Morning News in Big Trouble with The Turn?
Corporate sponsors snub Y2K extravaganza.
JEFF KAPLAN, MANAGING PARTNER OF “The Turn: America at the Millennium,” has been trying since June to sell corporate sponsors on the elaborate exposition being mounted at Fair Park to celebrate-along with the rest of the world- the new millennium. But in late fall, news spread that due to tepid support from Dallas* biggest corporate citizens, The Turn was being scaled back.
Spokesmen for Southwest Airlines and American Airlines confirm that they have declined offers to sponsor the event; NationsBank will not be a major sponsor, but may participate in a small way.
The lack of corporate sponsors could turn into a major embarrassment-and a huge financial loss-for the Morning News, majority owner of the event. Burl Osborne, publisher, and Harold Gaar, VP. financial and investor relations, declined to comment. Bob Mong, the paper’s new president, did not return D’s phone call.
Announced in May by Mayor Ron Kirk, the five-week exposition between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day was to celebrate a moment “we will never experience again,” says Kaplan. Monumental in scale, with three free-standing geodesic domes and a 10-story vaulted and heated dome covering the esplanade, The Turn’s proposed interactive exhibits resemble a local Disneyland for grandparents.
Kaplan believes 1 million people will attend, with adult tickets costing about $20. Other revenue would come from corporate sponsors, concessions, and merchandise, for a total of about $30 million.
Over the summer Kaplan made 130 sales calls to companies offering sponsorships at levels up to $10 million. “We’re amazed at how quickly the corporate world supported the idea,” he says. “Those who put their signature on this event will write a page of history.”
But when asked which corporate citizens had actually signed on as sponsors, Kaplan declined to comment, except to say that deals were imminent. “We’re not making that announcement yet,” he says.
Calls to the larger corporations unearthed no passionate support for The Turn. The main rubs: It’s not a civic event but a for-profit venture for the News’, it’s regional, which makes it hard for national companies to justify big bucks; and perhaps most importantly for image-conscious corporations, “when you spend that much money, you want more control of it,” says one company spokesperson.
“We have it under advisement,” says Betsy Hall of NationsBank. “But it’s an expensive proposition. It’s not a local decision.” Another corporate spokeswoman says she heard Kaplan’s pitch but passed. “I couldn’t see the benefit to us,” she says. “Does this truly enable us to reach our customers? There will be many millennium events. We just might do our own.”
THIS MONTH, THE DALLAS BUREAU OF the New York Times loses not only bureau chief Allen Myerson, but Carol Cropper, his wife, who also writes for the paper. Myerson is leaving to take a post as assistant Sunday business editor of the Times; Cropper will freelance. Replacements have not yet been named.
BIG CHANGE AT WFAA’S “GOOD MORNing Texas.” In November, a dozen or female broadcast-ers auditioned on air to replace Paula McClure. Among those trying out the 9 a.m. couch were Alice Caron, Gina Redmond, and Anita Vanetti. But the high-profile spot was virtually assured to go to a minority to balance out those two white guys named Todd (Whitt-horne and Harrison). And it did: Janette Smith, a thirty-something black news anchor from Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate, started her hosting duties in December.
Smith has a tough act to follow: the show won its time slot in November with a rotation of guest hosts, which included Dionne Warwick. Cowboys’ wives, and Susan Sullivan of “Dharma and Greg.”
■ STAFFERS AT THE MORNING NEWS MANIfest all the signs of shell shock as the events of the fall still reverberate. After a 35 percent decline in the stock price of parent company A, H. Belo, publisher Burl Osborne announced drastic cost-cutting measures, including early retirement buyout offers for staffers over 55.
But most stunning: the abrupt resignations of both Jeremy Halbreich, president and general manager of the News, and the well-liked Ralph Langer, the paper’s editor and executive VP. (See “Should A.H. Belo Sell the Dallas Morning News?” on page 11 of January ’s Business Dallas.)
Langer’s announcement wasn’t unexpected; at 61, he’s been planning to take early retirement for several years. But insiders believe the timing was precipitated by the replacement of Halbreich with Bob Mong. Langer, who had always reported directly to Osborne and CEO Robert Decherd. returned from a trip to discover he would be answering to Mong.
Asked about the timing. Langer points out he has known and worked with Mong 17 years and has recommended him for promotions. “In July, I mentioned to Burl that [retirement] was a strong possibility,” Langer says. “In October, I told him that is what we wanted to do.”
■DEPARTMENT OF GREAT TIMING: Dallas-based Marcoa Publishing Inc. launched the Dallas Real Estate News with publisher Colin Weeks and editor Helen Williams on Sept. I, just as the commercial real estate market hit the wall.
■WHEN WILLIAM R. ARCHER III, appointed state commissioner of health by Gov. George Bush,blasted CBS’ “Chicago Hope” for its negative portrayal of breast-feeding, it marked his first foray into criticism of the media. What’s next for the compassionate conservatives? George W. as a spokesman for the La Leche League?
EDITOR JOHN OSTDICK WAS SHOWN THE door at American Way, American Airlines’ in-flight magazine. Seems readership was down despite the publication’s captive audience. John Clark, editor of Southwest Spirit, is now in charge of both magazines.
THE MET, DALLAS’ WEEKLY NEWSPAPER for the fraternity set, seems to have changed its editorial philosophy (again). Past issues have included exposés on mud wrestling and service stories on where to get drunk before noon. In November, though, the paper featured “Blacks in me Arts,” an in-depth examination of the African-American culture scene in Dallas. But the well-written and interesting piece seemed like a reach in an issue that also featured a story explaining where The Met office’s miniature basketball goal came from, and why they love it so much. (Headline: “Meet the Li’l Dunker.”) We remember when we had our first beer, too.
