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December 2003

December 18, 2003

Playboy artifacts haul in the green
Neiman painting gets record $107,550 at Christie's auction
posted by Wire Reports

Compiled from wire reports (12/18/03) - Cashing in on Playboy magazine's 50th anniversary celebration, auction house Christie's International held an auction of cartoons, manuscripts and photographs from the highly successful men's magazine archives on Wednesday. Playboy showed its considerable appeal by realizing more than $2.7 million in the one-day event.

Tom Wesselmann's "Study for the Great American Nude, #87" (1966) soared above its pre-sale estimate of between $40,000 and $60,000 to fetch $107,550, a figure also paid for LeRoy Neiman's "Man at His Leisure - Le Mans, 1969," a world record for a Neiman painting.

Other items auctioned Wednesday included cartoons by Shel Silverstein and painted "Vargas girls" by artist Alberto Vargas. Vargas' "Vargas Girl - Trick or Treat?" (1967) was the top-selling Vargas Girl artifact, fetching $71,600, also a world record for a "Vargas girl" painting.

The sale also included original manuscripts by literary figures who have written for Playboy over its 50-year history including Jack Kerouac, Ian Fleming and Ray Bradbury.

The top seller among them was Kerouac's typed manuscript of "Before the Road," a prequel to his famous "On the Road," which sold for $71,700. The manuscript contains corrections in Kerouac's handwriting and is signed by the author.

A collection of cartoons by Shel Silverstein, Among the Hippies, sold for $65,724. Christies had predicted the collection would go for $6,000 to $8,000.

Playboy's centerfold in the inaugural issue, a 1953 color photograph of Marilyn Monroe by Tom Kelley, sold for $17,925.

A Mercedes limousine owned by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner went for $77,675. The winning bidder for that automobile received an invitation to a New Year's Eve party at the Playboy mansion.

Hefner's personal "little black book" of phone numbers and contacts used by the famed swinger in 1956 caught a very reasonable $9,560.

A 1960s vintage, emerald green, satin Playboy bunny suit sold for $14,340.


December 17, 2003

Reading More Than Ever, Thanks to the Web
Disconnecting the cable TV doesn't hurt either
posted by Rick Gagliano

I used to be a newspaper publisher. At one time, my little group published seven weeklies simultaneously. At that time, I was also the managing editor of the largest of our papers, and, overseeing all that type, it was natural for me to be doing quite a bit of reading to go along with more than my fair share of writing.

Who would have thought that fifteen years later, self-employed in a different business with a part-time satellite staff, that I am now reading three to four times as much as I did back then? Not that I track it or keep reading logs or even take notes, but I am sure of it.

I have purchased probably less than 10 newspapers in the past five years, and I still am a regular at the local library, but most of my reading is right off the internet. It's where I get almost all of my news, research and correspondence and I love it. For one thing, my desk and shelves aren't littered with reams of newsprint (the other benefit is that it saves trees) and finding, copying and storing information is faster and easier than it was in the days of ink and paper.

What may be the most overlooked benefit of the internet is the depth of information available. When I need to research a topic or story or just want background information, there are usually numerous quality sources from which to choose, so that within minutes I am up to speed with a variety of perspective.

A few years back there were fears that the internet would make everyone a simpleton, but I believe that the opposite is equally valid. Sure, if you spend your online time playing video games or on sex chat boards, your brain power will probably erode pretty quickly. On the other hand, use of the internet as a learning, business or educational tool is sure to increase knowledge and provide better information.

On a side note, I recently discovered another easy way to increase my reading time and save money at the same time. I was a regular cable TV provider, but when a notice arrived in the mail that my promotional offer period was ending and that some services would go up in price, others down, but overall I would be paying more, I had to ask myself whether I really needed the cooking channel, three home shopping channels, FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest of the assorted nonsense that we call entertainment television.

A call was made to the local cable provider and it soon became apparent that basic service was pretty much an all-or-nothing proposition. I could not just get the six or eight stations that I really wanted, I had to get 76. Figuring the ratio of unwanted garbage to my choices at about 10-1, and the price a ghastly $45 a month, I decided to opt out.

It was the best decision I have made in that past year. Boob tube time is down about 80% now that I have only the network broadcast channels and I am finding out that I really don't care about or need every minute detail about last nights' games, the inner life of the latest movie or sports star in crisis, the Animal Planet or the endless reruns. Since the networks have obliged with the usual garbage plate of prime time television, my evenings are now spent in front of the computer or lounging with a good book or magazine.

And I've got news for the Tom Brokaws, Dan Rathers and Peter Jennings of the world - the internet is making network news obsolete. By the time you hit the airwaves with the nightly news, I already know more about what's happened during the day that you can tell me. Television news, though still a hot medium, cannot match the speed and accuracy of the internet, and it never will.

The internet (and I am biased, being an online junkie and running an internet-centric business) is the most significant technological advancement of the past fifty years. I wonder what would happen if cable TV subscribers turned that off and instead spent the same money on a broadband connection. Would we be a smarter nation as a whole? I'm thinking that probably would be the case. For now, I, in my nation of one, am reading more than ever, and I'm happier and better informed.


