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What Is Early Word?
The Philadelphia Inquirer's experimental online "morning show", which began in Sept. 2005, went on hiatus in the summer of 2006, after a gradual shift to putting more of its content directly on Philly.com.



About the Host
Peter Mucha, husband and father of two, grew up in Cherry Hill and is a lifelong Philly sports fan. He's been writing and editing for The Inquirer for 18 years. His motto (at least for today): "If I'm not brief, give me grief."

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The Inquirer's ever-evolving way to start your day. Email. Phone: 215-854-2388.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Talk About It ...
Kong Top Pick in 'Fantasy' Football Draft
When the Eagles were horrible, I used to say they were just three players away: Batman, Superman and the Hulk. With the team hurting again, and only meaningless games left this year, why not, for fun, hold the ultimate fantasy football draft?

If you could select any movie or comic-book hero or creature to rescue this team, who'd be your pick? Tell what position he/she/it would play. Harry Potter, for example, could steal the nickname "Magic" as a wideout, if he can ride his broom.

If a character's already taken, come up with another choice, just like in a real draft.

I'm starting with King Kong as my running back/middle linebacker/kick returner.

ESPN's predicting the Grim Reaper will go very high.

Angelo Cataldi's wondering who's going to grab Wonder Woman.

As the list grows, I'll post pics of some picks in Eagles uniforms. ... Well, here are two suggestions ... Garfield as coach. He does have attitude, as well as a certain portliness. ... And the 40-Year-Old Virgin at quarterback for his perfect deer-in-the-headlights look.

Then emailer "Will Teullive" sent his own pic: "Here is my creature capable of rescuing or destroying the Eagles. He has the mind of a capologist, and the body of a rodent. ... He is able to raise ticket prices in a losing season. Able to lose free-agents without a sound. Look, up in the owner's box! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a rat!

Tip About a Philadelphia Show
Sign Up Online to Secure King Tut Tix
Ancient Egypt's golden boy created a sensation on his first U.S. visit, in the late 1970s, and he's doing it again. With the help of a curator from Penn.

Tut and his treasure trove sold about 900,000 tickets in just four months for the L.A. show., which stayed open 24/7 in October to meet demand. Already, Fort Lauderdale has sold 300,000 -- in advance of the show's opening on Thursday. Then it's on to Chicago's Field Museum, starting in late May.

Luckily, the fourth and final U.S. stop is the Franklin Institute, starting Feb. 3, 2007.

UPDATE: But signups for reservations have already begun for individuals. You can lock in up to 8 adult tickets and 8 child tickets. They're also available for groups.

You don't actually buy the tickets yet. You sign up online to "print a ticketing certificate to guarantee your tickets." There's no cost or obligation until the actual ticket sale begins, sometime next fall.

At that point, an email will tell you how to complete a purchase -- and select from the most desirable days and times -- before people who didn't sign up get a shot.

Stow that certificate in a safe place. Later, you'll be asked for the numbers on it.

U.S. curator David Silverman of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, who also worked on the previous tour, is quoted in a Palm Beach Post article that this show not only displays beautiful objects from Tut's tomb, it includes artifacts that tell a tale about his ancestors.

Pictured is the gilded wood coffin for Tut's mummified internal organs.

Fort Lauderdale ticket information. As for Chicago, people can still pre-register, in advance of next month's sale. If you like, you can even sign up for London, which won't see Tut for nearly two years.

Thought You'd Wanna Know
Do-it-yourselfers might want to check out these gadgets: the Bionic Wrench (left), Vector Stormtracker, 3M infrared thermometer, the Extractor and more. ... Here's a holiday safety checklist. Sure, you probably know half this stuff, but the other half could kill you. By the way, take part in an online discussion with Al Heavens, writer of these last two stories, today at 2. ... Ethics is good for business, says the man who took over scandal-plagued WorldCom, now MCI. Cards at Michael Capellas' company declare such guidelines as "Build trust and credibility," "Uphold the law," and "Avoid conflicts of interest." He spoke at the opening of a new Drexel think tank that promotes accountability. ... This year's weather set all sorts of records. More tropical storms. More days in a row of 100-degree days. Less end-of-summer sea ice in the Arctic. ... English literacy failed to improve from 1992 to 2003. About one U.S. adult in 20 has trouble understanding such common items as bus schedules and prescription labels.

'Reality' Check
Trump's Apprentice to Work in A.C.
"You're hired," Donald Trump told Randal Pinkett, 34, who lives near New Brunswick, N.J., on last night's Apprentice finale. The businessman with multiple M.I.T. degrees edged out Rebecca Jarvis, 23, a Chicago financial journalist. Mostly the show was the same-old-drill, hardly-a-thrill affair. But several moments are worth mentioning.

