Off Limits

Hell to pay: Organizers of the April 25 Columbine memorial service continue to express their dismay over complaints by liberal Christians, blacks and Jews that the service was too white and too evangelical. "There were fourteen different speakers and singers, we had the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, two evangelical Christian ministers and one rabbi, and the critics are picking out two of the fourteen to criticize. That says it all right there," says Dick Wadhams, spokesman for Governor Bill Owens, whose office helped make the arrangements.

Who cares if one of those evangelical ministers, Jerry Nelson of Southern Gables Church, used his time on the dais to tell the 70,000 mourners about two women suffering in a Nazi concentration camp, one of them a Christian who tells the other--presumably a Jew--"I only wish you knew my Jesus." Or if Franklin Graham asked, "Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you trusted him as your savior? Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the light. No man comes unto the Father but by me.'"

Wadhams takes comfort that "there will be no state money going into" the church--er, memorial service. But neither Wadhams nor Jefferson County Commission chair Patricia Holloway can say who paid how much for what. "This service was put together in 72 hours, in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, so trying to reconstruct who did what and how would be virtually impossible," says Wadhams.

Organizers also included representatives from the Jeffco school district and the city of Littleton. "I can't remember them all, but it was a diverse group," Holloway says--unlike the speakers, who "all paid their own way, and I understand a lot of the other stuff was donated."

Shooting stars: The April 30 edition of Good Morning America featured a mock-poetic report claiming that the saturation coverage of events like the April 20 shooting brought the nation together because it allowed us to mourn as one. The key phrase? "Television--the healing box." Apparently ours is broken, because about half the time, it makes us sick.

We can understand the national media blanketing Colorado to cover the Columbine massacre. Understand, if not forgive. But we're baffled as to how a host of Hollywood has-beens and other two-bit celebs have linked to Littleton. For starters, yes, that was Hugh O'Brien, the onetime Wyatt Earp who now heads a youth foundation bearing his name, planting a gnarly lipped smooch on Tipper Gore at the April 25 memorial. Sarah Ferguson dropped in between Weight Watchers appointments to pay her respects to the impromptu shrine that's so reminiscent of what sprang up after the death of her former sister-in-law, Princess Diana. Romance novelist Danielle Steel bought an ad in the Denver Rocky Mountain News to support the survivors: "I can tell you from what I have learned that the pain you feel now will dim." Susan Howard, whose resume includes TV credits for Dallas and a board seat with the National Rifle Association, offered the opening prayer at the NRA's Saturday meeting.

But the strangest sightings yet have been of another TV actor, Homicide's Yaphet Kotto. First on the Today Show, then with Larry King, Kotto boo-hooed about his days in Littleton and how he had to get out of town in a hurry after his kids were threatened by guns. But when Kotto--at the time primarily a movie actor, with credits including Live and Let Die and Blue Collar--moved to Colorado with his family in 1988, they actually settled in a remote part of Conifer. And that's where Kotto stayed until he ventured down to Denver in 1991 to become an inexplicable adviser to then-district attorney Norm Early's mayoral campaign. Early, who'd been the clear front-runner, lost by a substantial margin. "He cost Early at least 5,000 votes," says one seasoned politico of the politically unseasoned Kotto, whose publicist asserted that the actor was the "heart and soul" of the campaign.

Before the election, Kotto had vowed to make a movie about Early's noble quest for City Hall. Two days after the results were in, Kotto announced that he would indeed produce War for the City and play the starring role of Clarence Chancellor--based not on his candidate, but on the victor, one Wellington Webb.

That movie's never been made, but Chancellor, er, Webb, is going strong. If his campaign eight years ago was a shoestring affair, this year's race was spun gold--over a million dollars' worth of it, in fact. Last week, Webb even missed a local candidates' forum to grab some cash--not enough, he told a reporter--at a fundraiser at Johnnie Cochran's place in Los Angeles.

Off Limits is compiled by Jonathan Shikes. If you have a tip, call him at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail [email protected].