Obits offer the dual ghoulish fascination of rubbernecking and peering ahead into your own future. Will you be the great-grandfather who expires at age 92 surrounded by loved ones? The gone-too-soon 60-year-old whose heart explodes as he walks out of his favorite deli? Or the 24-year-old hit by a train? The page normalizes death and dying by treating them like stock quotes or a Marlins box score. But even in the practiced death mill that is South Florida, there had to be some scattered cringes when this item appeared tucked on the obituary page earlier this year: "DeJoseph, Theresa, 75 of Plantation, FL died on January 19, 2005. $595 Cremation, Coral Springs." The cost of the final trip is always free, but at what price the ashes to ashes? About as much as a new flat screen TV, roughly.
While it feels strange to bestow a 'zine award upon glossier-than-thou Closer, it's indicative of the fact that those hand-typed, mimeographed, fly-by-night 'zines are pretty much gone for good. They have the Internet on computers now, you know, and that's where most 'zines exist these days. Sure, you half-expect a big honkin' whiff of expensive perfume to accost you when you open one up, and the dichotomy between upwardly mobile haute couture ads and far-left-wing editorials is a tad off-putting. But this pint-sized mag, which is available free at trendy locales and is published by West Palm Beach nightclub owner (and enemy of the mayor) Rodney Mayo, still tackles issues like terrorism, gun control, election fraud, and racism. One piece we particularly liked last year was Gabe Laszlo's feature about 2004 being the year in which George Orwell's prophecies truly blossomed. Those other glossy, fashion-spread magazines don't touch stuff like this. Closer's design is cutting-edge, its music coverage is generally spot-on, the models wearing the fancy threads are pretty fun to look at, and the whole enterprise is certainly a lot more "alternative" than a weekly competitor we could name. Plus, you have to give Closer props for hanging around so long. We even heard they named a movie after it!
NBC 6 reporter Patricia Andreu's background is as diverse and interesting as South Florida's. Born to Cuban parents in London, she studied politics in France before coming to Washington, D.C., to serve as an associate producer for CNN. She traveled the globe covering stories, including the 1992 coup in Haiti and the 1991 Middle East peace conference. In 1995, NBC 6 lured her to South Florida. Since then, Andreu has made a name for herself as an aggressive reporter with an appreciation for South Florida's diversity and complexity. Andreu won an Emmy Award for her series "Habla English?" and an Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation of personal injury fraud. Most recently, Andreu (with the help of investigator/producer Scott Zamost) exposed long delays associated with the 911 emergency line operated by the Broward Sheriff's Office. If more TV reporters were like Andreu, South Florida viewers would be seeing less blood and guts on TV news and instead hearing more about problems with the law and government agencies -- you know, uh, real journalism.
We could go cheap here and talk about Yarbough's being the Foxy Brown of local TV news. But we won't sink to that level. TV news is a serious business, and Yarbough is a serious journalist. Last fall, for instance, she was a "celebrity judge" of a reality show called America's Most Eligible. There, she bore the critically important responsibility of determining whether any of the contestants was "the next big thing." And she is one heck of a news personality, highly professional and smooth as silk. She's the finest anchor out there, and even at 39 years old, she's still soothing to the eyes. But the window is beginning to close, people. At this late date, she's the little-watched 5 p.m. anchor (and she also does the 10 p.m. news for NBC's sister network, the WB, on Channel 39). Somebody has got to wake up and see that Yarbough deserves the 6 and 11 slots. She's prime-time, baby. The judgment is in: Yarbough is the next big thing.
It's hard to say that this Broward County commissioner has gone bad because that would mean he suddenly changed. But Eggelletion has been just plain bad for many years. He still deserves this distinction because this past annum has been an especially horrendous one for the man called Joe. Let's see, he's been exposed as a paid shill for developers. The Florida Ethics Commission sustained a complaint against him for improperly lobbying for a garbage company. Lauderdale Lakes, the base and birthplace of his political power, basically came to hate his guts after he hurt the city's attempt to annex several neighborhoods. A paternity suit was filed against him by a woman who claims he had a sexual relationship with her when she was a teenaged high school student and he was her teacher at Dillard High School. And other out-of-wedlock children are being discovered to have been sired by the commissioner (that's why we call him the Egg Man). So he's an unethical, profiteering, disloyal, sleazy, predatory poon hound. He might just become our next president.