December 09, 2003

Brokers Rate Brokerages in PRIMEDIA's Registered Rep. Magazine 2004 Broker Report Cards
Edward Jones Takes Top Honors Two Years Running; UBS Rounds Out Bottom of the List
posted by Wire Reports

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- What do stock brokers really think about their firms? PRIMEDIA's Registered Rep. magazine, the source of information for investment professionals, announced today the publication of its 13th annual 2004 Broker Report Cards in which brokers at seven leading US firms offer candid opinions on their own brokerages.

Except for two notable exceptions, most brokers polled think their firms are somewhat stingy and ethically challenged. It's true that reps at the larger firms were pleased that their public images had bounced back from the lows brought on by the conflict-of-interest research scandals of a year ago. And many polled thought their firms had successfully brought ethics to the forefront. But, besides A.G. Edwards and Edward Jones, whose broker employees ranked themselves as nearly perfectly honest, the other firms had given themselves imperfect ethical scores. (It should be noted that advisors from all but Edward Jones thought their public images were poor, despite a bounce-back from last year's poll.)

Perhaps as a result of the conflict-of-interest scandals, most reps polled felt they had less pressure to sell certain investment products over others. The advisors polled thought their firm's research and products have improved.

Now the bad news. Reps, whose incomes had been under pressure from the three-year bear market, groused about the cut backs that their brokerages had implemented to boost corporate profit. This resulted in what they described as lack of administrative support, particularly in sales assistant support.

Proving Wall Street is no match for Main Street, St. Louis-based Edward Jones edged out the competition yet again to land top honors with an impressive average of 8.99 in employee satisfaction (out of a possible 10). It received the highest ranking in 15 of 19 categories. Only two firms -- St. Louis-based A.G. Edwards (from 8.21 to 8.31) and Smith Barney (from 7.70 to 7.71) -- made improvements to climb higher in this year's ranks. Rounding out the bottom of the list at 7.21 was UBS, a firm plagued by lingering branding issues and the Report Cards lowest marks in public image.

Reps' complete rankings are detailed in the December issue of PRIMEDIA's Registered Rep. In order of overall rank:

* #1 -- Edward Jones: Still On Top -- Rank: 8.99. The pom-poms at this St. Louis-based firm can't be ignored as reps here had fewer complaints and more praise than any other firm polled. The firm was singled out for its strong ethics, unvarying approach to business and overall support of its reps. Far from the pressures of Wall Street, there is a real appreciation among Jones reps for the sense of independence and sales support. Said one enthused employee, "it's like having your own franchise and not paying the upfront costs of running it."

* #2 -- A.G. Edwards: A Nice-Guy Firm Steps Into the Spotlight -- Rank: 8.31. Another St. Louis contender rises through the ranks. The line on A.G. Edwards is a familiar one: Sterling reviews on ethics, a low-pressure atmosphere that investors also applaud and happy financial advisors -- but a public-awareness rating down there with that of the backup catcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. As one rep states, "Those who know us, love us. But not enough people know us." Management is aiming to fix the "quiet problem" with the launch of its first-ever national ad campaign.

* #3 -- Smith Barney: A Steady Recovery -- Rank: 7.71. The hiring of Sallie Krawcheck as CEO and the firm's focus on wealth management seems to have put most reps in good spirits about the company's forward direction. Although reps say the Grubman affair still haunts them, they tended to see research and image problems receding.

* #4 -- Merrill Lynch: Belt-Tightening Works -- Rank: 7.54. Perhaps no firm has cut costs more successfully. And the price, say reps, is a blow to their effectiveness. Chief complaint included Merrill's attempt to be "all things to all people" and management at the local level. High marks in ethics and quality show that even in the face of scandals, Merrill remains one of the most respected names in the business.

* #5 -- Wachovia: A Firm in Flux -- Rank: 7.41. Of primary concern is whether Wachovia's addition of 3,000 brokers in a merger with Prudential Securities will result in a less personalized approach to firm management. While the survey showed many laud the firm's ethics and commitment to a regional focus, some wonder whether the desire to be larger will end up rendering it "just another wirehouse."

* #6 -- Morgan Stanley: Losing Ground -- Rank: 7.38. Praised for sidestepping the worst scandals of 2003, Morgan Stanley enjoyed the highest ranking among wirehouses in last year's Rep's survey. But this year, a few problems arose, including controversies about the firm's reliance on proprietary product sales. Additionally, its view on "ethics" collapsed and there is a poor outlook on "hiring and recruiting practices." Said one rep lamenting over massive job cuts, "I'm actually amazed they're hiring at all. The problem is that it's a revolving door around here."

* #7 -- UBS: Oh, the Paine of Re-Branding -- Rank: 7.21. A hundred years of brand identity is not easily replaced. That's the message from UBS brokers about the firm's re-branding effort now that it has completed its digestion of the former (household-name) PaineWebber. According to one rep surveyed, "It doesn't matter how great we are, no one knows us. They know Paine Webber."

"Interestingly, given the mutual fund trading scandal, many brokers ranked their ethics fairly high, although not perfect," said David Geracioti, editor of Registered Rep. "Brokers gave their firms rankings a minimum of eight out of ten on the issue. But on a public image basis, they scored their firms quite low. Until brokers score their firms 10 out of 10 on ethics, Wall Street has some work to do."

