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Pulse OF THE City

By D Magazine |

Toon Times at the Telegram

Ex-Fort Worth publisher sues Disney for wrongful termination.

TO: Michael Eisner, CEO, Walt Disney Company, former owner of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FROM: Mark Donald, writer

RE: Treatment for screenplay about fired Star-Telegram publisher Rich Connor

PLOT PREMISE: Inspired by actual events, the Rich Connor story, portraying his life and recent firing by ABC/ Disney, should be done only the way Disney can do it: as an animated feature film. What I propose is a rendering of the life of this newspaperman using many of the wacky cartoon characters within the Disney family. Only then will the audience see how mickey-mouse one of the world’s largest media conglomerates can really be. (I see Goofy in the role of Connor… assuming Goofy is a dog.)


The Life and Times of a Real Media Hound


A quick montage of shots follows puppy-eyed Rich Connor as he jumps on the journalistic gravy train and garners a position in Michigan as editor of the Hillsdale Daily News at the age of 22 ( 154 in dog years). In 1979, Connor wins praise from his new master, Capital Cities Inc. (which later merges with ABC Inc.), and becomes publisher of a newspaper in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. No lap dog he, Connor refuses to roll over and play dead when a violent labor strike threatens to end both his life and the paper’s. After six years of dogged determination. Capital Cities finally throws him a large bone. In July 1986, Connor is made publisher and president of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as the camera fades to black.


Scene 1: The camera abruptly cuts to medium shot: Star-Telegram newsroom, 1993. Disgruntled staffers gather ’round to hear about the latest personnel changes. Close-up on Rich Connor, who has gone western and struts around with a pomposity reserved for top dogs. Connor anoints Debbie Price, an attractive, inexperienced columnist as executive editor simply because he can, (Price can easily be played by Cruella De Ville of 101 Dalmatians fame). Her ’”off with their heads” management style causes many veterans to leave the paper. Staffers accuse Connor (and Price) of having little bark and no bite to their editorial policy, of killing stories that take shots at Cowtown’s elite, of narrowing the paper’s news focus to just Tarrant County.

Scene 2: Bad press and disharmony within the ranks put Connor in the doghouse with Capital Cities/ABC, which is now owned by Disney. In May of 1996, corporate big wig, Phillip Meek, comes to town and fires Connor. Price is also let go. (Meek might be played by the Genie in Aladdin if disgruntled employees have any say).

Confusion reigns supreme at the paper as Connor again refuses to roll over. He makes his appeal to top brass, claiming that it is Meek’s management style, not his, that is “discriminatory and malicious.” He alleges a grand conspiracy against him, a woolly cabal that has plotted to undo him from the start. For a time, no one knows who’s in charge at the paper. Is Price out? Is Connor in? Finally word comes down from on high. Price must go, but Connor can stay.

Scene 3 : Meek isn’t finished. In August of 1996, he demotes Connor by fax. In November, Connor is given the opportuni-ty to resign orbe fired a second time. Chaos again seizes the paper as Connor refuses to resign. Is he in or out? Who’s in control? Second verse same as the first. Ironically, Connor learns of his termination in February by reading about it in the Star-Telegram.. The scene fades to black.


Exterior shot of the federal building in downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, one of the locations Connor has chosen to file his two lawsuits. The time is the near future. Interior shot of courtroom, close up on a humbled Rich Connor whose brazen bid to buy the Star-Telegram was rejected when Disney sold the paper to Knight-Ridder. Connor pleads with a female judge (possibly Miss Piggy, if contracts permit). He asks for justice and S90 million, the same amount Michael Ovitz, the ex-president of Disney received as his severance package. Screen turns to black as final credits roll.

A Guide to Kid-Friendly Banks

Leading your children down the savings path.

YOU CONTINUALLY PREACH TO your 10-year-old about the virtues of saving money, secretly hoping he won’t grow up to be like you: a deficit spender who maxes out his VISA every month. Somehow you convince your kid that he should open up a bank account so he can save hi s $5 a week allowance instead of spending it on Laser Tag. Immediately, you march him over to your neighborhood bank and unwittingly separate him from his precious pennies so he can collect interest compounded daily. A month later, he gets a bank statement in the mail: His $10 deposit has been offset by $4 in service charges. Was the bank trying to punish him? he asks. Maybe this savings thing isn’t such a good idea after all.

