University of Utah Press Release
October 1, 2003 - Misty-eyed idealism alone will not save Earth’s dwindling tropical rainforests. But a five-year, $3 million study in Panama indicates rainforests can be protected if the pharmaceutical industry establishes Third World laboratories and hires local researchers to look for new medicines extracted from plants that evolved defenses against insects.
"Until now, efforts to find drugs in the rainforest haven’t really led to rainforest conservation," says Tom Kursar, an associate professor of biology at the University of Utah, who led the study with his wife, biology Professor Phyllis Coley. "But we have developed a novel approach that provides a direct link between looking for drugs and promoting conservation and economic development in biodiversity-rich countries."
Coley adds: "Rainforests are disappearing at a terrifying rate. Searching for drugs in the rainforests of developing countries might be one solution. In our research, not only are we finding potential pharmaceuticals, but we are contributing to conservation of the forests."
The study was funded by $3 million in grants to Coley and colleagues through the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama, where they also hold appointments and spend a few months each year. The money came from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The results were published in October’s issue of the Ecological Society of America journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The report was written by Coley, Kursar and 13 other scientists, most from the University of Panama.
Trying to save rainforests via "bioprospecting" for potential new medicines is based on the idea that developing nations will work to conserve their rainforests if nondestructive industries such as bioprospecting, ecotourism and watershed protection provide greater economic benefits than logging and ranching.
But the concept has not been particularly effective because only a small fraction of plant extracts actually are developed into drugs, and when they are, it takes years for the nation with the rainforest to start earning royalties.
"The challenge, therefore, is to provide immediate and guaranteed benefits even if royalties are not forthcoming," the biologists wrote. "A solution becomes apparent upon recognizing that the research and development pyramid underlying the successful development of a drug is based on many basic but essential discoveries, a tiny fraction of which result in a product."
Worldwide drug company investment in research and development is estimated at $27 billion to $43 billion annually, and "about one-third of that is spent on research that could be carried out in developing countries," including extraction of chemicals from rainforest plants, synthetic production of those chemicals for use as medicines, lab testing of the chemicals’ activity against disease, and testing in animals.
"If part of these huge investments by industry, governments of developed nations and nongovernmental organizations would be redirected toward bioprospecting research in the source country [the source of the plants], then biodiversity-rich countries would receive immediate and guaranteed benefits from the nondestructive use of their natural resources," Coley, Kursar and their Panamanian colleague said in the study.
The pilot project in Panama demonstrates how that could work. The project produced benefits for Panama by establishing bioprospecting, chemical extraction and laboratory operations in the nation using local students as well as scientists who taught at local universities but who previously lacked funding to conduct research.
"By conducting all of the research in Panama, we circumvent the issue of uncertain royalties and provide immediate and lasting benefits in the form of training, employment, technology transfer and infrastructure development," the biologists wrote.
During the past five years, the project established six laboratories in Panama and employed local citizens: 10 senior scientists, 57 paid research assistants and 12 student volunteers. Twenty Panamanian students earned bachelors degrees in the process, a dozen earned or worked on master’s degrees, and one started work on a doctorate.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Panamanian scientists recently obtained a provisional patent for three alkaloid chemicals extracted from local plants. Tests by Panamanian scientists Luz Romero and Luis Cubilla-Rios showed the chemicals were active against the parasite that causes leishmaniasis, a potentially fatal disease caused by parasites transmitted by sand fly bites. The chemicals now are being tested in Panama on mice to determine if they are safe, and tests are just starting to determine if they are effective against leishmaniasis in animals.
Kursar says the number of plant extracts that become drugs is less important than having scientists from Panama find and develop potential drugs.
"You do the work in the host country and you are creating jobs," Coley says. "The next step is for the country to recognize those jobs depend on the intact rainforest."
Why should drug companies set up labs and hire staff in developing nations?
"They collaborate all the time with academic scientists and small biotech firms in the developed world," says Coley. "If the capability exists in developing nations, such research could be done there, perhaps at a lower cost."
In a commentary accompanying the study, Jeffrey McNeeley, chief scientist of the World Conservation Union, noted some bioprospecting efforts have been called "biopiracy," such as when a drug company made $200 million in profits selling cancer drugs developed from Madagascar’s rosy periwinkle while that country "got nothing."
McNeeley praised the Panama project led by Coley and Kursar as "an excellent first step" that "shows how to conduct more of the value-added bioprospecting research in the source country, and build the technical capacity of local people while doing so."
The new study also showed how potential drugs can be found more effectively by focusing on how plants make chemicals to defend themselves against insects.
"Despite the many drugs obtained from plants in the past, success rates could be greatly improved by incorporating ecological knowledge," the researchers wrote.
The scientists collected leaves throughout Panama’s protected wild lands, prepared extracts and tested the extracts on breast, lung and nervous system cancer cells; on the AIDS virus; and on organisms that cause three tropical diseases: malaria, leishmaniasis, and Chagas’ disease, a parasitic infection that kills 50,000 people each year.
Plant extracts were considered highly active if they killed or inhibited the growth of the cancerous or infected cells without killing other cells.
The study found:
- Chemical activity was much greater in young leaves than in older leaves because young leaves lack the toughness that older leaves use as a defense against insects. So young leaves are more likely to contain potential medicines.
- Young leaves contain more active chemicals than older leaves, even from the same plant. The researchers tested 18 woody plant species, and found 10 of the species contained toxic chemicals called alkaloids that were present only in young leaves, not old leaves. Only three species had alkaloids in old leaves and not young leaves.
- Plants that live in the shade are more likely to contain active chemicals than sun-loving plants. It takes longer for a shade-tolerant plant to grow new leaves to replace those eaten by insects, so the shade-tolerant plants develop stronger chemical defenses than plants that live in sunlight and can replace leaves more quickly.
The drug-hunting principles tested by Coley and Kursar in Panama were developed during years of earlier work in Africa, Southeast Asia and Panama, "and therefore should be applicable to tropical forests worldwide," they wrote.
|By Alister Doyle |
MOSCOW October 1, 2003 (Reuters) — About 160,000 people die every year from side-effects of global warming ranging from malaria to malnutrition and the numbers could almost double by 2020, a group of scientists said Tuesday. The study, by scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said children in developing nations seemed most vulnerable.
