarian of Congress; million-selling historian, social critic. Feb. 28.

Jerome Lawrence, 88. Writer for stage, radio and screen, including "Inherit the Wind," "Mame." Feb. 29.


Mercedes McCambridge, 87. Oscar-winning actress; provided demon-possessed girl's voice in "The Exorcist." March 2.

Frances Dee, 94. Actress; co-starred in the 1930s and '40s with Katharine Hepburn, Gary Cooper and her husband, Joel McCrea. March 6.

Paul Winfield, 62. Oscar-nominated stage, screen actor ("Sounder"). March 7.

Robert Pastorelli, 49. Played screwball house painter Eldin on "Murphy Brown." March 8. Accidental heroin overdose.

Dave Blood, 47. Bassist with 1980s punk band the Dead Milkmen ("Punk Rock Girl.") March 10. Suicide.

Genevieve, 83. French-born chanteuse whose mangled English was a running gag on Jack Paar's "The Tonight Show." March 14.

Nathan Heard, 67. Author whose novels ("A Cold Fire Burning") drew from his experiences in prison and on the streets of Newark, N.J. March 16.

John "J.J." Jackson, 62. Helped usher in music video era as early MTV personality. March 17.

Jan Sterling, 82. Cool, conniving movie blonde of 1940s and '50s ("The High and the Mighty"). March 26.

Jan Berry, 62. Half of surf music duo Jan & Dean ("Dead Man's Curve," "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena"). March 26.

Adan Sanchez, 19. Rising Mexican singer, son of balladeer Marcelino "Chalino" Sanchez. March 27. Car accident.

Sir Peter Ustinov, 82. Won two Oscars for an acting career that ranged from the evil emperor Nero in "Quo Vadis" to Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot. March 28.

Art James, 74. Announcer or host for a dozen TV game shows. March 28.

Alistair Cooke, 95. Urbane host of television's "Masterpiece Theatre"; interpreter of U.S. culture for decades on BBC's "Letter from America." March 30.


Carrie Snodgress, 57. Oscar-nominated actress ("Diary of a Mad Housewife"). April 1. Heart failure while awaiting liver transplant.

Pierre Koenig, 78. Innovative Los Angeles architect. April 4.

Harry Babbitt, 90. Vocalist with the Kay Kyser big band ("The White Cliffs of Dover"). April 9.

Norris McWhirter, 78. Co-founder of Guinness Book of Records. April 19.

Mary Selway, 68. Casting director ("Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Gosford Park"). April 21.

Jose Giovanni, 80. French filmmaker; hit crime movies featured stars such as Jean-Paul Belmondo. April 24.

Estee Lauder, 97. Built multimillion-dollar cosmetics empire. April 24.

Hubert Selby Jr., 75. Wrote acclaimed 1964 novel "Last Exit to Brooklyn." April 26.


Gilbert Lani Kauhi, 66. Jack Lord's burly sidekick on "Hawaii Five-0." May 3.

Tage P. Frid, 88. Dubbed "dean of American woodworking." May 4.

Rudy Maugeri, 73. Founder of 1950s group The Crew-Cuts; had a string of hits covering R&B songs. May 7.

Alan King, 76. Witty comedian, known for tirades against everyday suburban life. May 9.

Brenda Fassie, 39. South Africa's first black pop star; gave voice to disenfranchised during apartheid. May 9. Asthma.

Olive Osmond, 79. Mother of the performing Osmonds. May 9.

Phil Gersh, 92. Agent; represented Humphrey Bogart, other top stars. May 10.

John Whitehead, 55. R&B artist best known for 1979 hit "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." May 11. Shot to death.

Syd Hoff, 91. New Yorker cartoonist; author of "Sammy the Seal," "Danny and the Dinosaur." May 12.

Floyd Kalber, 79. Popular Chicago anchorman; had stint on "Today." May 13.

Anna Lee, 91. Film, television actress ("How Green Was My Valley," "General Hospital.") May 14.

June Taylor, 86. Emmy-winning television choreographer, founder of June Taylor Dancers. May 17.

Tony Randall, 84. Comic actor; the fastidious Felix Unger in "The Odd Couple" and fussbudget pal in several Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies. May 17.

Elvin Ray Jones, 76. Renowned jazz drummer; in John Coltrane's quartet. May 18.

Lincoln Kilpatrick, 72. Appeared in stage version of "A Raisin in the Sun." May 18.

Roger W. Straus Jr., 87. Co-founded one of the great publishing houses, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. May 25.

Irene Manning, 81. Classically trained movie musical star ("Yankee Doodle Dandy," "The Desert Song"). May 28.


William Manchester, 82. Historian who brought novelist's flair to biographies of such giants as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy. June 1.

Nicolai Ghiaurov, 74. Bulgarian-born opera singer; one of great basses of his time. June 2.

Frances Shand Kydd, 67. Princess Diana's mother. June 3.

Nino Manfredi, 83. Italian film star, appeared in some of the finest Italian comedies of 1960s and 1970s. June 4.

Ronald Reagan, 93. Before entering politics, a popular Hollywood actor ("Knute Rockne: All-American," "King's Row.") June 5.

Barbara Whiting, 73. Actress in the 1940s and 1950s ("Junior Miss," TV's "Those Whiting Girls.") June 9.

Ray Charles, 73. Transcendent talent who erased musical boundaries with hits such as "What'd I Say," "Georgia on My Mind" and "I Can't Stop Loving You." June 10.

Egon von Furstenberg, 57. Known as "prince of high fashion." June 11.

Mattie Stepanek, 13. Child poet whose inspirational verse made him a best-selling writer ("Heartsongs") and a voice for muscular dystrophy sufferers. June 22.


