Pulse of the CITY

Gere: Hide and Seek Publicity blackout keeps stars from prying eyes.

PITY THE POOR GOSSIP COLUMNISTS. For three months-from November through January-Dallas has been crawling with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars, who’ve been dropping in and out ol’ town for the filming ol’ Robert Altaian’s Dr. T and the Women. Tabloid favorites Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Kale Hudson. Shelley Long, and Liv tion the Sexy One himself, Richard Gere-shot scenes all around Dallas, from Dealey Plaza to NorthPark Mall to a production studio off Midway.

But celebrity spottings were few and far between. Producer David Levy kept an unusually light lid on publicity: no photos, no interviews, no gawkers, no nothing.

Somehow, Levy and his minions even cajoled store and restaurant owners desperate for publicity into keeping their mouths shut. For two nights Fawcett shot scenes skinny-dipping in the Dillard’s fountain at NorthPark. Even the mall management had no idea what was going on. When Dern. Fawcett, Hudson, and Tyler filmed scenes at Tiffany’s in NorthPark a few weeks later, dozens of men with earpieces kept the public at bay. A handful of Tiffany employees got a chance to be in the scenes, but manager Dorothy Mason wouldn’t comment or let her staff talk about it.

We did discover that the female stars checked in and outof the Mansion, while Gere arid Altman rented houses nearby. As for food sightings, Hunt was spotted eating migas (egg whites only and very little cheese) at the Dream Café. Hunt also dined at the Green Papaya. (She liked her salad so much she ordered it to go for the next two days.) Altman and Dern ate duck liver, tuna enchiladas, swordfish, and beef Corsicana atThe Mercury.

But Gere was the most elusive. Gere and pregnant girlfriend Carey Lowell supposedly were spotted at Loews Cityplace Theatre, but the theater’s management said they didn’t believe it. One of the few confirmed sightings was in far North Dallas, where Gere stopped to sign autographs. “He was really cool,” was all 15-year-old Brian Schlang had to say.


Crime, Scandal, Debauchery!

And that was just in the newsroom of the Dallas Dispatch.

AS UNLIKELY AS IT MAY SEEM IN A CITY THAT CANNOT SUPPORT a single afternoon newspaper, we once had three. The Daily Times Herald (which later changed “Daily” to “Dallas”) was the chief competition of The Dallas Morning News. The Dallas Journal, published by the News each afternoon to annoy the competition, was a stale summary of events reported in the morning paper. The Dallas Dispatch, sneered at by the others, who called it the “Dallas Disgrace,” survived more than three decades by reporting the lowdown, lurid, and lustful details of the city’s underbelly, and on slow days, by making up some really good stories.

Ohio newspaper entrepreneur E.W. Scripps founded the Dallas Dispatch in 1906 and, either fearlessly or recklessly, depending on one’s perspective, gave the editorial staff a free rein. In no time the paper was attacking rats in restaurants, spoiled milk, and exorbitant streetcar fares. By the time of the Great Depression, the Dispatch had put together a remarkable blend of competent journalists, like Jim Chamhers, who later became publisher of the Herald, and incurable reprobates, like Jack Proctor, who later became even worse than he was before.

During the 1930s the favorite gimmick of hung-over reporters was to report Bonnie and Clyde sightings, even though the fabled duo might be two or three states away at the time. Once, Proctor carried the ploy beyond the extreme by reporting an exclusive interview with Clyde Barrow, complete with dancing shadows from a kerosene lamp and the outlaw’s plea to be understood as just a good old boy down on his luck. Unfortunately, Barrow was reliably reported to have been 600 miles away at the lime. On another slow news day, Proctor happened upon the local constabulary dumping confiscated booze in the gutter. The news hound looked around, then tossed a match in the stream before dashing back to the newsroom to report a “Fiery Holocaust on Commerce Street.”

The editorial staff revered the pressmen for their skills in making homemade hootch. Illicit gin was a dollar a pint and two pints a day was standard consumption in the newsroom, except for telegraph editor Wilbur Shaw, who could down six or more and never assume the slithering position. A sports-writer who called himself The Great Ben Hill ran a bookie operation out of his lower right-hand desk drawer. One of the main duties of the copy boy was to roust the reporters from the nearby bordellos on Akard Street when a story broke.

By 1938 the party was over. The Dispatch ran in the black all through the Depression, but tnen scripps raided the till to prop up faltering papers elsewhere in the chain. Theater magnate Karl Hoblitzelle bought and combined the Dispatch and the Journal, but it was an unhappy marriage, resulting in the 1942 demise of the Dispatch-Journal.

Court Upholds St. Mark’s

Prep school makes a point: Maimers matter.

