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REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : 'Clock Repairman to Stars' Sets His Own Hours : Peter Aries of Newbury Park, who retired in 1980, remembers grand times working for Hollywood celebrities.

March 24, 1994|PANCHO DOLL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Clock repairman Peter Aries of Newbury Park has done some terrible things to time pieces.

Interior designers have often asked him to gut grandfather clocks and replace the mechanical innards with battery movements rather than repair the original parts.

"It was murder," he said

Rather than working as a henchman for foppish decorators, Aries, formerly the owner of a Studio City clock shop, preferred the client list of glitterati that gave him claim to the title "Clock Repairman to the Stars."

Jerry Lewis, Marlo Thomas, Andy Griffith, "all of them had beautiful clocks," he said.

He ticks off more celebrities: "Joey Bishop has a couple of beautiful clocks. Broderick Crawford had a fine Frisian clock. Ted Knight had a clock that I had never seen before and that guy, what's his name? Always coming out and killing people . . . Charles Bronson. He has a huge grandfather clock."

Aries has been working on clocks professionally since he immigrated to the United States from Holland in 1957. During much of that time he operated his own shop before retiring in 1980.

The hard-driving Raymond Burr once called Aries to fix a large alarm clock in his office.

"It had a bell about eight inches wide. It was huge. He asked me to set it to ring at 4 p.m. because that's when the guys in the office are always asleep."

Aries said that the next day the writers called and begged him to come back and change it.

At 80 years old, Aries still dabbles in clock repair, but he's given up on making house calls.

"A clockmaker can never quit, but at my age I don't want to work that hard again."

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Lusty bedroom dialogue is inadvertently seeping into Oxnard homes as the audio portion of an otherwise scrambled adult channel has been discovered sneaking through the television sets of 5,000 Jones Intercable subscribers.

A viewer discovered the audio portion of the Spice Channel and complained to Oxnard officials that minors might be able to hear the explicit language.

"There are people in the community who feel it is urgent and we are trying to accommodate them," said Dennis Scala, an Oxnard official who coordinates the Jones Intercable contract. "But at 98 it's high enough in the channel band that we hope people won't come across it."

Jones has been carrying the pay-per-view channel since the beginning of the year. For the majority of Jones 37,000 subscribers who do have cable boxes, both the audio and video are scrambled unless they order it.

The offending audio broadcast is available to only 5,000 customers, those who don't have cable converter boxes, and Jones said it's impossible to scramble the audio for those customers. The only solution would be to put a filter on each of the 5,000 lines.

Attorneys for the city are trying to determine if that's required according to FCC law. Meanwhile, Jones used the next best solution; they've turned the bedroom talk down to a whisper.

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