Vivendi La Difference

The talks by French water and media conglomerate Vivendi to buy Seagram Co. and all its local entertainment businesses has Hollywood in a buzz, with many wondering how a French parent might affect operations at Universal Studios Inc.

The irony of a French company buying one of the biggest purveyors of American pop culture isn't lost on Hollywood insiders; the French are notorious for turning up their noses at American cinematic fare, taking steps to protect their own film industry while the intelligentsia rails against anything produced on this side of the pond.

So what will happen if Vivendi buys Seagram? Will Universal executives get eight weeks of vacation? Will burgers be replaced by brie-stuffed baguettes in the studio commissary?

One Hollywood publicist thinks he knows one immediate impact: "Jerry Lewis movies are going to have a huge comeback," he predicted.

Air Raid

Talk about taking corporate advertising of baseball games to new heights.

During a recent Dodgers game at Chavez Ravine, a plane carrying a banner for Yellow Pages Publishing Co. circled the stadium continuously for the first four innings, driving some fans and presumably some of the ballplayers to distraction.

"OK already, why doesn't that plane go away?" was a common refrain in the stands after about the third inning. One person even threatened to go home early and throw out their Yellow Pages if the plane didn't move on.

Officials from the Yellow Pages didn't return calls for comment about the plane, which finally stopped circling the stadium after it got dark.

Choice of Napkin

Diners at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills who arrive attired in dark suits are now offered a choice of napkins the traditional white or a new color, dark green.

Why the choice? It seems that all too often lint from white napkins is left on the trousers of men in blue and black suits after they get up from the table. Green doesn't shed, and if it does, it can't be seen like all those white specks from the lighter-colored napkins.

"We cater a lot to businessmen, especially leaders in the entertainment industry in Hollywood," said Gabby Reims, the hotel's spokeswoman. "It's important they don't have lint all over the pants of their dark suits. We want to have out guests put their best foot forward."

The idea for green napkins came after hotel consulting firm Richey International made a series of recommendations to Peninsula General Manager Ali Kasikci about differentiating his Beverly Hills hotel from others in the high-end Los Angeles market.

Pricey Pennies

What's a penny worth these days? More than you might think.

At a recent auction of rare coins at Superior Galleries in Beverly Hills, pennies were going for a king's ransom. The highest price was $83,375 the winning bid for an 1876 "Flying Eagle" cent. Another coin from a collection of Indian pennies fetched $77,625. And even a 1955 Lincoln cent commanded $6,612.

Officials with Superior said a number of winning bids exceeded expectations.

"We are so pleased for all the people who got to take a piece of history home with them," said Stephen Deeds, Superior's director of numismatics (the study of coins).

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