An Emmy Winner at 25 -- What Next? 'Swashbuckling With Helen Mirren'

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good thing Georgetown Day's Class of '99 won't have its 10-year reunion for a few more years. Imagine the angst, with everyone gnashing their teeth over the classmate who just won an Emmy -- at age 25.

The dark-haired, bespectacled kid standing just behind Jon Stewart on Sunday's live broadcast as the crew from "The Daily Show" accepted the comedy-writing award was Bethesda native Sam Means . "I'm the new guy there," he told us, sleepily, after taking the red-eye from L.A. to NYC yesterday, his new trophy looking mighty big in his tiny city apartment.

The younger son of a two-lawyer couple, Means graduated from Dartmouth in 2003 before decamping to Cambridge for a master's in philosophy that led, naturally, to a career in comedy writing. He penned satirical news stories for the Onion ("Kerry's Face Droops With Joy Over Latest Polls"; "Tiny Dog Suffocates in Louis Vuitton Bag") and sold some cartoons to the New Yorker (most recently, one with a pregnant woman whose T-shirt says, "Ask Me About My Massive Weight Gain.") He joined Comedy Central's fake-news show in January.

Sunday night "was all a little overwhelming," he said. "Everyone else was talking to everyone. I just sat at the table with my Emmy and looked around the room." The highlight of his night was "fake swashbuckling with Helen Mirren " when he and another writer collided with the actress on the press room threshold. "And [porn star] Ron Jeremy winked at me. Not so much a highlight as incredibly creepy."

Then came the odd sensation of walking through airports brandishing an Emmy, the only way he could figure to get it home. "They don't let you bring a bottle of water onto a plane, but they let you bring a huge, sharp brass object." On the plane, "I sort of had it nervously clenched between my sneakers on the floor. I was mortified. But I wasn't about to check my first Emmy."

Weight Loss Without the Wait: Katie Couric Gets Slim, Fast

The unretouched Katie Couric, right, and the version that
The unretouched Katie Couric, right, and the version that "surprised and disappointed" CBS.(Left: CBS; Right: Jeffrey R. Staab/AP)
Katie Couric dropped 20 pounds the easy way: airbrushing. A CBS promotional photo of the incoming "Evening News" anchor, taken in May, was altered to whittle her face, neck, waist and hips in the September issue of Watch magazine, distributed to affiliate stations and American Airlines. "I liked the first picture better because there's more of me to love," Couric good-naturedly told the New York Daily News. CBS was "surprised and disappointed" by the retouched photo and blamed the magazine staff for the sexist nip and tuck. (They didn't airbrush Bob Schieffer , now did they?)

It's unethical to tamper with news photographs, but publicity shots are frequently enhanced -- and this was a beauty, costing hundreds of dollars. "That was a lot of work," says Joe Elbert , The Post's top photo editor. "The face wasn't what impressed me -- what impressed me was the work on the suit. It's a frumpy suit. Now it's tailored."

And no -- you can't get the same look with one of those new "thinning" cameras. "By the way the lens is designed, it's basically like a funhouse mirror," he said. "Those will make you thin but look like you have a horse face." We'll take that as a nay.

LOVE, ETC.

· Cross-promoting : Jessica Simpson and John Mayer have coupled up. The pop star and the guitar-strumming "Your Body Is a Wonderland" singer are an item, People and Us Weekly magazines breathlessly reported yesterday. "They've only gotten together a handful of times over the last few weeks," a "Mayer source" told Us Weekly. "But yes, they've made out." Details! No response from Mayer's rep; Simpson's flack offered only a cagey, "I don't comment on Jess's private life." The fact that both singers have new albums to promote is entirely coincidental.

· Expecting: Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart and USC basketball player Brynn Cameron are expecting a baby boy in November. Her father, Stan Cameron , told the Associated Press yesterday that the Heisman Trophy winner, 23, and his daughter, 20, broke up last year but remained friendly (obviously). They have no plans to wed. "Brynn does not want to get married," he said. "She wants to finish school and let Matt do his thing and then figure it out."


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