"WE HAVE MET before, haven't we, Mr. Gasparoli?" "Yes, we have." Three weeks into Terri Stokes's libel trial against WCCO-TV (Channel 4) et al., it was time for former 'CCO investigative reporter Tom Gasparoli to get grilled by plaintiff's attorney Joe Friedberg. Off Beat, naturally, was in Judge David Doty's U.S. district courtroom to see the fur fly. (Stokes, you may recall, was the subject of a Gasparoli-produced 1994 "Dimension" report in which an Anoka County homicide investigator named her as the sole suspect in the 1993 murder of her husband, a 3M Company exec who was shot twice in the head while he slept. Stokes, who was never charged, has sued the investigator and CBS affiliate 'CCO.) "You are what is called an investigative reporter, aren't you?" Friedberg queried in a patronizing attempt to get Gaspo to admit he hadn't done his homework. The star witness, who these days is working as a freelance journalist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was seemingly unfazed by the attorney's verbal jousting, conceding that he is indeed an investigative reporter but responding to most questions with several seconds of silence followed by a "maybe" or an "I can't recall." Gasparoli says he can't comment on the proceedings until there's a verdict, but according to a source close to the case, both men were looking forward to the showdown, in large part because they'd collaborated in the past as reporter and deep-throat source. "Tom knew this was going to be an important moment in the trial," the source says. "And because he knows and respects Joe's take-no-prisoners style, he was actively preparing to defend himself with vigor." The case is expected to go to the jury later this week.
Now Hear This
AN INVETERATE RADIO dial surfer, Off Beat's ears pricked up at a promo being aired these days on local rock station KS95 (KSTP-FM 94.5): "No scrub," the voiceover intones. "No diggity. And nothing that involves getting jiggy." Huh. We always thought "The best variety of the Eighties, Nineties, and today" was a pretty colorless motto. Nice of them to remind us.
STILL CHEWING ON last week's Apple-oriented Browser stories? Off Beat recently got a call from a U S West phone solicitor who was hawking Online Call Alert--a combination call-waiting and caller-ID feature for folks who frequent the Internet and have only one phone line. If someone tries to call while you're online, a window pops up on your computer screen saying who it is and offering to let you answer the call through the computer, ignore it, or transfer it to voice mail. The cost: $9.95 per month, plus an $8.50 installation fee--far less than the $22 price tag for a second phone line. (Of course, it only works with U S West's proprietary Internet access service, which costs $19.95 per month.) When we still hadn't hung up on her, our interlocutor paused for breath and asked, "Do you have a computer at home?" Yep, Off Beat replied. "Is it a PC or a Mac-based system?" What difference does that make? Well, turns out that if you answer "Mac" to the second question, end of phone call. "Online Call Alert is not available for Macs," confirms Kim Bothun, U S West's public relations manager for Minnesota. Bothun notes that the Denver-based Baby Bell currently offers the service in only two markets (the other is Omaha), and she adds, "We're growing the product step by step, and in these first steps it makes sense to offer it in a way that reaches the most people. But I'm sure we'll look at the Mac market going forward." Well, maybe. The technology behind Online Call Alert comes courtesy of a company called eFusion Inc. From his office in Beaverton, Oregon, eFusion communications director Dewey Kelly tells Off Beat that you can't hook up your brand-spanking-new iMac because there's no Mac-compatible software for H.323, the standard technology for so-called Internet telephony applications. And users shouldn't hold their breath, says Kelly; he has sensed little interest from Apple in the market and doesn't see any new software on the horizon. An Apple spokesperson had no comment.
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