Manhattan Style Comes to the Hill

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, October 17, 2008

Sarah Jessica Parker was in D.C. yesterday scouting locations for HBO's "Washingtonienne" pilot. She's not playing the infamous Capitol Hill sex blogger but is executive-producing a TV series inspired by Jessica Cutler-- without the raunch or the blog or, apparently, much of Cutler.

"We don't want to tell Jessica's story because it's been told," Parker said yesterday. "We want a good show about Washington that's all about ambition and belief in government, what it is to be a young woman in what is traditionally thought to be a man's town."

Cutler, a low-level aide to then-Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, became a sensation in 2004 when she was fired for writing "The Washingtonienne," an explicit sex Web diary. A book quickly followed, but Cutler got embroiled in a bitter, ongoing lawsuit with former Hill staffer Robert Steinbuch, who sued her for dishing about their sex life. Now 30 and living in N.Y.C., Cutler has filed for bankruptcy.

The HBO series is "extremely loosely" based on the book, said Parker, who optioned the rights for it as her "jumping-off point" for a tale of three 28-year-olds working on the Hill: intern Jackie, her college pal April and workaholic Laura, a conservative, small-town girl. The only character with any hint of Cutler is Jackie, who fails in New York and flees to D.C., landing on April's doorstep. "She's kind of floating, not focused like the others," Parker said. "She doesn't understand the protocol of the city. Her moral compass is a little different."

Parker told us she's heavily involved ("It's my baby, definitely") and is still sweating script details. She's got a group of Hill insiders advising her (no names, but "they're all smart") and has cast three relative unknowns -- Rachael Taylor, Amanda Walsh and Bitsie Tulloch-- as the leads. Comparisons to "Sex and the City" are inevitable; Parker said this show will focus more on the women's work, power and ambition.

The pilot shoots in D.C. and Baltimore early next month; if HBO execs like what they see, look for the first 13 episodes to air sometime next year.


· Separated: David Duchovny, 48, and Téa Leoni, 42, for "several months" now, the actors announced yesterday. He recently left sex-addiction rehab, which led to much speculation about their 11-year marriage. They have two kids.

· Reminiscing: George Hamilton, who told the stars of "The View" yesterday that he had a "relationship" with his stepmother when he was 12. "It was very strange, but it was normal," the leathery actor, 69, said. When the shocked hosts insisted that this was child molestation, he replied, "I was molested? Damn, I'm down for it again." What is this world coming to? If you didn't guess, he's promoting a new memoir.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Terrence Howard rehearsing with the Howard University marching band on the school's football field Wednesday night. The Oscar nominee (black leather driving cap, black Gucci sneaks, jeans, black sweater) was already set to serve as homecoming grand marshal Saturday; the news that he will also be singing during halftime -- got a new album to promote, you know -- prompted screaming and tears from ecstatic band members. The actor threw himself into the three-hour rehearsal, even asking the band to master a specific new dance step. He stuck around for Q-and-A with the kids later.


"This song is for the emotionally retarded. Maybe you know some people who fall into that category. God knows I do."


-- Madonna introducing the song "Miles Away" at a Boston concert Wednesday night, after her rep confirmed that she and director husband Guy Ritchie are divorcing .

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