Pinkett proved it's possible to lead by being nice. For many workers, that's a shocker.

But he wasn't nice at the end. After making his pick, Trump asked Pinkett if Jarvis, also highly lauded, should be hired, too. Nope, only one Apprentice, it's not "Apprenti," Pinkett said. Pretty selfish is one columnist's take. Maybe race played a role: Pinkett's the first black Apprentice, and perhaps he thought sharing the title would have tainted his accomplishment. You know some people would have pointed out: Trump never made a white person share a title.

Even "outstanding" leaders blunder. "I can't believe you didn't check the weather!" said Trump's right-hand iceberg Carolyn to Pinkett, who had to improvise when his charity-baseball-game plan was threatened by rain. Jarvis' fund-raiser for autism didn't raise a penny -- till an embarrassed Yahoo, whose rep had asked Jarvis not to impose on its guests, stepped forward with $100,000 during last night's show.

Trump announced he'll expand all his Atlantic City casinos, which seemed surprising since they've been entangled in bankruptcy. Spending money to make money? Sure sounds different from the newspaper business. Pinkett picked this project, one Trump said was near and dear to his heart, over sky-high condos in North Jersey.

That's Happening Here?
5 Stories Fast
"Frankenfish" escape into Delaware River! They're actually called snakeheads and they're abhorred for their nasty appetites. (Sign them up for Wing Bowl.) No eradicating them now, especially since they have no natural local predators. Some suggest holding a snakehead fishign derby. ... Penn State scientists have found that "the merest fragment of one gene" strongly influences skin color. Besides undermining racial myths, the finding could help ID criminals and lead to skin-cancer treatments, as well as new ways to make skin looker tanner or lighter. ... "These Santas wear blue" tells how five city police officers generously helped a 90-year-old robbery victim, who'd already been punched in the face. They gave $300 to William Lane, restoring the amount that had been taken. "Sometimes we don't realize how fortunate we are until you see what some people have to endure," said an inspector. ... Another story of giving: Christian Academy, a small Brookhaven school, got a $6 million bequest. The funds, from the founders of the Fisher Tank Co. in Chester, will be used for scholarships, debt payments, facilities and more. ... Another "Sopranos" member has been accused of playing a criminal in real life. A cop was shot in the Bronx, apparently during a botched drug theft, and Lillo Brancato Jr. was arrested. Ironically, also over the weekend, the show's creator was honored by a shindig at Jersey's governor's mansion. Previous cases against series actors: an assault on an ex-girlfriend and a tourist mugging. Columnist Monica Yant Kinney couldn't resist mentioning a recently suggested state slogan: "New Jersey: We can have you killed."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Martha Finally Boots Our 'Apprentice' Wannabe
You knew it had to happen. Jim Bozzini, Philly's madman adman, as he's been described, finally got the heave-ho from the Queen of Craftiness on NBC's The Apprentice: Martha.

And then, almost immediately, he was back, picked to help one of the Final Two put on a fund-raising circus. Now there's a task where he clearly fits in. That's him above, supportively demonstrating what he thinks will happen to the woman who chose him. See more of his antics on next week's finale, if you want.

His clowning around and talk of games did him in. During an interview, he said, "I'm the worst candidate, except for all the other candidates."

Three Stewart execs concurred, without any exceptions. One said, "That kind of person consumes an enormous amount of time." Another said, "I couldn't understand a word that he said," citing Jim's references to being a "sapling" to be nurtured and digging "truth and beauty."

Martha praised his creativity and resilience, but dissed and dismissed: "You're a loose cannon, and you've managed to alienate a lot of your teammates. ... Many of the things that you do may be perceived as a liability or disruptive. ... The game's over, Jim. You're out of here."

Oh, well, at least he was entertaining. Which is more than we can say for any other part of Martha's canceled snooze-arama.

Trump has chutzpah, buzz, brashness, evidenced by high-stakes gambles on landmarks ... his love life ... and his hair. Martha's known for creating what? A line of nice tea cozies for Kmart? There was no spirit of adventure behind her jail time.

Early last night, Jim said, "With the exception of marrying my wife, today is the most important day of my life." Looking back, you still think so, Jim? Your strategizing and design talents took you far in a game you had no chance of winning. You're just not a guy Martha could ever feel tea-cozy with.

3 Hot Topics
"The 76ers should not think about bringing Ron Artest to this town." So says Stephen A. Smith's column today. Some, like WIP's Glen Macnow, say take a shot, Artest might bring a championship. That's a pipedream, I say. Vote in an online poll, or post comments here.