We called 30 area banks to find out if this scenario holds for our local banking institutions and which of them offer the best deals for kids. Surprisingly, most offer savings accounts for people younger than 18 and waive their service fees. Many require a minimum before a minor can open an account. Bank United. Bank One and Compass Bank require a $100 start-up fee. Those that open savings accounts for children for any amount include BankTexas. Comerica. Dallas National Bank. Guaranty Federal Bank and Texas Commerce Bank.

Parents should be aware that many banks impose restrictions on the number of transactions allowed. Texas Commerce Bank permits only one withdrawal per month; additional withdrawals cost 75tf each. Bank One, allows two withdrawals per month but I charges a $3 fee on additional ones. Like all banks, each requires that parents or guardians co-sign on the account.

In the “you’re kidding!” category. World Savings won’t let your child earn interest until a $250 balance has been reached. Swiss Avenue Bank was downright kid-unfriendly, requiring a hefty $400 to open an account; a $500 balance must be maintained to avoid a service charge.

Reunion Bank, on the other hand, practically caters to kids with its “Looney Tunes” account. Savings accounts are opened for just $10, and for $5 more, children will receive the whole “Looney Tunes” package: savings deposit slips, a passbook cover and a pencil-all with the cartoon design. Reunion gets our nod for the most kid-friendly bank in town.

-Jennifer Chininis


Emily Post-It Notes for the Dallas Upper Crust.

From the Department of the Pretentious: The following are excerpts from the Etiquette section of the 1997 Dallas Social Directory. Although the Directory does not hold the aristocratic cachet it once did, there are still those elitists among us who consider a mention within its pages a fait accompli of Dallas social standing.


In the following pages the term “formal” means “on the completely ceremonious level in all details.” “Informal” does not mean lacking informality but rather denotes some lesser degree of formality….


…Seated dinners have been carefully planned and a courteous guest should not he late….Sometimes, however, the best intentions go awry…. Fifteen minutes is the established length of time that a hostess need delay her dinner for a late guest… Jo wait any longer would be rude to the other guests…If the guest is a lady, she merely shakes hands quickly so all the men at the table need not rise. The latecomer is served whatever course is being eaten at the time he arrives…. “Black tie optional” is never proper. The occasion is either black tie or not black tie. If the man dresses, the lady does also.


Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch. The menu includes breakfast and luncheon food, and is served around 11:00 a.m. These gatherings are usually informal and are served in a buffet style.


..A dinner party can only be considered “formal” when servants serve the meal. If the hostess must rise to clear the table, or if the food is served buffet style, the dinner becomes informal.

Individuals listed in the Dallas Social Directory appear by invitation only.

(Would that be “formal” or “informal”?)

How to Get Your Car Stolen

Favorite spots and hottest wheels for local thieves.

FIRST OF ALL, YOU NEED TO DRIVE THE right kind of car. The ever-reliable Chevy pick-up is a runaway favorite among Dallas car thieves. But your local larcenist enjoys the quick traction of a full variety of makes and models. Your car may make his 10 most wanted list if you own or lease one of the following: CMC pick-up. Ford Mustang. Oldsmobile Cutlass, Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Deville, Honda Accord, Jeep Cherokee, Oldsmobile Delta 88 or Chevrolet Camaro.

As with real estate, the three most important aspects to getting your buggy burgled are location, location, location. According to 1996 Dallas Police reports, you have the best chance to get your car hijacked if you park al 10110 East Technology Blvd., the site of the AMC Grand (think Grand Theft Auto). Seventy-nine vehicles were stolen here, the mega-multiplex providing a comfortable two-hour window for hooligans who can make off with your car “so fast it’s not even funny,” says Sgt. J.D. Dukes of the DPD’s Auto Theft Division. Other notable larceny locations: 26 cars were stolen from the lot of altogether too friendly Friendly Chevrolet at 5601 Leinmon Ave., where criminals get their pick-ups for no money down. Spend too much time shopping at the Harry Hines Bazaar, and your car might be added to the 24 that were taken for granted there last year. Your chances of getting stranded increase substantially if you move to an apartment complex along Jupiter Road between -LBJ Freeway and Northwest Highway, 1 where 52 cars were heisted, or along Webb Chapel Extension, where the legally-challenged made off with 53 cars.

Good luck, park in dimly lit areas and maybe you can become one of the 16,500 car theft victims this year.-A.E. McGill

D Fact Check


● Rank of Dallas Yellow Pages among 1993 directories listing the largest number of tanning salons: 1

● Number of oncologists listed in the 1996 Dallas Yellow Pages:77

● Number of licensed tanning facilities in Dallas County: 117

● City where company that manufacture most tanning beds in the country Is located: Dallas

● Average cost of a salon tanning bed: $5,000

● Peak tanning month: April

● Average number of daily customers at Dark Tan in Dallas during April 1996: 450.