Rankings are based on a poll of 350 brokers at seven firms during September and October, 2003. All those surveyed had -- at minimum -- one year of production at their respective firms and were asked to rank their employers in 20 categories, based on a 1-10 scale, with 10 representing the best. The brokers were drawn from a random sample of the subscriber list of this magazine.

Source: PRIMEDIA


BusinessWeek Names Delphi XM Roady Radio a 'Best Product of 2003'
Roady Wireless FM Adapter Available This Month; Free Roady Home Adapter Available Through Holiday Promotional Offer
posted by Wire Reports

TROY, Mich., and WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Delphi XM Roady satellite radio has been named a "Best Product of 2003" by BusinessWeek, the world's most widely read business magazine, in its December 15 issue. Delphi Corp. (NYSE:DPH) and XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) also announced the introduction of new accessories for the Roady: a wireless FM adapter for car radios and a free Roady home adapter available through a special holiday promotion.

In its annual list of the year's most innovative products, BusinessWeek wrote, "With coast-to-coast channels and few commercials, subscription satellite radio is the biggest change in radio since FM. There's no easier way to get it than Delphi's Roady."

The Roady, the first complete satellite radio solution for under $120, is the most affordable option for listening to XM's 101 channels of music, news, sports, and entertainment on the road or at home. As a BusinessWeek "Best Product of 2003," the Roady is part of an elite group, including Intel's Pentium M chip, the new $20 bill, and the AIDS medicine Fuzeon. Also selected were the Cadillac XLR roadster and the Scion xB, two of the more than 80 vehicles that feature XM Satellite Radio.

"The Roady is proving to be a very hot product this holiday season," said Hugh Panero, President and CEO of XM Satellite Radio. "We're flattered to be recognized by BusinessWeek as a 'best product of 2003,' and we're grateful to the more than 1 million customers that have made XM one of the fastest-growing entertainment media in history."

"We are very proud of this important recognition for the Delphi Roady," said Francisco (Frank) A. Ordonez, president, Delphi Product & Service Solutions and vice president, Delphi Corporation. "As we expand our product portfolio in the consumer electronics market, our satellite radios featuring XM continue to collect awards and accolades for being the best products in their class."

In addition to the BusinessWeek list, XM and Delphi were recently spotlighted as a holiday gift recommendation by several major publications, including People magazine and The New York Times. Best Buy, the nation's leading consumer electronics and mobile electronics retailer, recently announced that the Roady is the "most-wanted mobile electronic accessory this holiday season" and declared XM to be the "hottest trend in car audio."

The new Roady wireless audio adaptor (MSRP $29.99), designed for car radios without cassette decks, transmits XM to a vehicle's FM radio and powers the Roady receiver. This sleek accessory plugs conveniently into the vehicle's cigarette lighter.

The new Roady home adaptor allows Roady to work with home stereos equipped with RCA audio-in connectors or with a set of powered speakers. In a special holiday promotion, XM is making its home adaptor (a $39.99 value) available free-of-charge for consumers who purchase a Roady before Dec. 31, 2003. Roady customers who send in proofs of purchase will receive the home adaptor by mail delivery.

"The Roady wireless vehicle adaptor and home adaptor make a very appealing product even more attractive to holiday gift buyers," Panero said.

For more information about Roady, visit http://roady.xmradio.com/ or www.delphi.com/ce.

Source: XM Satellite Radio


IDG's PC World Maintains Leadership Position as Most Widely-Read Technology or Business Magazine
Award-Winning Publication Again Tops Competition in Fall 2003 MRI Survey
posted by Wire Reports

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- PC World outperforms all measured technology or business magazines in average issue audience, according to the Fall 2003 Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) Survey of American Consumers. For the sixth consecutive study PC World retained its premier position and based on 2003 rates, is a leader in advertising efficiency.

PC World vs. Top Technology and Business Magazines

Average Issue Audience(1)(000) CPM(2)
PC WORLD 5,887 $12.45
PC Magazine 5,768 $14.22
Business Week 4,671 $21.31
Forbes 4,510 $18.10
Fortune 3,728 $21.81
Computer Shopper 2,843 $11.11
Inc. 1,283 $67.81
(1) Fall 2003 MRI
(2) CPMs based on analysis by PC World, using rates
(1x, 4/c) as published in SRDS Business Publication Advertising Source 11/03.

"The fact that PC World leads all measured technology and business magazines for the sixth consecutive time confirms that PC World's careful attention to meeting the informational needs of Tech-Savvy Managers is working," stated PC World publisher Bob Ostrow. "Advertisers will benefit from reaching the biggest consumers of technology products at efficient CPMs."

The MRI findings follow the recent release of the IntelliQuest CIMS v10.0 Business and Home Studies, which each showed PC World reaching the most technology purchase influencers among all measured technology or business publications. "We're pleased that both the IntelliQuest and MRI results have reinforced PC World's leadership position," continued Ostrow.

Source: PC World Communications, Inc.


Playboy Announces Deal for New Web Site in Brazil
Playboy.com and Abril Expand Playboy.com.br
posted by Wire Reports

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Playboy Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:PLA) , and Abril, the leading publisher of consumer magazines and Internet sites in Brazil, today announced an agreement to launch a newly enhanced Brazilian version of Playboy Online. The deal will enable Abril to add multiple revenue stream opportunities to what is already one of the most popular sites in Brazil, Playboy.com.br . The deal marks the fourth international Playboy web site, with other countries including Germany, Taiwan, and most recently, the Netherlands.