WPLG didn't win just because Dwight Lauderdale is the smoothest MF-er in the history of news broadcasting. No, Lauderdale may be suave, but that doesn't change the fact that his material is sometimes as shallow as the royal gene pool. No, the real reason WPLG is the highest-quality TV station in South Florida is Michael Putney, who has for years kept burning the flickering flame of local political television journalism. His Sunday show, This Week in South Florida, is practically the only place you get to see debate among local candidates. His take on politics is usually pretty astute, the product of more than a quarter century of reporting experience in South Florida (he wrote for the Miami Herald back when it was worth a damn). And he's something of a Renaissance man as well, having recently played the title role in the theater production of Trumbo, about the blacklisted writer. Putney, if one must find a fault with him, could learn a little something from Dalton; he needs to crack the hypocrites and liars populating South Florida politics over the head a little harder. It's in him -- he just needs to do it on the tube.
When local weather babe Jackie Johnson left the Sunshine State for a gig in Los Angeles, WSVN-TV (Channel 7) had some purdy shoes to fill. Instead of going the tried-and-true route of replacing Johnson with another bubbly blond, the TV station chose exotic bombshell Elita Loresca, whose oval-shaped eyes and glistening black hair give her a cat-like beauty. To top it off, Loresca seems as comfortable in front of the camera as imprisoned weatherman Bill Kamal was at chatting to young boys on the Internet. A former weathercaster in Fresno, California, Loresca has proven in a short time that easy-on-the-eyes Johnson is all too easy to forget.
Yeah, the Heat's play-by-play man has a radio voice as polished as an FBI agent's loafers, but he's the real deal -- a genuine sports aficionado. Though he promotes his team a little too much at times (and is paid to do it), Reid has a rare exuberance. He knows the game without talking his head off about it (unlike, say, Dan Dierdorf, whose inane, never-ending blather makes one grateful for the invention of the mute button). And the voice of the Heat, while he must have an ego, hides it well (unlike, say, Bill Walton, whose presence on national television is, to use his favorite expression, inexcusable). Reid works in service to the game. He respects the fans, turns an interesting phrase almost every night, and, even when you're just wasting more of your life watching pro sports, makes you feel like you're doing something worthwhile. Enjoy him while you can; he's so good that it can't be long before ESPN or some other national giant steals him away.
Ah, the twists and turns of Slick Rick's broadcasting career. He gained local fame and fortune at WSVN-TV (Channel 7), the local Fox affiliate, where he often made fatal car accidents sound like the end of the world. In 2002, Rick made it to the big time at MSNBC, where he took corporate shilling to a new level, once uttering the phrase "here at MSNBC" a record 79 times in 24 hours. But alas, he was more popular for his embarrassing gaffes than for anything else (like the time he referred to Jesse Jackson as "Mr. Sharpton"), and the network mercifully canned him in 2003. Then the local NBC affiliate, WTVJ-TV (Channel 6), hired him for a daytime show, which was kind of like The View, only with Sanchez playing the role of Meredith Vieira (beats Star Jones, huh?). That horrid experiment only proved that Rick, while perhaps a serviceable corporate tool, should never, ever be left to his own devices. Then CNN made a surprise move and brought him to its network this past September for its daytime slot with Daryn Kagan. His fake intensity has been replaced by a nauseating fake smile. The man appears to be getting desperate -- he recently allowed himself to be zapped by a stun gun on camera. He froze in pain for a Lee Harvey Oswald moment before flopping around like a giant Cuban-American flounder. But don't worry, the shock only made Sanchez -- the Frankenstein of American broadcasting -- stronger.