- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

TV pioneer

"The thing about Steve Allen was, he looked so deceptively … ordinary. Who would guess that this bespectacled 6-foot-3-inch gent with a fondness for tweed jackets and jazz could abruptly break out in fits of jerky giggling and jarring non sequiturs or could, apropos of nothing at all, suddenly imitate a seagull … .

"Yet this apparently ordinary man left an extraordinarily prolific legacy… .

"He invented the late-night TV talk show as we now know it, with the introduction of 'The Tonight Show' in 1953. The whole megillah was Allen's creation the desk, the band, the opening monologue, the wacky skits, the going up into the audience to answer questions, the guest chatter… .

"Allen's influence continues today. Late-night upstart Conan O'Brien who acknowledged on his Halloween-night show that he keeps a photo of Allen on the set is an inheritor in the way he delights in wordplay."

Ken Tucker, writing on "Best of Show," in the Nov. 10 issue of Entertainment Weekly

The optional womb

"The meaning of women's breasts has been fundamentally altered since the 1930s in the Western industrialized nations, their reproductive role having been almost entirely exchanged for the erotic as a cultural symbol… .

"Visitors from [Third World] countries remark about the recreational fixation our country has with this part of the anatomy, perplexed at why so much national attention is geared toward certain sets and sizes of attractively displayed mammary glands.

"Considering how quickly this aspect of women has been sexualized and subsequently exploited all in the space of just one generation, in no small part due to the widespread use of bottled infant formula it is not unreasonable to wonder what effects new reproductive technologies and changing attitudes about human sexuality will have upon other expressions of women's procreative experiences in successive generations.

"In the same way that bottle-feeding made breast-feeding biologically optional, widespread cultural acceptance of contraception, abortion, sterilization, and other counter-reproductive technologies have rendered the womb optional as well… .

"I am grieved that our society has become increasingly captivated by sexual exploitation and pornography while growing hostile toward women's normal and natural reproductive design."

Debra Evans, from her book, "Without Moral Limits: Women, Reproduction, and Medical Technology"

Hollywood life

"In February, for her 25th birthday, Drew's mother, Jaid Barrymore, sent her a book that affected her deeply: 'Conversations With God.'

"It was the chapter on relationships that chimed most clearly. 'I read it every single night for 20 days,' she says, 'because every time you're on the brink of "This is … too crazy of a thought," it'll bring it around in a way that you're, oh, my God, I'm at fault for that, and this is a great solution.' …

"The birthday gift from her mother was something of a surprise. 'We spent nine years in total lack of communication. She sent me one present one year maybe my 21st birthday and she was reaching out to me, and I didn't respond, and so she respected that and stayed away.

"Since I was 16, I've seen her three times, I've spoken to her never on the phone and have never been in exchange of a letter… .

"You know what? I'm 25… . It was killing me to think that this person might go and sit in a movie theater and try and get in touch with the person that she birthed out of her body and that was the most empty and devastating thought I have ever had in my whole life.' "

Chris Heath, writing on "The Naughty Adventures of Miss Drew Barrymore," in the Nov. 23 issue of Rolling Stone

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