Of Human Interest: News-lite

By ELLEN BECK, United Press International  |  May 30, 2002 at 4:30 AM
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The western good guy, the cowboy in the white hat made famous by Owen Wister's 1902 book "The Virginian," turned 100 on Thursday. James Butler, a La Salle University professor of English and Wister scholar calls the author the "Kipling of the American West."

Butler admits much in the book, published May 30, 1902, and later films based on it now is considered cliché -- the white hats of the good guys, black hats for the evil-doers and the hero as a loner.

"He wanted to preserve the West the way it was," Butler said. "When he sat down in his Philadelphia club to write his first western story, Wister created one of America's pervasive mythologies."

"The Virginian," was an immediate hit -- one of the most-read novels in the first half of the 20th century. Henry Fonda and Boris Karloff appeared in theater productions and the first movie based on the book was made in 1929 and starred Gary Cooper. The most recent movie was in 2000 with Bill Pullman.

There were 50 editions of the book in print by 1927 and Scribner's is publishing a new edition for the 100th anniversary.

"When the Virginian and Molly the school marm ride off into the sunset at the book's end, 'The Virginian' blazed a trail for Tom Mix, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood," Butler said.

Wister was on the verge of a nervous breakdown in 1885 when his physician suggested he head west for rejuvenation. Wister returned from Wyoming and told friends the western way of life, the life of the cowboy, was about to die off and he wanted to write about it before it was gone.


Three days before the debut of the Star Wars movie "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" in the United States, pirated DVD copies of the film were available for sale in major Chinese cities.

For Hollywood film studios, which collect more than 50 percent of a film's revenue from overseas box office receipts, profit losses from pirated DVDs is considerable, according to industry groups.

The Motion Picture Association of America estimates pirated DVDs make up more than 90 percent of the DVD market in China, which is the world's largest maker of DVD players. Pirated movies cost the industry about $3 billion dollars in lost revenue every year, the group says.

Officials say raids, like one last month in the southern city of Shenzhen, in which authorities seized two vessels carrying about 4 million compact discs, are indications of a tough stance on the illegal industry. They claim nationwide anti-piracy efforts will eventually break the industry. But reality is different.

Shao Jiayi sets up his portable box-table and stool on a busy Shanghai street, then hastily unveils a bounty of pirated Hollywood films for sale. Within minutes, hordes of pedestrians converge on the makeshift booth and begin thumbing over scores of recent blockbusters such as "The Scorpion King" and "Spider-Man."

"It's not a respectable job, but I've got to make a living," said the 25-year-old vendor, who says he sells hundreds of DVDs and VCDs daily. "Sure, it's illegal, but I don't worry about the police."

Local police take kickbacks from vendors' bosses to look the other way, he said, except during the national holidays when citywide crackdowns on vice force them off the street for a few days.

(Thanks to Christian Wade, UPI Business Correspondent in Shanghai, China.)


Chicago is debuting I-GO, its new new car-sharing service that gives drivers the convenience of using a vehicle when they need one without the headaches of ownership. Run by the non-profit Center for Neighborhood Technology's Community Energy Cooperative, I-GO is based on the Seattle program Flexcar and offers a lifetime membership of $125.

The cooperative said I-GO cars are available to members 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations for a car can be made by phone, minutes in advance and for as little as an hour. The cars are located in reserved parking spaces in urban neighborhoods.

Members only pay for usage plus a $20 monthly fee. Usage fees are $4.50 per hour plus 50 cents per mile.

"With I-GO, Chicagoans have the benefits of private, motorized transportation and the benefit of contributing to improved air quality by reducing the number of cars on the street," said Marcia Jimenez, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Environment, in a statement.

Kathryn Tholin, general manager of the Community Energy Cooperative, said: "Car-sharing has been proven to reduce harmful vehicle emissions by reducing the number of privately owned vehicles. For every car-sharing vehicle, approximately six private cars are sold."


Country's Dixie Chicks, whose songs blend bluegrass, pop, rock and stone country music, have been named first winners of the Country Music Television Flameworthy Video Visionary Award. Emily Robison, Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines formed the group four years ago and are well known for their video creativity.

The group will accept the award on stage at the CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards ceremony telecast live on Wednesday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET.

"We know that music videos are instrumental in bringing our music to the fans and we take making them very seriously. There aren't any videos we've done that we haven't been completely involved in the creative process," Maguire told CMT.

Added Natalie Maines, "CMT and music videos helped us a lot in the beginning as far as face, name and song recognition. Now it's not so much that we have to make a video, it's like we get to make a video."

Since their first video, "I Can Love You Better," hit the CMT charts at No. 1 in March 1998, the Dixie Chicks have struck gold with all of their music videos. Videos from their debut album "Wide Open Spaces," including "I Can Love You Better," "There's Your Trouble," "Wide Open Spaces" and "You Were Mine" reached the No. 1 slot on the weekly CMT Top 20 Countdown charts.

All of the videos from their sophomore album, "Fly," including "Ready to Run," "Cowboy Take Me Away," "Goodbye Earl" and "Without You" also have hit No. 1 on the CMT charts.

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