- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002

Secretary of sewage?

Officially, he's secretary of state, not stench. Still, the recognizable face of the Honorable Colin L. Powell is being employed on large environmental billboards in the Midwest.

"It's a serious issue, but I wanted to dramatize the problem in a visually humorous way," explains billboard artist Mark Heckman, who as you'll see in today's photograph paints Mr. Powell with a toilet seat around his neck and clothespin on his nose.

He's also presented the Cabinet secretary with a new name.

"We Don't Need No Stinkin' Beaches" is the message from "Colon Bowel," visible on highway billboards throughout Michigan. The aim is to curtail sewage overflow, a particularly nasty and odorous problem that occurs when storms force water-treatment systems to dump sewage into public rivers and streams.

Ethics refresher

"A lawyer friend of mine went in for a refresher course at the D.C. Bar Association on Tuesday night. It was a course on ethics. One of the other members of the class was none other than Clinton attorney Harold Ickes. Fill in your own one-liner."

Diana L. Banister, vice president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs

Won one for the Gipper

Hollywood legend Lew Wasserman was remembered as a staunch Democrat during a memorial service this week attended by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, California Gov. Gray Davis and Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn.

"He helped me become president, he helped me stay president, and he helped me become a better president," Mr. Clinton went so far as to tell mourners gathered in Los Angeles.

"Just think what Lew would have done if turned loose into the Middle East," Mr. Clinton added of Mr. Wasserman's negotiating skills. "His genius enabled him to take away shadows and turn dreams into realities."

No doubt Mr. Wasserman was a master of the movie business: he transformed the Music Corporation of America (MCA) and Universal Studios from a small talent agency and modest studio into a glittering entertainment conglomerate.

However, the forgotten history that so far has gone unreported in stories in the wake of Mr. Wasserman's death is that the genesis of his reputation came in a 1941 deal he negotiated for his first movie star client to win a contract worth more than $1 million: Ronald Reagan.

"When word about the deal hit the street, it helped propel Wasserman, who had been assigned to run MCA's Hollywood office and was only 29 years old, into a industry player," recalls Washington-based editor and author John Meroney, who is working on a book to be published by Little, Brown chronicling Mr. Reagan's career as a movie star and labor leader.

"Wasserman had caught Reagan on his ascension: the former radio sports announcer, who had arrived in Hollywood in 1937 and had already made more than a dozen pictures, was finally landing meaningful parts away from the likes of John Wayne and William Holden showing he had the potential to be a genuine movie star."

Even in the early 1940s, Mr. Meroney tells Inside the Beltway, Hollywood was obsessed with the art of making money deals.

"News of them could make or break reputations," he explains. "Wasserman counted on this, and as Reagan himself once wrote: 'Lew grinned like a kid with a hand in the cooky jar.'"

World War II would short-circuit the start of Mr. Reagan's impressive million-dollar deal, but word was already on the street. And the one-time theater usher from Cleveland named Lew Wasserman was well on his way to being a Hollywood mogul.

Step aside, boys

The "Piatti del Giorno" the "special of the day" every Friday at Cafe Milano in Georgetown is "The Beltway Broads," a new nationally syndicated radio show.

It was four years ago that Washington publicist Janet Donovan and popular radio talk-show host Blanquita Cullum first discussed adding some "fun" to their already busy schedules by hosting a program together. They were visiting Spain with their daughters, and a few of the more intriguing show topics they bounced around as possibilities were covering the annual run of the bulls in Pamplona.

While they haven't run onto that stage yet, the attractive Washington dames have landed in Georgetown's celebrity hot spot broadcasting live for three hours every Friday noon to 3 p.m. on the Radio America network.

Their guests to date have included Bo Derek, Armand Assante, Helen Gurley Brown, John Dean, and Leonard Garment, among others. This week they'll be joined by the Capitol Steps, which no doubt has something to sing about corporate mismanagement and Saddam Hussein.

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