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The Sydney Morning Herald

STAY IN TOUCH

Author: Edited by David Dale and Malcolm Knox
Date: 24/04/1995
Words: 1508
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: NEWS AND FEATURES
Page: 20
WHAT'S HAPPENING

TODAY is April 25, an important date in our military history, since it marks the start of the Battle of Kokoda Trail in PNG in 1942. Today is also a big date in the history of peace, with delegates from 45 nations meeting in San Francisco in 1945 to create the United Nations. Birthday wishes to author Morris West (born 1916), singer Ella Fitzgerald (1918) and Roundhead Oliver Cromwell (1599).

ON THIS day in 1935, a shark captured at Coogee disgorged the arm of missing ex-boxer James Smith. The discovery led to the arrest of Patrick Brady, who was later acquitted after his lawyers argued that Smith was not proved to be dead.

THE Darling Harbour Harbourside Amphitheatre will host a revival "Rat Pack" act - Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli - from 1 pm to 4 pm.

OPPORTUNITIES

IF YOU want the definitive open-market guide to who's hot in showbiz, look no further than the catalogue of Autographed Collectibles, an American mail-order company selling autographs of your favourite stars. Master of the universe is the typographical error formerly known as Prince ($US400), followed by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan (both $350) and Frank Zappa and Michael Jackson ($295). Kurt Cobain seems a bargain at $250.

Actors are less prized than music stars, with Julia Roberts topping the list at $195. Harrison Ford and Jodie Foster bring in $150 each, Michelle Pfeiffer and River Phoenix $125. Australians Mel Gibson ($75, same as Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone) and Nicole Kidman ($50, like Jamie Lee Curtis, Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep) are fairly cheap, but still more expensive than John Travolta ($30) and Quentin Tarantino ($35).

Models and TV stars are generally the cheapest, perhaps because they sign their names more promiscuously. Top model is Cindy Crawford ($75), while Elle Macpherson scrapes up only $45. The highest-priced TV star is Shannen Doherty ($75), while Jerry Seinfeld musters a mere $45, same as David Letterman. Reassuringly, the autographs come to you with "a 30-day money-back guarantee and certificate of authenticity". We remain baffled as to why anyone would want the autograph of a star they had never met. Surely it has the same significance as a souvenir from a place you've never visited.

PESSIMISM LINKED TO EARLY DEATH

THINGS THAT MATTER

THE headline above is designed to make you think twice before reading this report. If you're the kind of person who reacts by saying "I knew it", then go no further, because this will only aggravate your condition. If you're the kind of person who says "What nonsense - I've been pessimistic all my life and I'm still here", then you're not pessimistic at all, and can read on with confidence.

The headline appeared in the newspaper USA Today, attached to an account of some new research presented to a meeting of the Society of Behavioural Medicine in San Diego, USA, last week. Dr Susan Everson of the Human Behavioural Laboratory of Berkeley, California, revealed that a six-year study of 2,428 men in their 40s had shown that those who felt hopeless about the future and their chances of attaining goals were far more likely to die early than equally healthy but more hopeful men. The men were examined physically and mentally, and the study balanced out risk factors such as blood pressure, weight and smoking. After six years, the men who had been rated as pessimistic were twice as likely to be dead as the men rated optimistic. The most pessimistic had double the risk of heart attack, and a much higher death rate due to accidents and violence.

Pretty alarming, eh? Unless you're an optimist. But we have left out one fact: the study was done in Finland. You have to wonder how the researchers managed to find any men who were not pessimistic. This column has not been to Finland personally, but we have been deeply moved by the Monty Python song:

Finland, Finland, Finland. The country where I want to be. Pony trekking or camping. Or just watching TV. You're so close to Russia, So far from Japan, Quite a long way from Cairo, Lots of miles from Vietnam. Finland, Finland, Finland. The country where I quite want to be. Eating breakfast or dinner, Or snack lunch in the hall. Finland, Finland, Finland. Finland has it all. You're so sadly neglected, And often ignored. A poor second to Belgium, When going abroad. Your mountains so lofty. Your treetops so tall. Finland, Finland, Finland. Finland has it all.

But is pessimism confined to Finland? New Scientist magazine reports on a study by the World Health Organisation, comparing depression across the world. The WHO says doctors in many countries often fail to diagnose depression, and even when they do, they often give the wrong treatment. The WHO's researchers studied 25,000 patients in 14 countries who went to doctors complaining about physical problems. They filled in questionnaires about psychological problems such as loss of sleep, strain, unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness.

Generally, people around the world were not that different, though they used different terminologies. What was described as "burnout" in the US seemed to be the same as "kidney weakness" in China, jibyo(chronic illness) in Japan and "postviral fatigue" in Europe. Depression seems to be more common in Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Manchester, and less common in Verona, Ibadan, Nagasaki and Shanghai. Sadly, Sydney did not feature in the research. But don't worry about it.

