We all have a dinner party fantasy where we get to invite an amazing array of people who will coalesce, over appetizers, into a scintillating sum greater than its parts. Katharine Hepburn's friend and biographer A. Scott Berg was at a dinner party at her home that was the opposite of such a fantasy. He told Katie Couric this morning that Michael Jackson was invited to Miss Hepburn's one night because she thought he was wonderfully talented. But Michael arrived wearing sunglasses, which she made him take off at table. He grudgingly complied and then, according to Berg, the conversation became stilted as the guests (he didn't mention who else was there) tried in vain to find things to talk about. After dinner, Jackson had a private audience with Kate during which he asked if Hepburn could arrange a meeting for him with Greta Garbo. Berg says he could hear Hepburn behind the door saying, "No, absolutely not. No!" If the book is full of such tales it could be worth its cover price.
Speaking of strange mixes of people, none other than William F. Buckley says he would not criticize Kate's work but wonders whether she is worthy of so much attention: "One is forced to deliberate on the vat of nothingness that geniuses offer us, when they leave off playing the violin, or painting landscapes, or waging war. There are exceptions, but Kate's life doesn't promise to be one." Maybe he was left out of the Jackson dinner party and is still bitter about it. (National Review)
Pierce Brosnan may be the first man to be given an OBE for looking great in a tuxedo. Britain is honoring Brosnan, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, because "in his portrayal of 007 in the last four Bond films, he has added style and glamour to the image of Britain overseas." Of course, his charitable work -- especially for women's health groups -- was also praised. But the reality is that Pierce is cool enough that the queen actually overlooked the fact that he is Irish. (BBC)
Ari Fleischer said farewell to the Washington press corps today and was applauded and grilled. The applause came as he entered and as he left the briefing room. The grilling was about President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from Africa to use in making nuclear weapons. Fleischer said the suggestion that the uranium issue was a key reason for invading Iraq was "a bunch of bull," then everyone shared some cake. Ari plans to go on a speaking tour, will chat with David Letterman this Thursday, and -- surprise, surprise! -- he's probably going to write a book. Wow, a few hundred pages of PR ... can't wait. (AP via ABC News)
Al Pacino is going to be on TV for the first time. Actually, it's not TV -- it's HBO. He'll be among a stellar group of stars (including Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon and Mary-Louise Parker) in a miniseries based on Tony Kushner's "Angels in America," to be directed by Mike Nichols. Pacino, ever the poet, says he loved the script and added "If the material is there, you go with the glow, you know?" (N.Y. Daily News)
-- Karen Croft
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Again? The New York Times has run another whopping correction -- and this time it has nothing to do with Jayson Blair. Apparently business reporter Lynette Holloway made a series of errors in a story about TVT Records. Among other mistakes, Holloway misreported that the owner of the company, Steve Gottlieb, had lost control of his company after he defaulted on a loan. Gottlieb is apparently still very much in control of the company. Neither, it turns out, was the Times' allegation that Gottlieb was "litigious" accurate. Or that Snoop Dogg was one of the musical acts. Or, well, a host of other things. Holloway even got the company's official name wrong: It's TeeVee Toons, not, as Holloway reported, TV Tunes. Oops. (N.Y. Times)
Meanwhile, it appears Bill Keller will succeed Howell Raines as the NYT's top editor. Keller was runner-up the last time. Raines, meanwhile, gave a rather bizarre appearance Friday on Charlie Rose. His main admission? Pushing lazy staffers to work harder. As Mickey Kaus says, "This is not a contrite man." (Slate)
Speaking of media mess-ups, Tobey Maguire contends that he was double-crossed by Playboy magazine. The "Spider-Man" star says his frank talk about attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was meant to be off the record and he was surprised and upset when he discovered that his praise of the organization had made it into the magazine's August issue. "I didn't expect that to be in the article," he gripes. "That was off the record with the journalist and the journalist betrayed me." (Chicago Sun-Times).
So what will Sharon Osbourne's new TV talk show be like? The MTV matriarch says she wants to "get out and about and meet people." She plans to interview real people who "really interest" her, like a woman who was arrested for breast-feeding her baby while driving her car and another who was jailed for playing music too loudly at home.
Best of the Rest
Page Six: Burglar snags Lara Flynn Boyle's jewelry and makes off with her identity, too; Kerry Kennedy's polo-playing lover heads to London to open a restaurant; Chloe Sevigny's boyfriend writes nasty note to Village Voice columnist who dares to dis his band, A.R.E. Weapons; Prince (a.k.a. the Artist Formerly Known as an Unpronounceable Symbol) may move to Canada.
Rush and Molloy: Kevin Costner's ex finds love with wealthy oil man; Jennifer Lopez denies that she and Ben Affleck are feuding, also that they engaged in extramarital hanky-panky; security man to the stars Gavin de Becker sues William Morrow and author David Weddle over allegations in book; Jessica Simpson says her "favorite party fantasy is to sit way up on my husband's lap and tell him I am not wearing a bra."
Liz Smith: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston may be going into the hotel business; Angelina Jolie now dressing better, thanks to Bill Blass; and Bill Clinton looks "slightly glazed" surrounded by "nubile young things" at a London book party for Hillary.
-- Amy Reiter