"We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths...a year," Professor Andrew Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told a climate change conference in Moscow.
"The disease burden caused by climate change could almost double by 2020," he added, even taking account of factors like improvements in health care. He said the estimates had not been previously published. Most deaths would be in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, which would be hardest hit by the spread of malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria in the wake of warmer temperatures, floods and droughts.
"These diseases mainly affect younger age groups, so that the total burden of disease due to climate change appears to be borne mainly by children in developing countries," Haines said. Milder winters, however, might mean that people would live longer on average in Europe or North America despite risks from heatwaves this summer in which about 15,000 people died in France alone.
Haines said the study suggested climate change could "bring some health benefits, such as lower cold-related mortality and greater crop yields in temperate zones, but (that) these will be greatly outweighed by increased rates of other diseases."
Russia is hosting a World Climate Change Conference this week to discuss how to rein in emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from factories and cars that scientists blame for blanketing the planet and nudging up temperatures. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who opened the conference Monday, suggested in jest that global warming could benefit countries like Russia as people "would spend less money on fur coats and other warm things."
But Putin also backed away from Russia's earlier pledge to swiftly ratify the key Kyoto pact on curbing global warming, a plan that will collapse without Moscow's backing. He told 940 delegates to the conference Russia was closely studying the issue of Kyoto.
"A decision will be taken when this work is finished," he said, giving no timetable.
Haines said small shifts in temperatures, for instance, could extend the range of mosquitoes that spread malaria. Water supplies could be contaminated by floods, for instance, which could also wash away crops.
Solar Cycles & Global Warming
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Press Release
LIVERMORE CA September 26, 2003 – A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist, in collaboration with an international team of colleagues, has reported that noticeable changes in the sub-polar climate and ecosystems appear to be linked to variations in the sun's intensity during the past 12,000 years.
The research, titled "Cyclic Variation and Solar Forcing of Holocene Climate in the Alaskan Subarctic," is reported in today's (Sept. 26) issue of Science.
Using core sediment samples from Arolik Lake in the tundra region along the southwestern coast of Alaska, Thomas Brown of Livermore's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry measured the amount of carbon-14 in samples to provide a chronological framework for the biological and organic evidence of climate and ecosystem changes, which occurred during the Holocene Epoch (12,000 years ago to present).
By studying biological, geochemical and isotopic constituents of sediment samples (such as biogenic silica from single-celled algae, which reflects lake productivity), the researchers determined that variations of these components provided evidence of climate and ecosystem variations over the past 12,000 years.
The scientists identified significant cycles lasting 200, 435, 590 and 950 years in the 12,000-year record, which are consistent with previously recognized cycles of solar activity. By comparison of the Alaskan subarctic record to recent findings of North Atlantic ice cover variations and solar-activity-modulated production records of beryllium- 10 and carbon-14, the scientists showed that the changes in sub-polar climate and ecosystems are correlated with records related to slight variations in solar irradiance.
The data from biogenic silica, North Atlantic sea ice, and beryllium-10 and carbon-14 showed "remarkable correlation during the cycles", Brown said.
"We found natural cycles involving climate and ecosystems that seem to be related to weak solar cycles, which, if verified, could be an important factor to help us understand potential future changes of Earth's climate," said principal investigator Feng Sheng Hu of the University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana.
"Will changes in solar irradiation in the future mitigate or exacerbate global warming in the future? They may do both. A period of high solar irradiance on top of high levels of greenhouse gases could result in unprecedented warming."
Other contributors come from Northern Arizona University, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, Brown University and Columbia University.
White House Favors Energy Industry
By H. Josef Hebert
WASHINGTON September 30, 2003 (AP) — Congressional Republicans are cobbling together an energy blueprint substantially more favorable to industry than a Senate-passed bill hailed by Democrats as a victory this summer.
From drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge to electric utilities' use of renewable fuels, pro-industry views are winning consistent support in negotiations on a final bill.
Democrats are complaining about being shut out from decision-making as the talks move toward a conclusion — possibly by the end of this week — on the first overhaul of the U.S. energy agenda in a decade.
Sen. Pete Domenici, chairman of the House-Senate negotiations, dismisses the Democrats' complaints. The GOP staff has "worked closely" in "open and bipartisan negotiations," said Domenici, R-N.M. But he also said he wants to avoid the type of gridlock that prevented passage of a bill last year.
A senior Democrat involved in the talks said he is dismayed at the way Republican leaders are putting together the bill after the House and Senate approved different versions this year.
"Republicans ... expect (us) to ratify a final product that we have not yet seen," said Rep. John Dingell of Michigan.
The emerging plan reflects a greater tilt toward the energy industry, is more to the White House's liking and more represents the priorities of conservative House Republicans. It is largely replacing the legislation passed by the Senate in July when GOP leaders, facing an impasse over their own bill, resurrected a measure approved in 2002 when Democrats were in the majority.
Domenici promised to rewrite the Senate-passed bill in negotiations with the House, and that is what he is doing with Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., head of the House delegation.
"This bill will be a Christmas wish list for the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industry," predicted David Alberswerth, a natural resource specialist for the Wilderness Society.
As an example, Democrats point to the Senate bill's attempt to spur use of renewables in electricity generation. Despite vigorous opposition by the industry, the Senate had approved a requirement that electric utilities produce 10 percent of their power from renewable fuels. However, this plan never made the drafts during negotiations and will be abandoned.
Senators from both parties had supported a ban on the gasoline additive MTBE, which has been found to contaminate drinking water. A four-year phase-out was in the Senate bill, though not the House's.
Leading House members, including Tauzin and Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, insisted on dropping the ban and giving makers of the petroleum-based additive a liability waiver in water contamination lawsuits.
The issue remains under discussion, though Tauzin and DeLay are close to getting what they want, according to industry sources following the talks.
Lee Fuller, a lobbyist for the independent oil and gas industry, says many of the measures included in the final bill are needed "to grapple with this longer term question" of developing adequate energy supply. He acknowledges that the Senate-passed bill largely is being abandoned.
One of the biggest beneficiaries will be the oil and gas industry. The emerging bill renews the push to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, which the Senate has repeatedly rejected.
Domenici has said he will pull this provision if he is convinced that it will lead to a successful Democratic filibuster and jeopardize the entire bill.
