CAN YOU SAY “DEJA VU”?: Even though Carl Thomas has only been in the public eye for three years, he apparently yearns for the good old days. Barely a week after his latest administrative aide, Van Dunn, resigned to sell mobile home lots, the unpredictable Thomas called his original aide, Gary Griffith, to woo him back into the fold. Griffith, who left Thomas following revelations that the sheriff was consorting with convicted felon Smokey Joe Smith, firmly refused the offer, deciding to keep his present post with the development division of SMU.
DlRT RICH: Interesting tidbit from a recent MPF Research newsletter: The world of big-time construction is a little less competitive than industry spokesmen would have us believe. All four of the larger-valued (in excess of $20 million) non-residential construction permits let in 1978 – including the Plaza of the Americas complex, the Dallas Market Center addition, Trammell Crow’s new 34-story tower, and Reunion Arena – went to the Henry C. Beck Company. Beck’s total take? A cool $122.9 million.
MAG DEALS: The huge promotional investment WFAA-TV made in Candy Hasey and “PM Magazine” has paid off handsomely. Since hitting the airwaves last fall, the local feature program has pulled Channel 8 from fourth place to first in the 6:30 prime access slot – the first time a locally produced program has led in a non-news slot. No firm figures are available yet, but “PM” producer Ken Rees says the ad rates have been raised “several times” and the program’s advertising time is completely sold out.
STAYIN’ ALIVE: Hottest couple on the local disco scene is Jill Bradley and Tom Huse, who won the KNUS/Joske’s dance contest. Tom, 22, recently auditioned for chorus work in Las Vegas; Jill, 20, has plans to take on Hollywood soon. Meanwhile, he’s waiting tables at the 94th Aero Squadron and she’s trying to earn enough money to pay off her car.
FAMILY FEUD: The decadeold dispute among heirs to the Caruth homeplace is apparently settled. We hear that the principals in the flap, W. W. Caruth Jr. and his nephew Caruth Byrd, have canceled complicated joint ownership clauses concerning various parcels of land in the tract at Central and Northwest Highway. Presumably, each has taken an equal cut of the legendary soil to do with as he wishes. Caruth reportedly has already negotiated a sale of some of his acreage to NorthPark developer Ray Nastier, who has wanted to construct a NorthPark South on the tract for several years. If the sale goes through, don’t hold your breath waiting for the new NorthPark addition: Nasher has taken his plans before the City Plan Commission at least three times in the past and they were rejected each time – largely because of the effects a new center would have on traffic flow in the area.
What’s in a name?: Here’s our bureaucracy-run-amuck story of the month: Seems an executive at a Fort Worth trucking company recently received a call from the city’s CETA representative soliciting job openings for the federal program’s workers. The trucker, just for fun, asked his caller what the acronym stood for. “Don’t know,” was the sheepish reply. “I believe it’s Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, isn’t it?” replied the amused exec. “Sounds good to me,” said the bureaucrat.
Julie, julie, julie: There’s some kind of lesson about our increasingly litigious society in the case of Julie Wullschleger, the former Miss Arlington who sued that city for allegedly depriving her of two months of financial benefits from her title. It seems that Miss Wullschleger, now known as Julie Wray, may stand to make a good deal more than the $10,000 she asked for in the lawsuit – because of the publicity she got by suing.
While the suit – in which Julie alleges the city arbitrarily truncated her reign by two months – hangs in limbo, Miss Wullscnleger is building quite a following as a model and actress. She was recently named Miss Miracle Whip and hopes to be the next Miss Swiss Cheese (both lucrative titles), helped hype Aquarian Waterbeds, and was involved in promotional activities for the Avon Women’s Tennis Tournament.
Julie’s management firm, Stars of Texas, obviously knows how to keep cashing in. In the next few months, Julie’s pixyish face and somewhat more-than-pixyish figure will adorn a series of billboards in Dallas/Fort Worth – pushing, of course, simply Julie. As Julie says, “Things have been going very well since the suit. We’ve gotten a lot of publicity all over the country. Of course, we haven’t really made any money out of the publicity.” Sure.
Wright moves: Word is that new DISD superintendent Linus Wright’s cost-consciousness may seriously affect Nolan Estes’ friend Bill Webster and his Department of Research and Evaluation.
R & E was one of Estes’ favorite creations – in less than a decade, the former superintendent expanded its budget to more than $2 million. Look for Wright, who is said to have less affection for studies and reports than for a solid bottom line, to ask Webster to do some belt-tightening in the near future – not only to make good on his promise of more fiscal responsibility in the district, but to place an Estes power base squarely under his thumb.
OLD FACES, NEW PLACES:
Two of Dallas’ most prominent men were hired recently by H. Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Services – former school Supt. Nolan Estes and former Dallas Symphony Director Lloyd Haldeman. Haldeman was tapped full-time to head up a new division of EDS that will market video cassette tapes in a Book-of-the-Month manner.
Estes was hired as a two-day-a-week consultant to develop computer programs for use as teaching aids. This, of course, was a big interest of his during his 10-year stay with the Dallas Independent School District, and was the theme of his most compelling speeches on the future of public education. But it also happens to be a big interest of the controversial Foundation for Quality Education Inc., which Estes created to market products developed by and raise money for the DISD. Coincidentally or not-so-coincidentally, the foundation will be doing business with EDS, according to foundation president James Bond, who declined to elaborate. To avoid appearances of conflict of interest, Estes resigned as a foundation trustee when Perot made his offer.
BlG C, BIG BUCKS: 7-Eleven stores’ latest gimmick to generate publicity may backfire on them. The company recently began marketing special “cancer insurance” in all its stores, with the TV spots offering “Peace of Mind.” The insurance, which both 7-Eleven parent company Southland Corp. and the underwriters, United Fidelity, claim will not yield any more profit than other kinds of insurance, has recently come under congressional scrutiny in other parts of the nation. One congressional report even labeled some cancer policies a complete rip-off.
7-Eleven’s brand of cancer insurance has not yet been called into question; but it may suffer from guilt by association if the official probes continue. In any event, if the program emerges unscathed and proves successful, you can look for some cloning of the concept by Southland: The company’s president, Jere Thompson, sits on the board of United Fidelity, and his company clearly has the marketing apparatus to push all kinds of over-the-counter insurance – a concept that many observers feel is the wave of the future for the insurance industry.
Nobody did it better: The promotion battle between local news ratings leader Channel 8 and third-place Channel 4 has reached the point of absurdity. It all started about a year and a half ago when Channel 8 came out with its “good people, good news” campaign. Channel 4 countered with “best people, best news.” Then WFAA turned to “nobody does it better”; KDFW was only a few days behind with “our station does it better.” In the ensuing months, the stations offered the viewing public “Channel 8 pride” vs. “some people call it pride”; “you can count on us” vs. “you can depend on us”; and most recently, “second to none” vs. “second to none.”
Not surprisingly, each station accuses the other of dirty tricks. In fact, Channel 8 management claims the latest “coincidence” was a result of a loose-lipped printer, who leaked Channel 8’s “second to none” campaign to Channel 4 only days before it was to hit the airwaves. Stay tuned.