● Estimated number of Americans who will tan indoors this year: 30 million

● Percentage of people who go to a tanning salon even though they have a skin type that can’t tan: 50.

● Percentage of Indoor tanners who are men: 35

● Percentage of indoor tanners who are women: 65

● Cost of a year’s worth of unlimited tanning at Palm Beach Tan: S350.

● Tuition for one semester at Richland College for full-time student: $305

Sources Internationa Smart Tan Network. Suntanning Association for Education, Puretan of Dallas, Texas Department of Health. Food and Drug Administration FDA Consumer Magazine Palm Beach Tan, Resont Tan Avenue of Beauty. American Academy of Dermatology. Harper’s Magazine FIVE-DAY FORECAST: THE HITS AND MISSES OF HIGHS AND LOWS

Challenging the cliché “if you don’t like Texas weather, wait a day,” our local TV soothsayers dare to foretell the weather five days into the future. These prophets of precipitation must be held accountable-at least to some degree. D decided to take the temperature of our 6 p.m. weather watchers for March 11-15 and chart their accuracy against actual conditions. Tim Heller was the winner, followed by Scott Sams, David Rnfrock and Bob Goosman.


The Case of the Snitching Shyst

THROUGHOUT MUCH OF 1995, THE Dallas County Courthouse was held hostage by rumors that infamous criminal attorney Robert Rose was about to turn government informant in exchange for leniency on his federal wire fraud and tax evasion convictions. Talk was that Rose had set up several judges, ensnaring them in an insidious bribery scheme. With the possibility of federal indictments looming against state court judges, the integrity of the entire judiciary was at stake. When Rose was sentenced on Sept. 7, 1995, to 16 months in the federal pen and no indictments were returned against any judges, no one understood why. Then on Sept. 16, 1996, Rose had the unmitigated chutzpah to file a motion to set aside his original sentence, claiming he did not understand the consequences of his felony plea (despite having practiced criminal law in Dallas for 19 years).

In response to this motion, the prosecution last January revealed the full extent of Rose’s cooperation and effectively quashed rumors of a judiciary out of control. The following are excerpts from the prosecution’s brief that disclose not only Rose’s absurd attempt to lighten his punishment but also the government’s apparent willingness to be led by the nose:


Rose asserted that he had valuable information for the government and could produce great results.

Much of the pre-indictment discussions focused on his ability to cooperate. Rose was told that, like other defendants, he’d have to pass a polygraph examination before being allowed to assist the government in any investigation. He was told that he would not be prosecuted for crimes he told the government about that he’d participated in committing. Rose was not able to successfully pass the FBI polygraph due to his apparent knowledge of or participation in three separate murders or conspiracy to commit murders. Therefore, Rose never assisted the government in any investigation and did not provide substantial assistance…

Rose provided information about several people, including lawyers, bail bondsmen, drug smugglers/dealers, money laun-derers, organized crime figures, frequent flyer/airline ticket brokers, travel agents, securities!stock market investors and others. Much of the information was false or not verifiable. As an example, Rose claimed that he had information that Don King, the boxing promoter, fixed lower card fights. As proof. Rose stated that specific fights he identified were fixed and (old the FBI agents who would win the fights. As it turned out, the winners of the fights were exactly opposite of who Rose said would win the fights.

On March 27,1997, Rose’s motion to set aside his sentence was denied. He is currently working at a casino in Las Vegas.


How Dallas Got Its Rep for Gorgeous Gals In March, D told you that Dallas has the most beautiful women in the world. This month, we tell you how that reputation evolved.

The year was 1934. Walter Winchell, America’s gossip czar, was appearing at the Fox Theater in Detroit. During a break, he was introduced to eight teens who had all trained at the same Dallas dance school. The abundance of beauty prompted him to proclaim, “Dallas women are the most beautiful in the world!” The item made the Detroit papers.

Of the group, the only local beauty remaining in Dallas is Willetta Stellmacher (pictured far left), who was 16 when the troupe played the Fox and who turns 80 this month.

After the Fox, Willetta went on to star with such names as the Dorsey Brothers and Lawrence Welk.

