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Dr. Do Good Does the Right Thing in New Orleans

October 3, 2005 12:00 AM

As Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Sheldon Hawks on CBS's "CSI: NY," Hill Harper's life revolves around the deceased. But off-camera, the actor, author and businessman is busy making things better for the living. Mr. Harper, 32, is a partner in two New Orleans hotels, Loft 523 and the International House, and when Hurricane Katrina left 83 employees essentially jobless, Mr. Harper and his partners continued to pay their full salaries and benefits-even those of the 16 who remain unaccounted for-hoping to set an example for other businesses. "If people don't know they have a job when they come back, they'll stay away," Mr. Harper said. "It's definitely costing us money. We think it's worth it because it's an investment in the community and the future." Mr. Harper has always had an eye on the future, spending as much time speaking at schools as he does in forensics labs prepping for his "CSI: NY" role. Inspired by his talks with school kids, the Ivy League grad has written "Letters to a Young Brother," a motivational book for young men in the style of Ranier Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet." Mr. Harper said that his book, scheduled for an April 2006 release, is intended to help fill a void in literature for young people. "There's really a lack of guidance and information for a lot of young men," he said. "A lot of the stuff they get fed is pretty negative. I asked myself, 'What can I do. ...?' You don't think of young guys as the book-buying public." But "if you don't write books for them, they won't read them." -NATALIE FINN



'Bowling' for Bravo

Last week Bravo announced its acquisition from a number of sources of 131 theatrical titles, including "Vanilla Sky," "Chicago" and "Training Day." But the network's most intriguing catch wasn't on that list: The NBC-Universal-owned network has purchased the exclusive broadcast rights to Michael Moore's 2002 documentary "Bowling for Columbine" from MGM/Sony. Bravo plans to premiere Mr. Moore's acclaimed yet controversial exploration of gun violence in America Oct. 18. A network spokesman said Bravo considers it so important it waited to announce the acquisition of "Bowling" separately. "It's truly the crème of the crème as it fits our mandate for movies or programming that, whether you agree with them or not, presents an outlook or point of view," said Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick. "Art is supposed to be a respite that makes you stop and think." -JAMES HIBBERD



Blunt Talk

When Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was forced to step down last week as House majority leader after a grand jury indicted him for alleged campaign finance violations, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., muscled his way into the job on an interim basis with help from fellow conservatives. His appointment brought rave reviews from the watchdog Parents Television Council, because the lawmaker is viewed as a strong ally of the group's campaign to crack down on what it perceives as indecency on TV. In his previous leadership position as House majority whip, Rep. Blunt helped corral votes for the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which raised the cap on Federal Communications Commission indecency fines from $32,500 to $500,000. The bill also made on-air talent-not just station licensees-subject to levies and includes a three-strikes-and-you're-out provision that puts broadcasting licenses in jeopardy. Thanks in part to his efforts, the BDEA was approved by the House in a 389-to-38 vote. "Parents, families, educators-and every American who turns on a television or radio-deserve this bill," Rep. Blunt said on Feb. 16, 2005. "It's time to return the public airwaves to the taxpayers who support them." The Senate has yet to act on the measure because of an ongoing debate over whether to extend indecency prohibitions to cover violent programming and cable TV, which is currently exempt from FCC indecency regulations. -DOUG HALONEN