Jewish World Review Sept. 1, 2004 / 15 Elul, 5764
Angels or devils?; Political stilettos?; Squirrely Furio?; Fraken crashes; joy of the Giulianis
Some folks call them "Brian's Angels."
They're attractive young female television producers, sexily attired in party dresses and equipped with palm-sized digital cameras, sent by ABC News correspondent Brian Ross into the heart of big-money corporate darkness.
Their mission this week at the Republican Convention: To crash the fabulous high-dollar private shindigs being thrown by moguls and fatcat lobbyists and come back with choice video of elected officials sponging off Corporate America.
Since last month's Democratic Convention and now at the GOP confab in New York, Ross has been filing regular "On the Money Trail" reports unmasking the potentially corrupt web of money, power and politics.
"Note to partygoers," convention press secretary Leonard Alcivar said yesterday. "Watch out for Brian's Angels."
Ross explained: "We have a lot of women working here who have both brains and beauty. And they manage to talk their way into these parties while I lacking both, I guess am left outside . . . I can tell you that a few black dresses have been purchased for the summer."
On Monday's "World News Tonight," Ross' report featured Jenna Bush rocking out to Lynyrd Skynyrd courtesy of the electric power industry and House Speaker Dennis Hastert being lavishly feted by General Motors.
Outside the latter event, Washington lobbyist David Norcross who helped organized the convention stalked away from the cameras after Ross asked him if he personified "the ultimate conflict of interest."
On Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, Norcross said this about Brian's Angels: "I hold him in pretty low regard to begin with. I guess I am not surprised at whatever tactic he would use."
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik told me he's been to many, many parties this week and doesn't appreciate being a target of opportunity.
"I think that it's kinda sneaky if you would send these women in where people should have privacy," Kerik said. "If you're not invited, you're not invited."
Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut laughed: "Thanks for the warning. I owe you one."
JOY OF THE GIULIANIS
Judy Nathan Giuliani is basking in the afterglow.
At Tuesday's ceremony honoring Rudy Giuliani's third wife as a "Leading Woman" of the Republican Party, she and the former mayor were greeted like rock stars.
"Rudy! Judy! Rudy! Judy!" the well-coiffed crowd chanted after leaping to their feet at the Women's National Republican Club on West 51st St.
The day after her husband wowed the crowd at Madison Square Garden, an exultant Judy told this column: "The speech was fantastic. He covered all the important points."
Would Judy, who's a fundraiser for medical charities, like to get into politics herself?
"In a formal matter? I'm happy being in politics the way I am right now," she answered. "Health care philanthropy is my primary concern."
And what if her husband runs for president?
"Whatever Rudy wants to do will make me happy," she said. "But our main focus right now is that George W. Bush wins re-election to the White House."
When she accepted her award a small silver elephant she favored the audience with a funny story.
"One of the questions people ask us is, 'How did you meet?' It's something not a lot of people know," she said. "The first time we met, Rudy asked me to tell him about myself. And I said, 'Well, Mr. Mayor, I'm a registered nurse, I'm involved in philanthropy, and my area of expertise is infectious diseases.' And he said, 'Oh. And politics?'
"I said, 'Hmm, well, Mr. Mayor, I've been a registered Republican all my life which is more than you can say for yourself!' "
The crowd roared with delight.
GLITZ AND GUERRILLA THEATER: If you weren't at Newsweek doyenne Lally Weymouth's party, then you weren't in the right place. The power elite of New York answered her Monday night summons to the Four Seasons restaurant, including Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, half a dozen Bush Cabinet officials, and House and Senate members too numerous to mention. But there was at least one crasher: comedian and "Air America" radio host Al Franken. He arrived with a documentary film crew in tow and proceeded to hurl a profane on-camera insult at Republican lawyer C. Boyden Gray and mock carpetbagging Illinois Senate candidate Alan Keyes and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with spot-on impressions. Kissinger was amused, but not Weymouth. "I thought the party was huge success," she told me. "It's unfortunate that people who aren't invited come to private parties and don't know how to behave."
SQUIRRELY FURIO?: Just because "Sopranos" star Federico Castelluccio is partying with the Republicans this week doesn't mean he'll vote Bush. At Monday night's "W is for Women" event at Pressure, "Furio" refused to tip his hand. "Berlusconi," he joked, naming the Italian prime minister. He added: "Right now, I'm undecided still. It's so difficult because I do have a lot of friends on both sides of the fence." Who would his "Sopranos" character support? "I think the mob is low-key. They don't want anyone in office. They'd like to be in office." Well, then, could he at least reveal who he'd pick from a lineup Jenna and Barbara Bush or Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry? "Amanda Hearst."
POLITICAL STILETTOS?: Stylish young Republicans long ago gave up on outspoken liberal Sarah Jessica Parker and now they're going after Parker's "Sex and the City" alter-ego, Carrie Bradshaw. This column hears that a team of twentysomething Capitol Hill staffers are hawking black cotton T-shirts that read in pink lettering: "Carrie doesn't speak for me. Neither does Kerry." Another novelty item, a tank top, shouts: "Pro-Manolo, Pro-Bush." Republican Hill staffer Jessica Boulanger, who pleaded that her boss's name not be used, explained: "We're encouraging other influential women to wear the T-shirt to send the signal that our overwhelming support for Carrie Bradshaw's 4-inch stilettos does not mean we overwhelmingly support John Kerry's flip flops."
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate