SIDEBARS

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LOS ANGELES, April 1-Voters here go to the polls today to vote on the $65 million Simpson Courthouse Referendum. Supporters of the plan to construct a media-ready, state-of-the-art courtroom, complete with $ 50,000 luxury boxes and 1,500 general admission seats (price range, $12.50 to $75), maintain that the facility will relieve pressure on the present courthouse and pay for itself before the two-year-old (and counting) murder trial reaches Year Five.

Pro-building marketers have pledged to buy blocks of seats for their contest and sweepstakes promotion winners' prizes. Referendum opponents fear the city will be stuck with an empty building once the trial ends, but Michael Ovitz's Creative Artists Agency and Disney Co. recently announced plans to convert the structure into OJWorld, an interactive trial-centered entertainment attraction. In Washington, President Clinton has said he will press Congress for another disaster loan when and if The Trial should end in order to ease California's transition to a post-O.J. economy.

Meanwhile, Steven Brill's No. 1-rated OJ Trial Network, created during Year Two in order to enable his Court TV channel to resume coverage of other trials, has sold all of its commercial availabilities for the foreseeable future. The OJTN also will add coverage of the Johnnie Cochran paternity suit, the Marcia Clark child custody action, and other spin-off cases involving key players in The Trial. Mr. Brill praised Judge Lance Ito's recent decision to conduct more sidebars during the trial. "More sidebars mean we can ease our commercials' booking crunch," he said ...

More O.J. Every Day: In case you're wondering, boys and girls: There's no need to apologize if you've become addicted to "the Trial." The ingredients are uniquely historic on so many levels, and gripping, that it only gets better every day. Radio talk shows that boast "No O.J. Every Day" have to be missing the boat.

It's also gutsy for Vanity Fair to have Dominick Dunne covering the trial. Thanks to his style and insights, he has become a "must read" for O.J. Trial watchers. And remember, he's got to stay fresh while writing for a monthly.

And this led me to wonder why the March issue of Buzz, the Los Angeles-based monthly, carried nary a word about The Trial now going on in its back yard. I immediately called Editor in Chief Allan Mayer and he told me that since "everybody and his brother" is doing something on the trial, he decided to cover it only when there was "something worthwhile" to contribute, such as Paul Slansky's O.J. Trivia feature he ran last September. Mayer figures he deserves "some kind of public service award" for this policy. But he notes that the April issue carries a piece about the so-called "Tow-Truck Murder Case" that involves a white LAPD cop and a black tow trucker. The cover line is, "The Murder Mistrial That May Foretell the Simpson Verdict." Said Allan Mayer of that line, "I'm not above pandering a little bit." And so my faith in his stewardship is restored.

MediaMeandering: President Clinton's White House spinmeisters scored the hat trick last month as Newsweek, Time and U.S. News simultaneously "Periscoped," "Chronicled" and "Whispered" the word from "a senior Administration official" about Hillary Clinton's new "adviser" role. Almost word-for-word, the three items said she would no longer "be operationally in control of things." While digesting the meaning of this, along comes The Wall Street Journal (March 14) with the news that White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta "meets weekly with the First Lady and says that when it comes to both personnel and policy, `you've got to take' her views `into consideration' before reaching decisions."

Hollywood's future power brokers: Buzz's article, "Nine would-be tycoons worth watching," names "the entertainment moguls of the future." My vote for No. 1 on that list is Brad Grey of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, not only because he gets screen credits on client Garry Shandling's brilliant HBO show and NBC's clever "News Radio," but because he also represents, and finds work for, Adam Sandler, the man who single-handedly ruined NBC's "Saturday Night Live" franchise and yet goes on to "star" in one lousy movie after another. Clearly, Brad Grey's a miracle worker.

Beatles redux: It's true! A brand new Beatles recording, "Free As a Bird," will be hitting the charts soon. Thanks to the miracle of digital audio engineering, McCartney, Harrison, Starr and, yes, the late John Lennon, recorded the tune in a London studio last month. I can hardly wait for Sony's next CD, "The Four Tenors," starring Carreras, Pavarotti, Domingo and Caruso.

After The New York Times reported that Alexander Theroux had used passages from another author's work in his new book, "Primary Colors," Mr. Theroux minimized the problem in a letter to the editor. It was, he wrote, "a non-story," simply a case of "dropped quotation marks." The next day, Times "Book Notes" columnist Mary B.W. Tabor wrote about out-of-court settlements that Mr. Theroux reached with two other authors who discovered that in 1986 and 1990 Mr. Theroux had, without properly crediting them, used "verbatim passages" from their works. Now I'm waiting for someone to come forward and claim authorship of his letter to the editor.

No-win dilemma: The New York Observer, a lively weekly newspaper, has labelled the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review a "suck-up" publication. An NYO editorial (March 6) charged CJR's ubiquitous Editor in Chief Roger Rosenblatt with a conflict-of-interest, or "suck-up," charge because he's also contributing editor/essayist with The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, New York, Vanity Fair, Men's Journal and "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report."

The ferocious editorial called on Columbia "J" School Dean Joan Konner to fire Rosenblatt if he doesn't give up "his other jobs," or see CJR lose credibility. Mr. Rosenblatt tells "Sidebars" that before he accepted the CJR post, he insisted on recusing himself from editorial involvement with articles that deal with publications that employ him. Since then, he said, CJR has frequently "taken apart" publications he writes for and that Editor Susan Levine told him she has received no letters of complaint about his outside writing. Dean Konner told us anyone who thinks CJR "has gone soft" under Rosenblatt "just isn't reading us very carefully." Peter Stevenson, a NYO editorial board member, said he has heard from a number of journalists who agreed with the editorial. The next step, I guess, is to see how those writers fare when they submit article ideas to Editor Levine. Don't move your dial.

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