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SAM WHO? ZSA ZSA IS HOT NEWSMAKER

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Four out of five Americans know why Zsa Zsa Gabor has been in the news lately, but only about one in 10 can identify Samuel Pierce or Barney Frank without help, according to a news industry survey.

The survey, released Wednesday by the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press, showed that Washington news gets a low rating when people are asked what stories they are following very closely.Stories about Frank, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts who has admitted having sex with a male prostitute and then hiring him as a personal aide and driver, were followed by only 6 percent of those surveyed.

This made the Frank affair one of the lowest-interest stories since the surveys began in 1986, equaled only by the influence-peddling scandal that drove former Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita from office in May.

Only 12 percent of the 1,234 adults interviewed by telephone correctly identified Frank.

Ten percent knew that Pierce was the former housing secretary whose administration of rental subsidy programs for the poor is under investigation by Congress.

But 80 percent knew that Gabor was tried in Beverly Hills, Calif., on charges of slapping a policeman. The survey was conducted Oct. 5-8, a week after the actress was convicted.