Marlon Brando, 80. Revolutionized American acting with "A Streetcar Named Desire"; created the iconic character of Vito Corleone in "The Godfather." July 1.

Robert Burchfield, 81. Chief editor of Oxford English Dictionaries. July 5.

Syreeta Wright, 58. Motown recording artist and songwriter, teamed with ex-husband Stevie Wonder ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered"). July 6.

Jeff Smith, 65. Public television's "Frugal Gourmet." July 7.

Isabel Sanford, 86. "Weezie" on "The Jeffersons." July 9.

Carlo Di Palma, 79. Innovative cinematographer in films by Woody Allen ("Hannah and Her Sisters") and Michelangelo Antonioni ("Blow-Up"). July 9.

Joe Gold, 82. Founded original Gold's Gym in 1965. July 11.

Arthur Kane, 55. Bassist for influential 1970s punk group New York Dolls. July 13. Leukemia.

Carlos Kleiber, 74. Celebrated German-born conductor. July 13

Bella Lewitzky, 88. Renowned choreographer, teacher. July 16.

David A. Wallace, 87. Influential urban planner who revived downtowns and waterfronts, notably Baltimore's Inner Harbor. July 19.

Irvin Shortess "Shorty" Yeaworth Jr., 78. Directed 1958 cult movie "The Blob." July 19.

Jerry Goldsmith, 75. Oscar-, Emmy-winning composer for shows ranging from "Star Trek" to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." July 21.

Illinois Jacquet, 81. Tenor saxophonist; played with nearly every jazz luminary of his time. July 22.

Eugene Roche, 75. Paunchy character actor; "Ajax man" in commercials. July 28.

Sam Edwards, 89. The town banker in "Little House on the Prairie." July 28.

Virginia Grey, 87. Actress from 1920s ("Uncle Tom's Cabin") to 1970s ("Airport"). July 31.


Don Tosti, 81. Musician, composer; blended jazz, boogie and blues to create the 1940s "Pachuco" sound. Aug. 2.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 95. Acclaimed French photographer whose pictures defined the mid-20th century and inspired generations. Aug. 3.

Hunter Hancock, 88. Los Angeles disc jockey; championed rhythm and blues, early rock 'n' roll. Aug. 4.

Gloria Emerson, 75. New York Times correspondent in Vietnam; won National Book Award for "Winners & Losers." Aug. 4.

Rick James, 56. Funk legend known for 1981 hit "Super Freak." Aug. 6.

Fay Wray, 96. The damsel held atop the Empire State Building by the ape in "King Kong." Aug. 8.

Leon Golub, 82. Artist who depicted scenes of war and oppression in large-scale figurative paintings. Aug. 8.

David Raksin, 92. Oscar-nominated composer; arranged music for Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times," wrote memorable theme for "Laura." Aug. 9.

Julia Child, 91. She brought the intricacies of French cuisine to Americans through television and books. Aug. 13.

Czeslaw Milosz, 93. Polish poet and Nobel laureate known for his intellectual and emotional works about some of the worst cruelties of the 20th century. Aug. 14.

Neal Fredericks, 35. Cinematographer of the low-budget horror smash "The Blair Witch Project." Aug. 14. Plane crash.

Elmer Bernstein, 82. Oscar-winning composer, scored such classics as "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Great Escape." Aug. 18.

Al Dvorin, 81. Announcer who dispersed Presley fans with the phrase "Elvis has left the building." Aug. 22.

Daniel Petrie, 83. Directed the movie version of "A Raisin in the Sun," and won Emmy for "Eleanor and Franklin." Aug. 22.

Laura Branigan, 47. Grammy-nominated pop singer known for 1982 platinum hit "Gloria." Aug. 26. Brain aneurysm.

E. Fay Jones, 83. Architect; his Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas honored as nation's top design of the 1980s. Aug. 30.


Frank Thomas, 92. One of Disney's top artists; animated the pups romantically nibbling spaghetti in "Lady and the Tramp." Sept. 8.

Fred Ebb, about 76. Wrote lyrics for "Chicago" and "Cabaret" as well as "New York, New York." Sept. 11.

Jerome Chodorov, 93. Playwright, co-author of "My Sister Eileen"; later adapted it as the musical "Wonderful Town." Sept. 12.

Kenny Buttrey, 59. Top Nashville session drummer; recorded hits with Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett. Sept. 12.

Johnny Ramone, 55. Co-founded the supremely influential punk band "The Ramones." Sept. 15. Prostate cancer.

Virginia Hamilton Adair, 91. Poet; published her first collection of verse to acclaim at age 83 ("Ants on the Melon"). Sept. 16.

Marvin Mitchelson, 76. Hollywood divorce lawyer; pioneered the "palimony" concept. Sept. 18.

Russ Meyer, 82. Producer-director who helped spawn the "skin flick" — and later gained a measure of critical respect — for such films as "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" Sept. 18.

Skeeter Davis, 72. She topped the charts with "The End of the World" in 1963 and sang on the Grand Ole Opry for decades. Sept. 19.

Francoise Sagan, 69. French author, became famous in her teens for the best-selling "Bonjour Tristesse." Sept. 24.

Marvin Davis, 79. Billionaire who owned 20th Century Fox in the 1980s. Sept. 25.

Ma Chengyuan, 77. Chinese museum official who saved priceless artifacts during the Cultural Revolution. Sept. 25.

Geoffrey Beene, 77. Award-winning designer whose classic styles put him at the forefront of American fashion. Sept. 28.

Scott Muni, 74. New York DJ whose encyclopedic knowledge of rock made him "The Professor" to generations of listeners. Sept. 28.


