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On TV, John Waters' uncommon scents


WHO SAYS there's nothing, besides the president's trial, to look forward to in 1999? The Independent Film Channel - for the unwired, that's a cable outfit - is giving away scratch-and-sniff Odorama cards for its airing of John Waters' "Polyester" next month. Now, that's some fun.

"There are 10 smells on each card," says Keith Hudson, who handles publicity for IFC. "Each smell is numbered and, as 'Polyester' airs, a number appears on the screen telling you which smell to scratch and sniff. ... Get them while supplies last."

The Odorama cards, replicas of the originals that appeared in theaters when "Polyester" came out in 1981, can be ordered off the Internet (www.ifctv.com), even if you don't get IFC at home. (It's only available to Baltimore TCI subscribers through a special digital package purchase.)

"Polyester" airs on IFC four times next month, the last on Jan.29 with "In Bad Taste," a new, 82-minute documentary about Waters by Baltimore filmmaker Steve Yeager. Yeager's award-winning "Divine Trash" was about the making of Waters' "Pink Flamingos" in the early 1970s. The sequel, "In Bad Taste," takes up where "DT" left off, following Waters' career through his 13th film, "Pecker."

'Most Wanted' residual

Actors who picked up residual checks each time a dramatization of Theresa Grosso's crime appeared on "America's Most Wanted" probably groaned a little when the convicted murderer finally turned up in a marijuana bust in Florida. Grosso, who killed a bouncer at a Greenmount Avenue )) bar in 1969, broke out of prison 19 years ago, and "AMW" broadcast a story about her case several times over the last decade. The story, produced by Yeager, told of Grosso's talent for escape - she broke out of Maryland prisons four times, the last time in 1979 - and, like all "AMW" features, asked the public's assistance in locating her.

When Grosso, a one-time Block stripper who performed as "Bertha," finally was arrested two weeks ago near Gainesville, Fla., Yeager had a little chuckle.

"In a courtroom scene [in his 'AMW' feature] where Bertha is sentenced to life in Jessup - she claimed she was tripping on acid at the time - a buddy of mine, a woodworker/actor named David Klein, had played the judge," Yeager says. "In an ongoing attempt over the years to return Bertha to jail, 'AMW' probably aired her segment eight times. Every time it aired, Klein would get another $132 actor's residual check and call me to rub it in. Since I was the producer and hence 'management,' I didn't get a dime. Klein would rag me after every single additional check. So when Bertha was apprehended last week, I took a great deal of pleasure in letting him know that his little 'criminal' meal ticket was finally cut off."

Unless, of course, ole Bertha goes on the lam again.

Irrepressible Ruppersberger

That Dutch - he's such a big kid. This week, while still recovering from foot surgery, he tried to conquer one of those rock climbing walls and almost broke his crown.

Our boy, freshly installed for a second term as Baltimore County executive, had invited Sen. Paul Sarbanes and state Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick to tour Dumbarton Middle School in Rodgers Forge to celebrate the school's National Blue Ribbon Award. The trio did the usual: They walked the halls admiring artwork, chatted with teachers and gave an impromptu civics lesson to students.

But they also came across a new feature at Dumbarton - a rock-climbing wall, just installed in a small gymnasium. Dutch, aglow with boyish excitement, tried to persuade Sarbanes to give it a try. But our senior senator, who hasn't displayed boyish excitement since the Nixon impeachment hearings, wisely resisted the invitation.

So the executive, only recently released from a castlike contraption on his right leg, hopped up on the mats and took to the wall in a display of Just-Do-It far too rare in public leadership. He managed to hoist himself up a ways, but, alas, lost his grip just as he started to climb. His black dress shoe went one direction, and he went the other, barely avoiding a nasty tumble.

That Dutch, always in touch with the boy within.

Raising questions, salaries

You gotta love this governor. He's not going to give us in 1999 that additional 5 percent income tax break he suggested in October, in the heat of his re-election campaign. (Gee, what a surprise: Parris Glendening might not have meant something he said.) Meanwhile, 12 members of his administration's senior staff will be getting 7 percent to 15 percent pay raises. (State employees got only a 3.5 percent raise this year, and most workplaces are offering only 3 percent raises.) And while we're ,, on the subject: Why should the governor's chief of staff, Major Riddick, get $139,000 a year - up from $129,000? Is this guy so good we can't afford to lose him to a better-paying job in the private sector? Get outta here.

TJIDAol.com is the e-mail address for columnist Dan Rodricks. He can be reached by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Messages can be left at 410-332-6166.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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