Off Limits

I confess! What a bunch of blabbers this town keeps turning out. Senator and animal doc Wayne Allard has been telling all--and we mean all, right down to his wife's lame movie choices (At First Sight, according to Sunday's installment)--to the Denver Rocky Mountain News's Mike Romano (although some lost episodes of Allard's impeachment diary were leaked to Westword and are reprinted below). The News also offers up the Super Bowl diary of Lisa McCaffrey, official Bronco spousal unit, reminiscing from Miami about how she was bowled over by hubby Ed. And then there are all those yakkers who don't even require an official outlet to start spilling their guts: blubbermouth Dan Reeves, tattletale Mike Shanahan, any member of the RTD board, particularly Jack McCroskey, who recently referred to RTD general manager Cal Marsella as "a little Napoleon."

But suddenly there's one less diary to peruse. Those merry pranksters behind the Dennis Britton Go Home page have abandoned their project, which for most of this month included almost-daily updates allegedly from the Denver Post's editor. "We're tired of thinking about this guy every day," says one of the page's handlers. "And especially tired of seeing his face every day." And since these guys were only dealing with Dennis in cyberspace, imagine how the Post newsroom must feel!

Since the site went dark early this week, though, there have been enough queries about its status that the pranksters plan to keep the Britton archives--complete with Britton's greatest glitches and a count-down clock whose most popular departure date for Britton has long since passed--posted at members.aol.com/empirvoic/dennispage.html. And occasionally, when they just can't help themselves, they promise to spark up the mix with a fresh rumor or two.

A penny here, a penny there--pretty soon you're talking real money: At a Post pep rally two weeks ago, Britton made his first official reference to his namesake Web page. But the real point of the gathering was to hype the paper's reported 500,000-plus Sunday circulation, as well as the penny-a-day deals that both dailies are offering as they continue to club each other to death.

Hmmm. A few newspaper folks remember the days when, in order for its circulation to be considered paid, a daily had to sell for 50 percent of its cover price. And paid circulation, as the Big Boys have always reminded those of us in the free-paper business, is the only way to guarantee your paper's respectability. In fact, the Audit Bureau of Circulation, which certifies the circ figures for most major dailies, used to actively chase down every rumor of dumped papers and put the kibosh on distribution deals--say, free papers for cable subscribers--that didn't meet that 50 percent threshold. In these days of dying dailies, though, apparently anything goes.

"We're not going to editorialize on anybody's rates," said one ABC official when asked about the News and Post's penny-pinching deals. "We're their auditor--we make sure the numbers are there and the numbers are correct. As long as they're following the rules of our board, their pricing structures are completely between them and their advertisers."

Well, the Denver dailies are certainly in the best position to know what they're worth.

Hitch your wagon to a star: This year's National Western Stock Show conveniently coincided with the Broncos' playoff game against the Jets, blessing out-of-towners with a heaping helping of that genuine cowtown scent. Inside the Denver Coliseum, though, it was business as usual. Traditionally, the prime ride at the rodeo is a seat on Dick Sparrow's Belgian six-horse hitch. While rodeo clowns cavort in the back of the wagon, Sparrow careens his team around the pint-sized ring, giving the VIPs sitting up front the ride of their lives. Past Colorado stars subjected to this treatment have included Dan Reeves, as well as former governors Dick Lamm and Roy Romer. But for the first time in over two decades, on last Thursday's "Colorado Night," Sparrow was squiring a Republican: queasy-looking Bill Owens.

On Sunday, the last day of the Stock Show, Sparrow's passenger would have gotten a rise out of even the snootiest New Yorker: It was Top 40 hummer and strummer Jewel. The singer was at the show as a guest of seven-time all-around champion Ty Murray, the 29-year-old "Michael Jordan of Rodeo." Was the youngest roping and riding millionaire in the sport's history trying to lasso himself a new filly? Not according to his Las Vegas-based agent, Tony Garritano. "Jewel's dad owns a ranch up in Alaska," says Garritano, "and he, like Jewel, is a big fan of Ty's. She was doing a show up in Aspen and got in touch with us about tickets. Nothing more, nothing less.

 
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