Richard Avedon, 81. Redefined fashion photography as an art form while achieving acclaim through his stark portraits of the powerful. Oct. 1.

Janet Leigh, 77. Wholesome beauty whose shocking murder in Hitchcock thriller "Psycho" is a landmark of film. Oct. 3.

Rodney Dangerfield, 82. The bug-eyed comic whose self-deprecating "I don't get no respect" brought him stardom in clubs, television and movies. Oct. 5.

Jacques Derrida, 74. World-renowned thinker who founded the school of literary analysis known as deconstructionism. Oct. 8.

Christopher Reeve, 52. "Superman" actor who became the nation's most recognizable spokesman for spinal cord research after a paralyzing accident. Oct. 10.

Betty Hill, 85. Her tale of being abducted by aliens became the subject of a best-selling book, TV movie. Oct. 17.

Anthony Hecht, 81. Won Pulitzer in poetry in 1968 for "The Hard Hours." Oct. 20.

Robert Merrill, 87. Metropolitan Opera superstar with the velvet baritone, equally at home singing the national anthem at Yankee Stadium. Oct. 23.

Vaughn Meader, 68. Gained instant fame satirizing John Kennedy in the multimillion-selling album "The First Family." Oct. 29.

Peggy Ryan, 80. Teamed with Donald O'Connor in movie musicals such as "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Oct. 30.


Theo van Gogh, 47. Outspoken Dutch filmmaker; great-grandnephew of Vincent. Nov. 2. Murdered, apparently by Islamic radicals.

Joe Bushkin, 87. Jazz pianist and songwriter, co-wrote early Frank Sinatra hit "Oh! Look at Me Now." Nov. 3.

Howard Keel, 85. Broad-shouldered baritone in glittery MGM musicals ("Kiss Me Kate," "Annie Get Your Gun"); later on "Dallas." Nov. 7.

Ed Kemmer, 84. Intrepid Cmdr. Buzz Corry in the 1950s children's TV show "Space Patrol." Nov. 9.

Iris Chang, 36. Best-selling author ("The Rape of Nanking"). Nov. 9. Suicide.

O.D.B., 35. The rapper (real name: Russell Jones) whose unique rhymes and wild lifestyle made him one of the most vivid characters in hip-hop. Nov. 13.

Harry Lampert, 88. Illustrator who created the superhero "The Flash." Nov. 13

Cy Coleman, 75. Composer of Broadway musicals ("Sweet Charity," "City of Angels"); pop songs ("The Best Is Yet to Come"). Nov. 18.

Terry Melcher, 62. Songwriter, record producer who aided the Byrds, Beach Boys; son of Doris day. Nov. 19.

Noel Perrin, 77. He catalogued his experiments in rural living in books such as "First Person Rural." Nov. 21.

Larry Brown, 53. Author who wrote about the often rough, gritty lives of rural Southerners ("Big Bad Love," "Dirty Work"). Nov. 24. Apparent heart attack.

Arthur Hailey, 84. Best-selling author of big novels ("Airport," "Hotel"). Nov. 24.

David Bailey, 71. Veteran soap opera actor ("Another World," "Passions"). Nov. 25.

Philippe de Broca, 71. French director whose 1960s films "The Man from Rio" and "King of Hearts" brought him wide renown. Nov. 26.

John Drew Barrymore, 72. The troubled heir to an acting dynasty; Drew's father. Nov. 29.


William Sackheim, 84. Television, movie writer and producer, involved in everything from "Gidget" to "Rambo." Dec. 1.

Dame Alicia Markova, 94. One of the 20th century's greatest ballerinas, co-founder of English National Ballet. Dec. 2.

Mona Van Duyn, 83. Pulitzer-winning poet ("Near Changes"). Dec. 2.

Jerry Scoggins, 93. He sang "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," theme song to "The Beverly Hillbillies." Dec. 7.

David Brudnoy, 64. One of Boston's most recognized talk radio voices. Dec. 9.

"Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, 38. Acclaimed guitarist with Grammy-nominated heavy-metal band Pantera, more recently Damageplan. Dec. 8. Shot to death during a performance.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

15 worst holiday gift ideas
You're sweating, panicked. You're about to recycle an old gift, buy a weight-loss book for Aunt Josephine or grab the Victoria's Secret catalog. Stop! Break the cycle of Holiday Gift-Shopping Syndrome!

By MP Dunleavey

Pressure, stress and confusion, inexplicable choices and a complete lapse of taste.

Alzheimers? No, it's Holiday Gift-Shopping Syndrome! If you suffer panic attacks at the mall or you have recurring nightmares about the colossal gift gaffes you've made over the years -- you may be an HGSS sufferer.

Take two Advil and keep reading because the only cure is to spot the pitfalls early. The following primer will help you save yourself some angst -- and quite a bit of money -- by avoiding these classic gift-giving faux pas. (And your nearest and dearest will be ever-so grateful when you give them stuff they like this year.)

The not-so-subtle suggestion
There's nothing quite like watching the expression on people's faces when they open one of these: a set of meditation tapes for Mr. Type A, a low-fat cookbook for your sister, an Elizabeth Arden makeup and spackling extravaganza for grandma. Just don't be surprised if they all go in on a gift for you next year: a one-way ticket.
The useless gadget
Everyone has someone on their list who is seemingly impervious to gift giving. It might be your boss, your dad or some other (inevitably) male relative. They appear to have no interests, no style, no obvious needs. So you race to one of those stores that specialize in "stuff guys like" and spend more than you should on a PGA-approved golf ball cleaner. In case he ever starts golfing. Why. Why, why, why?