She turned down a Twentieth Century movie contract in 1944 and returned to Dallas. Her family farm and a neighbor’s had become Lakewood, and she turned land developer and apartment complex manager. She now owns the mansion at the corner of Swiss Avenue and La Vista, where she hosts an annual White Rock Marathon party, and is revered by friends who maintain she is still one of Dallas’ most beautiful women. -Elizabeth Eckstein

Still Smarmy After All These Years

Dallas City Council member Paul Fielding, in less troubled times, decided to write the following letter to the editor to protest a 0 story about SMU. Though just a preppy himself, his letter smacks of the same cheekiness that has marked his tenure at City Hall.

The House that Howard Built

Rachofsky opens his doors to those who play by his rules.

LOCAL PHILANTHROPIST AND ART collector Howard Rachofsky, who made his millions in the risky business of managing hedge funds, doesn’t take risks when it comes to how his house-cummuseum will be used. Although Rachofsky has hosted a whirlwind ?6 charitable events in his art palace on Preston in the past six months, his beneficence has its limits.

“Howard has certain charities he wants to benefit from using his home, and if he doesn’t believe in what you’re doing, he won’t let you use it,” says a local arts fundraiser. Among those on the Rachofsky A-list are United Way, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Opera, the East Dallas Community School (where Rachofsky is aboard member) and the Golden Acres Jewish Retirement Home, where one of Ra-chofsky’s relatives once lived.

Rachofsky’s generosity extends to nonprofits only-everyone else is required to make a donation under his name, the amount of which is at his discretion, to a charity of his choice. Former DMA employee Alycen Cuellar-Mani, now The Rachofsky House manager, says so far, no “for-profit” organizations have tried to book the house.

Even after permission is granted, an organization will receive a thick packet of information that includes a list of 19 “Rachofsky House Rules” that must be read, signed and returned. The rules state that everything from the theme of the event to the flower arrangements must be approved in advance. A guest list must be provided. No unsupervised children, smoking or red wine is allowed.

If your caterer or florist is not on the “approved” list, they must be screened by Rachofsky and Cuellar-Mani-and Rachofsky himself decides what food and wine makes it through the door.

“He has really high standards of what is served in his house,” says an employee of another arts organization who recently gave a party at the house. A thorough cleanup, which costs $200, is required after each event, supervised by The Rachofsky House housekeeper.

The Rules further state that any publicity for an event must be pre-approved. Groups of 50 or more must hire, at their own expense, from yet another pre-approved list valet parking, traffic police and inside security.

Even with these added costs, The Rachofsky House may be the best deal in town. Surprisingly, Rachofsky himself greets each guest at the front door. “He insisted on wearing a name tag,” says one incredulous chairwoman. “I said, ’I think everyone will know who you are,’ but he wanted to wear one anyway.”

As an added bonus, Rachofsky gives guests tours of his art collection and bids them good night after the party ends. “He was charmingly friendly, mingling all evening,” says Régine Ginsberg, president of Friends of Golden Acres. “It added so much to have him there to speak with people and to show them the art.”

But with more than 600 strangers traipsing through his house in a given week, Rachofsky may want his house back for a while. As of this writing, he hasn’t booked any events for the summer, and he will decide later whether to continue again in the fall. -Rebecca Sherman



“The Dallas Morning News is yesterday’s news. As far as I am concerned, The Dallas Morning News can go to hell.”

-One of lawyer Steven Jones” shoot-from-the-lip responses to a conlroversial Morning News article. saying his client, Timothy McVeigh, confessed to bombing the Oklahoma City federal building.


“I would not be bound by the truth, if it meant assuring my client a fair trial.”

-Richard Zitrin. author of a hook on legal ethics, commenting on the contradictory responses that lawyer Steven Jones gave to the media regarding [he Morning News story.


“I can’t help it if a guy is stuck here in Austin, grew up in Hillsboro, and doesn’t care to step into real civilization.”

-Arlington Rep. Kim Brimer taking issue with L[. Gov. Bob Bullock’s position that taxing citizens for a new arena amounts to “corporate welfare.”


“Deion knows that I love him, and I know that he loves me. And with that love, we feel that anything else can be accomplished.”

-Comments by Carolyn Sanders last September aller reconciling with husband Deion. Carolyn again hied for divorce on March 3.


“I don’t think I did it with evil intentions. I thought I was doing a good thing.”

-Testimony of co-conspirator Cynthia LeBaron during the trial of a cult leader who allegedly ordered the slaying of three ex-followers. LeBaron admitted stalking the victims and giving the go-ahead signal for the murders, one of which occurred in Dallas.


“Are you idiots or what? You moved in next to a dump!”

-Longtime Lewisville resident Lee Baker responding to criticism from his new neighbors who are lighting plans by Waste Management of Texas to raise the level of its nearby landfill front 90 to 240 feel.