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Talk Show

"We're not going to roll over and die" -- NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker on plans to beef up Friends and Saturday Night Live to take on CBS's SurvivorReturn to top

Dot-Com Gurus Put on a Brave Face

For almost four years, the monthly roundtable dinners held in Palo Alto, Calif., by a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have been mostly upbeat affairs. Fueled by rising Internet stock prices, greasy pizza hors d'oeuvres, and seemingly boundless opportunities, about 100 of the Valley's brightest tech minds would gather to discuss the future of the Internet.

Called Round Zero, after the "seed" stage of financing for startups, past dinners at the Stanford Park Hotel have centered on such euphoric topics as "Money, Money Everywhere: Entrepreneurs Learn To Look Behind The Cash Curtain" (March, 2000).

These days, though, the cash is gone, and it's curtains for many dot-coms. At Round Zero's first get-together of the year, on Jan. 10, the mood was decidedly more somber. The topic: "Internet 2001: Year of Real Opportunity or Year of the Not-Com?"

Despite the gloom, the assembled put on a brave face. "In the long run, [the Internet] is still one of those things that brings fundamental change," professed one investment banker in attendance. And a noticeable contingent sported their optimism on their chests: They wore badges with the term "Free Agent"--a euphemism for "My dot-com has gone under."By Amy Cortese; Edited by Sheridan PrassoReturn to top

The Body Takes a Blow

Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, not one for mincing words, has a few choice ones for a state law introduced on Jan. 11 that seeks to halt his extracurricular money-making activities: "Bring it on."

Since his election in 1998, the outspoken Ventura has earned at least $2 million and possibly $3 million from outside gigs: two books, a World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view special, sales of action dolls, and 12 Saturdays of commentary for NBC's Xtreme Football League starting Feb. 3. Still pending is a rock musical about his life.

But Republican Phil Krinkie, who believes he has enough legislators to pass the bill this spring, says The Body spends too much time making money off his fame and too little governing. The law will state that governors are covered by a conflict-of-interest code and ban them from moonlighting. Ventura makes $120,300 as governor.

Ventura says what he does with his weekends is nobody's business, even though 50% of Minnesotans polled say he should stick to governing. But Ventura won't veto the bill: "I want to challenge it in court because I think it's unconstitutional." Looks like lawmakers got you pinned, Jesse.By Laurie Freeman; Edited by Sheridan PrassoReturn to top

Shining Light on Dark Days

Even at Beijing University, the hotbed of activism that started it all, word is barely out. Word, that is, of The Tiananmen Papers. In the U.S., heavyweight China scholars have just published papers smuggled out of China that tell the inside story of why Beijing's leaders decided to crack down on pro-reform demonstrators on June 4, 1989. The papers are important because if leaders reconsider whether those students were right to demand democracy, it could affect who emerges to lead China in 2002--and how quickly they press for political reform.

For the moment, though, China has successfully suppressed the news. Few academics, students, or members of the public even know the papers exist. The Chinese government blocked access to the Web site of Foreign Affairs, the influential Council on Foreign Relations journal that printed the papers and backed their authenticity. None of China's popular Web sites has mentioned them.

Yet the U.S. academics, Andrew Nathan and Perry Link--backed by fellow China watchers--believe the papers will prompt fierce debate in China after they are published in Chinese in April and are smuggled back in. "How the Chinese people read the documents" will determine China's political future, says Nathan. If they ever see them.By Dexter Roberts; Edited by Sheridan PrassoReturn to top


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