But there is no such worry among Republicans over other pro-industry measures. For example, Domenici and Tauzin have resurrected an idea, omitted from both the House and Senate bills, to order an inventory of oil and gas resources in coastal waters. Leading House opponents fear the inventory is a prelude to lifting bans on offshore drilling that have been in place for years.
The GOP drafts, which are unlikely to be significantly changed, also include:
* increases in money for nuclear research, including construction of a $1.1 billion reactor for making hydrogen. These proposals were not in either earlier bill.
* an incentive to make vehicles that run on either gasoline or an alternative fuel. Critics say this only helps automakers meet fuel economy requirements because buyers end up using gasoline in the vehicles anyway.
* measures to speed approval for oil and gas development permits in the Rocky Mountains.
* federal loan guarantee of up to $800 million to help a Minnesota utility build a coal-burning power plant, a subsidy found in neither the House or Senate legislation.
Bush Allows Wilderness Oil and Gas Development
By Robert Gehrke
WASHINGTON September 30, 2003 (AP) — New guidelines issued Monday by the Bush administration could allow oil and gas companies and off-road vehicles on federal lands that had been off-limits to protect their natural qualities.
The policy directives were sent to BLM state offices to implement an agreement Interior Secretary Gale Norton struck with Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt in April to resolve a lawsuit the state filed against the department. The settlement rescinded protection for 3 million acres in Utah and millions of additional acres across the West.
Leavitt has since been nominated by President Bush to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The backroom deal has been questioned by Democrats challenging his fitness to lead the agency.
Under the directives issued Monday, the Bureau of Land Management can still decide to preserve the pristine, natural qualities of lands, but those decisions will be made in a planning process for each parcel and weighed on equal footing against potential mining, grazing, timber, and recreation uses, said Jim Hughes, deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management.
Ted Zukoski, an attorney for Earthjustice, said it could open up important, ecologically sensitive stretches of land for development in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and California.
"This is the Bush administration continuing its policy to hand over America's wild places and open spaces to the timber and oil and gas mining lobbies," he said.
A wilderness designation prohibits motorized recreation and permanent development of the land, including the building of roads, power lines, and pipelines. It is meant to preserve pristine lands "untrammeled by man," according to the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Hughes said it is likely that some of the areas that environmental groups wanted protected as wilderness will not be protected when the final land use plans are complete.
"They just don't rise to the level of what we might want to call our crown jewels of wilderness," he said. But those decisions, he stressed, will be made by local land managers based on input from residents in the region.
Under the Utah lawsuit settlement in April, Norton said it was illegal for the department to consider granting wilderness designation to lands that had not been identified as potential wilderness prior to 1993.
In addition, she rescinded the "nonimpairment" designation, applied in the waning days of the Clinton administration, which required the BLM to protect the wilderness values of lands being studied for possible inclusion in wilderness areas.
In Utah, it abolished protection for 3 million acres identified in a 1996 wilderness inventory during the Clinton administration, including red rock slot canyons and rock formations in the southeastern part of the state.
Environmental groups had identified an additional 3 million acres in the state they believed should be considered for wilderness designation but cannot be under the new policy.
The BLM manages 262 million acres in 11 Western states. The new policies do not apply to 89 million acres of BLM land in Alaska and will not affect 22 million acres of land identified for potential wilderness prior to 1993. That leaves 155 million acres in 10 states subject to the land-use directives, but they aren't all proposed for wildness protections.
Hughes said the BLM has 65 resource management plans underway and 15 more coming in the next fiscal year.
By JESSE J. HOLLAND
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON October 1, 2003 (AP) - Congressional Democrats called anew Wednesday for an independent investigation of the White House to find out how an undercover CIA officer's identity was revealed.
Democratic leaders condemned the disclosure of the name of the CIA officer, who is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a prominent critic of Bush's Iraq policy. They also want the Justice Department to appoint someone from outside its hierarchy to investigate the leaks.
Letting Attorney General John Ashcroft investigate the White House that appointed him is like having a fox guard a henhouse, said Rep. James McDermott, D-Wash. "How could Congress sit here with a straight face and allow that to be the way this issue is resolved?" he said.
The White House on Wednesday ordered its staff to preserve any document that could be relevant, but Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that should have been done earlier.
"Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence," Schumer said. "Issues like this one, which sow seeds of doubt about the fairness and honesty of Justice's investigation, will come up every day until a special counsel is appointed."
Ambassador Wilson originally planned to meet with House Democrats Wednesday morning but the meeting was canceled, officials said. Having Wilson at a partisan Democratic meeting would have given extra credence to Republican claims that the controversy is political, Democrats said.
Wilson has blamed the White House political operation and presidential adviser Karl Rove for his wife's name being made public. While he doesn't think Rove himself leaked the name, "I thought that it came from the White House, and Karl Rove was the personification of the White House political operation," Wilson said Monday.
Some Republicans said the Democrats were just playing politics.
"Surprise, surprise, they are calling for a special counsel. My goodness," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "It must be in their political handbook, their campaign handbook."
The Justice Department is trying to find out who leaked the name of the CIA operative, possibly in an attempt to punish Wilson, who had accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq.
Democrats want Attorney General John Ashcroft to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor, saying Ashcroft is too close to the White House to be objective.
Republicans expressed confidence in the Justice Department's investigation.
"The FBI will be doing the legwork and as a result I think we will find out what happened here and, clearly, if the allegations are correct, the crime has occurred, then it should be prosecuted," said Sen. Judd Gregg (news, bio, voting record), R-N.H.
Ashcroft has not ruled out appointing a special counsel, a senior law enforcement official said.
DeLay said a special counsel makes no sense.
"You have special counsels if you think the administration is trying to cover up or obstruct justice or is not interested in this issue," DeLay said. "It is quite obvious to me that the White House and the administration are very upset about this issue."
Democrats said the GOP would be acting differently if there was a Democrat like former President Clinton in the White House.
"Republicans would asserting that the Clinton administration had no concern for the security of our nation and the safety of our security personnel," said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Instead, "there are no hearings scheduled, no subpoenas on the street, no Republicans asserting that this is a serious issue."
