(Sort of) Top Secret

The filming of Steven Spielberg's upcoming "Jurassic Park" movie has involved the kind of secrecy that rivals World War II's Manhattan Project. At stake is how the filmmaker will make the dinosaurs in Michael Crichton's thriller come alive.

So where can one get a behind-the-scenes peek? Try National Geographic.

In what has to be one of the venerable magazine's bigger scoops, a recent 52-page report on dinosaurs includes a picture showing the "Jurassic Park" crew hard at work building from clay a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex, later used in building a mechanical version. It's believed to be the only picture published showing production work on the film.

Marvin Levy, spokesman for Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, says the director chose to cooperate with National Geographic because of the magazine's prestige and because it was part of such a comprehensive section.

Checks and Balances

Getting a few former presidents together for a day is no easy trick. So it's all the more curious why Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush (with Barbara) all plan to convene Oct. 23 in . . . Bakersfield?

Even more puzzling is that they'll be joined in person by such big names on the speaking circuit as Donald Trump, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and former Chrysler Chairman Lee A. Iacocca.

Turns out it's no joke. The event is the Bakersfield Annual Business and Finance Conference, organized by area law firm Borton, Petrini & Conron.

Each year, the firm pays top dollar to gather an A-list of speakers at Cal State Bakersfield.

What's the secret? No doubt one reason is the pay--as much as $60,000 in the past to some speakers.

After speaking at last year's conference, commentator Andy Rooney wrote that the firm is able to attract top speakers "with the simple trick of offering huge sums of money."

Who's Watching

If you've ever wondered what kind of people sit around in the wee hours watching infomercials, here's a hint.

"The Infomercial," a just-published sourcebook on those ads that resemble actual television programs, analyzes the demographics of buyers of the self-help "Personal Power" program from Anthony Robbins, a La Jolla-based infomercial star often shown chatting it up with former football star Fran Tarkenton.

Some 17% are into bicycling, 14.9% have bowling as a hobby and 8.8% are into recreational vehicles.

No data available on how many are insomniacs.

Briefly . . .

Sign of the times: "Still open despite graffiti" reads a sign just off the San Bernardino Freeway . . . A maker of playground equipment that uses chemical-free cedar describes the product as "playfully correct" . . . High sticking: Gartlan USA in Huntington Beach is offering in a silent auction a silver Wayne Gretzky figurine signed by The Great One, for a minimum bid of $99,000.

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