Jewish World Review April 21, 2004 / 30 Nissan, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Things don't go better with Coke?; swipes from the grave; "Mami" to the rescue; more | NEW YORK — Surely Hearst Magazines President Cathie Black, a longtime member of the Coca-Cola Company's board of directors, doesn't condone the murder and torture of labor organizers in Colombia.

But that didn't stop half a dozen members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke from handing out a harsh sendup of Hearst's Cosmopolitan magazine as prominent New Yorkers streamed into the Waldorf-Astoria for Monday's Hearst-sponsored Matrix Awards lunch.

Lunch speaker Vernon Jordan refused to accept a leaflet. "I don't take leaflets, ever," the Lazard Freres financier told me Tuesday.

But former Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown, who at first breezed past the leafleteers, circled back around to pick up a copy.

"It didn't know what it was about," the legendary editor told me. "I thought it had something to do with Cosmopolitan."

Instead, it featured a caricatured Black brandishing a smoking rifle on the cover of "COLASWALLOWIN'" magazine. "WHY IS CATHIE BLACK IN BED WITH KILLER COKE?" asked a cover line. "25 Sexiest Paramilitary Thugs," blared another. "Find your GREED SPOT," teased yet another.

The leaflet claimed that Black, along with fellow Coke board members Barry Diller and Warren Buffett, "has ignored the well-documented ties between Coke, its Colombian 'bottling partners' and bands of paramilitary thugs who seek to destroy the union that represents bottling plant workers. During Ms. Black's tenure, seven Coca-Cola workers have been killed and dozens more tortured, kidnapped or illegally detained."

Black didn't return my calls seeking comment Tuesday, but Brown said: "I thought it was kind of scurrilous and heinous. I'm not saying this because Cathie Black is my boss, but I can't imagine she would do anything to hurt labor leaders. Cathie Black anti-labor? That doesn't sound like her."

A Coke corporate spokeswoman, meanwhile, dismissed the leafleting as "a publicity stunt. The allegations are false, and it's outrageous to believe that The Coca-Cola Company would have anything to do with this type of behavior."

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Even in death, Michael Kelly's contempt for his onetime colleague Sidney Blumenthal lives on.

At a star-studded Monday night reading from "Things Worth Fighting For," a posthumous collection of Kelly's war journalism and other writings, former New Yorker editor Tina Brown regaled the crowd at Barnes & Noble with Kelly-Blumenthal stories.

"Mike took the job (of The New Yorker's Washington bureau chief) on condition that Sid wasn't allowed into the office," Brown recalled. "But he remained, for Mike, a sinister off-stage presence."

There was laughter from an audience that included Dan Rather, Howell Raines, Atlantic Monthly owner David Bradley, Kelly's widow, Max, and their two sons, Tom and Jack.

"Mike's distrust of Sid was rooted in his belief — later borne out — that Sid's loyalty lay not to The New Yorker but to the Clinton administration he was supposed to be covering as a journalist," Brown went on. "He was convinced Sid was functioning as a Clinton operative inside the magazine, warning the White House of what was in the works or tipping them off about which journalist on our staff they should feel they should or shouldn't cooperate with.

"This offended Mike to his core. He would come on the phone to rant to me about Sid pretty much every week. His DNA was so much about his strong Catholic sense of right and wrong, his belief in the honor code of collegial loyalty was so profound he regarded Sid's alleged treachery as the lowest form of journalistic life."

Kelly was killed, at age 46, while reporting from Iraq for The Atlantic Monthly in April 2003.

On Tuesday, Blumenthal, Washington bureau chief for Salon, declined to comment on Brown's remarks. "I am very sorry about what happened to Mike, and his family has my sympathies," Blumenthal told me. "That's all I have to say."


BILL, A CAD?: Why, according to "Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic, has he stayed single for so long? "I guess I haven't found the right woman yet," he explained on a recent episode. But that was news to Chicago physical therapist Yafa Wiesman, who says she dated Rancic for three and a half years. "It's safe to say something about the show — maybe Bill's taste for stardom — came between us," Wiesman tells Star magazine. "We weren't officially engaged, but we had talked about marriage. I took care of his house and picked up his mail while he was in New York. He'd call me three times a week, saying, 'I can't wait to watch the show with you.' But when he came home, things changed."

"MAMI" TO THE RESCUE: The warm New York weather has brought everyone out of the woodwork — including a rare daytime appearance by night owl Tara Reid. Clad only in her Sunday best — denim short-shorts, white sneakers and a teensy T-shirt — the hard-partying actress went restaurant hopping from Downtown Cipriani in SoHo to Baraonda to Mr. Chow's on the East Side and ended up, after nightfall, back at Cipriani. By 11 p.m., when she arrived alone, this column witnessed Reid pacing hither and yon in front of the restaurant, talking loudly, gesturing with her cell phone and otherwise looking a tad lost. Grimly determined to reach her destination — the new members-only lounge above the dining room — the erstwhile ingenue climbed the stairs with the help of a bouncer who gripped her tightly. She kept calling him "Mami."