Ashcroft's Options in CIA Leak Probe
Washington September 30, 2003 (AP) - Attorney General John Ashcroft's options in the criminal investigation of the leak of a covert CIA operative's name.
The investigation is being handled by 11 career prosecutors in the Justice Department's counterespionage division and FBI agents from the counterintelligence unit.
Applicable laws include those against disclosure of classified information and 1982 statute specifically making it a crime for someone to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert intelligence officer.
If investigators believe there is evidence warranting an indictment they would go before a federal grand jury.
Under 1999 regulations, the attorney general can appoint an outside special counsel if the matter under investigation presents a conflict of interest for the Justice Department or "in other extraordinary circumstances" when it is in the public interest to do so.
There is no definite point at which the attorney general must make such a decision, unlike the now-lapsed independent counsel law that had specific requirements for investigative decisions to be made.
PROSECUTE OR NOT:
After the FBI completes its interviews and reviews all documents and e-mails, a decision could be made to proceed with prosecution — or that no law was broken or that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal charge.
The CIA website - http://www.cia.gov
US Geological Survey Press Release
September 29, 2003 - Young desert tortoises in the western Mojave Desert are at risk of predation by common ravens, both from non-breeding ravens living in large flocks around human developments and from nesting pairs scattered more evenly across the desert landscape, according to a new study in the September issue of the journal Ecology by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Dr. William I. Boarman and California State University San Marcos professor Dr. William B. Kristan.
The risk is distributed across the landscape wherever ravens are found, with little potential for safe havens from possible attack for these young federally listed threatened tortoises. Scientists estimate that common raven populations in the western Mojave Desert have exploded by 1,500 percent over the past 25 years, in response to the constantly replenished food and other resources that human developments have made available to them in an environment otherwise too harsh to support many ravens.
"Species like ravens that have more than one pattern of predation can put their prey at a greater threat of extinction," said Boarman. "We cannot say for certain that ravens have contributed to tortoise declines in our study area, but abundant predators like these are capable of suppressing population growth and may inhibit the recovery of the threatened desert tortoise."
The researchers began the project because most desert tortoise researchers believe, based on finding carcasses of young tortoises with punctures in the shells, that ravens are hunting young desert tortoises, which are vulnerable prey up to about age 5 or 6 because they cannot easily escape predators and they have soft shells that a raven bill can easily puncture.
Large numbers of juvenile tortoise shells have been found beneath raven nests throughout the desert.
Furthermore, large declines in the tortoise population, including younger tortoises, have raised concerns about the tortoise population’s ability to replenish its dwindling numbers. Ravens are both hunters and scavengers; they can feast on refuse at landfills, find roadkills along highways and eat many kinds of animals and plants.
To assess the risk of predation by ravens, the scientists used artificial baits, 2-inch Styrofoam models resembling baby tortoises. From late March through late May, when most raven chicks fledge, the scientists placed a "tortoise bait" each week at 10-15 locations visible overhead to flying ravens, for a total of 100 bait locations throughout an area of about 300 square miles in the western Mojave Desert on and around Edwards Air Force Base.
To prevent removal by the birds, the scientists attached the baits with strong Velcro to 10-inch spikes driven into the ground, spacing the 100 bait locations in such a way that no raven would be likely to encounter two of the baits. Four days later, the scientists retrieved the tortoise models and examined them for the distinctive raven bill punctures. They found such punctures in 29 of the 100 baits. No other signs of animal attack showed on the models.
Boarman and Kristan then developed a computer model to assess risk of raven predation on desert tortoises based on these data and on surveys of raven abundance at the sampling points. Mapping the probability of attack using geographic information systems, they were able to map what areas were at most risk and what areas were at least risk of raven predation across the study area.
They found that the riskiest areas for young tortoises - a 100 percent predation risk - were around landfills, which have dense concentrations of ravens. In spite of an abundance of other kinds of raven food at landfills, the birds still hunted in nearby areas. Pockets of elevated risk also occurred at successful raven nests, reaching between 44 and 59 percent predation risk.
Because ravens may nest in different locations from one year to the next, the scientists found that few consistent areas could be expected to remain a safe haven for young tortoises. Such refuges would need to be far from human developments, in habitats unattractive to ravens. "Remote areas with no natural or human-based raven nesting sites, such as telephones and power towers, would be the safest for tortoises," said Boarman.
Ravens that aren’t breeding are gregarious, and a large gathering of ravens is a signal to other ravens that food is available. Distributed throughout the study area are a small number of towns, sewage treatment plants and other artificial permanent ponds and landfills, interspersed with undeveloped desert shrublands where creosotebush, saltbush and Joshua trees occur. Roads, throughout both developed and undeveloped desert, can also promote raven reproduction, by providing road-killed animals as food subsidy near nest sites, said Boarman.
The densest raven populations are in rural and urban areas. However, due to limited nest sites free from much human disturbance, more than half of nesting ravens seek places to nest in undeveloped desert areas more than a mile away from a ready source of food and water. Most favor Joshua trees for their nests, but many have discovered utility poles and ornamental trees. Nesting ravens forage for food primarily near their nest site, and this probably increases the vulnerability of nearby young tortoises to raven predation.
"There is still a lot we don't know about raven predation on tortoises," said Kristan, lead author of the article. "We estimated the risk that a tortoise would be attacked given that ravens were nearby, but we can't translate risk of attack directly into population decline. But, to the extent that raven predation is a problem for the tortoise, it appears to be much more widespread than the distribution of towns and associated groups of ravens would have you believe."
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE
September 26, 2003 - As a paleontologist, Gerta Keller has studied many aspects of the history of life on Earth. But the question capturing her attention lately is one so basic it has passed the lips of generations of 6-year-olds: What killed the dinosaurs?
The answers she has been uncovering for the last decade have stirred an adult-sized debate that puts Keller at odds with many scientists who study the question.
Keller, a professor in Princeton's Department of Geosciences, is among a minority of scientists who believe that the story of the dinosaurs' demise is much more complicated.
The familiar and dominant theory that a single asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago and caused the mass extinction known as the Cretacious-Tertiary, or K/T, boundary.
Keller and a growing number of colleagues around the world are turning up evidence that, rather than a single event, an intensive period of volcanic eruptions as well as a series of asteroid impacts are likely to have stressed the world ecosystem to the breaking point. Although an asteroid or comet probably struck Earth at the time of the dinosaur extinction, it most likely was, as Keller says, "the straw that broke the camel's back" and not the sole cause.
