FORMER ENRON EXEC TAKES HIS OWN LIFE
The Enron collapse has yet another victim. Police in Houston say former Enron Vice Chairman J. Clifford Baxter has apparently committed suicide, shooting himself in the head inside his parked car in a Houston suburb. Baxter resigned from the failing company last May, several months before Enron started falling apart, causing a national scandal and sending economic shockwaves through the economy of the Texas city. A Houston police officer, Sgt. Truman Body, said he found Baxter during a routine neighborhood patrol early Friday morning. Baxter was a native of Amityville, N.Y., a top student in high school and was the valedictorian of his college graduating class in 1987. He had ostensibly quit Enron to spend more time with his family. But he was among the first in the company to predict its eventual disaster. J. Clifford Baxter was only 43.
CAREY AND EMI PART COMPANY
Even though the initial word was that not-doing-so-well-lately pop star-actress Mariah Carey and Virgin Records had parted company with a smile, there are published reports that some in Carey's corner think she got the short end of the stick. Carey, who has had two major disasters in recent months -- the failure of both her "Glitter" CD and the movie from which it came -- also has been beset with embarrassing emotional problems. To make matters worse, the "Glitter" project was released on 9/11 last year. Carey reportedly received about $50 million as her "final paycheck" from the record company, which is owned by venerable EMI. The value of her remaining contract was estimated to be about twice that amount.
LIZA SAYS LOVE IS THE BEST MEDICINE
This time last year many fans of Liza Minnelli wondered if she had much longer to live. She had been diagnosed with encephalitis and had gained 90 pounds. There were reports that she might never sing again. Now, in an interview with the British press, a much-thinner, smiling, healthy Minnelli says her new relationship with fiancé David Gest is the medicine she needed to put her life and career back together. Minnelli, 55, also said she found inner strength from the memory of her parents, singer-actress-legend Judy Garland and director Vincent Minnelli. In early April she will be back on the boards again, beginning a European concert tour. Performances are being planned in Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany and Denmark.
FREDDY FENDER DOING WELL AFTER TRANSPLANT
Doctors in San Antonio, Texas, confirm that surgery to replace a kidney in singer-songwriter Freddy Fender went smoothly. The kidney, donated by his 21-year-old daughter Marla Garcia of Jacksonville, Fla., took several hours. Fender had been on regular dialysis for more than a year awaiting a suitable donor organ. The singer may be hospitalized for some time while he gains strength. The hospital reports that his daughter may be able to return home in a day or two. Fender is now 64 and is up for another Grammy this year for a CD containing music from his Hispanic roots in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
BROWN'S RAP TO BE RE-RELEASED
The controversial autobiography of 1960s radical leader H. Rap Brown is about to be re-issued with new material added as an update. The Chicago Review Press made the announcement Thursday. Brown, who is now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, is facing charges in Atlanta in connection with the gunshot death of a county deputy two years ago. The initial printing of "Die, Nigger, Die," went to press in 1969. Seven subsequent printings were made as demand for the controversial book grew. The new edition of the book contains a condemnation of the current legal proceedings against Brown. The trial could get underway soon.
THE COUNT HAS MANY LIVES ... COUNT 'EM
Just in time for this week's release of the movie "The Count of Monte Cristo," USA Today has compiled a look at the incredible number of treatments the Alexandre Dumas book has gotten over the years. It notes that prior to this latest movie version -- starring Jim Caviezel and written for the screen by Jay Wolpert, a former producer of "The Price is Right" -- some 35 movie and TV versions (including sequels) have been filmed. The publication notes that most think that Robert Donat's 1934 portrayal of the swashbuckling, sword-wielding count is the best. By the way, USA Today's research shows that Dumas was a prolific writer because he was among the first to employ a staff of "ghostwriters." He cranked out the publications and books and even fought a duel or two himself during his own colorful career.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 255
This week we're asking about your career moves and life at the workplace. Here is the final question of the week: "Without mentioning any names or places, have you ever had an office mate or work colleague who was so difficult to be around that you dreaded going to work with a passion and relished the days when he or she was not there?" Put COLLEAGUE in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 250 (MONITOR)
A week ago I was in a major chain store and was appalled at the near-nudity on the TV monitors. I asked the manager and he noted that the material was coming from the home office via satellite and that mine was not the first complaint. I'm still in the process of trying to get through to the right person at the company to talk about the issue. Meanwhile, here are some of your thoughts on a question that evoked a ton of mail and some strident comments: Quentina says that she is often shocked also and notes that in addition to the nudity and bump-and-grind videos (that would have been great for bachelor parties a decade ago) there is also too much violence on the monitors. Barbara says that she recently went into a Kmart in Louisville, Ky., to find all the big-screen TV sets tuned to a Jerry Springer show. Nigel checks in again from Down Under to report that one TV station in Australia often runs promos for shows with "over-15 content," complete with the raciest scenes, during "the children's hour." Bev says she was in a store recently where all the monitors were tuned to some of the most violent stuff she'd ever seen ... and the store was full of kids. Worse still, she reports, are the really loud stereo systems blaring songs that contain the that four-letter word that begins with "F" with a host of pre-teens around. Brenda agrees with me that many of the rock videos, which seem more like strip shows full of gyrating, barely clothed female "singers" with "bedroom eyes," are everywhere. Finally, Melba notes that the malls are the worst. "Full of unsupervised children wandering around being exposed to all that stuff." I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this. I still welcome mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with MONITOR in the subject line. I'd love to hear if you've taken any action on this. GBA.