By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
"I think there should be a court hearing to determine who should have custody," Gore told Univision’s Jorge Ramos. "I think the decision should be based exclusively on one factor — not based on politics nor diplomacy, but [on] what is in the best interest of this child. The father does not have the freedom to express his true beliefs. Sister O’Laughlin met with the grandmothers and concluded that the boy should remain here. The mother of the boy lost her life trying to assure Elian’s freedom, and I think her wishes deserve to be respected. But I think the decision over what is in the best interest of the boy should not be made by politicians or by INS officials. The decision should be made in a court of law. This is how we do things in the United States when there is a custody issue."
Gore’s nonresponse response should pass muster with Miami Cubans. But what about Cuban President Fidel Castro, who last week signaled that his government might retaliate for the Gonzalez affair by sending a new tsunami of immigrants to U.S. shores? Cuban officials contend that withholding Elian violates migratory and diplomatic accords. And that means Cuban officials don’t have to play by the rules anymore.
So what does Uncle Sam have to say? "We reject any notion that the U.S. government is less than fully complying with any accords," said a U.S. State Department official. Could everyone’s favorite castaway since Gilligan set off a repeat of the 1980 Cuban boatlifts? Stay tuned. —Sandra Hernandez
RUCKUS WITH THE ROCK
Why would Prudential Insurance Company of America’s public relations firm invite OffBeat to a party for Best Supporting Actor nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile), then refuse to let us in? That’s what we were trying to figure out as we waited for an hour outside the affair at the swanky Atlantic eatery, only to hear from Karen Lewis of Going Public PR that the "powers that be" had decided to disinvite the press. Eyeing TV-news crews passing freely in and out of the soiree, we tried to get Lewis to identify the etiquette-impaired muckamucks, but to no avail.
Prudential later apologized, saying Lewis blew it. It turns out that wasn’t the only mistake Going Public made that evening. The firm’s press release wrongly identified Prudential as host of the event; the real hosts were Duncan pals Holly Robinson Peete (WB’s For Your Love) and her husband, football pro Rodney Peete, according to Robinson Peete’s mother and manager, Dolores Robinson.
"The corporate sponsor seemed to get more credit than the persons giving the party," Robinson fumed. "Publicity put the news flash out wrong. Going Public made it look like Prudential was holding the party instead of being the sponsor."
As for Prudential’s sponsorship (read: helping to foot the bill), it’s no secret that the Rock and other big firms are courting the black middle class these days (Duncan is African-American). Prudential PR spokesperson Marilyn Crawford called the party an opportunity to "celebrate the diversity and strength of America."
Does that mean Duncan owns a piece of the Rock? "Michael doesn’t know Prudential," Robinson said. —Christine Pelisek