Hey, Oprah-ize me!

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore sports agent, attorney and author Ronald Shapiro has a new book out. He also knows Oprah Winfrey. Sound like a straight shot to the best-seller list?

But for this: Shapiro knows the talk queen from back in the days when she was with WJZ-TV and he represented station talent. A Chicago station had just come calling, but Winfrey wasn't sure she should go.

"Right now, you're earning $120,000," he recalls telling her. "You're so good, you're going to move from the Chicago stage to the national stage and earn $1 million a year."

"I was only $175 million off."

Even though Shapiro low-balled Oprah's earnings potential, she still might lend her book-moving magic to Shapiro's Dare to Prepare, How to Win Before You Begin! The book was published by Crown last week.

O, The Oprah Magazine has been talking with Shapiro about featuring the book, which preaches the value of preparedness through profiles of successful people.

"They want me to Oprah-ize the book," Shapiro said. Which means putting a happiness-spirituality spin on the "win" concept. Not a huge stretch for a guy who, despite high-powered clients like Cal Ripken, seems to take the Land of Pleasant Living thing to heart.

Shapiro's previous books: The Power of Nice and Bullies, Tyrants & Impossible People: How to Beat Them Without Joining Them.

Win, lose, whatever

Shapiro profiles 38 people in his book, half of them Baltimoreans or Marylanders.

There are stars we all know: surgeon Ben Carson, wine guru Robert Parker and pianist Leon Fleisher.

And some we don't: Wegmans manager Wendy Webster. (Hey, you don't open a store with 650 kinds of cheese by winging it.)

Two of Shapiro's subjects have been known lately for failures: investor Bill Miller and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. (Shapiro advises the latter.)

"There are things in life we don't control," Shapiro said. "You still want to be prepared. So if you don't have success temporarily, you know you've done everything you can do."

You don't want fries with that

The day after a Baltimore City Council task force bemoaned childhood obesity, Sheila Dixon celebrated the reopening of a McDonald's in Station North.

But the mayor, a workout queen who gave up red meat decades ago, stayed true to her healthful ways, The Sun's John Fritze reports.

While allowing that "McDonald's has the best fries of anybody," she told the crowd that even her middle-schooler has wised up. When Joshua gets a chance to eat at the Golden Arches, Dixon said, he orders a side salad instead.

Watch the gun, the cat, the snake

Baltimore Police Chief Fred Bealefeld, making his case the other day for a proposed state law that would require people to report lost or stolen guns:

If you owned a tiger, tarantula or cobra and it got loose, you'd feel some obligation to tell your neighbors that it's out there. (That was the gist, anyway, according to city spokesman Sterling Clifford.)

Bealefeld made the comment Wednesday in Annapolis, at a news conference where the city laid out its agenda for the legislative session. Later at the same event, Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein spoke about drug treatment, but also commented on Bealefeld's menagerie.

The gist of what Sharfstein said, again by way of Clifford: It is illegal to own a tiger in Baltimore. Cobras are also illegal. But a tarantula is a gray area that we can talk about later.

Andrew Jennison, state liaison for the National Rifle Assocation (which opposes the bill), was not swayed by the animal analogy. "In Philosophy 101, I learned that's an illogical fallacy."

He's not out on the street

For anyone out there living (or just lusting after) the Baltimore magazine dream, fear not: Publisher Steve Geppi has apparently not found a more glorious place to live.

I reported the other day that Geppi has two Baltimore County mansions for sale, for $7.7 million and $2.5 million. I couldn't say where he was moving, because he wouldn't return my calls seeking comment.

Geppi still hasn't called back. But state property records indicate that he has bought a place on Greenspring Avenue for $5.6 million from Wallace Mathai-Davis, who once ran Mercantile Bankshares' wealth management division.

Mathai-Davis bought the place for $3.5 million in 1992 from Martin Grass, the former Rite Aid executive who ticked off neighbors with his helicopter commutes. Thanks to a $1.6 billion accounting fraud and cover-up, Grass moved to a really Big House.

Two mistakes of identification

I thought for a minute there that Joe Biden was so burned out on presidential politics that he'd turned his attention to the Maryland variety. A PR firm for Morton's in Annapolis e-mailed me to brag that the ex-candidate had dined there the other night with House Speaker Mike Busch.

But then I called Busch's office and was told it wasn't true. Did Morton's get the Mikes mixed up? No, it wasn't Mike Miller, the Senate president's office said.

Turns out the Maryland bigwig in question was Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger. His dinner partner, however, was not Biden, but a sound-alike: David Bliden, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties.

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