Pulse of the City

Ken Hughes’ bright idea, a Charlie’s Angel lands in Dallas, a former Times Herald reporter dishes dirt on the tabloid press, springtime reading, and more.

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Author Gives Birth to Tabloid Tell-All!
Can you believe what you read in the supermarket checkout line? Surprisingly, sometimes you can.

In 1974, Dallas writer Bill Sloan was managing editor of National Tattler, a supermarket tabloid, when he came up with a fabulous headline for a cover story: “Girl Raped by Abominable Snowman” was followed by “Docs Discover Girl Raped by Abominable Snowman is Pregnant,” then “Abominable Snowbaby,” about the toddler that eats its weight in meat each day. And finally, of course, “I Watched a Wild Baby Eat My Hog!” a variation of the greatest tabloid headline of all time. (Except, perhaps, for the New York Post’s classic “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar.”)

Sloan spent seven years working for the tabs, which paid far more than daily newspapers. He went on to a decade at the now defunct Dallas Times Herald then taught at SMU. His new book gives an uproarious look at the heyday of the supermarket tabloids such as the Enquirer, the Globe, and the Star, which peaked in popularity in 1987, when the papers’ combined weekly circulation was 12 million with 40 million readers.

Why did they falter? “Because the mainstream media out-tabloided the tabloids,” says Sloan.

In the face of declining circulation, some tabloids have made a strong effort to become more legitimate. “The Enquirer has done some good reporting over the last 10 years,” says Sloan. “They became the most quoted publication in the O.J. Simpson trial because they were turning up a lot of stuff that nobody else had. They get a lot of flak for their checkbook journalism, but it works.” The Enquirer recently broke the stories about Jesse Jackson’s illegitimate daughter and Hugh Rodham’s $400,000 payoff in the pardon scandals.

The question everybody asks: Are the tabs truthful? Sloan says stories in the Weekly World News and the Sun are “stretched so thin that they might as well be made up,” but that the Enquirer and the Star are fairly factual. But they operate under a double standard, tough on investigative and loose on Hollywood. “They’ll go to great lengths to check everything in some stories, but they’ll let things slide about celebrities.”

So Tom Cruise didn’t leave Nicole Kidman for a wild she-dingo?

 

 

quotables

“I have to tell you, I think you are being greedy.”

—Dallas council member Donna Blumer, after voting against annual salaries of $37,500 for council members. It passed 12-2.

Angel Sighting

Former Charlie’s Angels star Cheryl Ladd lands in Dallas.

Following a six-month run on Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun, Cheryl Ladd has signed a contract with Pat Summerall Productions in Dallas. Ladd beat out notable names such as Elizabeth Dole, Leeza Gibbons, and Donna Mills to be the host of a corporate recognition video series. The former Charlie’s Angel will commute from her home in California to Dallas for two days every month to shoot the program. But don’t get your hopes up—you won’t see her out on the town. “She will most likely stay at her hotel while she’s here,” says Bob May, CEO of Pat Summerall Productions.

At 49, Ladd still appears to have the energy she did when wrestling alligators as Kris Munroe on Charlie’s Angels. However, these days she’s more likely to be wrestling with child welfare issues. Currently an ambassador for Childhelp USA, an organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect, Ladd regularly lends her time and name to charitable groups.

It’s a little-known fact that her career began in high school, where Ladd spent her spare time fronting the Music Shop Band. She eventually released two albums: a self-titled album in 1978 and Dance Forever in 1979. Both albums went platinum, yielding four gold singles and a Japanese concert tour.

But those days are far behind her. She admits she’d rather talk about politics—particularly our new prez. “I am ready to re-elect him right now,” she says with unbridled enthusiasm.

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What People are Reading
Tina Dombrowski, director of horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, was transplanting petunias when we called. Dombrowski is reading Audubon Society Handbook for Butterfly Watchers by Robert Pyle. “You need to know plants to see and understand butterflies,” she says. “A Black Swallowtail looks for parsley, dill, or fennel to lay her eggs.” In the field the Swallowtail is less choosy. She’ll even lay eggs on Queen Anne’s lace.

Mary Brinegar loves going to work every day as president of the Dallas Arboretum. “Our dreams are so big here,” she says. Brinegar is reading Roses in the Southern Garden* by Mike Shoup, owner of the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham. “It is great for the experienced or novice gardener. The  photographs are breathtaking.”

stats

330,000
Annual number of  visitors to the Dallas Arboretum

180,000
Number of spring bulbs that will be in bloom during Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum

130,000
Number of visitors expected to pass through the gates   during Dallas Blooms

60,000
Pansy bulbs planted for Dallas Blooms

2,000
Variety of azaleas the Arboretum cultivates

66
Acres the Arboretum covers

1
Rank in size of Dallas Blooms among other floral festivals in the Southwest

sources: Dallas Arboretum Public Relations Department

Nancy Hodges has been GM at Dr. Delphinum’s on Lovers Lane for seven years. “I’d recommended to my adult daughter, who’s an artist, that she ought to work in a flower shop,” Hodges says. The daughter got a job at Delphinium’s. A month later, she brought home her employee manual. Hodges read it. “I decided that I wanted to work there, too,” she says. Hodges is reading two books by Leanne Payne, Healing Presence*and Listening Prayer*. “They’re comforting and instructive for people trying to have a deeper relationship with the Lord,” she says. Hodges’ daughter? She’s in art school  at SMU.

*These Books are Available from Amazon.com

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