Janet Wiscombe : Independent Journalist | Writer | Editor

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Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Don't Do Therapy
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the Country's Top Female Radio Personality, Calls Herself a Prophet. What She Frequently Calls Others is an Entirely Different Matter.
Los Angeles Times Magazine

It keeps happening. Callers share intimate details of their lives with Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and she is moved to tears. She tells ABC's "20/20" about growing up in a house with angry parents, and she cries. She is interviewed for a U.S. News & World Report cover story, and she sobs. She appears on "Oprah" and is overwhelmed with emotion after a young dad fesses up that he's been more concerned about bringing home the bacon than being with his kids.
On this day, the country's premier female radio star is seated on a wrought iron chair on the patio of the three-story dream home that she bought a year and a half ago in an exclusive, horsy San Fernando Valley enclave. And it's happening again.

Matt Drudge
photo by Lara Jo Regan

What Hath the Web Wrought?
Matt Drudge Has been Accused of Recklessness and Libel. He Has Also Been Hailed as a Hero. Will He Step Toward the Journalistic Mainstream as He Latches Onto Celebrity?
Los Angeles Times Magazine

Rat-a-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! It's the speed of Matt Drudge's mind. It's the fingers pelting a plastic keyboard at http://www.drudgereport.com. It's the velocity of the verbal volleys he lobs into the Oval Office from his cheap ninth-floor apartment near Hollywood and Vine.
Rat-a-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat! "I like things big and loud," he trills, fiendishly clapping his hands together like a child in a highchair. "Speed is my weapon!" The naughty boy of the Internet, the 31-year-old cyber muckraker who used a prehistoric 486 computer plugged into the wall of his $600-a-month home/newsroom to introduce the world to Monica Lewinsky, is having the time of his life. In an accelerated Info Age blur of months, he has catapulted himself from Web page to front page like a clown out of a cannon. He's on a first-name basis with senators and stars, fawned over by the rich, instantly recognized by Washington cabbies: "Hey Drudge Man!" Now he's even got his own TV talk show, proof positive of his total crash through the cyber barrier.



Private Property
Ask Sally Ride About Her Research. Or Her Program to Revolutionize Science Education in America. But Skip the Queries on the Glory of Space Travel, and Don't Even Think About Anything Personal.
Los Angeles Times Magazine

Sally Ride doesn't look like a woman outrageous enough to sit on top of a stack of enormous flaming rockets. There's absolutely nothing about her refined appearance or manner to suggest she has the grit to travel into the great, dark, airless abyss strapped to the seat of a hurtling piece of machinery. She's small, reserved, a reluctant heroine uneasy with eminence, a self-possessed but distant star who navigates her rarefied universe with quiet control.
Ask her about propulsion or the effect of clouds on radiative energy, and she's forthright, focused, even friendly. Ask about the psychological and spiritual impact of space travel, and she shuts down. There are astronauts who've returned to Earth with epiphanies about universal connectedness and the meaning of existence. Sally Ride is not one of them. "The experience of being in space didn't change my perspective of myself or of the planet or of life," she declares. "I had no spiritual experience."

Leader of the Pack
Dan Pallotta Has Turned the AIDS Rides Into a Fund-Raising Tour de Force, and His Salary's Not Bad Either. His Supporters Say His Passion Is Well Worth the Price.
Los Angeles Times Magazine

While neighbors in Laurel Canyon enjoy patios and pools, Dan Pallotta's backyard view is from the flap of a canvas tepee. The towering wigwam, a retreat and meditation center big enough to house a trio of buffalo, is a fitting hide-out for a Harvard-educated entrepreneur who can talk as easily about Einstein as he can about est and has a special place in his heart for John F. Kennedy--and cowboys and Indians.
On this chilly afternoon, however, the sanctuary will remain a mystery. The dashingly handsome 37-year-old creator of the AIDS Rides--promoted as the most successful fund-raising events in the history of the epidemic--has decided he'd prefer to talk while hiking than entertain at home. He's still angry at Buzz magazine for reporting last year that he was building a $1-million house. He says he bought the three-bedroom fixer-upper in 1995 for less than half that amount. He and his dad completely gutted the structure and rebuilt it with their ownhands, and he's weary of insinuations that he's getting rich off money intended for AIDS services.

Janet Wiscombe interviewing Jimmy Carter
Janet Wiscombe interviews former President Jimmy Carter at Habitat for Humanity site in Los Angeles. Photo by Suzette Van Blyevelt

The Builder
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

It's Day Three of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's five-day summer vacation in Watts. Jimmy is pounding nails on a Habitat for Humanity house. He's so absorbed in sweat and concentration he seems oblivious to the gaggle of photographers who record his every move.
Every now and then he looks into the eye of a camera and flashes a big toothy grin.
''Where's Rosalynn?'' he asks a staff member over the din. ''I turn my back for a second and she's gone!''
At 70, the former most powerful man on Earth is in hog heaven. He's fit and feisty and doing exactly what he wants to be doing--helping to build houses for people who can't afford them, framing his unblushing belief in creating common ground.

Olivia Nieto Herrera Gives Haven, Help and Heart to Those in Need
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

Olivia Nieto Herrera listens affectionately as a middle-aged man from Guatamala tells about getting cheated out of a paycheck. He's worked hard on a construction projectfor five days and has earned nothing.
He's hungry.
For the past half hour, Herrera, a heavy-set grandmother who rules her sanctuary with absolute belief in the strength of the individual and the power of faith, has listened to the man's unhappy story. She has smiled, asked questions, joked a little, dispensed advice and encouragment.

The $20-Million Ticket to Ride
Dennis Tito Is the Ross Perot of Space Travel, Throwing Money at the Russians for an 8-Day Vacation Above the Earth, His Vision and Passion Unwavering
Los Angeles Times Magazine

Gazing out on the grounds of his palatial hilltop estate, it doesn't take long for the gentleman in the gray silk suit to reveal his passion: "This is my own spaceship on Earth," he says.
Here, in the rarefied atmosphere high above the Getty Museum in Pacific Palisades, Dennis Tito lives alone in one of L.A.'s poshest pads. He surrounds himself with the good things in life--a tennis court and pool, European antiques, tapestries and chandeliers. He parks his Ferrari in an eight-car garage. He spends fortunes on clothes and entertaining. He works out in a private gym that rivals Gold's, and regularly runs along a private jogging track that hugs a private pond. He gives away scads of money to the Los Angeles Opera, the Republican Party and other causes.