|Offbeat L. Ron Hubbard Strikes Back
As reported in the Weekly a few weeks back ("The Learning Cure" by Sara Catania, November 14-20), the folks at Scientology-affiliated textbook publisher Applied Scholastics think pretty highly of their L. Ron Hubbard-inspired pedagogy. In their push to qualify a series of five Applied Scholastics texts for public school use statewide, the company has touted the books' ability to help students think, speak and write for themselves.
It seems odd, then, that the honchos at Applied Scholastics apparently don't trust their own followers' expressive abilities. A misrouted fax rolled into our offices the other day, from one Margaret McCarthy at Applied Scholastics headquarters to one "Daryl at Player's Choice," a trophy shop in Santa Ana. By all appearances, Ms. McCarthy is directing Daryl on what to write in a letter to the editor of the Weekly.
We'd like to print the entire five-sentence fax, but we can't. As litigious as it is secretive (never mind vindictive), the Church of Scientology recently won a Supreme Court decision against critics who posted copies of Hubbard's "doctrine" on the Web, a decision that put new limits on what's known as "fair use" of private correspondence and writings.
So, by way of summary, McCarthy opens the missive to "Daryl" with instructions for her to re-type an enclosed letter to the editor on her own company letterhead. And then things get weird. McCarthy uses some secret symbolic notation - two vertical lines alternating with two dots - to warn Daryl against making mistakes in the letter. As in: "Be careful of typos, etc. This is a [secret symbol] publication and you know they'll nail us for any boo boos."
We never got the chance. We called McCarthy and asked if she was orchestrating a letter-writing campaign against the Weekly, but she wouldn't say. Nor would she explain for us the meaning of the secret symbol. (If anyone can tell us, we're dying to know.) McCarthy said it was "impossible" that her fax to Daryl arrived here mistakenly, and demanded to see a copy of it before she would answer any questions. So we sent it back and waited for her call. We're still waiting.
Love Minus Zero
In Hollywood, even more than Washington, perception is nine-tenths of the law. A studio boss whose reputation precedes him - assuming it's the right reputation - is a studio boss with the upper hand. Case in point: Jonathan Dolgen.
The chairman of Viacom Entertainment Group - a.k.a. Paramount's Fiscal Prince, the Darth Vader of numbers - outfoxed Fox when he snagged U.S. rights to the $200-million-plus Titanic for a paltry $65 mil (sticking Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch with the rest of director James Cameron's tab). Not bad for a 52-year-old with a charisma bypass.
But Jonathan Dolgen is also a man with a secret passion: He worships Bob Dylan. So much so, in fact, that he wrote an apparently heartfelt, moving ode to Bob for Variety's recent section on the 1997 Kennedy Center honorees:
In business, there are tons of reasons not to do things. [Dylan's] work brings you back to a place where you see it's not the worst thing to make it simple. He reminds you that aside from everything else you're calculating, in a business transaction, character is the thing you always return to . . . He's got a knack for electrically locating that inner decency you don't connect to often enough . . . It's important to have artists remind us of [that] rather than prey on our darker sides . .
Dylan speaks to openness.
Apparently, not loud enough. Before his piece could go to press, Dolgen pulled it, without explanation. Why would the Weisenthal Center's Man of the Year - Premiere's 11th Most Powerful Person in Hollywood - have second thoughts about showing his peers his sensitive side? Dolgen declined comment, but an inescapable conclusion: Bad for business.
El Nino by TKO
It wasn't a pretty sight. All across East Los Angeles last Saturday night, grown men wailing, beating their breasts, weeping into their beers. Moments after hometown welterweight champ Oscar de la Hoya made his entrance into the ring to defend his title against Wilfredo Rivera, Century Cable's signal went out. From Boyle Heights to El Sereno, nothing but snow.
About 30 minutes later, the connection was finally restored - right after de la Hoya's eighth-round TKO of Rivera. When OffBeat called for comment, Century Communications blamed the malfunction on - what else? - El Nino. Subscribers, at least those who aren't pirating the signal, are entitled to a refund.
With a Whimper
The hunt, it appears, is off. The two men who are alleged to have supplied Councilman Mike Hernandez's coke habit were in drug court last week, and noticeably absent from the proceedings were the usual cadre of activists and press who've been dogging the case since Hernandez's arrest in August outside a Pacoima apartment complex.
Last month, you will recall, Hernandez's appearance in court drew a packed gallery of neighborhood agitators, protesting what they called a sweetheart deal for the councilman: a no-jail-time drug treatment program and eventual dismissal of charges.
Jose Gallardo and Jess Alvara Ramirez, Hernandez's codefendants, copped a similar deal last week. There was circumstantial evidence that they had been furnishing coke to Hernandez on a more or less regular basis, but not enough for a trafficking charge. No protests, no outrage. A volunteer for the Hernandez recall campaign said it was something that just "slipped by." Case closed.
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