We must look back so that we can begin to look forward. And so, as the new year starts, journalists traditionally do a wrap-up of the past year’s highlights, during the last days of December. However, we’re doing it today and tomorrow: At Daily Variety we like traditions, but we don’t like to wait until the last minute.In a few weeks, a new year begins. And in a few years, we begin a new decade, a new century–and a new Millennium, which Webster’s New World Dictionary describes as “any period of great happiness, peace, prosperity, etc.” All right, so the Millennium hasn’t exactly arrived. But by looking at the past, one can see hints of its approach. All of the following occurred in 1992; all are absolutely true. You can feel it: Happiness, peace and prosperity are just around the corner. THE GROCERY MANUFACTURERS of America surveyed 1,002 shoppers on which celebrity’s groceries they would most like to take home. Thirty-three percent said they would choose Jane Fonda’s; only 2% said they would like Madonna’s. At an auction, Thing’s box from the TV show “The Addams Family” fetched $ 24, 000. Professional clown LeRoy Hullinger of Van Wert, Ohio, pleaded guilty to a charge that he tried to get a hit man to kill his wife in exchange for a microwave oven and other considerations. As a guest on “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee,” Barbara Walters was interviewed by Kathie Lee Gifford about her prime time special, in which she interviewed Kathie Lee Gifford. Phyllis Hardy of Tulsa died of a heart attack after her husband was unable to reach 911. Southwestern Bell explained that its phone system was overwhelmed by more than 300,000 fans calling for Garth Brooks tickets. “We Shall Be Free” became Garth Brooks’ first single in three years to fail to make the top 10 on Billboard’s country radio chart. The song is a call for racial and sexual tolerance and Nashville’s WSM-AM/FM music program director Wade Jessen said, “Part of the country audience is not an audience that’s in agreement with that kind of message.” Scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas received $ 2 million cash upfront based on his pitch for a rock ‘n’ roll musical about Las Vegas showgirls. Vanna White sued Samsung Electronics America for a VCR ad that, she claimed, illegally impersonated her with a robot-like mannequin wearing a wig and evening dress. TV spokesmodel Janice Pennington was whacked by a piece of falling scenery during taping of “The Price Is Right.” Accident occurred four weeks after Pennington received $ 1.3 million for injuries suffered when a cameraman hit her and sent her flying off the same stage in 1988. In this year’s accident, Pennington landed on the same shoulder and collarbone she shattered in the ’88 mishap. IN AN MTV POLL on the candidates, young voters decided Bill Clinton would throw the best parties and would be the most fun on a cross-country road trip. David (Dr. Death) Shultz told “A Current Affair” that World Wrestling Federation honcho Vince McMahon ordered him to smack “20/20″ reporter John Stossel in 1984. When Stossel had asked Dr. Death if wrestling was fixed, Shultz responded by hitting the reporter on the head and knocking him down. Actor Steven Bauer exited LDC Motion Pictures’ “The Last Paesan” due to “physical exhaustion and a sleeping disorder” and Kristy McNichol bowed out of “Empty Nest” due to a bipolar disorder. The annual Time Warner shareholders meeting was picketed by protesters angry over Ice-T’s songs “Cop Killer” and “KKK Bitch.” Inside, as security guards wearing “Batman” lapel pins patrolled the room, Charlton Heston recited lyrics to the rap songs. WFXT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Illinois, dropped “The Howard Stern Show” after 20 or 30 viewers complained about a skit featuring the character “The Kielbasa Queen,” who at one point stuffed a foot-long sausage down her throat. Program director Jim Byrne said, “It was quite offensive. One lady called saying she was so upset she couldn’t sleep.” Mr. & Mrs. Larry Laslow of Danbury, Conn., reported that their two kids put a new $ 3 cartoon video in the VCR, expecting to find Buttons the Bear, Rusty the Fox and the Easter Bunny romping through Chucklewood Forest. Instead, they saw 25 minutes of adults engaging in oral sex, group sex and sex in the library. “It scared the living daylights out of me,” Mrs. Laslow said. “They saw the sex acts … but they don’t understand it.” A Gallup survey asked Americans who they thought was the most regular guy in the country. For some reason, 1,067 people felt compelled to respond. Mr. Regular Guy Bill Cosby nabbed 42% of the vote. A 75-foot inflatable Maleficent, the evil sorceress from “Sleeping Beauty,” appeared at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Riverside-Brookfield High School social science teacher Bruce Janu punished troublemaking students by making them stay after school and listen to Frank Sinatra for a half-hour. “The kids hate it,” he said. “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to them.” The parents of baby Kirsten Madsen sued Baptist Hospital in Nashville for $ 4 million, complaining staff members nicknamed their baby “Smurfette” because her skin had accidentally been dyed blue. Hilly Elkins completed negotiations to bring “Oh, Calcutta!” to Warsaw. While walking his dog in Frisco’s Golden Gate Park, rockabilly singer Philip Bury was shot and killed, allegedly by a pigeon-lover concerned about dogs frightening the birds. In performances with the band Buck Naked & the Bare Bottom Boys, Bury would strip down to wearing just a cowboy hat and a toilet plunger covering his private parts. Gilbert Klein, a friend of the musicians, described the band as providing “good-natured, pornographic rock … but nothing lascivious.”
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