"When the thermostat knows we're both home, it almost has a nervous breakdown." Maryann and Morris Holender
(that's his quote) are like a lot of couples: They fight over how warm the house should be. "He sets, she sets" (love that headline) is a funny look at a common conflict. What's it like at your house?

You gonna see a cowboy movie? Not me. I'm not that interested in cowboys. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But there's been so much hype and acclaim for Brokeback Mountain, tale of homosexuality on the range, it might do well at the box office. Inquirer critic Stephen Rea writes that Heath Ledger's performance could catapult his career. N.Y. film critics gave it top awards. The Golden Globes conferred 7 nominations. Still, most guys shy away from love stories, even with gorgeous actresses, unless there's lots of gunfire (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) or monstrous special effects (King Kong). Your carefully worded thoughts?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 2
Punk'd ... Suspended ... Now Snubbed!
Those big show-biz names invited to Terrell Owen's A.C. birthday party Monday night? Reports suggest none showed.

"T.O. Birthday Bash a Bust"
is the title of a Cold Pizza video clip on ESPN's Web site. (Click "more videos" under the video player on the right.) Reporter Jeremy Schapp tells how he crashed the party and says, "I didn't see anybody who's actually been seen walking the real red carpet in Hollywood."

No trace of Will Smith, Jessica Simpson, Beyonce, Usher, Ben Afleck, Jamie Foxx, or even Vivica A. Fox, who attended last year.

"The whole thing was kind of embarrassing," Schapp said, pointing out there was even a cash bar, which he called "strange."

Hey, a guy has worry about feeding his family, especially when his mega-million contract is worth peanuts.

Schapp admitted, though, he stayed only till "like 1 a.m." "Oh, Jeremy, you gotta have more party stamina than that," said ESPN's Dana Jacobson.

Yesterday afternoon, though, WIP's Howard Eskin also said no non-sports celebs showed, adding that many of the football players share T.O.'s agent, Drew "Next Question" Rosenhaus, and many of the women were paid showgirls.

American Idol-winner Fantasia declined an invite to sing "Happy Birthday," the Atlantic City Press reported.

An NBC10 online poll even asked fans if the Eagles who attended somehow insulted fans. Nearly 3/4 said no. Now a cash bar. That insults fans.

5 Stories Fast
Choking games are killing kids. A Horsham 11-year-old hanged himself, apparently while experimenting with making himself black out. Parents, be on the lookout for neck marks, ropes or neckties knotted in unusual ways, headaches or bloodshot eyes. ...
In a bid to come up with a plan for property-tax reform, the Pa. state House tried a novel approach: It itself into one giant committee. This setup hasn't been tried in four decades. Why? So ideas could be floated off the record. ... A 1761 grave marker was rediscovered at Christ Church during work on the path to Franklin's tomb. Robert Usher's stone (right, with John Hopkins, burial ground manager) also memorialized family members. ... Philly named for "worst environment" in Self Magazine's list of healthiest places for women. We "won" in '02 and '03, too, but not last year. The category got skipped. Overall, Philly ranked 88th, based on CDC, EPA and FBI stats. ... Marine Capt. Christopher Niedziocha of King of Prussia has been awarded the Silver Star for heroism in action in Afghanistan. He was a platoon commander when his convoy was ambushed, and he guided a successful counterattack "under heavy rocket and small arms fire."

Thought You'd Wanna Know
$100 million project targets cancer by understanding genes involved. ... Women who drink tea daily might be less likely to get ovarian cancer. ... Comcast and Time Warner say they'll offer family-friendly cable packages. Others providers will, too, by spring, all because of public and congressional pressure. ... Sign of an economic downturn? A flattened "yield cure" -- short-term and long-term interest rates aren't that different now -- might portend problems, some say. ... At least two groups are considering buying Knight Ridder, parent of the Inquirer and Daily News.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005



Arriving for T.O.'s party: McCants, Mitchell and friends, Kearse / Michael Perez photos

Happy Birthday to Me!
T.O. Throws a Big Bash in A.C.
Terrell Owens may be ostracized by Eagles management, but more than a dozen teammates showed up at Jay Z's 40/40 Club last night for a birthday celebration. (T.O. turned 32 on Dec. 7.)

First to show: wideout Darnerien McCants, and ex-Bird and T.O.-is-my-idol chatterer Freddie Mitchell. Jevon Kearse, L.J. Smith, Lito Sheppard, Brian Westbrook, Stephen Spach, Andy Thorn and Greg Richmond were also sighted by 11:15 p.m. by the Associated Press. Inquirer photos show Hollis Thomas attended, too.

In another tweak at the Eagles (invitations left in the lockerroom, which is off-limits to T.O., had a penalty-flag theme) dancers sported T.O.'s number, 81, but with question marks where a team's name would be. The shirts were every hue but Eagles green. (Photo at left is from a KYW-TV video clip.)