The new Playboy.com.br will focus on the entertainment and lifestyle interests of young men by offering a wide range of content, including love and sex, arts, sports, style and more. A local editorial staff will create original Playboy-style content, as well as make use of content from Playboy Brazil, the most successful men's lifestyle publication in Brazil, also published by Abril. In addition, Playboy.com.br will translate U.S.- originated Playboy.com content, including extensive exclusive features, streaming video and live event coverage. As with other international Playboy sites, Playboy.com.br will mirror the U.S. multiple revenue stream model, which includes advertising, subscription-based clubs and e-commerce offerings.

Randy Nicolau, president of Playboy Online, stated: "International expansion continues to be a strong focus for us and since Brazil is the largest Latin American market, we recognize the enormous potential that exists there. We have a 28 year history with Abril as our magazine publishing partner for Playboy Brazil and we are thrilled to expand on this successful partnership by re-launching a revenue-generating version of Playboy.com.br."

Nicolau continued: "We are excited to work with Abril to enrich the Playboy.com consumer experience as well as offer tremendous multi-media opportunities to advertisers during a time when Internet penetration is surging in Latin America."

Mauro Calliari, general manager of Abril's Playboy Brazil, stated: "We believe that the launch of this new site will create a deeper connection between our online users and the Playboy brand. Playboy.com.br will offer premium content and provide a richer media experience to our consumers and to our advertisers. We are convinced that the combination of two media platforms, a traditional magazine and the Internet, will create a better user experience and also strengthen the power of the Playboy brand within Brazil."

The Playboy brand was introduced in Brazil nearly three decades ago, when the first Brazilian edition of Playboy was launched in 1975 in partnership with Abril. The circulation of Playboy Brazil has grown steadily over the years and currently averages 550,000 copies per month with more ad pages than any other foreign edition of Playboy. Playboy Brazil has had several top- selling editions, featuring Playmates and well-known local celebrities, which have had copy sales reaching more than one million.

Source: Playboy Enterprises, Inc.


2004 Holds Changes in Playgirl's Future

posted by Wire Reports

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Happy New Year Playgirls! Our editors are very excited this month 'cause we've got some great new changes coming up in 2004. While we won't reveal them all now, we did want to give you a hint ...so stay tuned for some very BIG surprises ... and we're not just talking Centerfolds! Playgirl begins the New Year with our most popular issue complete with calendar ever, 2004 horoscopes and everything you ever wanted to know about sex and romance. Settle down ... here's just a taste of what's in store:

* Playgirl's 2004 Vote for the Man of the Year Centerfold Calendar
Finally it's here -- our number one, hottest selling issue and it's our
best ever. We've rounded up all our gorgeous Centerfolds so you can
take another peek before you cast your vote for Man of the Year. As an
extra New Year's bonus, we've created a super-sexy pullout calendar
that gives us all a chance to enjoy these heavenly hunks all year long.
Vote by sending in the ballot on page 55, or email,
vote@playgirlmag.com

* Astro Sex Horoscope Guide (p. 24) -- Lust is in the stars, Playgirls!
Learn all about the sign you desire as Astrosexologist Kiki whips up
your celestial love forecast for each month of the New Year. This is
definitely a pullout you'll want to keep at your bedside all year long.

* The Sex Files (p. 68) -- Playgirl's new monthly feature on the latest
sex news. We'll let you know everything from the benefits of doing it
during your "time of the month" to the latest survey on how to buy and
use sex toys. There are also some facts on dating, and why a bit of
kink in the bedroom is all the rage.

* Gorgeous Guys -- Get ready for some of the hottest hunks you've ever
seen! As part of Playgirl's new look, we've added even more guys and
more erotic photographs. Take a long hard look at Golden God (p. 14),
and savor Jason's breathtakingly beautiful body painted entirely in
gold. Then meet Centerfold Nate, a novice chef who stirs up dishes
best served hot. Of course, we don't stop there ... dare you to turn
the page and see who else we have in store....

* Ziggy Marley (p. 10) -- This exclusive Playgirl interview with the sexy
soul man from Jamaica finds Ziggy honoring the legacy of his father,
reggae king Bob Marley. Coming off the release of his first solo
album, Ziggy gets down about his music, his homeland, and how he
reaches sexual empowerment through spirituality. Amen!

The January issue of Playgirl hits newsstands December 9, 2003.

Source: Playgirl


Consumer Electronics Shoppers Stick to Bargain Hunting Says Leading CE Magazine
Shortages of large screen TVs may hamper holidays
posted by Wire Reports

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer electronics sales are up, but retailers' hopes for a less promotional holiday selling season may be dashed, according to TWICE (This Week in Consumer Electronics), the leading consumer electronics publication.

Retail sales of consumer electronics were up 4.8 percent year-over-year to $7.2 billion on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, according to ShopperTrak, a leading retail research company, and reported in TWICE's December 8 issue. Sales of consumer electronics are considered one of the bellwethers for the entire Christmas retailing season.

