The Times news broadcast has emerged as the most promising show on WAMI, Barry Diller's year-old effort to create the most glamorous UHF station in the world. Mankiewicz, host of the 10:00 p.m. Times, is already the sharpest anchor on the local airwaves. Admittedly it's a matter of style. Mankiewicz appeals to viewers who don't want their news anchors to be benevolent parents. He never invites his audience to join the WAMI family, for instance. Nor does he spout the banal chitchat that emanates from most anchor chairs. His delivery is self-deprecating. It's also professional and engaging. Serious tinkering is still needed before the The Times becomes the essential viewing it has the potential to be. Until it reaches that goal, Mankiewicz makes the show more than bearable.
Cruiserweight Daniels, a graduate of Jackson High, is the only Miami-born fighter to hold a major world title, the World Boxing Association championship from 1989 to 1991. He has been either a contender or a world champ almost all his professional career, which by now spans nearly fifteen years. Yet Daniels has never attracted the recognition his boxing skills merit, and at age 30 he's not likely to become a household name tomorrow. But he's still a threat in the ring. Just last May the scowling power-puncher scored a major upset by knocking out Don Diego Poeder in ten rounds in Biloxi, Mississippi, to win the International Boxing Organization title. The IBO may be worthless, but that underdog victory upped Daniels's record to 38-3-1, with 30 knockouts. Now he has trouble getting fights. He may be past his prime, but he's good enough to scare off anyone with something to lose.

FTX Arena
Photo by B137
Sport utility vehicles, colored contact lenses, designer cell phones -- all trappings of this town's torrid affair with flash. We'll mortgage our souls to almighty plastic for an opportunity to show off. No surprise, then, that the prospect of a shiny new waterfront sports arena lit us up like a nine-year-old at Christmas. Indulgent Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas gladly kicked in millions to help the Miami Heat and American Airlines bring us a facility other cities will envy well into the third millennium: hip Arquitectonica design, outdoor café, elevated bridge to Bayside for easy-access shopping. Sure those hotel and transportation taxes might sting down the road, but for now a little nose-thumbing is in order. Who else's overpaid athletes can practice with a view of the bay? Who else's big spenders can retire from an evening of courtside seats and fine dining to an exclusive underground parking garage? The comically close-by Miami Arena creates an air of extravagant excess, sulking in the AAArena's shadow like last year's Ford Explorer, set aside to accommodate the new Expedition. Excess, even a bit of waste, is acceptable because, as any native can tell you, it's not how much you spend but how you look that matters. And the new AAArena looks like a million bucks. Make that 295 million.

Best Reason To Stay In Miami During The Summer

Midnight swims

The Atlantic Ocean in August: bathtub-warm, no crowds, lots of stars overhead.
To watch a lot of local television news is to appreciate just how good a reporter is Mark Londner. Viewed side-by-side against his competition, the Channel 7 senior correspondent's story is likely to be the most thorough and the most balanced. Londner simply digs deeper to add the context that television news stories so often lack. Also excelling, in different ways, are WPLG-TV (Channel 10) political dean Michael Putney and WAMI-TV (Channel 69) upstart John Mattes, who displays welcome investigative acumen.
He's in great shape, he's handsome, and as far as we know he's still single. This stud from a long, well-bred line (a little hip dysplasia a few generations back, but that's all straightened out now) is Gunther IV, the sly dog that bid on Sly's bayfront mansion. Unlike Miami's other resident German magnate (the one who took the honors for "Best Ego" back in 1994), Gunther made more friends than enemies during his Miami visit. But when crack investigative reporters revealed it was really the Gunther Corporation, not Gunther the shepherd, with all the bucks, Gunther's fifteen minutes of fame came to an abrupt end. No more whining and dining, being feted by celebrities, and escorted to the most exclusive VIP (Very Important Pooch) rooms. These days Gunther is back in the doghouse, his fame tarnished and fading, much like someone else we know.
The summer is long in South Florida, but at this series produced by the City Theatre group, the plays are shorts. Summer Shorts, that is. The nearly four-year-old festival that celebrates five-minute dramas may indeed present several dozen Florida and world premieres of tiny works, but the producers don't skimp on quality. Each playwright (last year there were more than 500 submissions from around the nation) gets a fully staged production, featuring Equity actors and directors. And each actor gets an original comedy or drama in which to perform. Audience members, however, reap the greatest dividends. Summer Shorts' programs of micro-minute plays, normally opening early in June, and accompanied by a picnic dinner to which you may wear, well, shorts, are a tradition that keeps us going through the summer, and anticipating the riches of the summers to come.

He may not have presented the most provocative play or even the strongest season this past year, but New Theatre's artistic director Rafael de Acha made his mark on the South Florida theater scene by continuing to invest his productions with a personal vision. In the past year he presented eight new plays and one stunningly original double bill of familiar works: Don Juan in Hell and A Christmas Carol. He assembled numerous combinations of actors in crackerjack casts. He spearheaded an ongoing campaign to expand the theater beyond its tiny 78-seat black box. But most impressive of all, de Acha (who designs and directs many New Theatre shows) brings such intricate care and subtle intelligence to the details of design and staging that a signature de Acha production, recognizable anywhere, has come to be one of the high points on the South Florida cultural landscape.
In 1992 Hurricane Andrew churned with all its fury over the old estate of industrialist Charles Deering that had been a public park since 1985. The stone mansion Deering built in 1922 stood up remarkably well, suffering mainly bashed doors and windows, waist-deep water on the first floor, and the loss of a few outside columns. But the wooden Richmond Cottage, first erected in 1896, was reduced to kindling, not even its stone chimney surviving intact. The rest of the 420-acre park fared little better; mammoth royal palm trees were destroyed and mangroves trashed. Fast-forward seven years and $11 million later. An army of builders, painters, carvers, and restorers have done the impossible: returned both houses to (nearly) their original state and adhered to Miami-Dade County's rigorous building code. Restorers have concentrated on authenticity right down to the cottage's mismatched wood siding. In the stone house, handmade glass and Cuban lap tiles were installed. Copper and bronze doors turned black by saltwater were returned to a luminescent sheen. On the outside close to two million dollars were spent to eradicate exotic plants and restore native species. The site is open to the public again. Old man Deering would be proud.
"Acting isn't nice," says theater innovator Anna Deveare Smith, acknowledging the naked edges that cut to the heart when a performance uncovers complex truths. Okay, it's not nice. But sometimes it's quite palatable nonetheless. Especially when those doing it are as talented and cohesive as the troupers comprising the New Theatre's double bill Don Juan in Hell and A Christmas Carol. Under the direction of Rafael de Acha, this foursome (Bill Yule, Bill Hindman, David Alt, and Lisa Morgan) turned themselves into the Devil, Scrooge, Don Juan, and a number of supporting characters, including a panting dog and a bevy of thieves. In these two script-in-hand productions, props, costumes, and scenery hardly existed. They weren't missed. The magnificent quartet demonstrated the power that the actor alone exerts on our imagination. Then multiplied that by a power of four.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®