Off Limits

Critical mess: A major game of musical--and otherwise--chairs is now in progress at Denver's dailies. On Monday the Denver Post filled its long-vacant movie-critic spot with arts writer Steve Rosen, who was already at the paper when Howie Movshovitz was shoved aside last December. The announcement included a corollary surprise: Mark Harden, who had been sharing the city desk with Frank Scandale, is moving to a new slot as popular-music reporter. (Scandale will stay in place as a solo metro/ regional editor.) That's a pretty big switch for Harden, a man who admits to owning two copies of the Rembrandts' "I'll Be There for You"--one a cassette single, one on the Friends soundtrack. (There's a difference between the versions, as if you didn't know.) The Post wanted "somebody to really delve into local music," Harden says, "to hear what's going on out there." At least bands that don't appreciate Harden's opinions can get even: Harden, along with several Post employees, is a member of the Corrections, "the finest garage band in Denver."

But let Mark Brown be the judge of that. Brown, a former Rocky Mountain News writer (and no relation to rock writer G. Brown, who reportedly will keep his column at the Post), has been on the music beat for the Orange County Register; he's returning to Denver as music guru for Microsoft's Sidewalk outpost. That's the online outfit that's already hired News assistant business editor Joe Rassenfoss as "producer" (read: editor) and restaurant critic Bill St. John to cover the same scene in cyberspace.

The News, whose "exit" sign has been working overtime lately (the going, going, gone include associate editor Cliff May, off to a slot as Republican National Party flack, and business editor Don Knox), seems to be taking St. John's departure particularly hard--or at least, with plenty of hard feelings. Last Thursday, on Take Your Daughter to Work Day, managing editor John Temple sternly upbraided St. John for his disloyalty, giving quite a lesson in management to Temple's own kid and anyone else within earshot, meaning most of the features department.

Joining that group this week is Thom Wise, the man-about-town who snagged Jackie Campbell's old job as theater critic (even though, as with the Post's movie opening, the News had promised a national search). Wise's hiring leaves the restaurant-reviewer spot open at 5280, the magazine that features local arts reviewers in its current, and hence already outdated, issue.

Let the games begin.

Flack to the future: On Tuesday the Boulder County District Attorney's office hired Suzanne Laurion, a University of Colorado journalism professor, to work part-time as a "media liaison" on the JonBenet Ramsey case. (Perhaps Bill "Santa" McReynolds, himself a former CU journalism prof who's got a head start on Ramsey lore, was unavailable.) Boulder couldn't buy the publicity it's been getting over this--but then, no city would want to.

Even four months after her body was found in the Ramsey family home, JonBenet was deemed worthy of not one, but two mentions in Monday's issue of USA Today. The TV column noted that on the previous day's Meet the Press, NBC's Tim Russert had declared that if the media can devote "page after page to what's bad in this country"--specifically JonBenet's murder--it can cover the volunteerism summit. And the McPaper's news-briefs section carried an item about the ad in Sunday's Boulder Daily Camera offering $100,000 for information leading to the conviction of the murderer.

Not that it looks like anyone will collect soon. And until a suspect is charged with the murder, someone else won't be doing any collecting: Sherry Keene-Osborn. Although the local Newsweek stringer was slated to come out with a book on the JonBenet case by February 28, its completion--and Keene-Osborn's fee--has been put on hold until an arrest is made.

Set your sights: Yes, that was Roy Romer getting off a plane in Miami Friday, heading to a speaking engagement before the Democratic Business Council. From there, Colorado's peripatetic governor moved on to Philadelphia and the Presidents' Summit on volunteerism. Of course, Romer has one of the most high-profile--and high-headache--volunteer jobs in the country at the moment: His spot as chair of the Democratic National Committee doesn't pay.

Neither does being fiftysomething in the TV business. Dave Minshall, the veteran investigative reporter who was ousted by Channel 7 in March, wound up hosting the vacationing Peter Boyles's radio show on Friday. The out-of-work--and reportedly suing News7 because of it--Minshall was a last-second fill-in for the scheduled fill-in host: Natalie Pujo, top dog at the station that dumped him.

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