The editor of the monthly magazine Cable Guide, which regularly serves an estimated 12 million homes with cable TV listings, knew that the cover photograph of actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Los Angeles Raiders wide receiver Willie Gault in the October issue was eye-catching, but Jay Gissen says he was "totally unprepared for the hundreds of hate letters and phone calls" received from angry subscribers who objected to seeing a black man and a white woman in such close proximity. "Some people were offended by the suggestiveness of the photograph, but the overwhelming majority of the responses were openly racist," says Gissen. "Often you hear people say, 'I can't believe people still feel this way in 1990.' Now I'm saying it."
Gault, too, was surprised by the negative tone in the responses and issued a statement saying, "I had thought racism was behind us."
To gauge or even inflame public demand, savvy taste-makers and PR types will often float a trial balloon through the press. And that, essentially, is what 66-year-old Marlon Brando did recently when he said in Army Archerd's Daily Variety column that he thinks he's about ready to sit down and write his autobiography.
By all accounts, publishing executives have responded with enthusiasm. It appears they're willing to gamble millions that Brando's trial balloon will in the end be filled with more than hot air.
From London, Brando's attorney, Brenda Frixou, confirms that several publishers have made offers, although Brando has not put pen to paper, nor has he even discussed with Frixou what revelations the book would include. Frixou says that once all the offers are in, "Mr. Brando will select a few publishers and meet with them personally." Adding, "The process will take a couple of months." Brando's decision "will be based on the money offered and the reputation of the company." A source at Simon & Schuster confirms that the company made a "substantial" offer. Another source says Warner Books offered the actor a $2 million advance. But Warner publisher Nansey Neiman vehemently denies the figure, saying, "We never discuss deals or auctions in the press."
When Ted Danson won the Emmy on Sept. 16 for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, some fans were surprised that his outfit at the awards show in Pasadena did not include his usual toupee. A few weeks later, Danson showed up in Chatsworth, Calif., with Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg for a sneak preview of their upcoming Three Men and a Baby sequel for Disney, Three Men and a Little Lady. Once again his scalp was showing. We tried to find out whether Danson intends to go au naturel from now on, but he refused comment. A spokesperson, however, says that Danson's "action" of appearing in public sans hairpiece "speaks louder than word's."