Parents Stephen and Carol Arnold should have quit while they were behind. When the St. Mark’s discipline council, composed of seven students and three faculty members, voted to expel their 17-year-old son Whitney for rude behavior, Headmaster Arnie Holtberg offered to allow the student to withdraw. That way young Arnold wouldn’t have to explain the damning word “expelled” on his school transcripts. But the Arnolds decided their son deserved his day in court and filed suit for breach ol’ contract. St. Mark’s immediately withdrew its offer. A Dallas court ruled last month to let the expulsion stand.

Whitney’s crime? Being disrespectful to his bus driver.

Stephen Arnold, a self-employed music producer and St. Mark’s alum, and his wife Carol enrolled Whitney in St. Mark’s two years ago. Though the tuition is about $15,000 a year and the Arnolds live north of Piano in Fairview, an hour away, they wanted their son to take advantage of its prep-school curriculum and wrestling team. His sophomore year was rocky; Whitney got susponded for five days for fighting with another student. And he racked up a dozen rules violations (parking, dress code, improper sign-out).

In October school bus driver Elnora Lawton reported to school officials that Whitney had yelled at her for not waiting on him at a stop, including the ultimate dis of the prep school snob: “In a couple of years, I’ll be making a lot of money, and you’ll still he here driving a bus.”

When the headmaster backed up his discipline council and ordered Whitney out, Steven Arnold enrolled him in the Allen school district but, feeling the punishment didn’t fit Whitney’s crime, began a letter-writing campaign to have him reinstated. Carol Arnold says her interviews with boys on the bus didn’t match up to the school’s version and points oui a written annual evaluation of Lawton instructs her “to learn not to take things so personal [sic],”

Though Whitney had used no racial slurs, both parents feel that St. Mark’s overreacted because Lawton is black. In a meeting with Holtberg and Allen Cullum, chairman of the St. Mark’s board, Cullum raised the issue: “What would our black or African-American employees feel if we went back on the decision?” {Holtberg declined to comment.) After a failed mediation session, St. Mark’s refused the Arnolds’ proposal of an independent arbitrator.

After one week of testimony, the judge ruled in favor of the school. The Arnolds are considering their next move. Meanwhile, they find themselves in a self-created limbo: Whitney can’t begin his college applications without St. Mark’s cooperation.


Bob Driegert, head of the Dallas County Republican Parly, has joined the executive search firm StantonChase, finally end ing his grubby association with Larry Friedman’s law firm, which had fueled conflict of interest complaints from judges and lawyers for years.

■ Seen at the Federal Courthouse: State Rep. Domingo Garcia being raked over the coals by Judge Joe Kendall on a contempt of court charge. It’s all part of a long-running feud between dentist David Alameel and developer George Kondos, who have four lawsuits against each other. Garcia, who represented Alameel, had sent a process server to break into a court-ordered mediation to serve notice of yet another lawsuit by Alameel against Kondos. Kendall said it sounded like Garcia “quickly got in over his head by playing cowboy and running roughshod over some folks.” After writing a letter on Dec, 17 threatening to sue attorney Frank Finn, who had presided over the wrecked mediation, Garcia meekly withdrew il a week later, saying it was all a misunderstanding. Maybe the state rep realized that pissing off Finn, a long-time partner at Thompson & Knight and a major political player, was a bad career move.

Olive Talley, former writer for the News and now a producer for Dateline NBC, has moved back to Dallas; she’ll he working out of her home.

■ Fox 4 News’ web site needs an editor. In addition to misspellings and grammatical errors, it offered this gem after a recent train wreck: “Witnesses say the driver of the van tried to drive around the crossing barriers. No one on the train was hurt; the train was taken to the hospital.” No word on its conditio

■ Hottest book in town: The Pepper Trail: History and Recipes From Around the World, published by University of North Texas Press and written by Jean Andrews, “the pepper lady” of Austin. It tracks the history and culture of hot pods, ranging from ancho to zanthoxylum piperitum (Szechuan peppercorns), and gives spicy recipes by celebrity chefs like Dean Fearing

■ Online entrepreneur Marshall Hays, 26, is hoping his web sites, where preteen and teenage girls share stories of first kisses and romantic encounters, will attract the attention of deep-pocketed Internet investors. Hays created the squeaky-clean and after getting his MBA at SMU in 1998.

Dyan Cannon: Seek and Find

Ally McBeal actress is “slain in the spirit” by Benny Hinn.

Her small-screen comeback as Judge Jennifer Cone (“Whipper”) on Fox’s hit series has made 63-year-old glam Dyan Cannon hot property. So televangelist Benny Hinn played it for all it was worth when she appeared recently on his broadcast. But now that her career is on a big rebound, Cannon may want to buy that tape back. Not only have Hinn’s efforts to build a $30 million “World Healing Center” in Irving hit a snag on tax issues, but his religious empire is under investigation by a federal grand jury in Florida.

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