Hilton on Letterman's show: She got the PR she was seeking



LET'S NOT feel too sorry for Paris Hilton in the matter of David Letterman's disrespectful interview on Friday - oh, wait, nobody does feel sorry for her! In any case, she might have chosen Ellen DeGeneres or The View or even Oprah to promote her new fragrance. But she picked Letterman, and got what he is famous for.

And she got more publicity out of her hurt feelings than she has had for some time. So, it's win-win!

Book tour

Bill Clinton, in the Book People store down in Austin, Texas, was pushing his new bestseller, Giving. He decided he'd buy something for Hillary and Chelsea.

He chose my friend Charlotte Chandler's Ingrid Bergman biography. And also there was Charlotte's fresh paperback of her Groucho Marx bio Hello, I Must Be Going. This re-issue celebrates Groucho's 117th birthday; he died in 1977.

Not long before Groucho departed this vale, I was invited to meet him, alive and in person at the home of Burt Reynolds. Burt worshipped Groucho. The two friends climbed into a big double bed together and made fun of one another, cracking jokes while the cameras rolled. I wonder whatever happened to that film; it was priceless.

Bad girls gone good

Editor Michael Gross makes a case in the new Bergdorf Goodman magazine that women are now the big movers and shakers in philanthropy. And cites the late Ava Gardner and the current Angelina Jolie as examples of bad girls with wild ways who typically settle down and turn their husbands into thoughtful successes. I can't quite see what Ava had to do with Frank Sinatra's charities, but I bow to Michael for his use of two of history's greatest glamour girls to make his point.

Michael goes on to name Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Daryl and Steve Roth, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder as couples where the Mrs. becomes more important than the Mr. in public life. Hmm. Maybe.

A good read

The wonderful book Channeling Mark Twain, by Carol Muske-Dukes, has won raves, and since I just reread it, I can't get it out of my mind.

A teacher of poetry sets up a literary workshop at the Women's House of Detention on Rikers Island, only minutes from Manhattan. This story has the lure, the exotic pain and problems of all stories told from inside a prison.

Carol, widow of the fine actor David Dukes, is a National Book Award finalist and has created a commanding work of fiction here, based on all-too-real life.

A tough business

Here's what the veteran newsman Tom Brokaw told AARP when asked: "Do you think the high expectations for Katie Couric as anchor at CBS were unfair to her?"

Tom: "No, I don't. Katie went there with her eyes wide open. It's a very competitive business, and they made a big investment in her and in the concept they wanted to put in place. And it has not achieved the results that she or CBS would like to have. But that's the nature of the business. There are no free passes in television news."

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