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MARTHA DUFFY recalls going to the Exeter Theatre in Boston in 1947 to see a film of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip. “I was enchanted,” she says, “by the eerie slow pace and pomp of the ceremony.” Since then Duffy, now a TIME senior writer, has avidly tracked the Windsors, editing three cover-length stories on Princess Diana and writing two more, including this week’s report on the royal divorce. Her fascination is less for dynasty than for star quality: “Diana was always eloquent about herself, through body language. She has the concentration of a fine actress.” Through all the scandals, Diana has kept mesmerizing the world. As Duffy says, “We can still look to her for surprise and a little fresh air.” And after 35 years at TIME, Duffy can still provide the keenest dissertation and dish on the Princess charming.

ELAINE SHANNON says persuading tobacco-industry tattler and 60 Minutes star Jeffrey Wigand to talk to TIME was like “skiing a double black diamond run.” The former Brown & Williamson exec is under a court order not to discuss his years in the nicotine business. “But he could talk about his decision to play David to Big Tobacco’s Goliath.” Shannon, a Washington bureau correspondent who has covered “nearly every Washington scandal since Watergate,” won Wigand over with the persistence and honesty that have marked her 27 years as a reporter. “You’re very direct,” a DEA agent once told her. “That’s a good technique.” Good journalism too.

CATHY BOOTH, Miami bureau chief, flew to Havana (via Nassau) for the exclusive interview she and assistant managing editor Joelle Attinger had with Fidel Castro after Cuba’s shoot-down of rebel planes from the U.S. It was his fourth meeting in a year with TIME. “When we saw him in New York City in October, he wore a Dutch designer suit to woo the business community,” she says. “This time he was back in fatigues.” Fatigue is one word recent observers have pinned on the 69-year-old Castro, but last week, Booth says, “he looked fully invigorated by the crisis.” So was Booth, like any reporter with a smart nose for a hot story.

MICHAEL KINSLEY, who for years played terrier to Pat Buchanan’s pit bull on CNN’s Crossfire, examines the Buchanan presidential run in this week’s Essay. “It’s weird to find myself punditizing about Pat instead of against him,” Kinsley says. “During our Crossfire years I watched Buchanan’s views on some subjects–foreign policy and free trade, especially–change dramatically. But one thing about Pat is that he holds his opinions with total conviction and intensity, even if they’re the opposite of the views he held with similar intensity and conviction the day before.” Kinsley recently exiled himself to Seattle, “far away from the D.C.-N.Y. nexus,” where he will create an online magazine of politics and culture for Microsoft. We’re happy to say he has not totally renounced his former habits: he’ll still be writing essays for TIME.

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