The lingerie trap
My husband passes along this lesson learned from hard experience: Never buy lingerie for a woman unless she has ripped out the page from the Victoria's Secret catalog and circled the exact item herself. If she opens a box and sees something that looks like a black satin hanky, it just opens up a can of worms: "Why does he want me to wear that? Does he need me to look trashy? Doesn't he like me the way I am? Next thing you know he'll want me to wear a blond wig and fishnet stockings like a streetwalker!" You can go from surprise to Splitsville in five or six mental leaps. Way too expensive on sooooo many levels.

The deadly weapon
My editor admitted that he briefly considered buying his 12-year-old son a water-balloon slingshot (because he wanted one himself, of course). But after reflecting a bit on the damage that a water balloon can do to unsuspecting passers-by after traveling 500 feet from his back yard to a nearby road, he decided against it. Unless you're just dying to test the limits of your liability insurance, stick to Teletubbies and videogames.

One for the price of two
You really want that Bobbi Brown lipstick for yourself, but you're in denial. So you get it for a friend and talk yourself into believing she will like this gift, when what you're unconsciously hoping is that she will give it back to you -- which she doesn't. So after Christmas you end up buying the damn thing for yourself anyway, thus spending twice as much money and making only one of you happy.

The maroon mistake
It's almost always a bad idea to give clothing to someone you don't actually live with. And even then you have to be careful (see "The Lingerie Trap," above). You'll invariably buy either the wrong size or the wrong color or both, like the time I randomly bought my aunt a quilted maroon vest. Why did I think she would like a quilted maroon vest when she neither wears vests nor the color maroon? Lesson: Give a gift certificate instead.

The guilt-edged party gift
Ack! You're invited to a holiday party at the last minute and you don't have time to even pick up a bottle of wine. But you do have time to throw some ribbon around those earrings your dad gave you last year and give them to the hostess? Is this worth the thousands it will cost you in therapy bills to overcome your guilt? Consider the cost -- especially when your dad meets said hostess at your own holiday party a year later , and she's wearing your earrings. Just buy the wine, will ya?

The joke's on you
Before you spend $20 on whoopee cushion or another joke item, think about flushing that $20 down the toilet. Is that funny? We didn't think so.

Books by the pound
Why buy a mere book when for the same money you can give a tome? That two-thousand-page volume of the sixth installment in the life of Lyndon Johnson is MUCH more desirable than a book someone might actually read. Sure, the megabook can be read by those with more time than taste, but it can also serve as a flower press, a door stop and kindling. Four gifts in one!

Gifts made by your own $40-an-hour hands
At some point, the Spirit of Frugality will pin you to the floor and tell you that the best way to save money during the holidays is to make all your gifts by hand. Resist this impulse! First of all, just because you don't have money doesn't mean you have talent. Second, handmade gifts always cost more than you think, in both time and money. My truly talented sister-in-law, Deirdre, decided to make people jewelry one year. She quit when she found out how much it was costing her in supplies, never mind the all-nighters spent stringing tiny beads.

Things that can't be exchanged on this planet
Resist the urge to go down to your local "Tofutti 'n' Things" boutique and buy a one-of-a-kind set of embroidered Bolivian hankies imported by the proprietor herself for your sister who lives on the opposite coast. The odds are good your sister will hate them and curse you for making her buy a $300 plane ticket to exchange them.

Last year's gift, again
My mother's best friend gave her a kaleidoscope. Several times. At least two Christmases and a birthday. So try to keep track of what you've given people in the past. Dad doesn't need a fourth scarf. (I once gave my sister-in-law the same book three times.) If you're not sure, ask someone who might remember last year better than you do.

Treasures from King Tut's tomb
It's always so tempting to buy from those slick museum catalogs. How can you go wrong giving a replica of something that has been sitting in the Smithsonian Museum for a hundred years? But unless you know that your cousin in Denver loves Egyptian artifacts or really wants a lamp that sprouts from the head of Queen Nefertiti, forget it. Warning: If it looks tasteful, keep shopping.

The pro-am present
My brother is a cooking maven. Ask him the difference between braise, stew and sauté and you better have a good hour on your hands. So guess what I never give my brother? Anything to do with cooking. I know, it's tempting. Your brother-in-law plays a mean game of golf. Therefore: DON'T waste your money on a golf gift. He already has it. And now he has to return it.


The thoughtlessness that counts
Don't get pierced earrings for your friend who doesn't have pierced ears (I did). Don't buy cookies for a diabetic. No booze for the teetotaler. Don't get "Fear of Flying" for a born-again Christian. You get the idea.

With these 15 rules in mind, you can easily avoid the worst gift-giving mistakes. You'll save time. You'll save money. And you will thank me when your credit-card bill comes in January and, thanks to this list, you haven't bought a damn thing for anyone.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Light Cigarettes Aren't Light
Same Tar, Same Nicotine Levels = Same Health Risks

By Jeanie Lerche Davis

Dec. 10, 2004 - People who smoke light cigarettes are likely in for a shock. They're getting just as much tar and nicotine as with normal cigarettes, new research shows. Yet most smokers think light brands are less dangerous.

The nationwide telephone survey -- involving more than 1,000 adults who currently smoke -- shows that the vast majority believe filtered or low-tar brands can lower health risks, says lead researcher K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, chairman of health behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.

Cummings' two reports based on that survey appear in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

However, a spokeswoman for Phillip Morris USA -- maker of Marlboro Lights and Ultra-Lights - says that the company has done plenty of "no safe cigarette" education in TV, radio, and print ads.

Years ago, air vents and filters added to cigarettes were enough for light cigarettes to pass federal tests. But the same tar and nicotine levels are in the cigarettes as before, Cummings explains. Cigarette advertising has helped "grossly misinform" consumers that light is healthier, he tells WebMD.

