California schemin': City officials have been surprised to pick up their phones lately only to find Arnold Schwarzenegger on the line.
The Terminator is heavily involved in real estate development in LoDo, where his Pumping Bricks company has owned property for over a decade; now Schwarzenegger is pushing--and this guy knows how to push--for city approval of a 300,000-square-foot entertainment and retail complex on property he owns at 18th and Wazee.
Schwarzenegger wants to bring Planet Hollywood, an eight-screen movie theater, and retailers like J. Crew and Niketown to a part of town where it's already virtually impossible to find parking on weekend nights. But that's not why the star-powered lobbying puts the city in an awkward position. Denver officials would like to see a rival proposal, which also calls for multiplex theaters, break ground on the 16th Street Mall first. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority has commited a whopping $24 million to the Pavilions project, which DURA hopes will revive a part of downtown between Tremont Place and Welton Street that looks increasingly like a ghost town.
Recently Ahnold called Mayor Wellington Webb, who was out of town, to inquire as to the delay; newly reappointed chief of staff Stephanie Foote returned the call. "He was very businesslike and professional," says Foote, who was reportedly as giddy as a schoolgirl to chat with the star. "He just wanted to bring the mayor up-to-date on his thoughts." So far Schwarzenegger has been quite charming, but city hall insiders wonder what kind of calls they'll receive if the Terminator gets mad.
Trash the Rockies: The advertising folks flacking for Coors Light have never been reluctant to offend the home crowd in their quest to sell a few more cases of the Silver Bullet. But even by the brain-dead standards of beer huckstering, Coors deserves a special award for cluelessness. A few years ago, the company committed a gaffe of international proportions when it presented a too-literal translation of the slogan "turn it loose tonight" to Hispanic consumers--promising, in effect, that Coors Light was a surefire laxative. The current TV campaign, "Tap the Rockies," features monster-sized twentysomethings stomping over the mountains in a game of touch football. But even that oddly candid depiction of environmental abuse pales beside another recent commercial scenario, in which a guy orders a Coors Light in a working-class bar in Anytown, USA. The wimp gets fisheye stares from other patrons until he launches into a shaky, a cappella version of "Rocky Mountain High"--leading the rest of the gang in a stomach-churning sing-along.
The use of John Denver's signature song as a beer anthem makes perfect sense--unless you happen to live in Colorado, where Denver's tendency to mix alcohol, mountain driving and innocent trees has earned him two recent DUI charges. But Coors doesn't see anything wrong with using the Denver tune, according to Dave Taylor, corporate communications manager. The Coors hotline has received only one complaint about the ad, he says, out of 200,000 calls the company has received this year. And since Coors bought the rights from a company that already had purchased them from Denver, he points out, the singer "isn't serving as a spokesman."
Thanks to lawyer Walter Gerash and his double-jeopardy defense, Denver isn't serving time, either.
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