Perhaps more controversially, Keller and colleagues contend that the "straw" -- that final impact -- is probably not what most scientists believe it is. For more than a decade, the prevailing theory has centered on a massive impact crater in Mexico. In 1990, scientists proposed that the Chicxulub crater, as it became known, was the remnant of the fateful dinosaur-killing event and that theory has since become dogma.
Keller has accumulated evidence, including results released this year, suggesting that the Chicxulub crater probably did not coincide with the K/T boundary. Instead, the impact that caused the Chicxulub crater was likely smaller than originally believed and probably occurred 300,000 years before the mass extinction. The final dinosaur-killer probably struck Earth somewhere else and remains undiscovered, said Keller.
These views have not made Keller a popular figure at meteorite impact meetings. "For a long time she's been in a very uncomfortable minority," said Vincent Courtillot, a geological physicist at Université Paris 7. The view that there was anything more than a single impact at work in the mass extinction of 65 million years ago "has been battered meeting after meeting by a majority of very renowned scientists," said Courtillot.
The implications of Keller's ideas extend beyond the downfall of ankylosaurus and company. Reviving an emphasis on volcanism, which was the leading hypothesis before the asteroid theory, could influence the way scientists think about the Earth's many episodes of greenhouse warming, which mostly have been caused by periods of volcanic eruptions. In addition, if the majority of scientists eventually reduce their estimates of the damage done by a single asteroid, that shift in thinking could influence the current-day debate on how much attention should be given to tracking and diverting Earth-bound asteroids and comets in the future.
Keller does not work with big fossils such as dinosaur bones commonly associated with paleontology. Instead, her expertise is in one-celled organisms, called foraminifera, which pervade the oceans and evolved rapidly through geologic periods. Some species exist for only a couple hundred thousand years before others replace them, so the fossil remains of short-lived species constitute a timeline by which surrounding geologic features can be dated.
In a series of field trips to Mexico and other parts of the world, Keller has accumulated several lines of evidence to support her view of the K/T extinction. She has found, for example, populations of pre-K/T foraminifera that lived on top of the impact fallout from Chicxulub. (The fallout is visible as a layer of glassy beads of molten rock that rained down after the impact.) These fossils indicate that this impact came about 300,000 years before the mass extinction.
The latest evidence came last year from an expedition by an international team of scientists who drilled 1,511 meters into the Chicxulub crater looking for definitive evidence of its size and age.
Although interpretations of the drilling samples vary, Keller contends that the results contradict nearly every established assumption about Chicxulub and confirm that the Cretaceous period persisted for 300,000 years after the impact. In addition, the Chicxulub crater appears to be much smaller than originally thought -- less than 120 kilometers in diameter compared with the original estimates of 180 to 300 kilometers.
Keller and colleagues are now studying the effects of powerful volcanic eruptions that began more than 500,000 years before the K/T boundary and caused a period of global warming. At sites in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, Israel and Egypt, they are finding evidence that volcanism caused biotic stress almost as severe as the K/T mass extinction itself. These results suggest that asteroid impacts and volcanism may be hard to distinguish based on their effects on plant and animal life and that the K/T mass extinction could be the result of both, said Keller.
Read more on asteroids at Astrobiology Magazine - http://www.astrobio.net/news/article373.html
|CBS Hits The Big Time |
Hollywood September 29, 2003 (eXoNews) - What happened over at CBS? All of a sudden they can do no wrong! I thought we put the big networks behind us. All the good stuff was on Fox and WB and UPN and USA and even FX and TNT. And Sci Fi Channel, of course.
I swear that CBS hasn't offered to make me Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man, but I think it is probably pretty obvious that the Big Eye has a trio of winners on Friday night and one on Tuesday this fall.
Is this an alternate universe I've stumbled into? What gives? This is the first time in many seasons that I've stayed tuned to a major network for three shows in a row.
Before I get all gooey over CBS, I must add that there are some clunkers on their new schedule too, but here are four that win.
It's gotten to the point where anything that Donald P. Bellisario does is worth watching. For those who don't read the fine print, Mr. Bellisario is the guy behind Navy NCIS - he's the Executive Producer and he also wrote and directed the first episode, which CBS aired on Tuesday September 23rd.
And for those of you who never read credits, Bellisario was also the brains behind Magnum P.I., Quantum Leap and JAG. Bellisario fans might also tout the long-forgotten cult favorite Tales of the Gold Monkey, but that one was short-lived, perhaps because Bellisario only produced it.
Bellisario shows have a lot in common. They all feature a tough guy hero who smokes cigars and is single. It doesn't matter if he's Tom Selleck's Magnum or Mark Harmon's Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in Navy NCIS; you know something about this hero is very human. He isn't always right, for one thing, and he doesn't always get the girl, although he usually has a date waiting in the wings.
TV networks like groups of good guys battling the bad guys, and the latest crop of adventure dramas (like MI-5, which followed NCIS in the 9PM slot on A&E) usually force a cast in the 18-30 demographic to warm the hearts of sponsors and TV bigwigs. Bellisario always remembers the rest of the adult audience is out there too. Bellisario casts are never just kids. Magnum had John Hillerman as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, Quantum Leap had Dean Stockwell as Rear Admiral Albert 'Al' Calavicci and Navy NCIS has Dr. Theodore 'Ducky' Mallard, played by David McCallum.
Bellisario likes military settings, especially the Navy (Tom Magnum was a former Navy Intelligence man - remember?), and Bellisario is the only TV producer in modern memory who does the military justice. JAG spit-shines above other TV courtroom dramas. Navy NCIS spins off neatly into the same crisply pressed universe, even with the NCIS team in civvies.
Navy NCIS begins with the mysterious death of an officer on Air Force One that has the Naval Criminal Investigative Service competing with the FBI and the Secret Service over who should play Sherlock. We see President Bush on the plane and loads of high tech modern military gear, but nothing overshadows the basic job our NCIS heroes have to do.
Secret Service Agent Katie Todd (Sasha Alexander) and Gibbs battle it out over territory and Todd loses, but she winds up happy to join NCIS later. Gibbs and Todd may just be TV's next Rabb and Mackenzie, or at least the shippers should be ready for them after the first episode.
