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You need to check out the pictures I have posted today. They were taken by my colleague, Shayla Bezdrob. They are pics of the Aruba home of the family of "GVC," who is detained in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Shayla is in Aruba and I was curious about "GVC" and his background, so asked her to get me some information. She gathered some information for us and also sent (e-mail of course) the pics for background for me.
The house is quite large — it is not common to see houses this large in Aruba. GVC's home appears to me in the pics to be much bigger than that of the Van der Sloot or Kalpoe families. The Kalpoe home is the most modest of the three.
If you saw Friday night's show, you know it started off as "The Show From Hell." The audio problems in the first block were a nightmare, but we finally got them resolved. I felt bad for our first guest, since I am sure that the audio problems were particularly rotten for him since he has little, if any, TV experience. He was a good sport about it and was patient. Needless to say, the problems were also a surprise to me and I had to try and accommodate for the problems. Live TV is never dull. I actually much prefer it to taped shows, which we do rarely.
Late Thursday night, while I was preparing for the show, I received an unexpected phone call from Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha. She told me she was in D.C. with Ron Grantski (Laci's stepfather), Dave Harris (one of the three prosecutors who prosecuted Scott Peterson) and Mark Smith (an investigator from the DA's office.) They were in town for a few reasons: One is that Sharon received an award for her work for victims (presented by the attorney general of the United States). I said, "Since you all are in town, how about dinner tomorrow night?" They agreed. So, on Friday night, before the show, I took all of them to dinner a few blocks from the D.C. FOX bureau. We had a great time.
I asked my dinner guests what was new in Modesto, California and learned that Birgid Fladager (one of the prosecutors in the Peterson case) is running for chief DA. The current chief DA is retiring. Birgid Fladager's opponent is a judge in Modesto who wants to leave the bench to run the DA's office. I was told that most of the prosecutors in the office want Fladager. This is significant. They have worked with her and they know her work ethic. By the way, I was surprised to learn that she was a lawyer in the Navy before going to the Stanislaus County DA's Office.
One other thing: This was the first time I had ever spoken to Assistant DA Dave Harris. I sort of got the feeling during the Peterson trial that the prosecutors were not wild about the media — which, of course, included me. At best, I got a few nods of recognition in the courtroom, but no conversations. Dave Harris was very cordial at dinner and we had a good time. I had fun talking to him. I can see why Sharon Rocha has always spoken so highly of the prosecution team.
I just found out that on May 9, my friend Douglas Brinkley (professor of history at Tulane University in New Orleans) has a book coming out about Hurricane Katrina. The book is called, "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast," and I have just gone on Amazon.com and pre-ordered it. I pre-ordered it for a few reasons. Yes, he is a friend. Yes, he is from New Orleans and he saw the worst of it. But, most importantly, I pre-ordered the book because during the height of Katrina's devastation, he and I spoke — when we got our cell phones to work. The cell phone coverage was very bad during the hurricane and in the aftermath. Doug told me hair-raising stories about many things, including rescuing people. I am sure his new book has more to tell me and I want to read it.
At one point — a day or so after the storm hit — I saw Doug in Houston and he said he was going back to New Orleans the next day to get his pets — this was at a time when no one was allowed back into New Orleans and you had to find a boat to get to many homes. I doubted that he would have success. The police and military had set up checkpoints so that no one could get back in the city except rescue people and clever media who could talk their way in. (We luckily talked our way in.) I was wrong about Doug getting in. Doug got back in. He talked his way past checkpoints and he managed to find a way to get in and help rescue people and his pets.
Here is what the blurb — in part — on Amazon.com says about the book:
In "The Great Deluge," bestselling author Douglas Brinkley, a New Orleans resident and professor of history at Tulane University, rips the story of Katrina apart and relates what the Category 3 hurricane was like from every point of view. The book finds the true heroes — such as Coast Guard officer Jimmy Duckworth and hurricane jock Tony Zumbado.
Throughout the book, Brinkley lets the Katrina survivors tell their own stories, masterly allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina. The Great Deluge investigates the failure of government at every level and breaks important new stories. Packed with interviews and original research, it traces the character flaws, inexperience, and ulterior motives that allowed the Katrina disaster to devastate the Gulf Coast.
Now for some e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
I had to laugh when I read your quiz about "phishing." Last summer I read about phishing while my daughter was working on her masters in library and information science — which is computer work. I asked her, "Have you ever heard of phishing?" She kinda blew me off and said no. A week or so later she called me and said, "Mom, I am impressed that you knew what "phishing" was before I did! So I guess you are never too old to learn! Keep up the good work... I love your show!
E-mail No. 2
You asked us to write after the show with our opinions. I thought the content was good, you did your job well but the producers went overboard with the set. You looked like a baby mouse in a great big wad of Swiss cheese with all the clutter on the set. It was too showy: a cross between Dayle Hinman and John Walsh. Your regular style of just reporting without all the glitz is much better. Fire the set manager and you will have an excellent product.
E-mail No. 3
The "Murder in the Heartland" special was great — yes, lots of twists and turns! I loved it. Way to go! Hope you'll be doing more of these types of shows, in addition to "On the Record."
Bonnie Roberts Linenweber
E-mail No. 4
Your show Saturday night was good, well organized. My only criticism would be that shows which present a complete case in an hour are already on frequently (CBS's "48 Hours Mystery", NBC's "Dateline," etc.). Your "Crime Scene" was better than those, but seemed like another of the same type rather than something unique.
There are already many high profile cases out there in the public consciousness like Natalee Holloway, Jon Benet Ramsey, etc. It is like taking jars of peanut butter and jelly and mayonnaise and mustard and relish and opening them all up and putting them on the kitchen counter then never putting any of them back. It overwhelms the viewers with so many cases already out there.
Here is my idea for something different: You know the show "Cops" that shows real police officers doing their job? Maybe you could have a special where you show a day in the life of a prosecutor for a district attorney, or a day in the life of a criminal defense attorney (especially if it is Bernie and includes him rolling out of bed in the morning and going into the shower!). These would be different than anything on anywhere before.
Also, I like the new set you have for "On the Record." Also I was in Starbucks yesterday and they had little promotional cards for the "Akeelah and the Bee" movie quoting YOU about the movie! Now you are really big time — having your name in every Starbucks!
ANSWER: In response to you seeing the ad in Starbucks, I don't know if I have ever liked a movie so much as "Akeelah and the Bee." I was sent an advance copy of the movie about a month ago and fell in love with it (I also gave former first lady Barbara Bush a copy of the movie, since it fits with her literacy foundation.) The 13-year-old star, Keke Palmer, and her mother are two of my guests at this Saturday's annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. Laurence Fishburne is also a star of the movie and one of my guests. Please watch our show this week — I hope to air my interview with both of them. We might air it Tuesday night. I also heard that Oprah is going to interview Keke this week. And the movie? It opens April 28. If you go, let me know if you agree with me about it. If you don't agree, write me an e-mail and tell me to stay out of the movie critic business and keep my "day job."
P.S. I have some other great guests at my table!
Now for some articles that caught my attention:
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