Michael Thun, MD, head of epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society, has the same strong opinion. Thun's study last year -- involving 1.2 million people nationwide -- showed that lung cancer risk from light and ultra-light cigarettes was identical to regular cigarettes.

"It makes you sick how resistant the [cigarette] industry and various aspects of government have been to adequately address this," Thun tells WebMD. "Making the cigarettes less irritating was an important factor in promoting the product to women and to kids."

"We've seen something similar in alcohol abuse, like the hard lemonades which are marketed at beginning drinkers," says Lee Crandall, PhD, epidemiologist and substance abuse researcher in the School of Public Health at University of Miami School of Medicine. "The company says it's a harm reduction approach. It could be useful in that way for some people. But it's a tradeoff, if it's a gateway for young people."

Smokers Underestimate Health Risks

In Cummings' survey, 1,046 adults were asked about their smoking habits: the brand and type of cigarettes they smoked, their beliefs about the health benefits of low-tar and filtered cigarettes; their awareness of vent holes in filters; and how they perceived smoking cessation methods like patches and gums.

His first report looks at smokers' awareness of health risks involved with all cigarettes. Do you know much about light cigarettes? Are you interested in trying them? Have you tried to quit smoking?

The majority - 94% -- considered themselves adequately informed about the health risks of smoking. However, 39% gave incorrect or "don't know" responses; 65% weren't clear about low-tar and filtered cigarettes; and 77% wanted more information from tobacco companies about the health dangers.

"People tend to underestimate the risks to their own health," writes Cummings. "Smokers are often conflicted about their smoking behavior because they recognize that smoking is dangerous while at the same time deriving pleasure from smoking."

Smokers Believe Low-Tar Means Less Harmful

In his second report, Cummings shows smokers' beliefs about Marlboro Lights, which is the most popular brand of light cigarette -- smoked by 19% of those surveyed.

He found:
Many believed -- incorrectly -- that lower-tar, light, and ultra-light cigarettes were less harmful compared with higher-tar, full-flavored cigarettes.
Only 11% knew that the tar delivery of a light cigarette was about the same as that of a full-flavored cigarette.
Nearly 50% thought two light cigarettes equaled the tar from one regular cigarette.
Nearly 50% thought that high-tar cigarettes are at least twice as likely to cause illness as low-tar Light cigarettes.
Also, Marlboro Lights smokers were on average younger and more likely to be female and white. Upwards of 79% of Marlboro Lights smokers took their first puff between ages 10 and 19, says Cummings. About 81% started smoking daily before age 19.

"Smokers of the leading light cigarette brand sold in the United States today, Marlboro Lights, are for the most part unaware of filter vents in the cigarettes they smoke and are misinformed about the health risk of using low-tar and filtered cigarettes," he writes.

Cummings calls for "stronger, more prominent warning labels on the low-tar products" - similar to those used in Canada. Also, cigarette companies should be required to educate people about risks of these low-tar cigarettes.

Filters, Vents Trick Consumers

Filters, vents, and other changes made by cigarette companies have helped cigarettes pass tar-measuring tests required by the Federal Trade Commission, explains Cummings. However, cigarette makers have long known that the tar-measuring machines underestimate the smokers' exposure to tar and nicotine.

"When people switch to light cigarettes, they puff harder, make more frequent puffs, and the smoke actually feels lighter, less harsh," Cummings tells WebMD. "The smoke cools in the vents, giving the illusion that it's less harsh, less dangerous. But it's not. They're getting the same amount of tar and nicotine, and they're probably less likely to quit smoking."

"Light cigarettes are a scam, a fraud," he says. In Illinois, Marlboro Lights were the subject of a consumer fraud lawsuit. But today, the vent holes are still on the cigarettes. They're also on newer Ultra Lights.

"The market share on ultra-lights and lights has gone up over the three years," Cummings tells WebMD. "These are very popular among teens and young adults. The vent holes give the illusion of safety. Besides, kids are confused about nicotine, think it's the bad substance, not the tar. These kids are grossly misinformed. Adults are grossly misinformed."

Cummings calls for more smoker education, using the same advertising tactics that "Big Tobacco" uses. Plus, safety labeling on cigarette packs should be stronger. Also, "more enticing" packaging for nicotine patches and gums - plus new approaches like tattoo-style patches - would make smoking cessation more appealing to adults and kids.

"My son is on the Phillip Morris mailing list," he tells WebMD. "Of the 20 pounds of mail he's received from the cigarette maker in recent months, none has been about cancer, screening, addiction, zero."

Jennifer Golisch, a spokeswoman for Phillip Morris USA (maker of Marlboro cigarettes) outlined the company's public education efforts:
From time to time, a pamphlet is inserted beneath the cellophane of the light and ultra- light brands. It states that there is no such thing as a safe cigarette. It also cautions smokers not to assume that light cigarettes are less harmful or that they help anyone to quit smoking.
The company's web site provides information from various public health agencies including the CDC, American Cancer Society, and others.
Television, print, and radio advertising has provided the "no safe cigarette" message. One TV ad advised concerned smokers to quit and directed viewers to the company's web site. "It's something we do voluntarily," says Golisch.
Promotional mail sent to smokers aged 21 or older provides the web site address.
A 48-page "Quit Assist" brochure, newly available through the company's web site, has "received good response," she says.

Japanese 'lap pillow' offers solace to lonely men
$90 pillow comes with one red and one black skirt

Yuriko Nakao / Reuters
An employee of a Japanese toy maker Trane Co., Ltd.
demonstrates how to use the company's new 'lap pillow.'

Updated: 11:18 a.m. ET Dec. 15, 2004TOKYO - Single or lonely Japanese men may get lucky this Christmas.

