Heidi Heidi ho!

Art Buchwald

September 02, 1993|By Art Buchwald

WHEN the president came to Martha's Vineyard, I had to put Heidi on hold.

I never met Heidi Fleiss, but she sounds very much like the girl next door. Of course, the girl who lived next door to me was never accused of procuring, though she did become a lawyer. I remember her well because I used to carry her black book to school for her.

But seriously, folks, America is now facing another moral crisis. The population is asking itself if this media frenzy is warranted, and if it isn't, should we read about it?

As distasteful as it is to me, I have to defend the frenzied coverage given to this very newsworthy story. Once again the press is dealing with the public's right to know.

This is my argument for the Heidi story. The economy is in the doldrums, Sarajevo is in shambles, and the tax bill is retroactive. It's no wonder the country is ready to buy a story about love in Gucci land.

This nation must have a scandal every month to make it forget guns in the streets and the high cost of hernia operations.

Heidi Fleiss has brought us escape from fire, wars and pestilence. She made us realize there is more to life than %J Saddam Hussein and the Mexican peso. She holds in her book secrets that could blow movie studio execs and talent agents sky high.

I don't know who is in her Hall of Fame, and I refuse to speculate, though I have heard many names of men who really shock me.

On the screen they are PG, but in their private lives Jack Valenti would have to give them an R.

Heidi's story puts all of this into perspective. She lights the sky like a meteor. She brings joy to all those who have no good news to read. The press may be sharks on this one, but the reading public is in a far greater frenzy for more details.

Where I spent the summer, on Martha's Vineyard, the beach was divided with signs -- Pro Heidi and Anti Heidi -- with the lifeguard in between. As the days wore on, the groups pulled their blankets closer together and exchanged the latest news from the front.

We debated the big question, "If you had Heidi for a daughter, would you lock her in her room or would you call 911?"

I don't know what the final result of the trial will be. Many Hollywood personalities who are listed in the book are already volunteering for Somalia.

But no matter what people tell you, it was Heidi -- not dinosaurs -- who made the summer of 1993 for many people.

I don't want anyone to think I am for or against the Heidi factor. She got me through my youth in the Swiss mountains, and now she's getting me through my adulthood in the Hollywood Hills.

Before you condemn her, think what the world would be like if there was no Heidi story on the front page to read while you were eating your Cheerios. Imagine what life would be like if all you had to digest was the trade bill with Mexico.

But above all, don't criticize the press for its coverage. Writing about Heidi of Hollywood is a dirty business -- but someone has to do it.

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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