David McCallum was just Ducky. The rest of the NCIS cast is a bit less typical Bellisario at this point, but it's only just begun. Michael Weatherly came off sort of invisible as Harmon's younger sidekick DiNozzo and Pauley Perrette's Abby is essentially a female version of Steve Valentine's Nigel on Crossing Jordan.
Sidekick character growth on Bellisario shows is legendary, however. DiNozzo or Abby may be the next TC (Roger E. Mosley on Magnum) or Carol Baldwin (Kathleen Lloyd on Magnum) or Bud (Patrick Labyorteaux on JAG).
Bellisario's biggest secret is in his stories. A Bellisario hero never solves the puzzle too soon or gives away too much to the audience. Every episode of Magnum was a mystery. Every leap Dr. Sam Beckett took gave him a real problem to solve. Every case on JAG does a twist and final save by Rabb or Mac before the verdict is in. Bellisario rarely tolerates an obvious ending.
The first episode of Navy NCIS held back and dropped just enough red herrings to keep us guessing until the end. Harmon and the entire cast worked well - especially McCallum and Alexander. This show has everything that those other forensic crime solvers lack - style, story and character - and I can't wait until next week for more.
Navy NCIS did not win the night Tuesday against the late John Ritter's sitcom. It came in second with an 8.6/14 overnight rating against 8 Simple Rules' 11.3/19, but you can still bet NCIS is a keeper. Its audience will grow.
I'll give any Bellisario show eight or nine seasons, easy.
Navy NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8PM/7c on CBS.
Official Navy NCIS site - http://www.cbs.com/primetime/navy_ncis
Joan of Arcadia
God hasn't worked since George Burns died, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the deity succeed with Joan of Arcadia. Putting aside the inevitable Buffy comparisons, Amber Tamblyn and Joe Mantegna lead an excellent cast through our introduction to Joan and her universe.
You know the basic story - Joan (Tamblyn) is the teenage daughter of the Chief of Police of Arcadia and one day she wakes up to see God standing in her back yard staring at her. Later that day, God appears to her as a teenage boy (Kris Lemche) and after convincing her that he might actually be God, tells her to get a job at a local bookstore. In the store, Joan opens a book to a painting of Joan D'Arc to drive the point home.
OK. Now the Buffy thing - into each generation a teenage girl saint who talks to God is born? Will the caustic bookstore manager be Joan's Watcher?
Home for Joan is a refreshingly not-dysfunctional family with Mantegna as cop dad Will Girardi, Mary Steenburgen as working mom Helen Girardi, Jason Ritter as wheelie brother Kevin, and Michael Welch as nerd computer wiz brother Luke. Ritter is the son of the recently deceased John Ritter. His jockish character Kevin was in a near-fatal car accident a year and a half back and Joan asked God to save him. Maybe this is what got her the direct line? Or is it because Dad is the town cop and he's chasing a serial killer? We don't know yet.
What's good about Joan is that we don't have any idea why Joan is the Chosen One (sorry, but it's hard to resist) and we are drawn in enough by the fast plot and great cast to want to come back next week for more. What's bad is minor. Joan's mom conveniently works at Arcadia High, we meet Joan's high school friends but they are featureless - no Willow or Xander here - and maybe having a brother playing Dexter's Laboratory behind a computer is a bit worn.
The final scene between Amber Tamblyn and Joe Mantegna tells it all, however. Joan breaks down and cries to her father, worried that she is losing her mind. It was a very poignant moment and logical given the closeness of this family. Joan and company have a lot of heart. Keep it from getting schmaltzy and Joan of Arcadia could win a lot of fans.
[Zap2it reported that Joan's debut took her time period with an 8.5/16 overnight rating. Ed.]
Joan Official site - http://www.cbs.com/primetime/joan_of_arcadia
Mac and Harm are back for another season of JAG and they're still at the old tug of war that makes shippers scream. Will they ever get together? We continue to hope so, and we know that FBI Agents Scully and Mulder finally did, but the rigors of military life keep these JAG lawyers at a precise distance.
JAG opened with the second part of a cliffhanger where Harm and Mac were in Paraguay working with CIA guy Clayton Webb (Stephen Culp) and got in a small plane crash. Or rather Mac was working with Webb and disappeared and Harm went to find her. The episode moves along in typical JAG fashion - with plenty of action and repartee between David James Elliott and Catherine Bell - but minus any courtroom work.
Sidekick of the week is one of my favorites, Gunnery Sgt. Galindez, AKA Gunny (Randy Vasquez), but he doesn't get much to do.
The episode ends on a less than satisfying note - the Big Bad escapes and Mac and Harm don't consummate.
Catherine Bell was somewhat sidelined hiding her real life pregnancy last season, but she comes back with a roar in the premiere episode. In fact, Mac finally seems to have found herself in a kiss-off speech when she tells Harm that they'll never get it together because they "both want to be on top".
Bell sometimes plays Mac as the toughest broad on TV - not an easy task with her dewy-eyed beauty - and it looks like she will be the one on top this year. David James Elliott brought a sexist obstinacy to his role in this episode that was almost a throwback to the first or second season.
I suspect we'll be pulling for Mac and pissed at Harm all year.
[JAG scored the second win of the night for CBS with an 8.9/16 overnight rating. Ed.]
The Handler was no surprise to me. Joe Pantoliano is a terrific character actor who recently got an Emmy for his work on The Sopranos, so I expected a first class show here and wasn't disappointed. For genre fans without HBO, Pantoliano was Cypher in the first Matrix film. (You know, the good guy who goes bad.)
FBI "Handler" Joe Renato (Pantoliano) trains operatives and watches over them when they are on assignment. He is kind of a casting agent, producer and director of undercover operations. This premise sounded a bit dry to me at first, but The Handler is a high-end crime drama with a singular style that could replace NBC's Law and Order and ABC's NYPD Blue and other aging cop shows .
What The Handler has that other crime shows lack is a strong central figure in Pantoliano. There is a hint of a team behind him, but this is not a revolving lead kind of show. I'm reminded of The Equalizer, which also ran well on CBS for many years.
The opening episode jumped right in to an ongoing operation involving smuggling Russian prostitutes into the US (I wonder how this could be profitable - don't we have a lot of our own?) and a new assignment helping local police find a murder victim.
