Don't look for George Clooney to follow Arnold Schwarzenegger into politics. George says American society is too prudish to accept a person's past. Said the Democrat, "I always say you have to stand by what you've done. Yes, I smoked grass. Yes, I had sex with more than one person. In the U.S., they make a big deal out of everything as soon as you run for higher office. It's time we did away with this bigotry in America." Was that sex with more than one person at a time, George? (Yahoo News)
Nelson Mandela's S.O.S. concert in South Africa to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa, which had been set for last February, has been rescheduled to Nov. 29 and will feature a big lineup that includes Bono, Beyoncé Knowles, Dave Stewart, Macy Gray, Nelly Furtado and Jimmy Cliff. Even the late Joe Strummer will be represented, since he had written a song for the occasion called "46664" (Mandela's prison cell number). (Rolling Stone)
Last night in San Francisco Dave Eggers chatted with Joan Didion in front of an audience at the Herbst Theater and he asked her whether she thought Wesley Clark could beat George Bush. She said he might if he could get the nomination. Howard Dean? Probably not. And what about Hillary Clinton as president? La Joan said that she probably won't ever be president because she's a lightning rod for issues that have nothing to do with her and because her poll numbers go down whenever she appears in public. When Eggers asked if Clinton was a good senator for New York Didion said, "I don't know what a senator from New York does ..." She also shared that she reads five newspapers a day and monitors television but can't seem to figure out when cable became a place where people shout at each other instead of having civilized conversations.
One lady to another while leaving the Eggers/Didion chat: "I don't feel like I know any more about Joan Didion now than I did before I came tonight ... She's not very vivacious, is she?" Lady must have thought the billing said Joan Rivers.
Guess it's a done deal: Former Esquire fashion creative director Stefano Tonchi is moving over to the New York Times Magazine to take the job of style editor formerly held by Amy Spindler (who is ill and will be a culture critic when she returns). The post is watched carefully, especially since Spindler made Fashions of the Times a commercial success. (WWD)
Russell Crowe is said to be so pissed at Internet publications for allegedly giving him a "bad rap" that he's banned online reporters from his press junkets for "Master and Commander." Hey, Russ -- our readers named you Sexiest Man Alive, dude. Give us a break! (MSNBC)
George Plimpton, whom Joan Didion called "a graceful man" last night, truly is. He has left the bulk of his $5.5 million estate to his wife and children with the express wish that their townhouse in Manhattan continue to serve, rent-free, as the offices for the Paris Review -- the literary magazine he founded in 1953. The most difficult task will be to find a suitable successor to Plimpton as editor. (N.Y. Newsday)
Still nasty after all these years: Former first lady and current first mother Barbara Bush on the Democratic presidential hopefuls: "So far, they are a pretty sorry group if you want to know my opinion." Then again, her taste in jewelry's not so good either. (NBC's "Today" show via Reuters)
Also prone to speaking his mind, consequences be damned: Britain's Prince Philip, who allegedly wrote a note to Princess Diana sometime before she died containing the following line: "I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla [Parker Bowles]. " (N.Y. Daily News)
Break out your get-well-soon cards: Harrison Ford, 61, is recovering from surgery to repair torn tendons in his shoulder. Alan Alda, 67, is recovering from emergency surgery in Chile, where he was hospitalized for an "intestinal obstruction" while filming a PBS special. And Robert De Niro, 60, has announced that he has prostate cancer, but his publicist, Stan Rosenfield, says we shouldn't worry too much: "The condition was detected at an early stage because of regular checkups. Because of the early detection and his excellent physical condition, doctors project a full recovery."
Best of the Rest
Page Six: N.Y. Times accused of unfairness for assigning review of Clinton biography to Todd S. Purdum, the husband of former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Meyers, and neglecting to disclose connection; Dennis Rodman arrested in Vegas for DUI after hopping on someone else's motorcycle, popping wheelies and crashing it; Matt Damon and Odessa Whitmire follow Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts to splitsville; N.Y. Gov. Pataki drinks beer on the rocks; Martha Stewart bust goes for a pittance at charity auction; Joe "Girls Gone Wild" Francis said to be unwelcome on Los Angeles club scene. Says one source, "Everyone is kind of sick of him. He is really tacky and people turned on him after he went on Howard Stern's radio show and blabbed about his fling with Paris Hilton"; Richard Blow on D.C. paper's decision to pull "Boondocks" strip bemoaning Condoleezza Rice's lack of a man: It "could be interpreted as suggesting that Rice is gay. Particularly since there's already scuttlebutt to this effect in Washington, primarily ... because Rice is single and comes across as a little frosty."
Rush and Molloy: Jennifer Lopez said to be turning blind eye to Ben Affleck's gambling in wake of engagement tremor, dubbed "Pay.Lo" by Vegas workers irritated by her alleged contention that Affleck tips too much; Schwarzenegger mural ordered removed, but people who want to gape at the Calif. governor-elect clad in gold can click here to see a few ads he made in Japan; columnist Gregg Easterbrook fired by ESPN after dissing "Jewish executives" like Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein and Disney CEO Michael Eisner (Disney owns Miramax and ESPN). ESPN calls his remarks "highly offensive and intolerable"; President Bush makes time to watch World Series.
Boldface Names: Tenor Neil Shicoff on the secret to hitting the high notes: tight shoes. Says he, "I like tight shoes because they make me move lighter. When I wear shoes that are big or comfortable, I feel sloppy. But when I wear shoes that are too tight, I'm like an animal that's walking in the forest and aware of the dangers that these animals face. Thirty-six hundred people watch you in the Met and they are awaiting high notes from a tenor"; Benicio Del Toro gets "spooked," turns taciturn after introducing Terrence Malick's "Badlands" at a screening sponsored by the Week magazine.