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October 14, 2000

It's no wonder David Neal feels as he does about Liz Smith (Saturday Letters, Oct. 7). On Monday, I received a fax of her column from an East Coast friend. Liz reported on Drew Barrymore, Cher, Douglas Cramer, Aaron Spelling, Linda Lavin, Tony Roberts, Michelle Lee, Charles Busch, Sidney Sheldon, Larry King, etc. It was informative, funny and, to me, what a gossip column should be.

The Times that day had the Barrymore item, but the Cher story had been edited down by at least two-thirds, until it was boring, and that was it! It wasn't informative, funny or, to me, what a gossip column should be. What we need is more Liz and not a watered-down version of what her N.Y. readers get.

BILL COURTNEY

Los Angeles

*

The first column I go to is La Liz, as she is not cool and trendy, and what a relief that is.

Thank you L.A. Times for her column. Viva La Liz and the classics she reports on!

BRADLY BRIGGS

Toluca Lake

*

Mark Martinez is right only in his obvious objection to The Times' "gushing" write-up on old-timer Omara Portuondo, but the thrust of his letter is, in reality, a protest of the left-wing bias exhibited by the media (Saturday Letters, Oct. 7). I agree that the bias exists and shouldn't, but his examples and conclusions exhibit his own bias.

Having been in the Cuban music business for more than four decades and having published innumerable Cuban hits and standards, I can tell you that, as far as my Cuban songwriters are concerned, the proceeds from the world's interest in their compositions go to the writers, not to "El Comandante" (Fidel). As for the artists who perform here, part of their earnings do go to the Cuban government, but we're talking about a pittance. The tours generate money for the artists, which they desperately need, as well as providing for us a chance to enjoy their performances.

OLIVER BERLINER

Gramophone Music Co.

Beverly Hills

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