Meanwhile Joe is training Lily (Anna Belknap) as a new operative.
We find out that Joe has a brother fresh out of prison, but the only other clues to what makes Joe tick come when he has to tell an agent's wife that her husband is dead and when he is working with Lily. I suspect that Pantoliano is going for a slow character build here, but The Handler's world moves fast so it works for me.
Anna Belknap was excellent as the rookie. The rest of the cast was rather vague.
The Handler has a nice dark quality, which might come from Supervising Producer Jim Kouf who was once a consulting producer for Angel. Executive Producer Chris Haddock wrote the opener.
[The Handler delivered a final KO punch with an 8.6/16 overnight share and CBS won the entire night. Ed.]
Check out these and other CBS shows at http://www.cbs.com
Sir Paul Gets Back in the ex-USSR
Moscow September 29, 2003 (eXoNews) - On May 24, 2003, Sir Paul McCartney took his Back In The World tour to Russia. It was the first time the Beatle ever played there and A&E Network ran a two-hour documentary on the concert last week.
Paul McCartney in Red Square gives us Paul singing and playing various instruments with his amazing tour band.
The fab five include Rusty Anderson on lead guitar, the incredible Abe Laboriel, Jr. on percussion, Brian Ray on bass and guitar, and Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards. Everybody sings backup.
If you missed it you're out of luck for a while, but I'm sure it's likely to surface again on A&E or as a DVD because it is a truly magical film.
It's also more a Beatles than McCartney documentary in an odd way.
As an American, it is impossible to fully comprehend the effect Beatles had on the former Soviet Union. Paul McCartney in Red Square gives us a hint, recalling the locked down state of the Iron Curtain countries in the 1960s when Beatles first emerged to conquer the world and eliciting the testimony of a wide range of Russian Beatle fans trapped back in the USSR before the Curtain lifted.
The current Russian defense minister tells Paul how he copped his first illegal Beatles record. A Russian sociologist credits Beatles with laying the groundwork for the fall of communism and explains how Russian youth made Beatles an icon for freedom.
Paul meets with Mikael Gorbachev and President Vladimir Putin (who also seems to be a Beatles fan because he shows up for the concert.) A bearded collector explains how Beatles music changed his world. A Russian rock musician holds up a battered black and white photo and says it was the single glimpse he had of the Beatles for years.
They had the records, but nobody was sure which guy was Paul and which was John.
Soviet Beatle fans never heard the band on the radio, never watched them on TV and didn't get to see Hard Days Night or Help! Beatles were literally underground in Soviet Russia. The State never formally declared Beatles subversive, but the KGB wasn't very happy with the Liverpool Lads after Beatle records flooded the black market. They didn't like the way Beatles affected the kids. They feared that Beatles might cause an underground cultural revolution.
And the KGB was right.
The McCartney in Red Square filmmakers weave this testimony to Beatles Cold War influence into the footage of Paul's concert during the first hour, but nothing drives the point home better than the audience shots when Paul and his band hit Beatles tunes. This Russian audience is in tears at finally seeing Paul! Everyone knows the words - and I mean everyone: from older folks who back in the day cherished bootleg Beatle "flexis" scratched onto old x-ray negatives, to teenyboppers and little kids who were generations in the future when Paul, John, George and Ringo were singing All You Need Is Love.
There is also some of the celebrity on holiday stuff. Paul gives us his take on the visit throughout the film and we join him with wife Heather on a brief cycle around Red Square (turns out to be illegal, even in modern Russia) and to meet Putin, where Heather lobbies the Russian president on her anti-land mine efforts.
We go on a visit to a Russian orphanage where the kids sing a piece from McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio (1991). Other students perform a Beatles tune at a Moscow conservatory where Paul gets an honorary doctorate.
The Red Square concert music is excellent, of course, because we know these songs too. Shivery moments with Fool On The Hill and kickass with Birthday and we share the audience reaction to Maybe I'm Amazed and Band on the Run.
As sad as it is to have lost two of the Beatles, we are very lucky that Paul is still with us and out there working.
Although he says at one point that he's not a god or anything, just a fella like anybody else, there is something supernatural about this guy.
The Russians aren't the only ones who are really glad to see him!
Paul McCartney Official site - http://www.paulmccartney.com
Paul, Ringo and Yoko at George Harrison Film
Los Angeles September 26, 2003 (Launch) - The world premiere of the George Harrison documentary concert film, Concert For George, was held Wednesday night (September 24) in Los Angeles at the Warner Brothers Studio. A star-studded audience--including Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr--viewed the 90-minute film, which will be released to theaters in about three dozen U.S. cities on October 3.
Concert For George was filmed at London's Royal Albert Hall in November of 2002--on the one year anniversary of Harrison's death--and featured Harrison's closest friends performing some of his best-loved songs, including "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Taxman," "Isn't It A Pity," "Give Me Love" and "My Sweet Lord."
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr arrived for the premiere separately, accompanied by their wives Heather Mills and Barbara Bach, but spoke briefly and posed for photos before the film began.
Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow and Jeff Lynne, as well as Harrison's widow, Olivia, their son, Dhani, and Yoko Ono were also on hand for the premiere.
A DVD of Concert For George will be released soon. All proceeds from the concert, the film and the DVD will go to the Material World Charitable Foundation, founded by Harrison in 1973.
Doctor Who Will Return!
LONDON September 27, 2003 (AP) - The Time Lord and his Tardis are coming back.
A new series of the cult sci-fi TV series "Doctor Who" is in the works and will be on the screen within two years, the British Broadcasting Corp. said Friday.
Details of who will play Doctor Who, the dashing Time Lord who uses a blue phone box-style device called the Tardis to travel through time, are a secret.
"Doctor Who is one of the BBC's most exciting and original characters. He's had a rest and now it's time to bring him back," said Russell T. Davies, writer of the new series who is also responsible for hit TV dramas such as Channel 4's "Queer as Folk."
"I grew up watching Doctor Who and hiding behind the sofa like so many others. The new series will be fun, exciting, contemporary and scary.
"Although only in the early stages of development I'm aiming to write a full-blooded drama which embraces the Doctor Who heritage at the same time as introducing the character to a modern audience."
