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A Sculptor of Fine Works

January 11, 1998|IRENE LACHER

This is a public service announcement: It's time to confront that dread reminder of all the recent fattening frolic you had--New Year's tush. Here at Out & About, where we specialize in canape consumption, we know just how hard that can be. So we offer for your arsenal of incentives more than mere guilt--pure, unadulterated shame.

If Estelle Getty can do it, so can you.

Getty, who's a mere 74, is doing her reps on the Hammer leg press under the eagle eye of His Buffness, Raphael Picaud. Picaud, proprietor of L.A.'s Body Maxx, earned a master's degree in physical conditioning in Strasbourg, France, was a weightlifting champ in his home country and has coached athletes in judo and soccer. More to the point, the guy has biceps the size of Scarlett O'Hara's waist.

OK, in a corset, but still.

In peak Picaud season--June through

August--Saudi princes pay $250 an hour to buff up with Picaud. When they're here, two of them train with Picaud six days a week. Do the math yourself. His prices start at $125, but those nutty princes bid against each other for his scarce time.

"I'm not here to make a buck," Picaud says as he guides Getty through 12 reps on each leg. "My clients just offered me more money."

Getty: "I offered you sex, but you weren't interested."


Getty, of "The Golden Girls" fame, and Picaud got together five years ago to make an exercise video for seniors--"Young at Heart--Body Conditioning With Estelle Getty." Shortly thereafter, Getty injured a shoulder, and she credits Picaud with helping her avoid surgery with three-day-a-week workouts.

Picaud also works with people who are young at everything else as well. His gym is an actors' hang whose aficionados have included Ellen Degeneres and Christine Taylor of "The Brady Bunch Movie." In her antique mid-20s, Taylor's womanly body was transformed into a teenager's after three months with Picaud.

Indeed, sculpting actors for roles is the type of challenge that makes Los Angeles Picaud's kind of town.

"If I worked in Idaho, people would just change the body slightly to maintain health fitness, which is a good job but not as creative. L.A. is a town where you can really do a lot of transformation because of the movie industry. I think it's the only town where people have the dedication for it."

Not to mention the expense accounts.


Rolling on Empty: Jackson Browne.

There. We said it. Now we can talk about Danny Schechter, whom you may not have heard of. Schechter is a media critic, the executive producer of the New York-based television and film company Globalvision and former producer at ABC's "20/20." And what he has to say about the media isn't pretty. He has said it in his new book, "The More You Watch, the Less You Know" (Seven Stories Press), and he said it again during a recent swing through Los Angeles, at a party sponsored by the watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Since we're being watched, we want to be fair. So first we'll have Schechter tell you in his own words what he's worried about: "the mergers that have swept the mediascape of America, not only the corporate and business mergers, but another merger which is more insidious, which is the merger of show business and news business--the total infiltration of entertainment values and entertainment pacing and styles of presentation into news and information."

That said, let's talk about Browne. The singer-songwriter-activist, who's a buddy of Schechter's, wrote the foreword to his book. Way to go, Jackson!

Now that we've talked about Browne, we pause for a message from Schechter:

"I felt like I've had an uphill battle getting this book into the media. After all, one of the things the television media doesn't like to talk about is the television media. We have 'Siskel & Ebert' up and down on the movies, but nobody's on Channel 4 dumping on Channel 7, or critiquing what's on television on television."

Unless you mention old Jackson.

"Fortunately, CNN did do a story. Cable News Network, the network I describe in the book in a chapter called 'The World's Most Self-Important Network.' They were interested in the book. Then I found out that actually the people who called were interested in the book because Jackson wrote the foreword. So the story attacking the bankruptcy of the news media appeared on CNN on 'Show Biz Today.' " Jackson, Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. Are we happy now?

Anyway, Schechter came by his expertise, in part, during eight years at "20/20." At the end, he'd had enough of the ABC-eye-view of stories like one about workers getting laid off in Massachusetts.

"Do you end the story with the guy who tells you, 'Look, you may lose this battle, but we're gonna continue to fight. Working people have to do something'? Or do you leave it with the person crying and saying, 'My life is over. We're finished'? Guess which ending '20/20' ended with? And, of course, it ended with Barbara Walters in the studio saying, 'Fascinating.' Which is so insincere and stomach-wrenching that I decided to leave."

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