Off Limits

The unbearable lightness of being from Colorado: David Letterman plans to fill his studio audience with 135 Colorado residents for a special May 16 taping of his Late Show. The lucky guests will be picked at random from postcard entries, but one Coloradan need not apply: Margaret Ray, the Crawford resident who's been busted numerous times for harassing Letterman at his Connecticut home--and spent a year in prison and another year in a state mental hospital as thanks for her adoration. "I am devoted to that which he embellishes," Ray wrote during one of her hiatuses in the hoosegow, "as well as my own agenda. Although I continue to give him the opportunity to integrate me into his household, he decides otherwise, on behalf of us both. Case closed."

Although Ray won't be schmoozing with Dave, another local celeb has thrown his tiny hat into the TV ring: Magellan T. Bear, the well-traveled teddy who assumed his starring role back in October 1993 when he left his home at Evergreen's Elk Creek Elementary for an around-the-world tour. Since then, Magellan, dubbed by Governor Roy Romer as Colorado's Ambassador of Friendship (no, that's not millionaire emissary to Austria Swanee Hunt, although Democrats might think otherwise), has ridden in the cockpit of the first commercial plane to land at Denver International Airport, skied at all 23 Colorado ski areas, spent eight and a half days on the Space Shuttle Discovery--and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.

So far, though, Magellan has yet to be contacted by federal investigators, according to his handler, Penny Wiedeke, who was a librarian at Elk Creek when the bear business took off. But if Congress wants to quiz Magellan, it won't have to look far to find him: In June the stuffed animal will be inducted into the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and preserved for posterity in the "How Things Fly" display.

The Magellan concept, which started out as an aid to teaching geography, has flown so well that the bear was invited back to the White House for a command performance at the Easter Egg Roll. Where, as Letterman himself noted, the president was sorry to learn the "event doesn't involve any actual egg rolls."

Don't touch that dial! Gregg Moss is back in business. A few years ago the affable Channel 9 "Business Boy" launched his unlikely television career from a promotions berth at the Denver Business Journal, then left for a publishing job in Fort Worth. Early this month Moss returned to the station full-time, breaking through an aluminum foil curtain to join the morning news staff while "Taking Care of Business" played in the background. Sadly, someone at the station neglected to take care of Moss's business; during his triumphant return, not only was his first name misspelled, but his mike cut in and out. That's showbiz.

More showbiz: The Rocky Mountain News has a new theater critic, longtime man-about-town Thom Wise, who'd recently traded in his KHOW-AM weeknight blabfest for a job in station owner Jacor's promotions department. (Wise still got airtime on his Saturday restaurant show, where he may have become the first talk-show host ever to refer to "fudge-packing.") Meanwhile, Sam Gallegos, himself a former radio reporter, has folded his Marquee Magazine, a publication devoted to the state's theater community that lasted four issues.

The rest is history: Black Hawk's program to restore old homes came under heavy scrutiny last month ("The Big Fix," March 13). The old mining town/new gambling mecca has only 160 residents, but they've already collected $2 million to fix up the 78 houses that qualify for historic-renovation grants. (One member of the town planning commission was awarded $140,000 to spruce up his home.) Black Hawk's payoff has been so big that former state legislator Jerry Kopel, who helped author Colorado's gaming laws, wants the program investigated.

Black Hawk's response? Expand the program!
Now, in addition to the $25,000 rehabilitation grant for which they are eligible each year, residents can apply for a utilities grant of up to $5,000 from the same kitty--the portion of the state's gaming take that's turned over to Central City, Cripple Creek and Black Hawk for historic preservation. Since Black Hawk gets the majority of the gamblers, it also gets a majority of the funds. "This is in response to real problems that have occurred," town spokesman Roger Baker says of the new grants. "There's not a lot of sense to rehabilitating a home if it's going to blow up because the gas line is so bad."

And besides, Black Hawk has money to burn, so to speak. There aren't many places in that position, Baker acknowledges: "Black Hawk. Kuwait."

He sled, she sled: Aspen, which hosted last month's national comedy festival, also served as the butt of many jokes (so what else is new?). Asked Colin Quinn: "You know what I hate about Aspen? The racial tension." And Paul Rodriguez offered a variation on that theme: "If you see a black or Latino on the mountain, it means there must have been a plane crash.

 
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