One of the world's longest running science-fiction series, "Doctor Who" was screened in Britain from 1963 to 1989 with several actors playing the role, including William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. The series sold around the world.
BBC Dr. Who site - http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/doctorwho
Internet Hulk Bootlegger Convicted
LOS ANGELES September 26, 2003 (Reuters) - A New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to illegally copying and posting a digital version of summer action movie "The Hulk" on the Internet received a three-year probation and was fined, movie studio Universal Pictures said on Friday.
Kerry Gonzalez, who was 25 when he pleaded guilty in June, was ordered to serve six months confinement in his home along with the probation.
He also must pay a $2,000 fine and $5,000 in restitution to Universal, the company that produced and distributed the movie, Universal said.
"This outcome sends a strong message to anyone who steals or abuses intellectual property by uploading or downloading it on the Internet," Karen Randall, general counsel for Universal's parent Vivendi Universal Entertainment, said in a statement.
Gonzalez was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement. Court officials could not be reached late on Friday.
Gonzalez's arrest and plea was applauded by the U.S. movie industry because moviemakers are battling to protect movies from people who are posting digital copies on the Internet where they can be distributed and swapped for free.
The movie studios are concerned that the practice of movie file swapping on the Internet will reduce box office receipts from movies, just as music file swapping has cut sales at record companies.
Jack Valenti, chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement that the sentence "makes clear that there are serious and permanent consequences for those who steal motion pictures."
Gonzalez could not be reached for comment.
By CHAKA FERGUSON
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK September 29, 2003 (AP) - Elia Kazan, the giant of stage and cinema who was hailed for "On the Waterfront" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" but shunned for naming names during the McCarthy era, has died. He was 94.
"A genius left us," Kazan's lawyer, Floria Lasky, said after the director died at his Manhattan home Sunday. She did not give a cause of death.
Kazan won Oscars for "Gentleman's Agreement" and "On the Waterfront" and staged five Pulitzer Prize-winning plays: "The Skin of Our Teeth," "Death of a Salesman," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "J.B.," for which Kazan won his first of three a Tony Awards for directing.
He was also one of the most prominent entertainment figures to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, set up shortly after World War II to rid the United States of any communist influences.
In his testimony, given in January 1952, Kazan identified eight people he said had been members of the Communist Party with him in the mid-1930s. All were eventually blacklisted.
Most left the country or simply never worked in theater or film again; a few were lucky enough to keep their jobs using pseudonyms. Kazan defended his decision by saying that all were already known to the committee, a stance disputed by others.
Years later, Kazan insisted he carried no guilt for what many of his colleagues saw as a betrayal during the reign of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. "There's a normal sadness about hurting people, but I'd rather hurt them a little than hurt myself a lot," he said.
Kazan received a special Oscar in 1999 for his life's work. The decision reopened wounds and touched off a painful controversy. At the ceremony, there was only a smattering of applause. Some audience members showed their disapproval with silence.
"No one can forget the known negative marks of his political stance, but also no one can deny his reputation of being a great director," said Evangelos Venizelos, culture minister of Greece, home of Kazan's ancestors.
Besides his two Oscar-winning efforts, Kazan directed "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," the film version of "Streetcar," "East of Eden," "Splendor in the Grass," "A Face in the Crowd" and "The Last Tycoon." His other stage credits included "Camino Real," "Sweet Bird of Youth" and "Tea and Sympathy."
"I lost a dear friend. We were as close as an actor and director could be," actor Karl Malden said. "I idolize him. I think he was one of the best directors I've ever worked with in theater and films."
Kazan turned to writing in his 50s and produced six novels — including several best sellers — and an autobiography.
The first two novels, "America, America" and "The Arrangement," he also made into movies.
"Even when I was a boy I wanted to live three or four lives," he once said.
He started out as a stage actor but his ambition was to direct, which he began doing in the mid-1930s. The breakthrough came when he staged Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth" in 1942 and won a New York Drama Critics Award.
He first teamed with Arthur Miller to direct "All My Sons" and went on to do "Death of a Salesman," which one critic termed "as exciting and devastating a theatrical blast as the nerves of modern playgoers can stand."
His friendship with Miller was never the same after his congressional testimony. Kazan talked with Miller before he testified, and Miller later wrote in his journal about a side of his friend that he had not seen before: "He would have sacrificed me as well."
His Broadway collaboration with Tennessee Williams began with "Streetcar" in 1947 and later included "Camino Real," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Sweet Bird of Youth."
"He approaches a play more critically than anyone I know; you find yourself doing more revisions for him than for any other director," Williams once said.
Carroll Baker, who played the Lolita-like character in "Baby Doll," said Kazan was especially important in launching the careers of young actors at the Actors Studio, where she met him.
"You got in on your talent and you didn't have to pay anything," she said. "Kazan was a real actor's director. He discovered a lot of people and he knew how to use you to get the best performance out of you."
Kazan once said he turned to writing because "I wanted to say exactly what I felt. I like to say what I feel about things directly and no matter whose play you direct or how sympathetic you are to the playwright, what you finally are trying to do is interpret his view of life. ... When I speak for myself I get a tremendous sense of liberation."
Born Elia Kazanjoglous on Sept. 7, 1909, in what was then Constantinople, Turkey, he was the son of a Greek rug merchant. The family came to New York when Kazan was 4 and he grew up in a Greek neighborhood in Harlem and later suburban New Rochelle.
He went to Williams College, where he picked up the nickname Gadget — "I guess because I was small, compact and eccentric," he once said. Shortened to Gadge, it was a name that stuck — and one that he came to loathe.
During his senior year he saw Sergei Eisenstein's film "Potemkin" and focused on the performing arts. He attended the Yale University Drama School, then joined the Group Theatre in New York in 1933.
Kazan, a short, stocky intense man, preferred casual dress and was direct in social dealings.
"He doesn't believe in social amenities and, if he is bored by any individual or group, he simply departs without apology or explanation," actress Vivien Leigh once remarked.
Kazan married three times. With first wife Molly Day Thatcher he had four children: Judy, Chris, Nick and Katharine. After Thatcher's death, Kazan married Barbara Loden and they had two sons, Leo and Marco. She died of cancer in 1967; in 1982 he married Frances Rudge.