SIDEBARS

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Could it really be ....? Is it ....? On a brand new Martex hand towel in my house the sticker reads, "Inspected by Mary Wells."

MediaMeanderings: The latest Bantam Books paperback edition of John L. Love's must-read-for-marketers, "McDonald's: Behind the Arches," contains one glaring typo: Rosser Reeves' name comes out as Rossier Reeves.

In "Why We Did It" (Newsweek, July 24), Evan Thomas writes that the magazine's reconstructed narrative about the decision to drop "the bomb" is based on a study of WWII "diaries and contemporaneous accounts of President Truman and his top advisers." Missing from the article is any mention of Gen. George Marshall's pivotal role. Check out David McCullough's bio, "Truman," for a more comprehensive reconstruction.

John Lahr's "Dealing With Roseanne," a 19-page on-site inspection report in The New Yorker (July 17), reminds us that Roseanne "employs more writers for her show than are employed by any other sitcom," 24 in all. That same week New York Times writer Sarah Lyall profiled "Absolutely Fabulous'*" Jennifer Saunders and reported that all 18 hilarious episodes of this "hugely successful" British sitcom were written by one person, Ms. Saunders. Both writers, of course, note that Roseanne and Warner Bros. will co-produce U.S. TV's version of "AbFab." Good luck working with Roseanne and her writers, Jennifer.

A quote in Entertainment Weekly's Summer Double Issue from Hugh ("Where's Heidi Fleiss When I Need Her?") Grant: "It's cool that women like to sneak into my hotel room now, but not nearly enough for my liking." I thought that explained his subsequent activities rather well.

Oh, that Details magazine! Always ready with timely advice for its energetic readers. Leading its August issue is an article titled, "A Prisoners's Guide to Surviving Jail." The blurb says it's to help Details' readers "get through your first stay in the slammer."

Paul Auster and Wayne Wang, who gave us "Smoke," the big low-budget "relationship" movie fable involving Harvey Keitel's cigar store, have already filmed a sequel. "Blue in the Face" brings Madonna, Roseanne, Lou Reed and Lily Tomlin into Keitel's life. Although author Auster says he's quitting movies in order to return to writing novels, I suspect that his "Smoke" format will get a TV series call. Another "Duffy's Tavern"?

Don't underestimate the impact that two ad campaigns are having on the sagging fortunes of Snapple juice drinks. Both Mistic and Lipton Original Iced Tea are effectively banging away at the "stuff" that somehow collects on the bottom of certain beverage bottles (read it Snapple). Tough comparative ad "stuff" like this probably would be barred in Europe, where the Benetton print ads were actually ruled illegal by a German court because, in using HIV positive and Yugoslavia war themes, they became "a provocative exploitation of suffering." Hasn't the marketplace already delivered the only verdict necessary on Benetton's campaign strategy?

Reporting on the struggle at Kodak between the digital and film divisions, The Wall Street Journal has a "film guy" asking, "What am I, chicken soup?" Hey, at least he's not chopped liver.

The gaudiest, cheapest publicity grab of the year has to be the Miss America Pageant's scheme to let the TV audience vote on whether bathing suit esthetics should be factored into the final scoring. Because nobody is seriously questioning how the vote will go, the stunt is deprived of an essential ingredient: credibility.

Eagerly awaited......: Since everyone remotely connected to the O.J. Trial and its cast of characters is cashing in, why not Aldo Bozzi? Who he? Aldo runs the Mezzaluna Restaurants and in November, Clarkson/Potter publishes the eagerly awaited "Mezzaluna Cookbook."

Case closed: When O.J. Dream Team attorney Robert Shapiro asked a defense witness what hotel she worked for, Judge Ito called the question irrelevant. Shapiro responded by saying he just thought it would be nice to give the hotel a plug. Soon after, while questioning another female witness, Dream Team Quarterback Johnnie Cochran turned to the TV camera, called to his wife out there in TV land, and swore that he had never before met the lady.

And so goes our Murder Trial of the Century. What a charade it has become.

Remember how delighted we were to learn that the O.J. Simpson trial would go before live TV cameras? We would witness this unique event and be educated by it. But thanks to lawyerly and judicial showboating, tune-out time has materialized. Shapiro striving to plug a hotel, or his doctor, and Mister Johnnie playing to the camera provide evidence that the opponents of TV coverage have scored some points here. And we now better appreciate the steadying role of the print reporter in disseminating and interpreting courtroom events.

I suspect that's why we saw no public or media industry outcry when TV coverage was denied in the Union, S.C., murder trial of Susan Smith. Spared another high-visibility gavel-to-gavel TV temptation, we knew we'd still be well served by radio, simple TV updates and, best of all, newspapers.

So thanks to TV's O.J. Overkill, the prospects for more TV access to courtrooms just grew dimmer. Court TV's chief anchor Fred Graham, writing in The New York Times, told us that while lawyers play to the cameras and we see money's influence, in the end, "distaste for it [the Simpson coverage] should not be permitted to undermine the public's right to see the normal, everyday activities in the nation's courts." "Normal, everyday" activity is one thing; TV circuses are another. The educational impact of the O.J. trial turns out to be our clearer understanding of how print media best reflect our "right" to "see" our courts in action. We now have learned that distortions occur when too much TV turns courtrooms into an extension of show biz. Let the lawyers work their plugs into gossip columns, not into courtrooms.

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