Short Cuts

Mar 24, 1999 at 4:00 am
FINE FOR PARKING: In the last two years, there were 891,408 times drivers in St. Louis found something on their windshields more repulsive than pigeon droppings -- a parking ticket. About two-thirds of those tickets were paid, but 32 percent of them weren't, and that's a $9 million problem Mayor Clarence Harmon is trying to fix. If you're one of the deadbeats owing the city a payment from an old ticket, circle the month of May on your calendar. Amnesty surfaces then, and you can pay off any old ticket minus added-on late penalties. Only one "court cost" of $19 will be added to the accumulated total. After May, the crackdown begins, with more towing, more collection agencies, more garnishments and the use of "boots" to immobilize vehicles. Plans are to broadcast a list of Top 10 worst offenders on city-cable Channel 16. If they really want to frighten a scofflaw, send Peter E. Parisi to the offender's front door to interview him for World Wide Magazine. Egad. (DJW)

BARN RUBBLE FOR SALE: One way to stop the verbal brickbats from flying over the destruction of the Arena has been to package the actual artifacts, sell them for a sawbuck apiece and give the proceeds to charity. Since Spirtas Wrecking Co. reduced the storied coliseum to rubble on Feb. 27, the firm has done just that, unloading 10,000 bricks for $10 each. "I just thought it would be a nice thing to do," says Eric Spirtas, the 32-year-old president of the company.

Spirtas has now added another product line from the materials salvaged from the Old Barn. Some of the Douglas fir from the lamella roof is being turned into a variety of items -- everything from tables to birdhouses. The profits from the sale of the items and the bricks will go to Outreach St. Louis, a charitable foundation of the CBS Radio Network, which owns and operates KMOX (1120 AM), KEZK (102.5 FM) and KYKY (98.1 FM). Outreach St. Louis helps fund numerous charitable organizations in the St. Louis area, including the Edgewood Children's Center and Cardinal Glennon Hospital.

Don't count on $200,000, from the brick sales to date, all going to charity, however. Instead, Spirtas says, as much as 50 percent of the donations may be needed to cover expenses. Part will go to pay for the cleaning and mounting of the bricks onto commemorative plaques. This is being done by the Metropolitan Employment Rehabilitation Service, a sheltered workshop. But the biggest expense, Spirtas says, has been guarding the bricks at the demolition site. The wrecking boss estimates the cost of security at about a dollar per brick. (CDS)

THE RICH GET RICHER, THE POOR HAVE BABIES: Despite the various famines, natural disasters and civil wars we dispassionately read about in Newsweek, the burgeoning world population shows no sign of slowing its growth. If you care to see the numbers, you might head to the St. Louis Zoo. The Living World's Hall of Ecology has an LED display, on the wall to the left as you enter, that ticks off the existing world population. As of 10:55 a.m. on March 22, the display showed a tally of 5,974,187,532 -- wait, make that 533, no, 535, oops 537. The counter, linked to a computer-based data service available to subscribers, increases its sum by an increment of three about every second, perhaps every second-and-a-half. "The count does fluctuate minutely," says John Hunter, audiovisual technician in the Living World. "There are some calculations in there that allow for corrections, reducing or halting the count periodically. I've seen it stop counting for up to a full minute." The three-per-second rate means a planetary increase of 259,200 new human beings in a 24-hour day. That's a load of Pampers -- or banana-tree leaves, as the case may be. According to a spokesperson with the Population Institute in Washington, D.C., the world added 75 million human beings last year. We are one prolific species. Come October, the institute expects the human population to hit the 6 billion mark. (WS)

HEPCAT HUMOR: To paraphrase Oscar Levant: There is a fine line between the facetious and the real. Craig Kilborn has erased that line. Oscar said that about the line between genius and insanity, but hey, maybe he was just being facetious.

Kilborn has what they call dry wit -- so dry it's granular. But now this wiseacre is big-time. Already nationwide, he goes regular-network-wide on Tuesday night, 30 minutes after David Letterman. The former ESPN anchor and host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show is going to take Tom Snyder's place on Tomorrow for a full 60-minute show. This is no joke. Or maybe it is.

The lanky Kilborn, who played basketball for three years at Montana State, was doing the media-tour thing last week, shadowing the NCAA basketball tournament in eight different cities. If this is Sunday, it must be St. Louis.

As he watched the Lakers overtake the Magic on a Blueberry Hill television before going to the Dome, Kilborn tried to clarify one loose statement made about him -- that he led the Big Sky Conference in turnovers. Didn't happen.

"That's a joke. I say that all the time: 'I led the Big Sky in turnovers.' People magazine put that in," Kilborn says. A fact-checker for People even called; Kilborn said it was a throwaway line, but somehow the quip made it into print without a "he joked" after it. But then, after relating this tale Sunday afternoon, Kilborn taped a segment with KMOV's Steve Savard and said, in the midst of a response, "I led the Big Sky in turnovers." Sounded serious. So the legend grows.