THE TRIBAL MIND

REMEMBER that fabulous night, back in 1987, when Kylie took Jason's hand and 2 million Neighbours fans sighed? The producers remember it too. Our ratings analyst, Robin Oliver, explains last week's deja vu ...

There is nothing like a soapie wedding to haul in the viewers - and keep them there once the ceremony is over. The recent bonding between Shane and Angel (aka Dieter Brummer and Melissa George) has done everything their matchmakers at Seven could have wished. Ranking 21 in Sydney last week with 447,000 viewers, Home and Away was some distance from past glories, but knocked off Sale of the Century for the first time in a while, pushing its old foe into 27th place with 435,200.

Seven's Lois & Clark soared to the top with an Easter Monday score of 569,300 viewers, nice timing with Superman Dean Cain swishing into town for his indoctrination into Logie rites next Friday night. Former favourite Roseanne is looking terribly tired in repeats (232,200/88th). Best for the ABC was again The Bill (377,300 viewers/42nd).

Sunday night saw 60 Minutes (452,800 viewers) dumped on by Home Improvement (581,500) and The World's Greatest TV Commercials (544,000, peak 567,000). The Sunday movie prize went to Whoopi Goldberg's Sister Act (669,000 viewers), with Falling Down falling behind at 489,000 and Melrose Place back at 369,000.

GOSSIP

IT USED to be as simple as lighting a match for actors in plays to smoke on stage, but no longer. The stage direction that one of the characters should smoke in Terry Johnson's play Dead Funny, playing at the Wharf Theatre, has required the NSW Minister for Health, Andrew Refshauge, to put out a special issue of the Government Gazette approving an exemption to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act, whereby the Sydney Theatre Company and its cast, management and staff are free to light up from April 22 to June 17. The news will not be dead funny to reader Garth Holmes, who says Steve Martin's play Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Belvoir Street "was largely ruined by most of the characters in the play smoking (cigars, pipes and cigarettes) throughout the performance ... My wife and I both suffered severe headaches and bronchial distress ... " Holmes was told that his complaint was the first of its kind in more than a million Belvoir patrons. Yet he wonders "if we are really so alone in this hazy theatrical experience?"

BRITAIN has proclaimed itself a Gump-free zone, with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts failing to give Forrest Gump a single BAFTA award. Best film was Four Weddings and a Funeral, which also won best actor (Hugh Grant), supporting actress (Kristen Scott Thomas), director (Mike Newell) and the publicly-voted most popular film. Accepting his prize, Grant did what Tom Hanks would never have considered doing, which was attribute Four Weddings' success to a bit of "national flagwaving". Apologising to fellow nominee John Travolta (Pulp Fiction), Grant said: "Had Pulp Fiction been set in the heart of the Sussex countryside, things would be different now." Writer Richard Curtis put Four Weddings' win down to a different source: "They said my lucky underpants wouldn't work, but they did." The Americans weren't completely shut out. Pulp Fiction won two awards - best supporting actor (Samuel L. Jackson) and best original screenplay (Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary). Susan Sarandon won best actress for her role in The Client.

A REPORT released yesterday stating that one third of British 15- and 16-year-olds had smoked cannabis in the past year (three times more than in 1991) will be welcomed by the organisers of this weekend's Nimbin "Let It Grow" Mardi Grass. The main prize will be the Mardi Grass Growers' Cup, awarded to the region's superior horticulturalist. Entrants will be asked "to submit five grams of their season's best under an original strain name, e.g. Purple Paradise, Mullum Meekness", says a missive from the Hemp Embassy (actually a phone booth outside the Nimbin Museum on the hamlet's main street). "Judging will be done by a team of certified, credentialled judges. A smoke-off between the three highest-scoring strains will be held by a celebrity judge on the May Day Monday," says the press release, signed by one Bob Hopkins, who was last heard of standing for the State seat of Lismore under the name of Prohibition End. Spectators at the smoke-off beware: we understand the Minister for Health has not gazetted an exemption for the performance.

WHAT'S HOT: HOME AND AWAY (7) 447,000 viewers Ranked 21.

WHAT's NOT: ROSEANNE (10) 232,200 viewers Ranked 88

TOP 12 SHOWS Week 11 (April 16-April 22)

1. Lois and Clarke (7)

2. National Nine News Sunday (9)

3. Due South Sunday (7)

4. Just Kidding (9)

5. National Nine News Saturday (9)

6. ER (9)

7. Rugby League Friday (9)

8. National Nine News Weekdays (9)

9. Wildlife With Olivia Newton John (9)

10. Funniest Home Video (9)

11. Burke's Backyard (9)

12. Married with Children (9)

Sydney Audience Share 9 (31.3), 7 (28.2), 10 (21.5), 2 (15.7), SBS (3.3)

 
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