One of my agonies -- and I'm not the only columnist who is so afflicted -- is that I hear a lot more than I can write about. An easy excuse for not printing it all is lack of space. Or maybe I'm just too wordy. In any case, here, briefly, are a number of things I've come across.
Unexpectedly, the top brass of CBS, NBC and ABC recently were invited to the White House for a private meeting with Jimmy Carter. Was the president, as one concerned broadcasting man speculated, going to seek some kind of controls over TV? No such thing. The session -- a brainchild of presidential media adviser Jerry Rafshoon -- was about energy. "Carter came hat in hand," said one source, dejectedly telling the group that he had failed in his efforts to convince the American public of the seriousness of the energy crisis. And he beseeched them to help get the message across. "A defeated, frustrated and unhappy president" was one broadcasting man's description of Carter. CBS Chairman Bill Paley reportedly asked Carter why he doesn't get angry. The president's reply: "I've tried, but nobody believes me."
Chris Craft Industries, the biggest holder of Twentieth Century-Fox stock with about 14 percent, or a little over 1.1 million shares, is planning to fatten its position to at least 20 percent, I hear. Market conditions will determine the size and timing of the additional purchases of Fox shares.
Loews Corp.'s brainy boss Larry Tisch reportedly wants to convert the publicly owned corporation into a private company.
NBC Chairman Jane Cahill Pfeiffer is rumored to be in trouble with the brass at parent RCA Corp. Pfeiffer was hired to administratively run the broadcasting division so NBC chief Fred Silverman could devote his time to programming strategy to bolster NBC's sagging ratings. However, she reportedly has been abrasive in her dealings with personnel, creating morale problems. Talk has it that she may be kicked upstairs to RCA before yearend.
If someone tries to sell you one of those good-looking Sony or Panasonic digital watches, you may be hard pressed to say no. They go for as little as $12 to $20. A word of caution, though: Neither company makes a watch. Investigators tell me they are being brought in from Hong Kong in droves.
Speaking of phony products, a source wired in to underworld doings says mineral water is being produced in a plant in Brooklyn and shipped out -- would you believe -- in Perrier bottles. "You'd never know the difference," he says. "The fizz is terrific."
Justice Department regulators involved in criminal activities reportedly are probing the affairs of both Meshulam Riklis, chairman of Rapid-American Corp., the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that includes Schenley Industries, McCrory Corp. and Lerner Stores, and Schenley chief Isdore Becker, a long-time Riklis sidekick. Among other things, regulators are said to be looking into whether the two wheeler-dealres -- both of whom have been the subjects of previous investigations -- possess a hidden interest in any liquor distributors. It's illegal for a distilling executive to hold such an interest.
Phil Merrill, the acquisition-minded Annapolis newspaper publisher who owns Baltimore magazine and recently acquired the Washingtonian, confirms to me that he's trying to buy New York magazine. But that's all he'll say on the subject. Whether my old boss Rupert Murdoch would sell the magazine is another matter. Some of his advisers reportedly are divided on the question.
Reports persist that Raytheon has the inside track in efforts to acquire Beech Aircraft. General Dynamics also wants the company, but Beech, I'm told, doesn't want any part of GD.
Here's a dilly. Charles Koch, one of the richest men in America and the big money behind the ongoing negotiations by a 50 percent-owned Koch company to acquire Chrysler's $200 million of real estate assets, is also chairman of the Council for a Competitive Economy. And this very same council -- in newspaper ads, no less -- is uring Uncle Sam not to bail out Chrysler. It's great to be able to divorce business from ideology. Who knows? If the council is successful, Koch may be able to cut an even better deal for himself with Chrysler.
Ronald Reagan has the presidential nomination pretty much locked up, say several top business figures with strong ties to the Republican hierarchy. The view is that Reagan would have to do or say something incredibly dumb to be denied the nomination. Former Texas governor John Connally has hit it off big with the business community. But the problem, as one corporate bigwig explains it: "Everybody seems to love him, except the public."