Off Limits

Keeping a breast of the news: John Elway has a nipple ring! Monday's revelation was the Denver Post's biggest scoop in months, uncovered when Elway's towel slipped and a nosy reporter started asking questions. "That's not anybody's business," replied the quarterback-cum-car-peddler. "But if you have to know, it was a gift from my wife."

Not exactly. Actually, it was a gift from some as-yet-unidentified prankster, who stashed the phony nipple-ring report in Adam Schefter's post-game roundup. Oops. When Schefter read Monday's paper, he assumed the item was real and had been added by another sportswriter; it was only when he saw Elway that morning and asked if he "had that nipple ring" that he learned the item was a fake. A puzzled Elway told Schefter he'd already gotten six calls that morning; Mike Shanahan's brother had even read about it over the Internet in Crete. "It was the most bizarre thing," Schefter says. An internal investigation for the culprit is under way at the Post, which apologized, and apologized again, in Tuesday's paper, noting that "Elway wears no such jewelry." Now, about that tattoo of Dan Reeves...

Even as fake stories are appearing in the Post, its writers are disappearing. This summer saw the departures of Maureen Harrington, Paul Hutchinson and Julie Hutchinson. Steve Wilmsen, part of the now-disbanded investigative team, is off to the Boston Globe. On October 1, former "Rocky Mountain Ranger" Jim Carrier will ride into the sunset, after "one million words, 500,000 miles, 7,665 sunsets, 87 pairs of Levis," a recent, unwanted reassignment to the business desk and one very classy letter of resignation. Alan Katz's parting was less amicable. The reporter, who'd recently been covering urban affairs, wanted to write a regular column for DiveIn, US West's online service; Post management said the freelance gig was a conflict, since DiveIn competes with the Post's own online edition. Last week Katz told the Post he was taking the Web job anyway--and was promptly terminated. (Interestingly, Katz's gig at DiveIn is as restaurant reviewer--something the Post is in sore need of these days, following the July departure of John Kessler.)

Katz's firing will no doubt turn into a landmark Denver Newspaper Guild battle, since the Guild contract--negotiated long before newspapers ever plugged into the Internet--allows for freelancing outside the market but doesn't deal with online services as potential competitors. Before the Post drew its hard line, there was some wiggle room; in fact, Post writer Howie Movshovitz, who lost his slot as the paper's movie reviewer last year but kept a staff position after another Guild fight, has been reviewing movies for DiveIn. The Rocky Mountain News has also apparently decided to stand firm against freelancing: Copy editor Justin Mitchell has a grievance in the works after the paper blocked him from writing for America Online's Digital City Denver. With Microsoft's Denver Sidewalk set to join the online crowd this fall, the Web will get even more tangled--particularly since the Guild's contract with both papers is up for renegotiation any day now. And the Internet isn't the only topic that will show up on the bargaining table--the contract could also affect writers moonlighting on TV and talk shows.

A word to the wives: Some local radio "personalities" apparently are too busy messing up their personal lives to moonlight. Right-wing yakker Bob Enyart, who moved his base of operations to Indiana last year, was back in Jefferson County last week for a retrial on misdemeanor charges of child abuse--and once again, a jury punished him for punishing his young stepson with a belt. Mike Haffner, former Bronco and sometime radio and TV sports guy, was arrested in Lakewood and charged with forgery and theft in connection with allegedly phony time sheets for some shifts he did (or didn't) work this spring at Channel 7. And this weekend, as a KOA sports show discussed the latest Bronco to get tossed in the clink for domestic violence, a caller dialed in to ask what had happened to a KOA employee facing the same charge. Keith Weinman, KOA's "business editor," missed his morning show last Wednesday for a preliminary hearing in Boulder County on a domestic-violence rap; a deal's reportedly in the works.

Your tax dollars at work: As much as preservationists appreciated it when Attorney General Gale Norton joined the fight to save the historic Lace House, which the town of Black Hawk wants to move, the gesture would have been more powerful had the AG's representative remembered to show up at last week's Gilpin County court date. The hearing was postponed for a week--but not until the judge extracted a promise from Black Hawk officials not to move the structure in the meantime.

 
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