Consumers nationwide lined up before dawn to shop, but stuck with bargains, the news tabloid found. Shoppers were after $20 DVD players, $130 camcorders, $500 computer notebooks, and $1000 rear projection HDTVs. Many holiday shoppers stayed in and ordered online. E-commerce sales through Nov. 28 reach $5.5 billion, a 22 percent gain over the prior-year period, according to BizRate.com figures reported in TWICE.

"Consumer electronics retailers are still using promotional pricing to drive consumers into their stores," said Stephen F. Smith, TWICE Editor-in-Chief. "Retail sales for consumer electronics in 2003 will be strong, but some retailers seem to think they will have to discount to get a piece of it."

Some retailers are also reporting shortages in supplies of some large screen TVs, particularly rear projection "flat screen" plasma and LCD (liquid crystal display) sets.

"Shortages may be the one fly-in-the ointment," Smith said. "Consumer electronics manufacturers have been too cautious in their planning and may cause retailers to get caught short. Certain products could be scarce, so Christmas shoppers need to purchase early."

Retailers such as Wal-Mart, Rex Stores, P.C. Richard & Son, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, Ultimate Electronics, and Sears reported increased traffic and sales to TWICE.

TWICE is considered by many to be the bible of the consumer electronics business. It is published by Reed Business Information.


Intec Interactive Partners With Marvel Comics To Release Digital Comic Books On DVD
New Product Line Augments Classic Comics With Voice, Music, Sound Effects And Special DVD Features
posted by Wire Reports

MIAMI, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Just more than 40 years ago, Marvel Comics created a revolution in the comic book industry with its innovative storytelling, action-packed artwork and colorful characters.

Today, with the help of Intec Interactive, they are doing it again.

For the first time, classic Marvel icons like The X-Men, The Hulk, Daredevil, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and others have been captured in a new digital format on DVD that retells some of these heroes' timeless tales in a cinematic style with voice-overs, music and surround sound that sheds new light on these original stories.

Intec Interactive's Digital Comic Book (DCB) Series expands its product line with 11 titles culled from the archives of Marvel Comics, featuring the inspirations for recent films like "X-Men," "Hulk" and "Daredevil," re- presented so that they play like mini-movies on just about any device that plays a DVD.

"Millions of people have watched the movies about these characters, and it just makes sense that the inspiration for those movies be made available to the masses as well," said Mark Stanley, Vice President of Marketing for Intec Interactive. "While we recognize that most comics fans prefer the feel of a printed comic book in their hands -- and nothing will ever replace that experience -- we think that this new format and style of presentation is a fun experience unto itself, and a great way to introduce new people to the storytelling wizardry that exists in this industry. These DCBs are a great way to introduce the original stories that made these characters icons. Because they play more like a movie than a comic book, each story delivers an amazingly immersive experience, even for those people who have never opened a comic book in their lives."

The 11 titles released are: The Incredible Hulk, Hulk/Wolverine, Daredevil, Daredevil & Elektra, The Ultimates and five volumes of Ultimate X- Men.

Source: Intec Interactive


Collectors Universe's PSA/DNA Unit Expands Authentication Services
Expands Serviceable Markets to Include Historical and Entertainment Autographs; Three Renowned Expert Authenticators Join the PSA/DNA Team
posted by Wire Reports

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ:CLCT) , the leading provider of value-added grading and authentication services and products to dealers and collectors of high-end collectibles, today announced that the PSA/DNA unit of the Company's Professional Sports Authenticators Division (PSA), the world's largest third- party authentication and grading service for sports autographs and collectibles, is expanding its services to include authentication of historical and entertainment autographs.

"The expansion of these important authentication services is one of the initiatives we are taking to increase the revenues in the Service segment of our business," stated Michael Haynes, chief executive officer of Collectors Universe. "With the significant individual values and high level of interest in entertainment and historical autographs, our brand of third party authentication services will provide the consumer and collector with increased confidence, relieve the tension of the 'buyer beware' way of thinking in the typical transaction, and allow dealers to benefit from the resulting positive customer relations."

Commenting on PSA/DNA's market expansion, PSA/DNA President Joe Orlando said, "We have assembled a dream team of authenticators to offer collectors and dealers unparalleled expertise in the examination and certification of signatures of famous Hollywood and historical persons, from magician Harry Houdini to President Abraham Lincoln. The FBI has warned consumers before about the danger in buying uncertified sports autographs, but they feel, as many hobby experts do, that forgeries are likely to be even more prevalent in the non-sports autograph business. That conclusion may or may not come as a shock to some people but, at PSA/DNA we felt that major entrance into non- sports autograph authentication was a natural progression in the expansion of our services."

The three latest authenticators to join the PSA/DNA team, effective December 1, 2003, are historical and entertainment autograph experts Bob Eaton, founder of R & R Enterprises; John Reznikoff, president of University Archives; and entertainment and space program expert Bill Miller, president of Odyssey Auctions and Odyssey Publications (units of Collectors Universe). They join respected PSA/DNA autograph experts James Spence, Steve Grad and Zack Rullo, who are well known for their extensive authentication work in sports and entertainment collectibles.

Bob Eaton founded R & R Enterprises in 1976, and today is one of the nation's foremost autograph authenticators. He has issued more than 270 monthly catalogs and will assist PSA/DNA in the authentication of vintage Hollywood signatures such as Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Jean Harlow, Walt Disney and Charlie Chaplin, among others.

