washingtonpost.com  > Columns > The Reliable Source
Reliable Source - Richard Leiby

In Your Future We See . . . Taffy Carnations? No, Wait. Traffic Citations!

By Richard Leiby
Tuesday, November 23, 2004; Page C03

Hundreds of gawkers lined the sidewalks of M Street in Georgetown when "Simple Life" divas Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie visited the Astrology Shop on Saturday to divine whether a career in palm reading might be in their future. (The Fox reality show, in case you care, follows the rich-kid pair as they travel across America, trying to land a job.) The appearance caused traffic backups, frayed tempers and stern words from police for the production crew.

Astrology Shop proprietor Ann Dee, who goes by the name Mrs. Ann, told us the show's producers asked her to give Hilton and Richie a little psychic training. After a quick assessment, the seer concluded, "They don't really have the psychic ability." But of course that didn't stop the stars from taking a crack at it.

No parking zone: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. (Fox Broadcasting Co./Bloomberg News)

_____Live Online_____
Join new Reliable Source Richard Leiby Thursdays at noon ET to share tips, chew the fat and discuss the dish in his daily column.

"They had to give some readings for people," Mrs. Ann told us yesterday. "Just people off the street. They weren't really able to read for people but they had fun with it. They were very nice girls. They were very lovely, very friendly -- like normal people."

But it wasn't all Hollywood smiles: D.C. cops got into an argument with the production crew for tying up traffic and impeding pedestrian flow with an idling black SUV, reports The Post's Lyndsey Layton. When the crew departed after several hours, one psychic shop employee was heard shouting: "You suck and Paris Hilton sucks!"

After the Great War, a Great Movie

• French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte was talking about the foolishness of war -- but not the current one. "The First World War was stupid. It was a war for nothing," he said after a screening of "A Very Long Engagement," director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest film, a romance set during the slaughter of World War I. It stars Audrey Tautou, who was also his lead in "Amelie," and opens in Washington next month. It won raves from a preview audience of diplomatic types Saturday night at the American Film Institute's Silver theater in Silver Spring.

For director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, at left with Audrey Tautou and Gaspard Ulliel of "A Very Long Engagement," three diplomatic thumbs up. (Fred Prouser - Reuters)
"This is magic," said Jose Octavio Bordon, Argentina's ambassador. "He's confirmed that he is one of the best directors in the world." British Ambassador Sir David Manning remarked: "You felt like you were walking in the trenches." Levitte called the movie "powerful and moving."

We asked the director whether he thought the film would earn him a return trip to the Academy Awards: "Amelie" was nominated for, but didn't win, Best Foreign Language Film in 2002. "I prefer to stay calm," Jeunet said. "I'm superstitious." Not only that, but he jokingly told us he'd have a problem if he won: "My suit is too small. I got fat."

An Apple for Teacher? Oprah Can Top That.

• For Oprah Winfrey, the season of giving lasts 365 days a year -- or is that the season of cross-promotional advertising bonanzas? No matter: Oprah kicked off the holiday season yesterday by bestowing a bevy of gifts on 300 unsuspecting teachers in her audience, honoring their hard work. The bounty included washers and dryers, TVs, cashmere scarves, computers and spa getaways. "I was extremely surprised," said Melvina Jones, a science resource teacher at John Burroughs Elementary in Northeast Washington. "We thought we were there to talk about education."

She was invited on the show (which taped Saturday) after filling out an e-mail survey forwarded by a colleague. "If she had just given us one gift it would have been enough, but it was so overwhelming. . . . I love Oprah!" And unlike the folks who got slapped by the tax man after winning new cars on the program earlier this year, Harpo Productions teamed up with sponsors to grant $2,500 to each teacher to help defray taxes incurred in the giveaway.

Dad's Gift to the Bride: Political Baggage

• Love prevails: Ignoring controversy over their engagement, Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) has wed Guatemalan senator Zury Rios Sosa, daughter of the country's former dictator, Efrain Rios Montt. Under tight security, the father of the bride -- sprung temporarily from house arrest in Guatemala City -- offered religious remarks at the civil ceremony held Saturday at his mansion in Antigua. "The husband is the brains of the woman . . . who should be loved like the church loves Christ," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Weller, 47, met Rios Sosa, 36, on a Central American trade mission and they announced their engagement in July. It's his second marriage and her fourth. Rios Sosa directed her father's unsuccessful campaign last year for the presidency. He faces charges (which he denies) of organizing a violent protest by supporters who overran the capital.

With Chris Richards

© 2004 The Washington Post Company