The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn will not be Tomorrow or The Daily Show. Make no mistake: Kilborn is in control. "Total control, which is dangerous," says Kilborn. "They're listening to me too much." The set will look like his home in the Hollywood Hills: hardwood floors, a liquor cabinet and a rolling liquor cart -- "Because I know young people like to look at alcohol," Kilborn says. Will guests drink? "I'll break some FCC rules," he says.

The show will be more Kilborn, less script. Unlike The Daily Show, there will be no correspondents. Yes, he'll do "Five Questions," the silly bit wherein he asks the guest some hard, some easy, some answerable, some facetious questions. Kilborn will do an opening monologue, there'll be an "average of 2.5 guests a show" and, on Friday nights, the show will feature music.

Although Kilborn has moved on from sports, he's still a junkie homing in at home on his favorite, the NBA, with his satellite dish. This is one of his favorite trivia questions: In the NBA, who since 1980 are the six white guys who averaged at least 25 points a game for an entire season? Kilborn claims he named all six when he was asked this the first time. The answer? Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Chris Mullin, Tom Chambers, Kiki Vandeweghe, Kelly Tripucka. The last two are hard to believe but true.

Kilborn, who was born in Kansas City and grew up in Minnesota, now has what he wanted, even more than he wanted. "All I ever wanted, which was actually a lot, was my own show," says Kilborn. "It didn't have to be on CBS. It could have been on late-night radio in San Francisco, but it's pretty amazing to be on CBS." His advice? "Be sure to watch the first show. It's going to be funny." Don't think he was being facetious. No, of course not. (DJW)

CHASE SCENES: The Chase Park Plaza isn't quite buffed to its former high shine, but the first of the redevelopment project's new offerings to open is the Chase Park Plaza Cinemas, a five-screen theater that premieres on Friday, March 26.

Run by Harman Moseley, who also operates the Kirkwood Cinema, the Chase will occupy the same niche as the Plaza Frontenac, Hi-Pointe and Tivoli theaters, but Moseley doesn't believe St. Louis is "overscreened" when it comes to such art houses because "the audience for these films has broadened." Nor is the Chase an art house in the strictest sense. The opening lineup of EDtv, Shakespeare in Love, Life Is Beautiful, Gods and Monsters and Six Ways to Sunday provides a clear indicator of the theater's basic mix-and-match approach. And Moseley says he will adjust to his audience's desires and try to satisfy "the interests of the neighborhood, which is a little bit different than other parts of St. Louis." For example, Moseley plans to "target" the Central West End's gay population by offering commercial runs of films that might otherwise only appear at the St. Louis International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

The theater sits on the Lindell side of the development with its own lobby space -- a long, sparely but tastefully appointed space with concession stand -- behind a glass wall that separates it from the main lobby. A marquee will be installed by mid-April on Lindell, and Moseley says, "It'll be mammoth. Because it's on an 11-story building, for the right scale, it has to be enormous."

The five auditoriums -- which feature Dolby SR sound, with "absolutely no bleed-through," and comfortable seats -- are "themed" with trompe l'oeil murals created by St. Louis artist Dick Godwin. His goal, says Moseley, is to create "a modern-day atmospheric theater. Most modern theaters are just drywall boxes." The largest house, with stadium seating, will hold about 200 people and re-creates the look of a "baroque movie palace." It features "full-blown, six-channel stereo," and Moseley says that when they ran the Dolby test film, "you could feel the sound." Three smaller houses seat about 125; two of them sport murals inspired by Italy and France, and the third is an "alternative auditorium" that features Times Square and the San Francisco Bay Area. The smallest house, seating about 100, conjures the St. Louis of old with scenes from the World's Fair and a riverboat.

The Chase will initially be open in the evenings only on weekdays, with matinees added on the weekends, but within two weeks Moseley plans to be "open seven days a week from 12 to 12."

Parking -- often a problem in the CWE -- has been addressed. Free lots are available directly across Lindell on either side of the Vencor Building. The lot that fronts Euclid is open all day; the lot that borders Kingshighway is available after 5 p.m. Valet parking for $3 at the Kingshighway entrance is also an option, and free valet parking is offered before 4 p.m. In addition, a 460-car garage, with free parking for the theater, is targeted for a late-'99 opening.

But whatever the future brings, it's already show time for Moseley and his theater. (CF)

FLOTSAM & JETSAM: Okay, it's one thing to report on an allegation of assault on a student by a teacher in Venice, Ill., even if the main evidence is fingernail scratches on the child, but to lead the 10 o'clock news with it, as Channel 30 did last week, and herald it as an exclusive? Cool your jets, please. ...When Tim Russert of Meet the Press told guest Bob Dole on Sunday that he wanted to talk about "ED," Dole quickly took that to mean his wife, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole, and not erectile dysfunction, the subject of his advertisements. Toward the end of the interview, Russert asked Dole whether those commercials might have an adverse effect on his wife's campaign. Bob said, no, there might even be a big "Viagra vote" out there. Love that Bob; you just can't keep a good man down -- or can you? ... Look at Steve Forbes and think: Bill Haas with lots of money and fewer workable ideas. ... Campaign 2000: George W. Bush vs. Al Gore -- the battle of the fortunate sons. (DJW)

Contributors: Cliff Froehlich, Wm. Stage, C.D. Stelzer, D.J. Wilson
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