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Diablo's Week in Review: January 31-February 6

Sully-mania continues with a network ratings war Monday morning,the Brad Pitt-Billy Beane connection, ex-BART officer makes bail, Jason Giambi might testify in the Barry Bonds case, Oakland's Fox Theater re-opens, and a quirky East Bay landmark gets its tear-down notice.



All Sully, All the Time: American still can't get enough of Danville hero pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger. First, we heard him describe to an ESPN reporter at the Super Bowl that the emergency water landing on the Hudson River was “surreal.” Then, the squeaky clean hero called the Danville library to apologize for not returning a borrowed book because it was on the airplane that sank into the river (The overdue fees were forgiven). Next, there was the release of an audiotape that lets you hear him calmly telling air-traffic controllers, “We’re going to be in the Hudson.”

But entering the weekend, the media circus surrounding humble Sully got silly. CBS and Katie Couric are trying to trounce her former colleagues at NBC's Today by extending her Sunday evening 60 Minutes interview with Sully and crew into Monday morning's Early Show. (Couric, by the way, was in Danville doing the interview.) Sully is also scheduled to appear on ABC's Good Morning America Monday morning. Today is fighting back by offering an exclusive Ann Curry interview with the Southern California mom who gave birth to octuplets. It's gotten to this: Hero Danville pilot vs. Octuplets Mom in network ratings war.

Former BART officer makes bail, leaves jail: Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer, accused of murder in the January 1 shooting of an unarmed man at Oakand's Fruitvale BART station posted $3 million bail and left Santa Rita jail in Dublin Friday afternoon.

Brad Pitt to play Billy Beane? Brad Pitt is in talks with his Ocean's franchise director Steven Soderbergh for Pitt to play A's General Manager Billy Beane in an adaption of Michael Lewis's Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book is based on Beane's successful foray into a revolutionary statistics-based method of recruiting and running the A's. 

Witness for the Prosecution: Returning A's slugger Jason Giambi, who has admitted and apologized for past steroid use, was identified this week as one of the witnesses in the upcoming federal trial against homerun king Barry Bonds--that is, if the case against Bonds isn't hobbled by a judge possibly throwing out key evidence that, prosecutors say, show Bonds tested positive for steroids. 

Fox Theater reopens: A gala celebration marked Thursday night's re-opening of the 1928 Fox Theater, an Oakland landmark that once showed movies, closed in 1973, and, after a $75 million restoration, will now host top music acts. 

Suburban mall wars heat up: The anonymous financial backers of a voter referendum to derail Walnut Creek’s plan to bring upscale retailer Neiman Marcus to Broadway Plaza were revealed in campaign finance reports. The stealth financiers? The Taubman Group, which manages Sunvalley mall in Concord and built Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton.

No Grammy-crashing for Berkeley guitarist: Contrary to earlier reports, legendary guitarist Joe Satriani doesn't intend to serve Grammy-nominated band Coldplay during the music awards festivities this weekend with a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement. 

Alamo on the rise: Alamo residents began voting this week, through mail-in ballots, on whether they want their community to become a city or to remain governed by the county. The decision on cityhood comes March 3.

Case not closed: A two-decade-old homicide investigated on both sides of the Bay may never get resolved. That's because the recently named suspect in the 1988 killing of an off-duty San Francisco police officer in Walnut Creek was deported to her native Scotland before detectives could interview her again. Catherine Kuntz, who was serving time in Florida for a drug offense, is reportedly a former prostitute who was living in Concord at the time vice cop Lester Garnier was found shot to death in his Corvette in a Main Street parking lot.  

Close up on San Ramon: A San Ramon home makes its TV debut as a set for the filming of the PBS financial show Money Track, a weekly series that educates readers about investments.

Lawrence Livermore Lab age-discrimination lawsuit: More than 100 former employees of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have announced that they are suing the lab, alleging that they, senior experienced workers, were victims of age-bias in a round of 440 layoffs last May.

Smokestack Falls: Word came this week that one of Contra Costa's most unusual historical landmarks, the Cowell smokestack in Concord, will finally come down in April. The smokestack is what remains of the Cowell Cement Plant, which was built in 1908 and operated as one of the world's largest cement plants until it closed in 1947.

Elephant Pharm closes stores: Last week it was Yardbirds; this week's recession victim is Elephant Pharm, the Berkeley-based holistic drugstore chain that declared bankruptcy and shut all four of its stores, including the one in Walnut Creek.