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THE JAUNDICED EYE

Predictions? OK: Everything You Won't Be Seeing in '97

December 29, 1996|Bruce McCall | Bruce McCall is a regular contributor to the New Yorker

NEW YORK — You can bet the ranch on scientists not finding a cure for the common cold, the B-1 bomber project not being canceled and Chevy Chase not copping a single Oscar nomination in 1997.

But none of this is exactly hot news, crystal-ball-wise. Here and now, let's rip the lid off the inside dope on the startling nonevents of the coming year.

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's long-planned assertiveness-training video, her Five-Minute Makeover infomercial and her book on turning real-estate disasters into millions, "It Takes A Lawyer," will all be no-shows in 1997. Despite a settlement contract said to include a free lifetime pass, Michael Ovitz will nix the job of playing Goofy at Disneyland, being dangled by Michael Eisner. Speaking of movies, no major studio will green-light "Star Trek: Diehards Home Alone In Madison County."

Forget the U.S. Postal Service's plan to replace its long-standing motto, "Neither rain nor sleet nor snow can stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" with "This Window Closed." The changeover, a spokes-person says, "would be too much work."

In other '97 Washington nonevents, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will not be renamed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Water Pistols; Atty. Gen. Janet Reno will again fail to appear in Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue; and Sherry Rowlands' nomination as President Bill Clinton's next ambassador to France is a sure-fire no-go, due to anticipated confirmation problems. "She's already taken a licking," confides an aide.

Soon-to-be-former Rep. Bob Dornan's call for all able-bodied men in Orange County to be conscripted for an invasion of Russia will not be acted on. A bill sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), imposing a national ratings system on children's puppet shows, with a rider making cigarette smoking mandatory during school prayers, will fall short of gaining the votes needed to pass it. Archer Daniels Midland Corp. will not be nominated for a Malcolm Baldridge Award. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole's petition for eligibility as a disaster-relief area will be spurned for fear that Michael S. Dukakis, Walter F. Mondale and George S. McGovern will demand equal compensation.

On the world scene, President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia will not be required to take a Breathalyzer test before his upcoming summit meeting with President Bill Clinton unless--and it's a very big unless--experts can develop a Breathalyzer that won't explode when he exhales into it. Plans for the British royal family to finance a branch of the Betty Ford Center in Buckinghamshire, England, will fall through. Princess Caroline of Monaco will reject the presidency of Hair Club for Women; Japan will avoid apologizing for Pearl Harbor by claiming it was a belated July 4th surprise party and the firecrackers just got out of hand, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's dream of a nationwide chain of poorhouses will founder over the emotional side-issue of manacling babies.

Finally: Richard M. Nixon will not be testing the presidential waters in 1997. Clinton will not undergo a surgical procedure to seal his tear ducts. The Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series.

And the fatuous custom of New Year's predictions will not end in 1997--or in our lifetime.*

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