Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2004 / 9 Tishrei, 5765

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Consumer Reports

Best of friends: Barbara, Dan and Martha; Bush debate; not so friendly


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Barbara Walters had words of comfort Wednesday night for Dan Rather and Martha Stewart — two wounded souls who attended ABC News' tribute to Walters' career.


"My wonderful colleague Dan Rather," Walters said to acknowledge the presence of the embattled CBS anchor on the second floor of the "Good Morning America" set where ABC News President David Westin summoned an A-list crowd to celebrate Walters' life and times. "Know that you have the support of all of us here for your superb career."


As the audience applauded — including CBS network chairman and Viacom co-president Leslie Moonves and CBS News President Andrew Heyward — Rather's eyes appeared to well up.


"He looked pretty choked up," one witness told me.


But Rather, through his spokeswoman, denied there were tears: "Dan was there in support of Barbara and was deeply appreciative of her words of support and everything she said," Kim Akhtar e-mailed me.


Addressing the soon-to-be-jailed domestic diva, Walters said: "You look wonderful because there is a great weight off your mind, and we wish you everything good. We hear that in those five months (behind bars) she is going to read all of Shakespeare, get a Ph.D. in whatever she wants and come out stronger and better, with a whole new career."


Walters — who's leaving ABC's "20/20" after a quarter century, prompting Disney CEO Michael Eisner to joke via video about her "fake retirement" — assured convicted felon Stewart, her frequent interview subject: "You have my friendship and support."


More applause from a crowd that included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Vernon Jordan, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss, Bill O'Reilly, and ABC News luminaries Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings along with Walters' occasional in-house rival, Diane Sawyer.


A surprisingly perky Stewart grinned from ear to ear.


Trump, by contrast, was seething over last week's "Primetime Live" report on his finances, which aired on the same night as Trump's hit NBC show "The Apprentice."


The thatch-roofed mogul refused to speak with "Primetime" anchor Chris Cuomo, and he laced into producer Chris Vlasto.


"That was a completely unfair, despicable piece of journalism," Trump spat.


"You're killing me," Vlasto replied.


"At least 'The Apprentice' helped beat your network into the ground that night," Trump raged on. "And I'm sure you won't be getting a raise."


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NOT SO FRIENDLY


"Friends" star David Schwimmer apparently wants to be more than friends with his ex-lover's friends.


I hear that on Wednesday, the sitcom actor phoned a 22-year-old brunette assistant at the ad agency where Schwimmer ex Gina Lee produces ads when not performing in a rock band. The blonde Lee dumped Schwimmer recently after a five-month fling.


A spy for this column reports, "He said to the assistant, 'Hey, I met you through Gina. Listen, I'm coming into town tomorrow, do you want to have drinks?'"


When the assistant politely declined his overtures, the 37-year-old Schwimmer begged her not to tell Lee, according to the spy.


"The whole office knows, because he first called the front desk, looking for the assistant. Now's she's all freaked out, and she told Gina," says the spy.


Schwimmer pulled a similar stunt a couple months ago when he saw another lady friend of Lee's at a bar and made an unsuccessful pass at her, I hear.


On Thursday, the 26-year-old Lee, a co-lead singer in the band Unisex Salon, gave this review of her ex's apparent chutzpah: "It's kinda weird of him."


Schwimmer's rep, Ina Treciokas, confirmed that Schwimmer did in fact arrive in New York Thursday, but had no other comment.


THE BRIEFING


BUSH DEBATE: It was standing room only Tuesday night at the New School for the Graydon Carter-hosted debate on the resolution "George Bush has made the world a safer place." Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, a onetime left-wing firebrand, joined former CIA director James Woolsey to argue the affirmative before the heavily anti-Bush crowd. At one point, Woolsey leaned over to hug Hitchens, prompting moderator James Naughtie to remark: "I never thought I'd see the day when a former head of the CIA embraced Christopher Hitchens." A pre-debate poll of the audience — which included Gabriel Byrne, Sandra Bernhard and Diane von Furstenberg — showed that 88 agreed with the motion, 264 disagreed and 60 were undecided. After the debate, the pro-Bush side had lured 56 new supporters while the anti-Bush team of Harvard terrorism expert Juliette Kayyem and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy attracted only 14. Only one person remained undecided.



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06/30/03: Rep. Patrick Kennedy: I've never worked a (bleeping) day in my life; Drudge's dressing down; Ken Lay's Kerry connection
06/26/03: Rapping the beat
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06/16/03: Missing dog, ransom demand, Hollywood ending
06/12/03: Giving both parties the needle
06/09/03: WHAT DID SHE KNOW, AND WHEN DID SHE KNOW IT?
06/05/03: Incoming from Barbara Bush?
06/02/03: Bob Dole's plan for fighting unemployment
05/29/03: Newt's new novel
05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate