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Reader Beware

Variety, the show-biz weekly, was “kidding a bit” with last week’s splashy, Page 1 headline--written in Japanese characters. So says editor Peter Bart, who translates the headline: “Buyer Beware"--a reference to the recent purchase of MCA Inc. by the Osaka-based electronics firm Matsushita.

Bart and executive editor Caroline Miller got the idea when they heard a reporter say she had dreamed that Variety, itself a subsidiary of a British firm, was published all in Japanese.

With Matsushita’s planned $6.1-billion acquisition of MCA and Sony Corp.'s purchase of Columbia and Tri-Star Pictures last year, Japanese interests have a stronghold in the U.S. movie business.

Bart says there was no intention of offending the Japanese buyers, just an effort to follow in the tradition of the paper’s much-fabled quirky headlines. He decided not to print a translation, but to let the headline “be something folks can discuss at their local sushi parlors.”

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Bart’s interpretation of the headline, which accompanied his own article: “Matsushita perhaps didn’t consider all of the ramifications of the purchase. There are political and cultural problems they face.”


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