Theologian in disguise.
Your kids might recognize seminary professor Reg Grant without knowing why. As the crusty “librarian” who takes an inner-city student back in history in the film series “In Search of the Heroes,” Grant anchors morality taies that give kids a glimpse of historical figures such as Anne Frank,Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman, Sam Houston, Helen Keller, and Susan B. Anthony. He also plays other characters, such as MarkTwain.
The award-winning 40-minute films are shown on cable programs and in more than 40,000 schools across the nation.
As director of the “Media Arts in Ministry” track at Dallas Theological Seminary, Grant may the only theologian in the country who regularly puts on makeup. “I appreciate the seminary encouraging me to do this,” says Grant, pointing out that the symbol of his department is “a round peg in a square hole.”
No Way to Treat a Texas Lady
Bad blood over a blown book deal.
OVERLOOKED IN LAST MONTH’S stories of Hicks Muse Tate & Furst’s decision to back out of an $860 million acquisition deal with British-based Pearson PLC was the fact that the Dallas venture capital firm had stiffed a fellow Texan, Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino, who is not pleased.
Scardino last spring cut a deal with Simon & Schuster to buy the venerable U.S. publisher’s education division for $4.6 billion. According to Scardino, who was raised in Texarkana and graduated from Baylor, Hicks, Muse then approached Pearson with an offer to pay $1 billion for certain S&S business and reference properties, including its Betty Crocker cookbooks.
“It can be said that I responded to Hicks, Muse because a couple of them wereTexans,” says Scardino. “I kind of have this romantic view that Texans are a certain kind of person, I liked them, and I tried to explain them to my British brethren. I’m not sure I succeeded.”
Hicks, Muse for its part, has claimed S&S provided it with overly optimistic earnings projections, necessitating the reduction in its offer.
Scardino says Pearson allowed Hicks, Muse to scale back their original offer to $860 million after the Texans discovered a mistake in their calculations.
“We were kind-hearted because I’m a Texan, too,” Scardino says. “I felt it was the gentlemanly thing to do.”
But when Hicks, Muse came back a few weeks ago in a further attempt to low-ball the Brits, says Scardino, she turned them down.
“We had a deal, and they thought they’d renegotiate it,” she says. “We did talk to them in the interest of expediency. But we did not, in the end, find the new offer attractive. It was less than I thought the business was worth, that’s for sure.”
Scardino declined to discuss what the future might hold for her relationship with Hicks, Muse.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “We’re going to have some issues with them, and talking about it is probably not a good idea, for them or for me. I’m trying to continue to be a Texas gentleman, or rather-a lady.”
Question: What do the Mansion and a Cattle Round-up Have in Common?
Answer: Caroline Hunt.
ROSEWOOD CORP. IS KNOWN FOR ITS MANAGEMENT OF FIVE-STAR LUXURY HOTELS, including the Crescent and the Mansion on Turtle Creek. So when the Nature Conservancy of Texas presented the company with its annual award for conservation of wetlands, a few snickers could be expected. Wetlands where? By the swimming pools?
But Rosewood also manages six ranches, which cover about 36,500 acres of Texas and are mostly working cattle spreads. Among them are the Sands Ranch in Henderson County. Ennis Ranch in Kaufman County, and Seagoville Ranch (owned by Caroline Hunt Trust Estates), which were recognized for their wetlands.
L. B. “Bunker” Sands, executive director of Rosewood, says he got interested in wetlands a few years ago as he became more involved with The Nature Conservancy and “holistic” grazing techniques. His slogan: “Rosewood Ranches: Wetlands and Brahman Cattle.”
The Sands Ranch was once his father’s place. “He tried to get the water off it for years,” says Sands, who now uses the same system of levees to keep the water in order to give birds and other wildlife a habitat.
Sands is introducing holistic management techniques at all Rosewood ranches. But some ranch managers don’t cotton to the new ways. “The best way is hiring an outside facilitator,” says Sands. “It’s getting people to be open-minded, to show them you can actually save a lot of money this way.” Next: vegetarian cowboys.
Profiling a Profiler
An FBI agent’s macabre world of aberrant crime.
ONE OF THE BLOODIEST MURDER sprees in Dallas history, a four-month rampage in 1995 that left 12 people dead and five more injured is part of the bizarre criminal behavior described and explained in The Evil Thai Men Do, a professional biography of FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood, an original member of the Bureau’s famed “Hannibal Lecter Squad.”
Written by D senior editor Stephen G. Michaud, Evil recreates Hazelwood’s involvement in a series of celebrated cases, from the Atlanta Child Murders of 1981 to the Tawana Brawley hoax of 1988 and Toronto’s so-called Ken and Barbie killings of 1991.
The book also details Hazelwood’s unique research among aberrant offenders, from autoerotic fatalities to serial rapists to sexual sadists-“the great white sharks of deviant crime,” as Michaud describes diem.
In the Dallas case, a paroled killer named Juan Chavez l and his partner. Hector Fernandez, shot and robbed (and sometimes ran over) their victims at random, and with seeming impunity, before the pair finally was stopped and Chavez was sent to Death Row.
Kirkus Reviews calls The Evil That Men Do “an unflinching report, not recommended for reading at bedtime or when one is alone in the house.”
Further information is available at www.truecrime.tiet/michaud/.
Surprise! It’s not Highland Park.
The highest-earning ZIP codes in North Texas, ranked by percentage of households with annual incomes over $100K
75225 (University Park): . .33.9%
75205 (Highland Park): . . .25.0%
75230 (Preslon Hollow): . .24.2%
75229 (Preston Hollow): . .20.0%
Source: Acxiom Corp., Conway, AK
Morning News in Big Trouble with The Turn?