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Darden Plays Detective

Brooding Christopher Darden is back in front of the cameras, but this time he won’t be showing up as a relentless district attorney. He’s playing a cop in “One Hot Summer Night,” an upcoming ABC TV movie.

“He’s a lot better actor than O.J. Simpson,” said executive producer Michael O’Hara. “He has more skill and charm as an actor. He has a very strong presence.”

In the film, Darden plays Earl Mingus, a big city cop who investigates the murder of a sports tycoon, played by Barry Bostwick. The key suspects turn out to be the tycoon’s beautiful wife and her attorney.

Darden, who quit the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office earlier this year, gets to make a quip about his nemesis Simpson during the film. His surprised partner, ironically named Sgt. Clark, discovers that a professional hit man’s telephone number is on a cellphone list of one of the suspects. He asks Darden to guess who one of the callers was. A deadpanned Darden quips, “O. J. Simpson.”

“That was written into the script before we signed Darden,” O’Hara said.

Darden, who made a brief appearance on CBS’ “Touched by an Angel,” last season, got his first major TV movie role after O’Hara watched him being interviewed by Geraldo Rivera.

The producer and the rest of the cast discovered that Darden has a dry sense of humor. Off camera, a bemused staff looked on one day while Darden tried to pull on a pair of surgical gloves, but despite his efforts, he couldn’t slip into the tight latex.

“He was struggling and looked up and said, “I’ve always had trouble putting on gloves,” O’Hara said.

Coliseum Calling

Seeking to build grass-roots support for bringing NFL football back to the Memorial Coliseum, boosters announced last week that they were instituting a a toll-free number (888) 600-4-NFL to collect names and addresses of supporters.

L.A. officials want to rebuild the Coliseum, but NFL team owners have voiced skepticism as to whether fans will fill the stadium. The new effort is designed to show the NFL otherwise.

The line already is getting action. A call to the line when it opened Thursday garnered a message about the Coliseum followed by, “This mailbox is currently full. Please try again later. Good-bye.”

Now, if only sports boosters could fill the Coliseum itself.

The Real Anti-Pollution Device

The South Coast Air Quality Management District proudly announced last week that the region has had only one Stage 1 smog episode this summer. So who gets the credit?

The bureaucrats who enforce the tough air quality laws? The businesses who, combined, are forced to spend millions of dollars each each year to clean the air?

Well neither gets the lion’s share, it turns out. Mostly, it’s the weather El Ni & #324;o, to be precise.

According to the AQMD, El Ni & #324;o encourages low pressure systems to form off the Southern California coast, bringing clouds, tropical moisture and cooler temperatures (really!) to the region. All of these conditions discourage smog formation.

In a release last week, however, the AQMD did give some credit to the regulations, saying “air pollution controls on everything from motor vehicles to cleaning solvents are responsible for the overall improvement in air quality during the 1990s as well as the previous several decades.”

Good people, good publishing?

As if providing medical care to more than 8 million people isn’t enough, Kaiser Permanente has gone into the publishing business.

The health care giant recently released the premier issue of a new quarterly magazine, “Permanente Journal,” written by and for Kaiser clinicians. So what are Kaiser employees interested in? There’s one story with the fetching headline, “Beneficial Effect of Mustache Washing on Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Syndrome” (clean those mustaches, guys). Another section, “Soul of the Healer,” features poems, essays and art by physicians. The new issue includes the lyrics to a song by Arthur Schlosser, Panorama City pediatrician by day, and a country music singer who goes by the name of Dean Dobbins at night.

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