The `e' in preview


June 15, 2000

The `e' in preview

THE WB NETWORK is going for it in more ways than one with today's Internet launch of its new-for-2001 animated series, "The Oblongs."

The network says this could be a model for using the Web to build television audiences. But the show's producers no doubt saw the in of using daily sketches to help endear viewers to the characters, which, they acknowledge, are a little "quirky."

To say the least. It's like this: the Oblongs live near a toxic dump and are experiencing some fallout from their living arrangements. Dad's got no arms or legs. Mom's bald. And the twins are conjoined. And guess what? They're having a little trouble assimilating.

Sight unseen, it sounds absolutely riveting.

For Internet and TV to catch the interactive wave is only logical. Whether "The Oblongs" becomes a beachhead, though, will be for summer Web surfers to decide.

An artist's life

IF A MEASURE of art's quality is viewers' ability to identify with its theme and subject, Jacob Lawrence's work was among the best of our time.

Mr. Lawrence, who died last week at the age of 82, was best known for his powerful series of paintings, "The Migration of the American Negro," which chronicled the post-World War I movement of Southern blacks to the North. Other multi-part masterpieces dramatized Haiti's struggle for independence and the life of Harriet Tubman.

A retrospective of his life's work is planned for the Phillips Collection in Washington next year.

Intentional contact

IT'S BEEN a long time since you could say without a smirk that professional basketball was a non-contact sport. The play nowadays often resembles football, with beefy guys banging around beneath the hoop.

Although new rules this year were supposed to reduce contact and emphasize speed, strength is still as important as finesse in the NBA.

Fans don't seem to mind the tough physical play, but who could love the "Hack-a-Shaq," a likely outgrowth?

That strategy calls for players to intentionally foul L.A. Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal -- the league's biggest star but its worst free-throw shooter.

The fouls against the 7-1, 330-pound Lakers' center are often gentle, just enough contact to draw a referee's whistle. But watching games drag on with Mr. O'Neal repeatedly bricking free throws at the foul line is painful -- almost as painful as an elbow to the solar plexus.

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