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De la Burde case exhumed...Remember Camper Van Beethoven?...Kids get a "Real World" experience...Washington's funeral reenacted...Look out for sneaky sales pitch...Sarah Jessica Parker takes it off.

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TNT Reexamines De la Burde Murder
Camper Fans Sooo Close
Kids Get 'Straight Scoop' in Documentary
Local Man to Join Mount Vernon Reenactment
'Remodeling Project' Just Sneaky Sales Pitch
Star Loses Coat at Charity Benefit
TNT Reexamines De la Burde Murder

A national cable-TV program next year will feature the case of Roger de la Burde, the Powhatan County resident and aspiring socialite whose 1992 shooting death led to the controversial murder conviction of his longtime companion, Beverly Monroe.

Serving a 22-year sentence at Pocahontas Correctional Unit in Chesterfield, Monroe was among several local residents interviewed last week for the pilot episode of "The Justice Project," which will air in late spring 2000 on TNT.

"She seemed like she was fine. There's something very charming and magnetic about her," says Judy Ruzylo of High Road Productions. The Toronto-based firm, which has made documentaries for A&E, finished taping interviews here Friday. (Interviewees say they were impressed by the number of personnel involved and the apparent scale of the project.) The 90-minute "Justice Project" pilot will feature two other controversial murder cases also and should air in May or June, Ruzylo says.

De la Burde's is "one of the most controversial cases we've seen," she says. "There's a lot of doubt and a lot of discrepancy around the conviction." High Road Productions interviewed local journalists, forensic experts, lawyers and others about the case, she says, adding that the case's prosecuting attorneys and experts didn't cooperate.

"This is tabloid talk-show advocacy they're up to and I don't have patience for this kind of nonsense," Monroe co-prosecutor Warren Von Schuch told Style in 1998 about Monroe's supporters' efforts to overturn the conviction, which included an appearance on a syndicated TV talk show.

Producer Michael Betcherman says "The Justice Project" will re-address — and maybe help redress - "potential wrongful convictions." He got the idea for the show when he met one of Monroe's daughters at a conference on the issue last year in Chicago.

Katie Monroe says she hopes the exposure will aid efforts to win her mother (who was convicted before Virginia's 1996 truth-in-sentencing law) parole in June 2000. CBS's "48 Hours" has expressed interest in the case also, and New York Times writer Ralph Blumenthal says he plans to look into it early next year.

- Rob Morano

Camper Fans Sooo Close

Didn't hear the news that seminal '80s rock band Camper Van Beethoven was planning to play here two weeks ago? Maybe that's because they weren't — officially, anyway.

But official facts couldn't douse the inflammatory rumor of a CVB reunion show at Sound of Music's Christmas party, held Dec. 4 at the Broad Street recording studio. And by the time the Richmond studio's party began to swell with people, the words "Camper Van Beethoven reunion show" were coming from a lot of loose lips.

Maybe that's because they were going to play — unofficially, of course.

"There was talk of it," says Sound of Music manager and co-owner Miguel Urbiztondo. "All I can say is, there was talk of it."

That little "it" brought a big mob of party-goers who maybe thought they were going to see the show of the year.

"I wish I could get the same support in Richmond for Cracker," says former CVB frontman David Lowery. Lowery is currently Cracker's lead singer and a co-owner of Sound of Music. He and former CVB band members Victor Krummenacher and Jonathan Segel are working on an upcoming compilation of rare and previously unreleased tracks culled from live and studio recordings.

Lowery acknowledges talking with Krummenacher and Segel about getting on stage at the studio's Christmas party for a semi-impromptu jam session. They even briefly rehearsed four songs. But, he adds, there was "never supposed to be a CVB reunion."

We might never know because Urbiztondo decided to shut the party down after city fire officials voiced concerns about capacity.

Disappointed fans should feel better knowing that Lowery is excited about the upcoming CVB release, containing music that Lowery says is vastly different than previous material. "It's very post-rock; it's very abstract," he says. "People will be surprised at the dark, psychedelic side of Camper Van Beethoven."

— Wayne Melton

Kids Get 'Straight Scoop' in Documentary

Last August, four Richmond high school Media One Cub Reporters got a taste of what it would be like to be on MTV's popular "Real World."

The Richmond teens — chosen among the 10 current local Cub Reporters that Media One selects each June to act as junior reporters on projects targeted to teens — traveled from Miami to Jacksonville to Atlanta to Richmond to Washington D.C. for 12 days in search of the straight scoop about kids and drugs. They talked to and interviewed kids from all walks of life and in myriad settings: schools, malls, community centers and drug rehab centers.

The result of their findings: "Straight Scoop Road Tour: Kids Talking to Kids About Drugs," a 30-minute documentary for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "We hope it'll be used to encourage conversation between parents and their kids," says Media One's Julia Barden.

A special screening of the documentary takes place Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Street Theater. According to Barden, the real-life experience behind the camera carried a heavier weight than the Cub Reporters realized, similar to the daily drama and close-quartered living shown on MTV's "Real World."