One popular item for holiday shoppers is the "lap pillow," with skin-coloured polyurethene calves folded under soft thighs -- a comfy cushion for napping, reading or watching television.

The 9,429 yen ($90) pillow, which comes with one red and one black skirt, went on sale in late November and maker Trane Co Ltd says shipments have reached 3,000 in just a few weeks.

"We created this item to help tired people relax," said Makoto Igarashi, Trane's managing director.

Care was taken with details such as the softness of the thighs, panty lines on the pillow's "backside" and wrinkles in the lap of the skirt so as to make the pillow look and feel as real as possible.

"We thought our main customers would be men in their 20s, but even men in their 60s are buying it," Igarashi said.

At stores, lap pillows gather crowds where people poke and pry at the foam legs.

"I think this may be good for single men, but it could cause trouble for someone who is married," said Shingo Shibata, a 27-year-old company employee browsing at a toy store which sells the pillow.

A Soulful Relationship

Before you get involved and make a commitment to someone, don't let lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance, pressure from others or a low self-esteem, make you blind to warning signs. Keep your eyes open, and don't fool yourself that you can change someone or that what you see as faults aren't really important.

Once you decide to commit to someone, over time his or her flaws, vulnerabilities, pet peeves, and differences will become more obvious. If you love your mate and want the relationship to grow and evolve, you've got to learn to close one eye and not let every little thing bother you. You and your mate have many different expectations, emotional needs, values,dreams, weaknesses, and strengths. You are two unique individual children of God who have decided to share a life together.

Neither of you are perfect, but are you perfect for each other? Do you bring out the best in each other? Do you compliment and compromise with each other, or do you compete, compare, and control? What do you bring to the relationship? Do you bring past relationships, past hurt, past mistrust, past pain? You can't take someone to the altar to alter him or her. You can't make someone love you or make someone stay. If you develop self-esteem, spiritual discernment, and "a life", you won't find yourself making someone else responsible for your happiness or responsible for your pain.

Manipulation, control, jealousy, neediness, and selfishness are not the ingredients of a thriving, healthy, loving and lasting relationship! Seeking status, sex, wealth, and security are the wrong reasons to be in a relationship. What keeps a relationship strong?

Communication, intimacy, trust, a sense of humor, sharing household tasks, some getaway time without business or children and daily exchanges (a meal, shared activity, a hug, a call, a touch, a note). Leave a nice message on the voicemail or send a nice email. Sharing common goals and interests. Growth is important. Grow together, not away from each other, giving each other space to grow without feeling insecure. Allow your mate to have outside intere st. You can't always be together. Give each other a sense of belonging and assurances of commitment. Don't try to control one another. Learn each other's family situation. Respect his or her parents regardless.

Don't put pressure on each other for material goods. Remember for richer or for poorer. If these qualities are missing, the relationship will erode as resentment, withdrawal, abuse, neglect, dishonesty, and pain replace the passion.

The difference between 'United' and 'Untied' is where you put the i.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Take Your Christmas and Stuff It
By: Bill O'Reilly for
Thursday, Dec 09, 2004

"Christmas with the Kranks" is not only the name of a holiday movie this year, it is also a national trend. Once again, Christmas is under siege by the growing forces of secularism in America. Put these facts in your stocking:
• Federated Department Stores, which includes Macy's, has suggested that managers avoid displaying "Merry Christmas" banners and have ordered employees not to talk about it.

• In Denver, a church was banned from the "Festival of Lights" parade because it wanted a religious theme to its float.

• The Maplewood, New Jersey school board has banned all religious music from "holiday" concerts. (Would somebody please tell me exactly what holiday this is?)

• And New York City Mayor Bloomberg insists that the lighted tree outside City Hall is not a Christmas tree, it's a "holiday tree." (What holiday, Mr. Mayor?)
Surveys show that more than 90% of Americans celebrate the Federal holiday of Christmas, signed into law by President Grant in 1870. Despite that overwhelming number, the tradition of Christmas in America continues to get hammered.

The anti-Christmas forces say it's all about diversity, protecting the sensitivities of those Americans who get offended by the mere mention of the birth of Jesus. Somehow, I haven't been able to locate any of these people--folks who find a baby in a manger so off-putting, it ruins their day.

So the diversity excuse is a bunch of bull. What's really going on here is a well-organized movement to wipe out any display of organized religion from the public arena.

The secular-progressive movement understands very well that it is organized religion, most specifically Christianity and Judaism, that stands in the way of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, legalized narcotics, euthanasia, and many other secular causes. If religion can be de-emphasized in the USA, a brave new progressive society can be achieved.

It has happened in Canada. Once a traditional religious country, Canada has become like Holland in its embrace of the secular movement. Some facts: In 1980, 79% of Canadians said that religion was important to the country. That number has now fallen to 61%, according to an Environics Focus Canada poll.

In 1971, less than one percent of the Canadian population reported having no religion whatsoever; now that number has risen to 16%.

The fall of religion in Canada has corresponded to a change in public policy. Unlike Americans, Canadians have legalized gay marriage and any kind of abortion. Also, the age of consent for sex up north is just 14 years old. Can you imagine American adults being allowed to fool around with children that age? I can't.

Even drug legalization is close to being a reality, as the city of Vancouver is developing a heroin give-away policy, and pot has been largely decriminalized across the country.

The Canadian model is what progressive Americans are shooting for, and so religion must be dealt with. Since Christmas is the most demonstrative display of organized religion, the strategy of minimizing the birth of Jesus makes perfect sense.

I know this sounds kind of conspiratorial, but it really isn't. Most of those marginalizing Christmas have no idea about the big picture I've just presented. They simply think they're looking out for the minority of Americans who don't celebrate the birth of Christ.

