WELCH GIVES UP BENEFITS
The Securities and Exchange Commission had launched an informal investigation into the contract of General Electric's former chief executive.
After a flurry of criticism, Jack Welch gave up his multi-million dollar perks from GE, such as use of a $15 million Manhattan apartment and its associated costs, including wine, food, laundry, toiletries, newspapers and dining bills. His retirement benefits were disclosed in a divorce filing by his estranged wife.
In a letter published in the Wall Street Journal, Welch says to "avoid the company being dragged into a public fight because of my divorce proceedings" he would pay the cost of using most facilities and services." He estimates the cost at $2 million to $2.5 million a year.
Welch, who continues as a consultant with GE, says he will retain only his office and administrative support.
-- Has the reputation of one of the most celebrated and successful CEOs of the 20th century been tarnished?
-- Should the SEC review the compensation of senior executives?
A RUSSIAN HARRY POTTER?
A Russian author is insisting his creation, Tanya Grotter, is not a copy of Harry Potter, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.
"Tanya Grotter and Her Magical Double Bass" features a heroine who wears round spectacles, flies a magic musical instrument, has a mole on her nose and attends the Abracadabra school for young witches.
But writer Dimitri Yemetz insists his teenage magician is an original creation. "The character is a cultural reply rather than plagiarism, the characters and the stories in the book are Russian folklore based on Russian culture and traditions," he says.
The Moscow-based Russian publisher of the Potter books sees things differently -- a spokesman calls the book "outrageous" and "a serious violation of copyright."
The book is being analyzed in London to decide whether to take legal action.
The front cover is strikingly similar to that of the Harry Potter series and the author admits that with his publishers, he made a conscious decision to make them look the same.
-- If the book is a parody, should it have a similar cover?
-- Would you feel ripped off buying a book you thought was in a series to find it was a look-alike parody?
THE AL ROKER BRAND
Al Roker, NBC's "Today" weather man has big plans for Al Roker Productions Inc., his own production company that employees a staff of 15.
Like Oprah Winfrey, Roker has ambitions to make everything from reality shows to television movies to documentaries on education and race, TV Guide reports.
"I won't make any bones about it. I'd love to do a talk show," he says. "It would be more Rosie O'Donnell than Oprah."
Roker, who recently dropped more than 90 pounds, says, "I know I'm not your typical matinee idol. This is a business where people put you in a box and some will say, 'Oh, he's just a weather guy.'"
Roker has written two best-selling books, "Don't Make Me Stop This Car!" and "Al Roker's Big Bad Book of Barbecue" and he's also producing an hour-long documentary on bias crimes.
Meanwhile, his fatherhood book could launch bigger things. "If somebody said to me, 'We'd like to build a magazine around you for dads,' that would be intriguing," he says.
-- Would you buy the Roker "brand?"
-- Does everyone want to be Oprah?