John Reznikoff founded University Archives 25 years ago and is a well- known authority frequently appearing in national print and television media. He was the key witness for the U.S. Justice Department in the authentication and valuation of former President Richard Nixon's White House papers, one of Reznikoff's many accomplishments as a respected expert witness. Reznikoff founded the Professional Autograph Dealers Association and served as President of the International Autograph Dealers Association, the two leading dealer organizations in this field.

Bill Miller is a nationally recognized authority on autographs and memorabilia, and is frequently quoted by the news media. He is the official appraiser to Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, and his handwriting studies of such personalities as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe are industry standards. Miller is the publisher of Autograph Collector magazine.

Source: Collectors Universe, Inc.


December 02, 2003

VIZ Flexes With Manga Acquisition of ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy
Epic Manga Graphic Novel From the Yudetamago Duo to Be Made Available in English for the First Time
posted by Wire Reports

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- VIZ, LLC, one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga comics and anime content for North American audiences, flexed some muscle by announcing the acquisition of ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy from Shueisha, Inc., one of Japan's largest publishers and also a VIZ partner. The manga will be offered through the SHONEN JUMP family of graphic novels and will begin shipping in March of 2004 and hit bookstores and comic stores nationwide in mid-April.

The original MUSCLEMAN (KINNIKUMAN in Japanese) was created by the renowned manga artist duo Yudetamago (composed of Nakai Yoshinori and Takashi Shimada) in 1979 while the pair was still in high school. MUSCLEMAN was an action-packed tale of a band of wrestlers who take on a motley gang of evil, equally muscle-bound counterparts to save the earth from destruction. Yudetamago was also responsible for other popular manga series including LIONHEART, TOTAL FIGHTER K, and MR. GOURMAND. MUSCLEMAN, drew a devoted following in the pages of the Japanese edition of Weekly Shonen Jump. Its sequel, ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy, has now spawned 23 volumes and sold over 7 million copies in Japan. In America, an anime version of ULTIMATE MUSCLE premiered in 2002 on the Fox network's Fox Box and the show has become a favorite of children and young adults. The program is now into its second successful season and a bevy of related action figures and video games have followed.

"This is the first time that ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy has been made available in English and we are pleased to offer it exclusively to American audiences on a bi-monthly basis," states Hyoe Narita, Senior Vice President of Editorial, and Editor-in-chief of SHONEN JUMP. "In the wake of the popularity of the FOX Box televised series we look forward to fans discovering ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy in its original graphic novel incarnation. VIZ has taken great care to accurately translate the title from Japanese and has secured the blessing of the Yudetamago duo for this release. Both a sports and action adventure tale, fans of the show as well as anime and manga enthusiasts will be captivated by the exploits of Kid Muscle, and I look forward to the graphic novel also serving as a compliment to the ardent following the Fox Box series has garnered."

ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy tells the tale of Kid Muscle, the son of legendary wrestler King Muscle. Years have passed since King Muscle and his fellow Muscle League Champions vanquished the evil DMP wrestlers -- a freakish band of sadistic muscle bound aliens from another planet who sought to invade earth. But now a new generation of the DMP is trying to invade again and the old Muscle League proves no match for their younger, stronger opponents. Hope lays in the League's own New Generation, and their reluctant leader, Kid Muscle, the son of King Muscle. But Kid possesses none of the charisma of his father. He's cowardly, lazy, and determined not to become a part of the new team. Kid is sent to Earth against his will where he continues to train and gradually begins to develop a sense of responsibility and self confidence, as well as a rack of muscles that would make The Rock proud. Kid forms a team of wrestler heroes to take on the DMP and the results are earthshaking, body slamming, ultimate powered action that sends our planet sailing over the top rope.

"ULTIMATE MUSCLE: The Kinnikuman Legacy works on a variety of levels and that is part of its enduring popularity," says Yumi Hoashi, Vice President of SHONEN JUMP. "While the sports and wrestling-related action develops a high level of drama and suspense throughout each issue, the story also communicates lessons in overcoming adversity and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It demonstrates what can be achieved through cooperation and self confidence. In that respect, the character of Kid Muscle demonstrates a variety of positive personality traits."

About VIZ, LLC

The leading U.S. publisher of Japanese animation and comics (anime and manga) for English-speaking audiences, VIZ serves a growing market of dedicated fans of all ages. Founded in 1986, VIZ publishes over 20 titles every month including GUNDAM, DRAGON BALL Z, INU YUSHA and RANMA 1/2.


From the Front Line to the Front Page: The Discovery Times Channel Looks at the Challenges, Triumphs and Secrets of Reporters at War
Four-Part Series Makes its U.S. Premiere on January 6, 2004
posted by Wire Reports

SILVER SPRING, Md., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- In January 2004, the Discovery Times Channel will air the U.S. premiere of REPORTERS AT WAR, a series of four specials about the history of war reporting and journalists' battles for truth, access and survival in war zones. Well-known American reporters Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Morley Safer and David Halberstam and British reporters Sir Max Hastings, Kate Adie, Michael Nicholson, John Simpson, and Martin Bell describe what it was like to report from the frontlines. Using the war in Iraq as a reference point, the Discovery Times Channel series reveals the untold stories behind the most iconic war moments of the past 150 years, beginning with Matthew Brady's first combat photo of the Civil War.

