Going Bilingual

When the circus comes to town next month, it may look the same but it sure will sound different.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will unveil its first-ever bilingual (English-Spanish) version of the three-ring extravaganza when it hits L.A. for 10 performances at the Los Angeles Sports Arena from Aug. 2-6.

"Our goal is to increase our attendance," said Brian Bouquet, marketing and sales manager for the circus in the Los Angeles region. "We are also meeting the needs of the marketplace. The circus is probably one of the biggest family traditions in the Latino family."

The Los Angeles performances are intended to be a prelude to bilingual shows in other markets with large Latino populations, such as New York; Washington, D.C.; Miami; and San Antonio.

"L.A. will set the mark for us," said Bouquet, who wasn't clowning around.

Rough Outing

Matt Graziano, the pre-teen son of Dodgers President Bob Graziano, recently learned a painful lesson of life: being well-connected can only get you so far, even in Los Angeles.

Young Graziano, on the mound for his Manhattan Beach Little League team in double-elimination playoffs, was shelled mercilessly by opposing batters. Realizing that one more defeat would send his team to the showers for the year, he tapped his dad for a favor.

"He asked me if he could talk to (Dodgers pitching coach) Claude Osteen, to get some pointers," says the Dodgers president.

But alas, the request was denied. "I told him to just talk to his Little League coach, and put the ball over the plate," Graziano says.

Wise advice, but fruitless. Losing the second game and being eliminated from the playoffs, young Graziano is left with contemplating next season.

Hail to the Vice Chief

They may not be hosting any state delegations during the upcoming Democratic National Convention, but the two L.A.-area Ritz Carlton hotels still plan to grab a piece of the action.

The establishments in Pasadena and Marina del Rey are preparing a host of amenities designed around a "You Can Call Me Al" theme, as in Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore.

Each day of the convention, guests will find in their rooms an "Al" amenity: alphabet cookies, Altoids (no Clinton jokes please), Tennessee ale, and almonds. At the bar, guests can sip red, white or blue martinis.

And in the lobby of the Marina del Rey Ritz Carlton will be a 5-foot-tall, white-chocolate replica of the White House.

"We wanted to do something fun and creative for the convention," said Ritz Carlton spokeswoman Sheena Stephens.

Just in case you thought the chain is becoming a Democratic Party cheerleader, the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia Hotel will have Republican Party-themed amenities during the upcoming GOP convention in that city. Among the novelties: jelly beans to remind guests of former President Ronald Reagan and fortune cookies to represent former President Nixon's trip to China.

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