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Idol Chatter

The only thing better than watching Jon Stewart’s satirical spin on the world of politics on the “The Daily Show” is watching the sharp-tongued Stewart being outwitted by one of his guests. Such was the case last night when Stewart invited Senator John McCain on the show to explain why he accepted fundamentalist activist Jerry Falwell’s invitation to give the commencement address at the college Falwell founded, Liberty University.

Stewart started the segment by chastising McCain’s decision as a move to pander to the religious right–to which McCain replied, “I’m going to invite you down (to the ceremony) because I want you sitting next to Reverend Falwell when I give it.” Stewart shot back with his own barb by asking, “Is that so if the rapture happens during the speech someone could be there to clean up all the clothes?” Round one to Stewart.

But as Stewart continued to rephrase the same question over and over again (“Don’t you think it’s condoning Falwell’s crazymaking by going down there?” “You don’t think this helps reassert Falwell as a leader?” “Are you freaking out?”), McCain calmly explained that he will deliver the same message at Liberty University that he gives at other universities–choose a life of public service, fight for a cause greater than yourself, live with character. When Stewart continued to badger McCain, McCain went on to explain that he has spoken at Ivy League universities even though he disagrees with their policy of not letting the military recruit on campus so there is no hypocrisy in speaking at Liberty University even if he doesn’t agree with Falwell on everything. Round two: McCain.

Stewart tried one more time to get McCain to take a shot at Falwell by asking if meeting Falwell brought about nerves or “vomit in the back of your throat.” McCain simply answered, “No, but I’ll give him your love.” Clearly, McCain is capable of teaching both Stewart and Falwell a thing or two about engaging in respectful public discourse about politics–while still getting the last laugh.

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There was something redeeming—or at least potentially redeeming—about the first “Basic Instinct” in 1992. One or two tantalizing scenes could not have been enough to drive all of the $350 million it made, nor would they have sustained celebrity status for an actress who hasn’t done much since. It at least attempted (or pretended?) to offer a story with vulnerability and questions at the boundary of what passes for judgment and, well, instinct.

The second one—I don’t know whether to call it a bad sequel or a bad remake—is just a pure waste of time.

I usually like trying to find something positive about any form of art or expression and certainly about any person. I don’t have anything good to say about this one, and actually hope it hasn’t killed Sharon Stone’s career.

This film stinks. Maybe it’s because Stone’s Catherine Tramell was more interesting as an unknown than as a re-tread. Maybe it’s because there was something truly vulnerable about Michael Douglas’s performance that’s clearly missing here. Maybe it’s because female characters are intelligent, smart and heroic in just about every crime show on television, and the battle of the sexes is, uh, not at the fever pitch it may have been in 1992. Maybe it’s because the setting is Europe and not the United States.

I’m usually one of the first guys to enjoy telling lawyer jokes, but this joke—the one about the attorneys who couldn’t solve a contract dispute so the studio had to make a movie nobody wanted—isn’t even funny.

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Sometimes I find New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams’s Larry King-like meanderings a bit too filled with non-sequiturs. For example, a snippet from today’s column: “B’way’s new show ‘Well’ has the line: ‘In the Midwest, Judaism is an accessory you wear over your Christianity.’ What it implies, who knows, but it sounds clever, no?… Lady on the street to a lady going by: ‘You look like Phyllis Newman.’ Said Phyllis Newman: ‘Impossible. I couldn’t be that old.'”

But, other times the creator of Gossip perfume is spot on. Last night on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight, Adams and host A.J. Hammer were discussing “it-girl” Lindsay Lohan’s much-publicized troubles. Adams, who was plugging her latest book “Living a Dog’s Life,” defended Lohan in a March 31 column, saying that she was a very sweet girl indeed; even if she has, as Cindy told A.J., brought a lot of the paparazzi-plague upon herself.

“She’s now wearing a red rag around her wrist, you know… Kabbalah,” Adams spilled to Hammer. “And I said, ‘What are you doing that for?'” In response, Adams continued, Lindsay told her: “I don’t know, but I have to find something. I’m always nervous, I’m always scared, I’m always frightened. You need to find some peace somewhere.”

Leave it to Adams, with her poshly perfect articulation, incredulous eyebrow lift, and “Isn’t-that-so-L.A?” hand flip to christen the trendy Kabbalah red string bracelet a “red rag.”

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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