REPORTERS AT WAR includes the following specials:

WITNESS TO HISTORY -- Tuesday, January 6, 8-9 PM (ET)

REPORTERS AT WAR: Witness to History looks at how wars have been reported by journalists throughout recent history. The show examines how the quest for truth and patriotism has intersected, and sometimes collided, giving new insight into the coverage of wars, including the recent one in Iraq.

DYING TO TELL A STORY -- Tuesday, January 13, 8-9 PM (ET)

While many war correspondents thrive on the thrill of battle, others are not so lucky. They are in a profession that suffers many casualties, both mental and physical. In the recent war with Iraq, at least 15 journalists have died. REPORTERS AT WAR: Dying to Tell a Story illustrates how business and journalistic decisions intersect, often endangering the lives of the reporters who are on the front lines.

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME -- Tuesday, January 20, 8-9 PM (ET)

Video-satellite phones and night-vision cameras are as much a part of modern war reporting as the flak jacket. Now reporters can file from almost anywhere and news organizations can keep up with an audience that demands 24/7 information. From the Internet to communications technology, the new tools of war journalism are examined in REPORTERS AT WAR: Bringing it All Back Home.

WARS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPES -- Tuesday, January 27, 8-9 PM (ET)

Focusing on the war in Iraq, REPORTERS AT WAR: Wars, Lies and Videotapes looks at the attempts by both the Coalition and the Iraqis to control the media. It also examines the inherently confrontational relationship between the media and the military and how with each conflict, the two sides have tried to outfox and outflank each other.

REPORTERS AT WAR is produced by True Vision Productions for Discovery Channel Europe and the Discovery Times Channel.

The Discovery Times Channel (www.discovery.com/times) combines the authority of The New York Times with the programming excellence of Discovery Communications to bring viewers groundbreaking documentary series and specials that shed light on the historical roots and tell the stories behind the events and ideas shaping our times. The Discovery Times Channel is available to 32 million subscribers in the United States and is a joint venture between The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) and Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI), the leading global real-world media and entertainment company.

The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) , a leading media company with 2002 revenues of $3.1 billion, includes The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 16 other newspapers, eight network- affiliated television stations, two New York City radio stations and more than 40 Web sites, including NYTimes.com and Boston.com. For the third consecutive year, the Company was ranked No. 1 in the publishing industry in Fortune's 2002 list of America's Most Admired Companies. In 2003 the Company was named by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. The Company's core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high- quality news, information and entertainment.

Source: The Discovery Times Channel


World's First Walking, Talking Advertisement Makes a Big Splash
C I Host's 'Human Billboard' Called Huge Success - 500 New Customers
posted by Wire Reports

BEDFORD, Texas, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- In the 6 months that a 22-year-old Illinois man has had "C I Host" and "Managed Web Hosting" tattooed on the back of his head, the company has counted 500 new customers who bought C I Host's services because they saw the tattoo.

"This has been a tremendous success," said Christopher Faulkner, CEO of C I Host. "Jim Nelson is a great salesman and we are happy to have the 500 new customers who have come from his marketing efforts and the publicity generated by the tattoo."

As part of the contract Nelson signed with C I Host, he must travel around the country promoting C I Host and keep the 5-inch-square, blue, black and orange tattoo visible for five years. He must hand out business cards and flyers and learn a 10-second C I Host sales pitch.

"He is the best sales person I have -- he passes out flyers, talks to people and does not ask for a salary or commission," Faulkner stated.

After C I Host won the auction on eBay for Nelson's services, other companies copied the marketing strategy, but with temporary tattoos. Nelson auctioned off the back of his head to get cash to start his own business.

C I Host, with more than 200,000 customers in 182 countries, is well-known for its unique and effective marketing strategies.

In the past, C I Host has brought Howard Stern back to Dallas radio, put its name on the back of Evander Holyfield's boxing trunks, sponsored a NASCAR race car, held a contest to send the winner to the edge of space in a jet and put a 25-foot high Santa on the roof of its headquarters.

"Whatever we can do to reach our target market and get the word out about C I Host, we will do," Faulkner said. "It's similar to the extra mile we go to bring our customers the most up to date technology and give them the best service."

CI Host is the web host of DT Magazine and The Collectible Magazine Online Price Guide.

Source: CI Host


Mevorah Named Publisher at Child Magazine
Lifestyle Magazine Celebrates Smart, Modern Families
posted by Wire Reports

NEW YORK, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Cindy Spengler, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Gruner + Jahr USA has named Dave Mevorah publisher of Child magazine. The announcement is effective immediately, with Mevorah reporting directly to Spengler. Since January 2001, Mevorah has served as associate publisher for the lifestyle title that has a year-to-date total of 995 ad pages, an impressive gain of 48% compared to 2001.

"Dave has continuously proven to be an incredible asset to the Child advertising sales team," comments Spengler. "I'm thrilled to name him Publisher, and I am confident that his energy, effort and talent will continue to propel Child's excellence."

States Mevorah: "I am excited to continue Child's phenomenal growth and further develop the Child brand in my new role as publisher. I am particularly delighted to work so closely with our editor in chief, Miriam Arond, who is truly an expert on raising kids with smarts and style."

