EARTH TO LISA KERKORIAN
San Jose Mercury News: Lisa Kerkorian says it costs $320,000 a month to care for her 3-year-old daughter. No, little Kira doesn't have a life-threatening disease that requires round-the-clock medical care and expensive drugs. She's just a little girl with a very, very big allowance.
Kira's dad, MGM studio mogul Kirk Kerkorian, is rumored to be worth $6.4 billion. In Kira's short life, she has been attended by three nannies, flown only on private jets, showered with clothes, toys and parties. But Dad and Mom split after a 28-day marriage, and the pre-nuptial agreement Lisa Kerkorian signed prevented her from seeking spousal support. So now she is suing Kirk for $320,000 a month in child support.
That's $320,000 a month.
Test case: The case has caused quite a stir in Hollywood. But it also is being watched in legal circles because it is likely to be a test case for high-end divorces in which child-support becomes what one judge called "disguised alimony."
Here's a peek at the list of Kira's essential expenses, which her mother filed with the court last week:
$144,000 for travel; $14,000 for parties and play dates; $2,500 for movies and outings; $4,300 for food as well as $5,900 for eating out; $1,400 for laundry and cleaning; $1,000 for toys, videos and books; and $436 to care for her bunny and other pets.
For a 3-year-old?
You might wonder how one child can eat $10,000 a month in food, when most kids are happy with Cheerios and chicken fingers. But Lisa Kerkorian has made it clear that Kira is not like most kids. Because her father is a billionaire, she must be raised in the manner required "to maintain her in the station of life and with all the things and benefits befitting the daughter of Kirk Kerkorian."
Befitting the daughter? Or the ex-wife?
Last year California passed a law to protect the naive from being forced into unfair prenuptial agreements. Now the courts need to make clear that pre-nups signed in good faith are binding legal documents, and using the kids to get around them doesn't fool anyone.
FIREFIGHTER STATUE SOWS DIVISION
Philadelphia Inquirer: How good things go rotten.
That could be the title of an instructive essay about the firefighters' statue controversy in New York. More than a local brouhaha, this dispute offers lessons for all.
On Sept. 11, three New York City firefighters hoisted an American flag on a tilted flagpole in the midst of a World Trade Center attack scene from hell. A photographer from the Record in Bergen County, N.J., saw the firemen and aimed.
This photo -- in the ranks of the most famous American news photos ever taken --brilliantly captured that terrible day: Destruction. Hope. Heroism. Patriotism. Firefighter grit. American grit. You can hit us but you can't knock us down.
The unforgettable image, so reminiscent of Iwo Jima, was seen by millions worldwide.
Weeks later, the owner of the building housing the Fire Department of New York's headquarters hired 12 sculptors to design an 18-foot-high sculpture based on the photo. Landlord Bruce Ratner was picking up the $180,000 tab, donating the sculpture to the city.
Until the sculpture model was unveiled. Seems there'd been some changes. One of the photographed firemen lost his nicely padded belly in the sculpture version -- but the real problem is bigger than a belly.
Ethnic diversity: The three guys who raised the flag are white. In the sculpture, though, the flag-raising firemen are now white, Hispanic and black. The idea was to represent the ethnic diversity of the firefighters who bravely gave their lives at the WTC.
It's at this point the good thing went really, really bad. Two sides -- roughly pro-diversity vs. this is political correctness run amok! -- have gone to war in New York and set off a national debate.
Controversy in art is not necessarily a bad thing -- remember the hubbub over the Vietnam war memorial? It can illuminate issues, start conversations.
But this memorial is meant to unite a city in honoring its heroes. Once the statue's design became divisive, it undermined the memorial's purpose.
Some are just bothered by this kind of tinkering with the facts. And there's the issue of copyright; the Record never authorized use of its photo in this way.
And, of course, hard feelings over race bubble beneath this dispute. Not so long ago, the FDNY was as all-white as the three men raising the flag.
So here's one lesson: Racial equality in America is achieved through diligent uphill effort, not loud arguments over the symbolism of a sculpture. By now, it's hard to imagine any version of this design avoiding a bitter racial subtext.
Meanwhile, another lesson has been forgotten. The equal opportunity terrorists didn't care if their victims were white, black, yellow, male, female, young, old -- so long as they were American. The shared tragedy united Americans on 9/11. Can one little statue really start tearing that spirit apart?
Mr. Ratner no doubt means well. He, and fire department officials who approved the statue, must feel terrible about this. But it's time for them to go back to the drawing board. Surely, they can come up with a different 9/11 sculpture that can inspire us each and every one.