Dr. Judi Kosterman from the White House Office of National Drug Control will be available at the screening to answer questions about drug use and prevention.

Media One begins broadcasting "Straight Scoop" Friday, Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m. on Media One's channel 7. It will air daily through Christmas, except on Dec. 19 when it will be broadcast at 4 p.m. Anyone interested in showing the documentary or in attending the special screening on Thursday should contact Julia Barden at 915-5400.

- Brandon Walters

Local Man to Join Mount Vernon Reenactment

Jim Whiting always knew that old blade would come in handy some day.

Some day turns out to be Dec. 18, when the Richmond man descended from George Washington's godfather will be among those re-enacting the first president's 1799 funeral in a 200th anniversary event at Mount Vernon.

Whiting, former president of Historic Richmond Foundation and a past chairman of the Richmond Public Library board, will portray a revolutionary army colonel and bear the sword the officer carried at the original event's procession. "Having known about Washington ... and been to Mount Vernon many times, it's an honor to participate," Whiting says, noting there has been only one other re-enactment, in 1899.

Whiting's brother, Virginia Supreme Court Senior Justice Henry Whiting, of Winchester, will portray the loyalist 8th Lord Fairfax, who nonetheless remained Washington's friend after the war. "Even after [Bryan Fairfax] returned to England, he and Washington still corresponded, and Washington always addressed him as "My Lord," Justice Whiting notes.

The recreation of the 1799 funeral is expected to attract thousands and will be covered by international correspondents and broadcast live on C-SPAN, according to published reports. Churches nationwide will toll their bells in observance.

The Whitings say they hope the event raises awareness of the contribution of our new nation's first hero, what Jim Whiting calls his "steadying hand and influence." Justice Whiting says he most reveres the founding father's "high sense of duty."

— Rob Morano

'Remodeling Project' Just Sneaky Sales Pitch

That no-nonsense plain white paper "notice" many area residents have received about a home remodeling project has the whiff of a government program. Look closer and it smells fishy. So much so, that the Better Business Bureau is sticking its nose in the company's business.

In the mailings, Associated Aluminum Products Inc., a Virginia-based home remodeling company, offers to give residential property owners the help they need with external home repairs and renovations during winter months. And, worded suspiciously like other government subsidized programs, the notice claims to provide all labor and materials in "conjunction with various lending institutions locally and nationally."

What then, is the free service? And what is the product?

A call to the residential remodeling hotline - an office on Mayland Drive - was met by an annoyed appointment setter when asked questions about the "free service." "In order to qualify, you must have a household income of at least $700 a month. Do you have that?" The free service, it turns out, is an in-home estimate for AAPCO's twin wall vinyl siding and replacement windows.

Local marketing coordinator Carol Montague could not comment on the company's BBB status or advertising policies. The buck was passed to the Virginia Beach office, where advertising matters are handled. Calls were not returned.

Although the Better Business Bureau has kept a file on AAPCO since 1983 - the mailings claim the Virginia Beach-based company has been in business since 1968 — no current report is available. The company's file is being updated, a status Tom Gallagher, with the BBB, says is customary when consumer inquiries or complaints are made.

And, there have been some.

According to Gallagher, a notice was sent by AAPCO last spring that contained language and an emblem curiously similar to that of HUD programs.

"We're looking into it," says Gallagher, who hopes to have the review completed this week. "We're very interested in the company's advertising."

— Brandon Walters

Star Loses Coat at Charity Benefit

Before "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker lost her coat for a good cause, Carrie O'Malley and Michelle LaRose had never met - despite the fact that the two have a lot in common: both are University of Richmond alumnae, both are attorneys, both support LINC (Legal Information Network for Cancer), and both are avid fans of the HBO series "Sex and the City."

But that changed at the Dec. 4 event to benefit LINC at Tredegar Iron Works when the two vied for the same size-two piece of Parker's wardrobe.

O'Malley, 30, a Richmond real-estate attorney — whose mother excitedly bid the winning $750 for the jacket as a gift to her daughter — says it was the perfect ending to the night.

After a rather anticlimactic raffle drawing - the winner wasn't present — for a trip to New York and a visit to the set of "Sex and the City," Parker seemed to want more excitement for the crowd and more funds for LINC. Seizing a golden opportunity she suggested the auction. (Event organizers say that with Parker's help the non-profit raised about $70,000.)

"She said 'I'm really not supposed to do this but I just got this new coat from Donna Karen and it's a little bit warm, I don't really need this,'" tells O'Malley.

So the star began auctioning the coat to the highest bidder. O'Malley's mom and LaRose, 28, an attorney in Centerville were neck and neck at the $700 mark. And when the coat went to O'Malley at $750, Parker made LaRose an offer she couldn't refuse: up the bid to $750 too, and get something equally great from Parker's wardrobe. "It'll be something really good," Parker promised.

LaRose gladly agreed. "I'm really looking forward to it," says LaRose who doesn't expect to hear from Parker until after the holidays. "It's even cooler because it'll be something she picks out."

Brandon Walters

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