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It's the cheesiest

August 31, 2001 | Page 6

PHILIP MORRIS has raised self-promotion to new heights. To film its new television ad about its relief efforts for Kosovar refugees, Philip Morris hired the swank Leo Burnett advertising firm.

The 60-second ad, which began running in April, is part of the cigarette maker's effort to promote its non-tobacco brands, such as Kraft cheese. A military helicopter lands, and its doors fly open to expose its cargo of huge boxes marked "Kraft."

"Hi, I'm Molly from Philip Morris," yells an actress flown in from Atlanta to a huge set outside Prague where a massive, fake refugee camp was built for the shoot.

Leo Burnett made the ad in the Czech Republic, in part because "we wanted access to plenty of extras that look like they come from that part of the world," says director John Gatti. "For the commercial's cathartic final frames, 350 extras--hand-picked for their dark olive complexions--huddled over bowls of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese prepared by a team of local assistants who had never before seen the bright-yellow noodle dish," wrote the Wall Street Journal.

Philip Morris wouldn't reveal the value of the five tons of donated food, but wholesale costs for this amount would imply a value of about $125,000--dwarfed by the more than $1 million spent to produce the ad.

"The idea that they've re-created a human tragedy to promote a corporate triumph strikes us as fundamentally offensive," says Raymond Offenheiser of the hunger-relief organization Oxfam.

--Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2001

N.C.'s Bible-thumping racist

"TWO THINGS made this country great--white men and Christianity," read the e-mail. State Rep. Don Davis from North Carolina thought that this was so clever and original that he felt it necessary to forward it to every member of the state House and Senate.

"There's a lot of it that's truth, the way I see it," Davis said. "Who came to this country first--the white man, didn't he? That's who made this country great."

But other lawmakers didn't see the truth in it. "It absolutely destroys the racial harmony that we are trying to foster in this state and in this nation," said Rep. William Wainwright, who's vice chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Rep. Ron Sutton--the only American Indian in the General Assembly--said the e-mail was totally out of place. "It just shows his white-supremacist, Gestapo mentality," Sutton said.

The e-mail goes on to say that the Bible was the basis for the nation's founding and early success, but that now the U.S. is in decline. "Every problem that has arrisen (sic) can be directly traced back to our departure from God's Law and the disenfranchisement of white men."

Davis--who sponsored legislation to post the Ten Commandments in public schools--was angered by the charges of racism. "Listen, there's nothing racist about it. And don't give me that mess," Davis said.

--Associated Press, August 22, 2001

A judge who has no judgment

TENNESSEE JUDGE Walter Williams doesn't like back talk. When a defense lawyer in his Chattanooga courtroom objected that Williams had ordered her client to pay four times the maximum fine for speeding, Williams sent the lawyer to jail for 10 days for contempt of court.

Another judge freed the lawyer, and a third ruled that Williams abused his powers. So Williams...issued a warrant to have the lawyer rearrested.

By the time he appeared before a special panel, Williams had racked up 24 charges of misconduct. But Williams cut a deal, and all but four of the complaints--which included charges of bias and unprofessional and demeaning behavior--were dropped.

In return, Williams agreed to go to "judge school"--a three-week course to improve his performance.

--The Guardian, July 25, 2001

Heard it through the grapevine

"I GUESS the 19th century is over now."
--Democratic campaign pollster SAM WATTS on Senator Jesse Helms' announced retirement

"IF I went into politics, I could stay in acting and never have to change roles."
--Former President BILL CLINTON on why he chose politics over his dream to become an actor

"I WILL not engage in these partisan politics. I never have."
--Florida Secretary of State KATHERINE HARRIS on Democrats' calls for her resignation

"IT'S NOT censorship, it's just removing it from the library."
--Library advisory board member EDDIE MacCAUSLAND on his proposal to ban a sex education book from the Marion County, Fla., public library

"DEMOCRATS ARE for beer and girls. Republicans are for cold beer and hot girls."
--South Carolina Republican Chair HENRY McMASTER to the Palmetto Boys State Leadership camp

"THE TRUTH is that the poor need more sweatshop jobs rather than fewer, hard though that may be to stomach for those of us who live in comfort."
--Professor of Economics PAUL SEABRIGHT

"THE PROTESTERS are winning. They are winning on the streets. Before too long they will be winning the argument. Globalization is fast becoming a cause without credible champions."
--Financial Times columnist PHILIP STEPHENS

"IN GENERAL, there is talk of a better shake for the world's poor, yet the demonstrators appear to be against the only thing giving the world's poorest nations any hope at all--continued global economic growth, led by import-happy Americans whose purchases help put food on the table from Bolivia to Bangladesh."
--New York Times columnist DANIEL AKST

"THERE'S A lot of things happening around the world. You've got a lot of young people putting themselves on the line...They've got a kind of unified interest in humanity at large, and that's one of the best things to have."
--Actor SEAN PENN on the antiglobalization protests in Seattle and Genoa, Italy

"THEN I hit another second serve, huge. And that ball was on the line, was not even close. And that guy, he looks like a faggot a little bit, you know...He calls it [out]. I couldn't believe he did it."
--Tennis star GORAN IVANISEVIC after winning Wimbledon

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