Owens appeared in a white suit before midnight, hardly looking depressed about losing nearly $1 million (and possibly $2 million) in pay because of suspensions and the team's bid to recoup signing bonus bucks. "Everything's great. It's a party," he said. "I have everything I want. My mom's here."

"American Idol" Fantasia was supposed to sing "Happy Birthday," but had to cancel, the Atlantic City Press reports.

So T.O. pal and instigator* Michael Irvin held up the cake and led the crowd, AP reports. (*T.O. vexed franchise folks by wearing an Irvin jersey and later by agreeing with Irvin that Brett Favre could have had the Eagles unbeaten.)

Also invited: Paris Hilton, Beyonce, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Mike Ditka and more. Early Word's trying to find out if any of them showed.

NFL stars Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Laveranues Coles were there, though, says the A.C. Press.

Last year, some show-biz celebs did stop by, including Vivica A. Fox (below), Gabrielle Union, Tyrese, Chi McBride, and singer Musiq Soulchild. Invitees Nicollette Sheridan (Desperate Housewives), Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City), and Michael Jordan were no-shows.

"I'm still a Philadelphia Eagle until the end of the year," Owens said last night. "I love Philly, I love my teammates and thank you to everybody who came here tonight and showed me their love. ... I ain't ever going to let anyone change me. I will be back."

Back in football, yes. Back with the Eagles? Not a chance.

Oh, no sign of Donovan McNabb either. Fancy that. Must have been the sports hernia.

McNabb, like Vivica A. Fox, did attend last year:


2004 photos by Steven M. Falk / Phila. Daily News

Monday, December 12, 2005

That's Happening Here?
5 Stories Fast
Teens lead secret lives in cyberspace, bragging about misdeeds from pot to porn on rapidly growing "online playgrounds" such as MySpace.com. A Chester County 16-year-old's site had comments about the party he held while his parents were away. "I woke up on the floor 3 times," one commenter raved. See "Danger: Teen Web networks," "A juggernaut called MySpace.com," and "Web 'friends' can be anything but." ... Our real estate market "just limps along"? That's what an institute's survey concluded. But our own pessimism and negativity may be to blame for this underestimate, because most of the impressions came from Philadelphians. More. ...
The first baby boomer is a Cherry Hill woman? That's what author declared in 1980, using the logic that Kathleen Casey Kirschling (left) was the first baby born right after midnight in 1945, the year the boom started. As she and other early boomers turn 60, she's being celebrated as a symbol once again. More. ... Portraits of young victims of violence form an exhibit at Pa. Academy of the Fine Arts. Volunteers used photographs to paint the portraits. The project was started in 1993, to remember a slain Philadelphia 5-year-old. More. ... Newtown inventor hopes his Jot! game will catch on this holiday season. It's a crossword game with a wipeoff board and an electronic die that keeps time with lights and beeps. (See picture above.) Sold only at Barnes & Noble stores. More.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Stephenie Edged Out for $1 Million
As Early Word predicted yesterday, Danni Boatwright (left) has won the $1 million jackpot on CBS's Survivor: Guatemala.

After the show, runner-up Stephenie LaGrossa, who grew up in Glenolden, gave a smiling shout-out to folks back home: "I hope all my fans back home in Philly are proud of me, too. ... I'm going back to Philly. I'll be home for Christmas." Interviewed live from L.A. on KYW-TV (Ch. 3), she said she won $100,000, might be getting married soon, and has gotten some offers, including one involving fitness apparel.

The final tally wasn't close. Stephenie got only 1 vote. The reason was obvious: The jury was stacked with people she'd betrayed.

In her opening remarks to the jury, Stephenie, who attended Temple University, failed to say what those folks no doubt wanted to hear: "I'm sorry." Instead, she said, "I've been as honest as I've ever been."

Clearly juror Judd disagreed. After accusing Stephenie of lying to his wife (she visited as part of a reward), he cast his ballot, delivering words meant for Steph: "I always kept my promises. You never did. I promise I ain't votin' for ya."

Earlier, Stephenie botched her best shot, when she and wilderness guide Rafe voted out nonathletic Lydia, 42. She would have been easy pickings in the final immunity challenge, which involved balancing on a wobbly platform. When the less treacherous Danni won it, their gooses were cooked.

Ironically, it was Danni's deceit that influenced Stephenie to betray Judd. When Danni claimed Judd vowed to get rid of the strongest player, Stephenie felt targeted and turned on him.

As host Jeff Probst pointed out, a key moment came when Danni outbid everyone for a secret edge in that episode's immunity challenge. She used it and won immunity. An investment of less than $200 turned into a nice, fat million.


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