But committed secularists in the media, in the courts, and in the education system know exactly what's going on. And now so do you. Merry Christmas!

Singer Clint Black on the Controversy Over Christmas
Monday, December 13, 2004

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, country star Clint Black has a new Christmas CD Called "Christmas With You." The title song was inspired by our troops overseas. Here's a sample of it.


CLINT BLACK, SINGER: Alone in the saddle / My mind in a haze / Missing my family / And counting the days / This road is a long one / And if I'm overdue / I'll be dreaming of Christmas with you / I know this Christmas / Every wish won't come true / But I'll be dreaming of Christmas with you...


O'REILLY: Very nice.

With us now is Clint Black.

You know, we just talked with Newt Gingrich about this whole thing, and it's serious in this country where when I was a kid, when you were a kid, we never had these controversies about Christmas, did we? I don't remember them.

BLACK: No, it was a pretty popular holiday. I'm — as a writer, I'm pretty aware of my feelings. I know, you know, I keep myself in check and pay attention to what I'm feeling and trying to know why I'm feeling it, and I feel inhibited from saying "Merry Christmas" to people.

O'REILLY: Do you really?

BLACK: Yes. And I've decided, you know, that's over. I'm going to say it to everyone. I have lots of friends — they're Jewish or, you know, a lot of different religions, atheists — and I'm always curious about how they feel, and I ask them if they're offended by it, and I think you've got to be a pretty big scrooge to — you know, to be offended when somebody greets you with something with "Merry" on the front of it.

O'REILLY: I don't know. There are some people who get offended by everything, and you're never going to please those people. But it's interesting that we haven't heard anything from the showbiz community at all.

You know, Barbra Streisand is Jewish, and she's made tens of millions of dollars off her Christmas album because she sings Christmas songs brilliantly. And I know you're watching me, Babs. — I know you have a crush on me. — And you really sing them well.

But you — we don't hear from the entertainment community, look, you know, this is a holiday, it's a federal holiday, we're all Americans, we all should enjoy it, knock it off.

BLACK: Yes, I — you know, I've heard your arguments on it, and, you know, I really — I really — I just — I don't see — I do see, you know, a time — it's possible in the future — when there's pressure on me from my record company because there's pressure on record companies, you know, that they're going to reissue my CD and I've got to take Christmas out of the title.

O'REILLY: I don't think that's going to happen.

BLACK: Well, no, I...

O'REILLY: I think the tide is turning.

BLACK: I'm optimistic, but, you know, I can only feel optimistic if, you know, many of us come out and talk about our personal experiences. Individual experiences, I think, say everything, and, you know, I ask — I ask people about their various experiences, and I haven't been able to find anyone who could get upset by Christmas.

O'REILLY: No. And I haven't either. I mean, I — these people — well, I do the radio show, and I do have some people to call in there, but I don't know them. Now you named the CD "Christmas With You." You didn't get any heat from the label on doing that, did you?

BLACK: Not at all.

O'REILLY: OK. So that was fine. And then the soldier song is really, really good. It's going to make a lot of people cry. I know it is.

BLACK: Well, it — it made us emotional when we wrote it. I did a lot of research on Christmas, and I'm finding so much irony in some of these battles, the Christmas tree especially, and, you know, hearing you talk about Christmas all week really got me to thinking about that.

You know, the Christmas tree originally was used as a stage prop in a play inspired by the Old Testament to represent the Garden of Eden. Within 30 years — this was a German playwright. Within 30 years, practically every German-Christian home had a Christmas tree in the house adorned wit candles to represent the light of Christ and wafers to represent the body of Christ.

Now the irony here is that this is a really good example of a bridging between Judaism...

O'REILLY: Jewish...

BLACK: ... and Christianity.

O'REILLY: If you look at the whole thing, it's peace on earth, right? Who's against that except for Usama bin Laden? And he doesn't celebrate Christmas, all right. We won't allow him to... And goodwill. Goodwill toward men and women.

BLACK: That's right.

O'REILLY: So what are you objecting to?

BLACK: Well, you know, I...

O'REILLY: You know, when I say you, I mean the people who are behind the secularism because that's the message. It's a message of your album. It's the message of the season. It's the message of the federal holiday. So let's knock it off. I'll give you the last word.

BLACK: I try to see all sides of it and understand, and I can see where people might see something bad about religion. A lot of people have done bad things in the name of many religions.

O'REILLY: But not Christmas.

BLACK: But we have to remember they're people. The religion didn't do the bad thing, and...

O'REILLY: Right.

BLACK: ... and even if you don't believe that Christ is the son of God, you can't deny that the message is good, and I...

O'REILLY: The message is good, and Santa has never invaded a country. He's invited in right down the chimney, and then he leaves, you know.

Mr. Black, great luck with your — Well, you won't need it. You're going to sell a lot of copies.

BLACK: Thanks.

O'REILLY: "Christmas With You."

It's always good to see you, sir.

BLACK: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Thanks for watching “The Factor”. Thanks for coming in.

BLACK: You bet.

What Your Appearance Says About You!
Wednesday, December 01, 2004

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, what your appearance says about you.

Our pal Michael Moore showed up on the "Leno" program last night in a suit, clean shaven, a little haircut there, saying if you can't beat them, dress like them. Apparently, Moore sees the future, and it is boardroom chic.

There is no question that we in America often judge people on how they look. For example, much thought was put into how the presidential candidates dressed during the debates.

With us now is an expert on personal appearance. Joseph Abboud is a designer and co-author of the book "Threads: My Life Behind the Scenes in the High-Stakes World of Fashion." And in the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Abboud provided the clothing here on “The Factor” for a good long while.

