'The Hill': Facing Some Political Realities

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; C03

Before the lights went down at Monday's reception-screening of new docu-series "The Hill," Rep. Robert Wexler broached the question on everyone's minds: Why would any self-respecting congressman let reality-TV cameras into his offices?

"Will my peers vote me the most absurd, naive, God-knows-what-adjective legislator in Washington?" he mused.

But the Florida Dem admitted later that he had ulterior motives when he agreed to let director/former Hill staffer Ivy Meeropol observe the inner workings of his office, circa '04-'05. "I just thought it would be hilarious to watch my staff on TV," he told us. "A whole lot of stuff goes on and I'm not there." Indeed, the silver-haired fifth-termer -- a leading talk-show yakker during the 2000 recount -- is but a supporting player in the six-part series (airing on the Sundance Channel starting Aug. 23) to his vivid young staffers who could not be more TV-ready if they all lived together in a fantasy group house:

  • Chief of staff Eric Johnson , a former Young Republican given to witty confessionals -- explains he had an easier time coming out gay than coming out Democrat and is shown telling a school group that at 33, he's "past my prime" on the Hill.
  • Press secretary Lale Mamaux , as glam as a grown-up Olsen twin in golden ringlets and stylish empire-waist gown ( Who are you wearing tonight? "Free People"). She tells the camera, "I love the fight" and madly scribbles talking points for the boss when he's on phone interviews.
  • Legislative aide Halie Soifer , who breaks up with her GOP sweetie during the '04 race. "There are some nice Democrats out there," she voice-overs hopefully.
  • And legislative director Jonathan Katz , who, uh, doesn't get a lot of camera time in Episode 1.
  • "I think Ivy really captured the dynamics of our office -- the nuts and bolts of what we do, the long hours we work," Mamaux said after the screening. Only Johnson had any quibble with how he came out on camera: "I realized I look fat and angry. Before, I just thought I looked angry. Film really does add the pounds!"

    Christie Brinkley's Less-Than-Model Love

    As if garden-variety adultery isn't bad enough, 47-year-old architect Peter Cook added insult to injury by allegedly taking up with 19-year-old Diana Bianchi, who -- face it -- probably never heard of his '80s supermodel wife, Christie Brinkley. Now that Cook and Brinkley are separated, Bianchi is telling all, and there's yet another entry in the 52-year-old Brinkley's bustling personal timeline:

  • 1954: Christie born
  • 1973: Marries artist Jean-Francois Allaux
  • 1979-1981: Appears on three consecutive annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covers; divorces Allaux in '81.
  • 1985: Marries singer Billy Joel ; daughter Alexa Ray born
  • 1987: Diana Bianchi born
  • 1994: Divorces Joel; marries developer Richard Taubman
  • 1995: Son Jack Paris born; divorces Taubman
  • 1996: Marries Cook
  • 1998: Daughter Sailor Lee born
  • 2004: Cook meets Bianchi, a clerk at a Southampton toy store
  • 2005: Cook hires Bianchi at his firm
  • 2006: Bianchi ends affair; Brinkley finds out, kicks Cook to curb
  • Love, Etc.

    · Hitching: The on-again, off-again, on-again romance of centerfold/actress Pamela Anderson and rap singer Kid Rock is back on in a big way -- they're getting married, report the glossy mags. The wedding is scheduled for next week in Saint-Tropez; no word if her ex, Tommy Lee , is on the guest list.

    · Splitting : Centerfold/actress Carmen Electra and guitarist Dave Navarro are calling it quits after three years of wedded reality-style bliss, says her rep; their 2003 nuptials were documented on MTV's " 'Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave." This was her second and his third marriage.

    Surreal Estate

    Buyers: Michael Kinsley and Patty Stonesifer

    Price: $1.395 million

    Details: A sprawling 2,200-square-foot condo in the heart of Kalorama (one fireplace, two bedrooms, three baths) is the new home-away-from-home for this Seattle-based power couple. Why? Because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which Stonesifer runs, has its East Coast office in the District, and as a syndicated columnist, Kinsley has lots of reasons to hang out here. Kinsley left D.C. a decade ago to start Slate.com for Microsoft, and you can bet he wishes he'd returned sooner: In 2003 they could have bought the condo for $790K.

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