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EW readers respond to pop culture questions

EW readers respond to pop culture questions — Your nominations for best cinematic special effects of all time, and which books deserve film adaptations

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Postcards from readers, on several topics about which we solicited opinions, have been piling up here lately like oddly hued autumn leaves, and it’s time to rake them up and report back. On our question as to which network and news anchor was doing the best job covering the crisis in Iraq (Sept. 7), ABC’s Peter Jennings edged out Dan Rather of CBS by a single vote; if we lump third- place Ted Koppel’s fans and Jennings’ supporters together into a pro-ABC block, that network won handily as ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s readers’ choice for Persian Gulf news, with 169 of the 358 votes cast. CBS and Rather placed second, in keeping with the Nielsen ratings on network news viewership. The big surprise was the third-place finish: CNN got 72 write-in votes to beat last-place Tom Brokaw and NBC, with 54. And though Jennings won much praise from readers for his cool, steady professionalism, some watchers apparently were voting their hearts, not their heads. Gushed one: ”Peter Jennings could cover the mating rituals of the slug and I’d tune in!”

In the previous issue (Aug. 31) we invited nominations for readers’ favorite cinematic special effects of all time. The responses were wide- ranging, and readers who seemed to have particularly short memories picked Ghost, Total Recall, and Die Hard 2, all from this past summer. Those who displayed midterm memories went for somewhat older titles, including Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., The Abyss, Aliens, Poltergeist, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The majority of picks, however, came from obviously more experienced fans. The Wizard of Oz came in third overall. The startling scene of Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in Royal Wedding finished second. But the most popular special effect of all was — the envelope, please — Charlton Heston’s neat trick, as Moses, of parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments.

Following up on the popularity of the screen version of Scott Turow’s novel Presumed Innocent, we solicited suggestions for other books that should be made into movies (Aug. 24). Fright master Stephen King’s novels got the most nominations, with 36 of the 407 cards received. King’s The Stand came in first, with a smattering of votes for his It (a TV movie of It will air Nov. 18 and 20 on ABC). The vampire chronicles of Anne Rice finished second, while works by Dean R. Koontz and Tom Clancy came in third and fourth respectively. David Lynch was named repeatedly as the director of choice for movie versions of everything from Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Our favorite suggestion, though, came from the wag who urged a film of Webster’s Dictionary: ”After all, what other book contains love, sex, violence, adventure, action, romance, and gopher ball!”

And then there was Trump (Aug. 17). We requested questions about him that might be asked of contestants on his new TV game show, Trump Card, but many people chose to address The Donald himself instead, and without much respect, either. Several folks couldn’t resist busting on his facial hair: ”How much do you spend on mousse for your eyebrows?” and ”Who did you inherit those ghastly eyebrows from?” Most of the other questions, not surprisingly, were related to Trump’s finances and private life. People wanted to know how he got so rich, and was he really going to lose it all, and did he in fact bed Miss Maples. As one rather Victorian-sounding reader put it, ”Have you, Donald Trump, handled Marla Maples’ assets?” Over all, however, it seems most readers have heard enough about the brash ex-billionaire. Along with ”Who cares?” a popular response was to quote Rhett Butler: ”Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”