Mevorah joined Gruner + Jahr USA in February 2000 as Advertising Director, where he was responsible for leading the national sales team. One year later, he was named Associate Publisher where he was a major force behind the relaunch of Child, and continued to manage sales as the magazine adopted a new identity. Mevorah has since played a critical role in creating meaningful programs for Child and strengthening the brand.

Prior to joining G+J USA, Mevorah was Advertising Director for Healthy Kids magazine as well as American Baby and Healthy Kids television shows. Previously, he was also Vice President of Corporate Sales for the Market Source Corporation, a promotions and co-operative sampling company. Mevorah was previously Advertising Director at Penthouse, and has held other positions at publications including Omni, Golf Illustrated and the National Enquirer. Mevorah graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from George Washington University.

With a rate base of 1,020,000, Child is the magazine for Raising Kids with Smarts and Style. A lifestyle magazine celebrating today's families, Child is fast-paced, confident and contemporary. Each month, Child offers nearly five million readers the latest news and research that stimulates, inspires and provokes thought.

As one of the top-ranked magazine publishers in America, reaching one of the largest readerships in America, Gruner + Jahr USA publishes Child, Family Circle, Fast Company, Fitness, Inc., Parents and YM. Gruner + Jahr USA is 25.1% owned by the Jahr Group and 74.9% owned by Bertelsmann AG, the largest privately held and the fifth largest media company overall in the world with yearly revenues at $17.86 billion.


December 01, 2003

INSTANT CLASSICS - SPORTS ILLUSTRATED JULY 7, 2003
Wood and Prior light a Chicago fire
posted by Rick Gagliano

INSTANT CLASSICS - SPORTS ILLUSTRATED JULY 7, 2003

The issue of Sports Illustrated magazine featuring CHICAGO CUBS pitchers MARK PRIOR and KERRY WOOD, which hit the newsstand in mid-summer of 2003, displayed the very best Sports Illustrated had to offer.

The Cubs were embroiled in the hottest pennant race of the season - the National League Central - in which the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and the Cubs were all within a few games of each other for most of the campaign. Especially bitter was the long-standing rivalry between the Cards and the Cubs; and the differences between the two teams stood in stark contrast throughout the season.

The Cardinals were built around an awesome offensive attack which included the eventual batting champion, Albert Pujols, long-ball specialists Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, J. D. Drew and Tino Martinez, and the all-around play of shortstop Edgar Renteria. Short on pitching, especially in the late innings, the Cards generally won games by mauling opponents into submission, putting up 7,8 or more runs in a game.

The Cubs, while boasting decent hitting of their own, especially in the middle of the lineup with Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou and Aramis Ramirez, could not always rely on their bats to win games for them.

Enter the dynamic duo of Wood and Prior. Kerry Wood, who won the Player's Choice Award in 1998 as the National League's top rookie, entered 2003 in peak condition and was counted on throughout the season to deliver top pitching performances in the clutch. Prior, after going 6-6 during his 2002 rookie year, was even more the phenom than Wood, as he consistently kept the Cubs in close games and either on top or close to the top of the NL East all season.

As the season wore on, it was evident that the Cubs had the strongest staff in the division and with Wood and Prior leading the way, they captured the NL Central. The city of Chicago was broiling with baseball fever. The Cubs hadn't won a World Series since 1919 and the fans were rabid for another taste of destiny.

Eventually, the aspirations of the Cubs and their fans would fall prey to the opportunistic Florida Marlins who bested the Cubs in a thrilling 7-game tilt for the National League crown. The Marlins would go on to win the World Series win over the New York Yankees, but the fire started by the two imposing young Chicago pitchers would not soon be extinguished.

The timing of the Sports Illustrated issue could not have been more opportune, nor the flashes of stardom more brilliant. Both Wood and Prior have future Hall of Fame credentials, and the cover was the first appearance for both of them. Kerry Wood appeared subsequently on the cover of the October 13, 2003 issue, during the playoffs.

Once the issue reached the hands of collectors and the Cubs reached the post-season, the mad dash was on. Copies of the July 7 issue sold for as much as $40 in online auctions and even after the season retained value. Prices have slid somewhat as football has taken over the spotlight, but near mint, no label copies will still fetch as much as $15, while subscription issues with imprinted labels can be had for $5 or less.

The instant classic status of this issue is, however, unmistakable and collectors and dealers would be wise to stock up in anticipation of another hot Chicago pennant race in 2004.

Here are some highlights of Wood's and Prior's 2003 seasons:

Wood went 14-11 with 266 Ks and a 3.20 ERA. In the divisional playoffs, he earned the opening win and the clincher against the Atlanta Braves. In two NLCS starts he had no decision and suffered the loss in the critical, memorable game 6. Wood struck out 9 or more batters in a game an astonishing 17 times during the 2003 regular season.

10 times Mark Prior struck out 9 or more batters in a game during the regular season. Prior also won two playoff games, one each against the Braves and Marlins, and lost game 7 to the Marlins. In his two wins he allowed only 8 hits in 16 innings. The best of these was his masterful 2-hitter against Atlanta. Prior finished 2003 18-6 with 245 Ks, and a 2.43 ERA.

Wood led the majors in strikeouts, while Prior finished second. Prior also placed third in NL ERA and Wins.


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