Jewish World Review July 9, 2004 / 20 Tamuz, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Low-budget director in high-budget race; Warner Wolf's imaginary wild side; more | NEW YORK —Over the past three days, New York indie movie director Jay Anania has barely had time to breathe with all the political reporters and radio jocks calling him up for interviews.

"I'm as unassuming as I can possibly be," Anania, a mild-mannered film professor at New York University, told me Thursday. "But it gets harder when your brother-in-law gets the nomination for vice president."

The 52-year-old father of two was channel-surfing in his SoHo loft Tuesday morning when Sen. John Kerry's campaign staff confirmed to NBC's Andrea Mitchell that the Democratic standard-bearer had picked Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina — the husband of Anania's big sister Elizabeth.

Anania didn't hear anything official for several excruciating minutes. His brother-in-law apparently was still on the phone with Kerry. When he finally got ahold of his sister, who was in North Carolina, "I was ecstatic — and so very proud of John," Anania said.

Within an hour, phone calls came in from operatives at the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee asking Anania to make himself available to discuss John and Elizabeth with inquisitive journalists. It's been non-stop ever since.

"I certainly have my own political beliefs, but if I have anything to add to the dialogue at all, it's that I'm Elizabeth's brother and I've known John my whole adult life," Anania said. "So I can give my personal testimony. The campaign hasn't given me any talking points. So far there have been only a couple of interviews where I got the feeling people were inclined to trash the ticket."

But Anania said he's not looking to become famous as a campaign quote machine.

"I'm a film director, I'm teaching at NYU, and I have a lot of things going on. This fall, I'll be directing Charlotte Rampling in a low-budget movie I wrote called 'The Stare,' and it has to be done within Charlotte's window.

"But I imagine now I'll be doubling up what I normally do to work on the campaign," Anania said. "I'm nowhere near man enough for this. But I'll do whatever it takes — even injections of Swiss sheep placenta," he joked.

Was it was wise, at the height of a presidential campaign, to be talking about buying foreign imports?

"Good point," Anania said. "I'll use Vermont sheep."

But Vermont isn't even a swing state.

"What could I be thinking? I'm sure there are some sheep in Ohio," he joked. "I know I've got to be careful."

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Did former CBS sportscaster Warner Wolf have a torrid affair with San Diego television news anchor Ron Burgundy?

That was the shtick Wednesday night, after a screening of "Anchorman" at the Museum of Television and Radio, when 1970s-era fictional anchorman Burgundy (aka Will Ferrell) submitted himself to a comedy grilling by real anchorman Bill Kurtis.

"Was it accurate?" Kurtis asked when the curtain fell.

"Well, they toned down a lot of my sexual exploits, I have to say," Burgundy replied. "'Cause I was a demon. I was a demon, I still continue to be a demon, with women and . . . "

"Men?" Kurtis abruptly demanded, suddenly steering the Q&A into uncharted territory.

Burgundy: "And men, sure."

Kurtis: "Well, tell us about your homosexual exploits, if there were any."

Burgundy: "It's the newsroom, it was the '70s, things were . . . It was a looser time."

Kurtis: "There were no women in the newsroom."

Burgundy: "There were no women."

Kurtis: "And you were bonding."

Burgundy: "Let's see. I probably had about 11 homosexual experiences. I had a little, a little fling with Warner Wolf, a local sportscaster in the area. I don't know if Warner's here tonight. Um . . ."

Kurtis: "Let's go to the video tape!"

Burgundy: "And I lived with him for 11 months up in Vermont."

Kurtis: "Then it was no accident."

Burgundy: "It was no accident. And yet I wouldn't call it a homosexual experience. It's just two guys talking about building model ships and, uh, sports, and walking in nature without their clothes. I mean that's pretty much it."

Kurtis: "It's understandable."

On Thursday, Wolf, a married 66-year-old father of two, told me he couldn't remember any such dangerous liaison with Burgundy.

"I wish I could help you carry it on," Wolf said between guffaws. He noted that he's hoping soon to sort out his professional future after being fired recently from WCBS-TV. "I'm glad Will Ferrell used my name. It keeps my name out there. Please tell him thank you for me."

Consider it done.


SPIKED!: At Wednesday night's book party for "Gotham Diaries," Crystal McCrary Anthony and Tonya Lewis Lee's social satire of New York's African American upper crust, this column's Rachel Jonas learned the hard way not to bother Lee's famous director-husband with irritating questions. When Jonas asked Spike Lee about British tabloid reports of his visit to a London strip club with a mystery woman, he forcibly pushed her tape recorder away and demanded that she turn it off. "Why would you bring something like that up now? The (New York) Daily News should not print something about that now!" Lee exploded as partygoers eavesdropped in the Hudson Hotel's penthouse suite. "This evening is about my wife!" Then, looking livid, Lee stalked off. Too bad — it could have been a juicy "Gotham Diaries" entry.

MORE TURNOVER AT STAR: Former Fox News Channel producer and head booker Eric Spinato, who in April was hired with great fanfare as a news editor at Star Magazine, is out of a job and looking for work. His last day at Bonnie Fuller's tabloid was July 1. "It just wasn't a fit for me," said the 36-year-old Spinato, a father of one with another on the way. "I realized that my heart and soul is in hard news." Spinato is beating the pavement at television outlets, including his old home at Fox.

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© 2003, Creators Syndicate