Let — were you surprised to see Moore looking the way he did here?

JOSEPH ABBOUD, AUTHOR, "THREADS": I was shocked. I mean to see that transformation was amazing, and I guess if you can't beat them, join them.

O'REILLY: Is that what you think it is? I think he's just trying to get more attention.

ABBOUD: You know, it's a little bit of showbiz. I think...

O'REILLY: Right.

ABBOUD: I do think that it was a good message, Moore sort of moving back to a conservative look. Guys are getting dressed again, doing business face to face.

O'REILLY: But nobody's going to buy him as a conservative.


O'REILLY: I mean, he's going to be a slob no matter what he does.

ABBOUD: But I do think he did presented himself better, and I think that's really important. To go the way — to present himself in a — sort of the beard, the scruff, I thought that was just unprofessional.

O'REILLY: You think — you think that more people are going to listen to what he says that he — when he looks like this?

ABBOUD: No, I don't think they're going to listen to the message, but I do think he looks better.

O'REILLY: All right.

ABBOUD: I clearly think he looks better.

O'REILLY: Let's go to the debates because this is — they spent an enormous amount of time, both Bush and Kerry, on what they were going to wear.


O'REILLY: So let's take a look at Bush first and analyze what the message is by the clothing that they wear because this is a powerful signal, is it not?

ABBOUD: Absolutely. I mean, George Bush is a no-nonsense dresser. He's got well-made suits. He doesn't show a lot of style, but he shouldn't as a president. We don't want him thinking about his shirt and tie.

O'REILLY: He's a traditionalist.

ABBOUD: Very much so. And interestingly enough, very simple blue ties. He knows he looks good in blue. And he sends a message of strength in his clothes, and I think that's something that we look to.

O'REILLY: All right. So the conservative traditional cut, two-button cut — he doesn't wear three buttons.

ABBOUD: That's right.

O'REILLY: Same with me. I don't wear three buttons.

ABBOUD: That's right. You're a two-button guy.

O'REILLY: I never wear double breasted because I'm tall. This sends a message of authority?

ABBOUD: I think the simple suit, the dark gray suit, the dark blue suit is a message of authority. He's not — Al Gore in 2000 got the earth- tone suit.

O'REILLY: No good.

ABBOUD: It was a disaster.

O'REILLY: Yes. That was Naomi Wolf.

ABBOUD: It was absolutely — and it looked like he had no...

O'REILLY: Because people don't want warm and cuddly presidents. They want tough.

ABBOUD: And it looked like — it looked like he didn't have his own point of view. He was buying someone's image.

O'REILLY: All right. Let's take a look at Kerry now. Kerry looked, I thought, very good in the debates.

ABBOUD: He did.

O'REILLY: He was sharp. His — obviously, his suits are very expensive and — what does that message say?

ABBOUD: Well, he's very Northeast Ivy League. Two-button suit. He's tall. He's good-looking.

O'REILLY: Preppy?

ABBOUD: Very — in the spirit of Kennedy. It's a very, I think, Harvard Square look, but he wears it well. Natural shoulder. And I think he carries it off beautifully.

O'REILLY: When — is he as authoritative-looking at Bush?

ABBOUD: I think he is.

O'REILLY: Because it's another traditional presentation.

ABBOUD: I absolutely think he was. I think it was more the issue of makeup. There was a lot of issues with makeup, and, unfortunately, one day when he appears a little bit too orange — I think...

O'REILLY: Yes. Well, he had the — he had the...

ABBOUD: The wrong makeup.

O'REILLY: ... spray tan, right?

ABBOUD: Whatever it was...

O'REILLY: You got that? Don't you — is that a real tan?

ABBOUD: No, that's — that's a real tan.

O'REILLY: You've got the real one.

ABBOUD: I have the real one. But I thought that was so false, and he's such a...

O'REILLY: Yes, it was ridiculous.

ABBOUD: You know, and his best moment was his concession speech.

O'REILLY: Right. You don't want — yes, you don't want...

ABBOUD: He was most natural.

O'REILLY: If you're going to run for the president, you don't want to be orange.

ABBOUD: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: Orange is not good.

ABBOUD: It did — it's not a good fashion color.

O'REILLY: All right. Let's — let's take Hillary Clinton because Mrs. Clinton spends an enormous amount of time and money on her clothing. Very few people know this. What image — now this is different from a man. A man can get away with, like I do, just a very simple look. She's got to do what?

ABBOUD: You know, she's moved away — in the White House, she had so many different hairstyles. She's much more serious, much more intense. You notice her hair is shorter. She wears darker...

O'REILLY: Right.

ABBOUD: She's more intense in terms of the color, and she wants to be taken more seriously, and I think she looks great. I actually think she looks really terrific. And then a little feminine piece, like maybe pearls or something.

O'REILLY: Right.

ABBOUD: But she's done it well. I think she's transformed to...

O'REILLY: So she's — she's not real stylish.

ABBOUD: But she doesn't want to be. I think — as a senator, I think it's important for her to be taken seriously.

O'REILLY: All right. So movie stars and pop people — they can be...

ABBOUD: It's a different world.

O'REILLY: They can do whatever they want.

ABBOUD: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: But when you have authority and responsibility, you have to look like me.

ABBOUD: It's like anchors. Well, anchors. You know, we've done a lot with anchors. No, we've done a lot with anchors, as you know.

O'REILLY: Right.

ABBOUD: Those are the guys we want to dress. They are the — they are authority. People look to how they dress, and that's important for us as a company.

O'REILLY: All right. Joe, we appreciate you coming in. Very good book.

ABBOUD: Thanks very much.

O'REILLY: Anyone who wants some style, get it please.