How valuable was jurors' trip to tunnel where Diana crashed?

The Baltimore Sun

WHAT DID the 11 members of the jury in the Princess Diana inquest learn from their trip to Paris and visit to the Alma tunnel? They stayed inside for 15 minutes looking at the gouged-out notorious 13th pillar, which still has chunks of concrete missing and shows the steel rods underneath. That's where Diana's Mercedes hit.

They also walked farther up the tunnel and looked back to the entrance, seeing the famous "black spot" as the road curves into the tunnel. This may have contributed to chauffeur Henri Paul losing control of the limousine. He was going 65 mph, and he was drunk. But you knew that. And the British jurors knew that. So how much else was there to be learned?

Nothing - a total waste of time and money. But, hey, there's always the celebrity factor. When the jury went back to the Ritz Hotel in the Place Vendome, they encountered Victoria Beckham fighting off paparazzi at the front door. The former Posh Spice was in Paris to be photographed for Elle magazine.

Listen up, fashionistas

The book party of the fashion and style year happens at Bergdorf Goodman this Thursday when none other than Ralph Lauren himself comes to celebrate publication of his magnificent new book. The work marks his 40th anniversary as a fashion and business phenomenon. This book is a coffee-table top in itself, crammed with the most glamorous photos of Ralph, wife Ricky, their glorious offspring, their beautiful houses, good-looking, astounding models. It's a regular pageant of creative clothes across the years. I almost OD'd from one page to another. Ralph hits the high-water mark in all-American fashion. And then there, in his own words, is the amazing story of his rise.

The other hot ticket is for Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes' party at the Metropolitan Museum where they kick off the Fox Business Network. It reminds me of the song "They All Laughed" where Ira Gershwin's lyric reminds us, "Now they're fighting to get in!" The Oct. 24 party will include a performance by Counting Crows.

You can see Murdoch, Ailes and some of their star team on the new cover of Fortune magazine.

A movie for grown-ups

I've seen only a scrap of Mike Nichol's coming film Charlie Wilson's War, but I can tell you already that it is one great-looking movie. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts seem to be at their best, but the other positive thing I can say about this comer is you can actually understand what the actors are saying.

No mumbling and no den of incomprehensible chatter as people walk away or toward you. This one looks to have the masterful Nichols touch in a grown-up creation for adults. I can hardly wait to really see it.

A model approach

So if Kirstie Alley - still looking great in the Jenny Craig spots - is going to star in an Ugly Betty episode, what will she do? Why, play a zaftig, tough-talking modeling agent who berates all the wafer-thin girls who are her clients.

Kirstie is trying to lure her Look Who's Talking co-star and loyal friend John Travolta into also taking a cameo bit in the Ugly Betty episode.

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