AN ABJECT APOLOGY: To the fans and loved ones of "Bachelorette" Meredith Phillips and her fiance, Ian McKee. Dozens complained about last week's item concerning harsh words allegedly exchanged by the reality television couple over dinner at a Los Angeles restaurant. "You are really scraping the bottom of the b.s. barrel," wrote a typical supporter, responding to Star Magazine's report — reprinted here — that the lovebirds seemed headed for a breakup. "Don't destroy beautiful young lives with the crap the rags have to offer." Well, it turns out I was wrong. It was lunch, not dinner. Star's flack told me that a stringer was sitting at the next table, at the Marina del Rey restaurant Maxwell's, when Ian and Meredith started fighting.

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04/16/04: Does this ‘Apprentice’ need some etiquette lessons?; Kerry's laff-riot stepson; fully baked?; more
04/14/04: Dick Clark's diabetes; Barbara Walters' $6 Million book; reality (television) bites; more
04/09/04: S-e-x and the Koran; PETA targets Beyonce; more
04/08/04: Stephen King vs. ABC; trapping the love rat; Liv-ing it up; more
04/02/04: Don't mess with Brooke Hogan's dad; lawyers dancing on the head of a pin?; Trump vs. Trump?; more
04/01/04: D'OH! "Simpsons" actors in dispute with Fox; Diane Sawyer and Janet Jackson won't be bosom buddies; Condi and Maxim?
03/31/04: Hair-raising day on Wall Street; Foxy lady loses 50 Cent; How do you say "party animal" in Hebrew?; Rev. Al and Janet Jackson; more
03/26/04: Bye, bye Banfield; from porn to politics?; more
03/24/04: The perils of film criticism; Dole-ing out compliments; but what about a cure for career lag?; more
03/19/04: Trump trumps everything; Mario vs. Joe; Trudeau pays up; more
03/17/04: Remembering Hillary %*&$#! Clinton; PUT AWAY THAT KRYPTONITE!; more
03/12/04: OOPS!, did Jayson Blair do it again?; skewing Young; more
03/10/04: The laugh that dare not speaks its name; Mistaken identity? NAH!; Is this a great country or what?
03/05/04: Bush vs. Kerry: a Skull session; Kramer vs. The Times, scorch session; enthusiasm curbed; (Tina) Brown-nosing?
03/03/04: Oscars memorialize Hitler's fave filmmaker; baubles, bangles and Kelly Osbourne; moonwalking through cyberspace; more
02/27/04: Regan rebellion; Ed Limato strikes again!; tears for Tom; more
02/26/04: McCain predicts a nasty campaign; the misdirected missive; Janet Jackson, the interview; more
02/20/04: Introducing the Kerry sisters; cyberflap!; Snoop Dogg v. O'Reilly?; more
02/18/04: John Kerry's Friendster?; On the mend?; food for fraughtm; more
02/13/04: John & Carolyn, redux; Zell Miller shows the flag; kill Quentin?; more
02/11/04: HE FEELS BAD!; Dick Cheney, still not dead; more
02/06/04: Glittering Grammys; a laurel for Janet; Haryl's heart
02/04/04: Shriver quits NBC; "Marshmallow" Mike Tyson?; Super Bowl propriety?; MTV's next production?; more
01/30/04: The political forehead front; Alies meets Franken; the art of the hype; arrested career development?
01/28/04: Eyebrow-raising politics; call him indescribable; Woods vs. Williams; more
01/23/04: Eyebrow-raising mystery; who's punk'd anyway?; don't curb your enthusiasm; more
01/21/04: Ridiculous lives of the self-important stars; long arm of the law; all's fair in love and literature
01/16/04: Global warming at a glacial pace; targeting pop culture; Is 'the price of loyalty' too high?
01/14/04: Busting on the "cult buster"; Sarsgaard thinks globally; one angry woman; more
01/08/04: Sitcom star won't be excused from Blake murder trial; fierstein on fire; Drudge & Blumenthal, together again
01/07/04: Bono hits a brick wall; Britney, before the nuttiness; the Arianna primary; more
01/02/04: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio!?; "Bachelor" bruises; Returning to the scene of the crime?
12/31/03: Disaster for the defense; no-war Omar; the shoe must go on; more
12/19/03: Bob Shapiro's free commercial?; Are sophisticated and hip New Yawkers easily duped?; Positive Saddam fallout?; Ratty insult?
12/17/03: Magic Mystery Tour?; Russell Simmons battles ink by the barrel; Would it have killed her to say 'get well soon'?; no Gest room
12/12/03: Karenna defends her dad; now she tells us!; say it ain't so, Mo!; more
12/10/03: Man & wife, interruptus; pepperoni has feelings, too; more
