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Did the Kennedys have a "thrill-seeking gene"? What were Antonin Scalia and Peter Jennings chatting about, eh? Plus: Eminem plans to go all soft and mushy on us!

By Salon Staff
Published July 8, 2003 2:18PM (EDT)

Most interesting chat of the day: Matt Lauer interviewing Ed Klein on the "Today Show" about the latter's new book, "The Kennedy Curse." It was excerpted in Vanity Fair and is topic No. 1 on the cocktail circuit because of the assertions in it -- many from unnamed sources -- that JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were having terrible relationship troubles and that she was at times abusive and into drugs during their marriage. And Klein went so far as to say that doctors he interviewed saw in Kennedy's behavior evidence of a "thrill-seeking gene" prevalent in the family. "Why else would Michael Kennedy ski backwards down a hill and run into a tree?" asked Klein when Lauer played devil's advocate and said there was no proof of such a gene. Why else, indeed?

On the other side is JFK Jr. pal John Perry Barlow being interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper and sticking up for Kennedy and Bessette: "They were godlike human beings, you know? And I felt that way even close-up. But they were human and they had troubles like anybody else. Part of what bothers me is the assumption that somehow if you're famous you've either got to be a fairy tale or you've got to be a catastrophe. And they were neither a fairy tale nor a catastrophe. They were human." But they were Kennedys, so there will always be another book. (CNN)

Well, we don't have Peter Jennings to joke about anymore -- at least not for being Canadian. The ABC anchorman became an American about a month ago and says it was partly out of gratitude to the country that has given him such a good life. He gave a Fourth of July toast and reported, "After giving this toast on Friday night, I was sitting next to Justice (Antonin) Scalia of the Supreme Court, who said, 'Well, not bad for a Canadian.' And I said, 'Well, can you keep a secret?' He said, 'What?' I said, 'I'm actually an American.'" Yes, Peter, but you'll always say "about" in that cute way Canadians do. (

Sports radio is abuzz over what Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker said this weekend about blacks and Latins being better at playing in the heat than white guys. When reached for clarification Monday he said, "What I meant is that blacks and Latins take the heat better than most whites, and whites take the cold better than most blacks and Latins. That's it, pure and simple. Nothing deeper than that." But then he did elaborate: "You don't find too many brothers in New Hampshire and Maine and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ... We were brought over here for the heat, right? Isn't that history? Weren't we brought over because we could take the heat?" (USA Today)

And the rap world is abuzz over the latest news from Eminem that his next album will contain standards such as "Moon River" and "Puff the Magic Dragon" to "prove that he's musically versatile." That should do it. (WENN)

--Karen Croft

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Sharon Stone and Adrien Brody, sittin' in a tree? The recently separated actress and the Oscar-winning actor were spotted drinking together into the wee hours at L.A.'s Four Seasons hotel the other night. "They lingered at the hotel's bar till almost 2 a.m.," a source tells the New York Daily News. "I don't know what happened after that." Stone's rep acknowledges the mutual tipplage to the New York Post, but says that her client and her client's drinking buddy are "just friends, nothing more."

The movement against legalizing marijuana has a new, unlikely spokesman: Ozzy Osbourne. "I used to think they should legalize pot, but you know what? They should ban the lot," Osbourne told MTV News, discussing his son Jack's treatment for substance abuse. "One thing leads to another. Coffee leads to Red Bull, Red Bull leads to crank." The Prince of Bleeping Darkness says he was "shocked and stunned" by Jack's OxyContin addiction, adding, "The thing that's amazing was how rapidly he went from smoking pot to doing hillbilly heroin." MTV News

Is Reese Witherspoon the next J.Lo? The formerly beloved star is pissing off the entertainment press by giving them the cold shoulder at various "Legally Blonde II" events. The latest dis? Disinviting reporters from In Touch magazine to the Southampton premiere the other night after the magazine ran an unauthorized profile of the actress. The actress' spokeswoman says it was her call, not Witherspoon's, fuming, "In Touch needs to be stopped. They need to learn their lesson ..." As for Witherspoon's limited mingling at the premiere, the flack sniffs, "She's five months' pregnant." Jeannette Walls

Best of the Rest Page Six: Is New York Times Sunday Arts and Leisure editor Jodi Kantor "in over her head" and relying too much on "old Slate cronies and Web bloggers"? Rumors about Jude Law and Nicole Kidman heat up after holiday sightings. Christina Ricci's "Prozac Nation" delayed again -- until next year. Plus: Liz Hurley, No. 1 party pick on the London circuit.

Rush and Molloy: Britney Spears admits to sleeping with Justin Timberlake when she was 19, insists she's never slept with anyone else and accuses him of selling her out to Barbara Walters; Bono saluted "conservative Christians for helping in the fight against AIDS in Africa"; Ashton Kutcher on Demi's daughters: "They are great girls, and boy do they take after their mom."

The Reliable Source: Laura Bush slapped by the American Booksellers Association for promoting Amazon; John Kerry slapped by blogger for advertising on the Drudge Report; Celine Dion slaps down the cash for a long-distance facial.

Liz Smith: Former GOP Cabinet member Pete Peterson disses Bush economics, gets book offers galore; Hugh Grant's bid to dine with Elton John -- $450,000 -- wins, benefits John's AIDS charity; Farrah Fawcett's art is headed for the Warhol Museum.

-- Amy Reiter

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