12/05/03: The knives are out; Who's sorry now?; JWR in the news
12/04/03: The war of the gest-minnellis; something borrowed, something cashmere; fashion trendsetter, nailed!
12/03/03: Colombian grace under pressure; Lord of the Screwups; more
12/02/03: Curb your anti-Semitism?; fame fatigue?; bowing to pressure?; more
12/01/03: Dennis the Menace strikes again; first literary feud of the holiday season; Norma Jean & Hef in heaven?; the fog of McNamara; more
11/26/03: Catherine Crier raps Jacko's TV defender, refuses on-air hint of racism; At 50, Tina's in full cry; STAY OUT OF HER WAY!; more
11/25/03: The mogul strikes back?; go ahead, make Harvey's day; more
11/24/03: Georgette's pilfered baubles; prosecutor of pop?; absent but not missed?; Norman Mailer's prescription for education reform; more
11/20/03: Is a movie career in store for Maria Bartiromo?; People for the Unethical Treatment of Humans?; more
11/19/03: Scientologists on Razor's edge?; picking a winner?; source on a hot tin roof?; more
11/18/03: Clay Aiken neuters PETA?; THEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS!; a mural for Joe
11/17/03: When networks attack!; leaky Fawcett; forget the Paris Hilton video!; more
11/13/03: Publicity hounds; Prophetic priest; Dumb and Dumber
11/12/03: Not so Rosie; do you believe in miracles?; catalogue of sins; My Heart Belongs to Koppel
11/10/03: Gen. clark on the Subway diet; life of the party; MTV's Dumb and Dumber?; the hug issue; but does the $6,000 shower curtain convey?; red faces at Buckingham palace?
11/06/03: Let them eat pita?; verbal jousting; pretenders to the throne?
11/05/03: Will Harvey Weinstein and Gregg Easterbrook now be pals?; crazed Quentin; more
11/04/03: Herding off the hipsters; more
11/03/03: Dean's tell-all on himself?; Lisaraye vs. Mya?; the odd couple; no need to panic; just don't call him "Scooter"!; Rosie scenarios
10/30/03: Autumn of the editor?; Cynthia Nixon's split may be costly; 'Burning' questions
10/29/03: Ah-nold, unauthorized!; a dilemma for Melissa Gilbert? not even Frank Gifford can help him now!; nobody wanted Elizabeth Hurley
10/28/03: It's Cher calling!; Brown Alert
10/27/03: Paparazzi uncensored!; where's Aaron Brown?; postcards from the middle; invasion of the party snatchers?; House flooded when not afire?; suspenders of disbelief?
10/23/03: Ace up Howard Dean's sleeve; Woody's ordeal; Paul Simon's kid makes good; the non-beginning of a beautiful friendship?
10/22/03: Showing the flag; Joe Frazier, smokin'!; see Carville bruised-up — sort of
10/21/03: Morris & Jaci's charm offensive; Hell hath no fury; Wintertime for Hitler
10/20/03: Isn't it rich?; men (and the occasional woman) behaving badly; peacenik John Lennon supporting the U.S. military?; courageous Connie
10/16/03: George Clooney and intolerable Drudgery; Cameron goes native; and you thought the war in Iraq was nasty?; now it can be revealed; star wars?
10/15/03: Kerik into the breach?; holiday pander?; "the Dink" corrects the record; more
10/14/03: Madge gets mad, lips are sealed; the candidates who listen; he who hesitates is Beatty
10/13/03: Clothes, but no cigar; New Yorkers put a Sox in it; mad at Matalin?; more
10/09/03: Gray Davis goes to the movies; Ali Wentworth, working blue; Law & Order?; pot of gold at the end of the rainbow room?
10/08/03: Art-time for Hitler; the actress who hates movies; lying "Liam"
10/07/03: Pond scum of the rich and famous
07/24/03: Ali and George, living it up; Mel Gibson's Washington power play
07/21/03: White House smear?
07/17/03: Yet another intern scandal; it's her party and she can pay if she wants to
07/14/03: On the auction block: JFK'S boxer shorts; love bytes the maestro
07/10/03: A hairy situation at Homeland Security; Van Susteren v. Orth
06/30/03: Rep. Patrick Kennedy: I've never worked a (bleeping) day in my life; Drudge's dressing down; Ken Lay's Kerry connection
06/26/03: Rapping the beat
06/23/03: Another Watergate scandal?; AL GORE TV!
06/19/03: Tony Snow, rocker?; that won't be crow on Mr. Carlson's plate
06/16/03: Missing dog, ransom demand, Hollywood ending
06/12/03: Giving both parties the needle
06/05/03: Incoming from Barbara Bush?
06/02/03: Bob Dole's plan for fighting unemployment
05/29/03: Newt's new novel
05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate