The Reliable Source

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Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 15, 2006; 12:00 PM

The Reliable Source is back, under the stewardship of Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts . Appearing in the Style section on Tuesdays through Fridays and Sundays, The Reliable Source brings you gossip from across the region and around the world -- candid looks at the lives and loves and hijinks ofall your favorite bold-faced names, be they congressmen or millionaires,ballplayers or newsbabes, nightlife divas or master thespians, DJs or gadflies, has-beens or will-bes.

Argetsinger and Roberts are online each Wednesday at Noon ET to discuss your favorite gossip, what you thought about their recent columns or who you want to see them writing about in future ones.

Recent Columns

Alec Baldwin, Lobbyist: Turning On the Star Power (Post, March 15)

Sweet Sorrow at the White House (Post, March 14)

Is She or Isn't She? Britney Speculation Swells (Post, March 12)

Argetsinger is a veteran of all leafy-green, protein-rich sections like Metro and National while Roberts brought you the champagne and bon-bons of Style's society beat.

A transcript follows.

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Amy Argetsinger: Good morning! Hope you had a good week. Here's what we've been up to:

We watched Condi tinkle the ivories at a fancy party, we gawked at who was sitting in the fancy new Jack Nicholson seats courtside at the Wizards, and we tried to parse the Britney pregnancy rumors, peek inside the Alibi Club and think of something to say when dreamy Terrence Howard came near.

We stalked Prince, caught both George Stephanopoulos and President Bush in their socks, spent a pleasant morning with Alec Baldwin schmoozing on Capitol Hill - and braced ourselves for Jessica Simpson's arrival in our fair city tomorrow.

Also, we watched a lot of American Idol. So, what's on your mind? How can we help you today?

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Bethesda. Md: Dearest gossip divas,

Although I was just out of town for over 2 wks and had missed the printed ink-on-paper revelation that my beloved Joey Cheek has a girlfriend, I did happen to read said tidbit just today. And I'm crushed. Terribly, horrendously crushed. BUT -- you still need to answer the question: which universities have accepted the wonderful Mr. Cheek and which school(s) is he leaning towards? I would think that - with a GF in the District - he'd be most interested in Georgetown.

Amy Argetsinger: Could Joey Cheek be any cuter? His girlfriend, Eleanor (a GW junior), sent us three photos of the two of them together, and each was better-looking than the last. They're *both* adorable.

As has been widely reported, Harvard rejected Joey's early-application (months before he emerged as the babelicious altruistic darling of the Winter Olympics), because they didn't like the fact he took a decade off from schooling to train. But our Sports colleague Liz Clarke reported last month that he has applications in to Columbia, Georgetown, New York University, North Carolina and Duke. Other publications have mentioned Stanford and it's rumored that Princeton and Yale are courting him as well.

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Arlington, Va.: Loved Howard Kurtz's profile yesterday. David Gregory can anchor my newscast any time.

Amy Argetsinger: Whoa! It was a very interesting story -- I loved the bit about how he rounded up work as the "Washington correspondent" for some Arizona TV station, working out of his AU dorm room at the age of 18. We'll post the link if you haven't read it yet.

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Great Falls, Va.: Why would you waste time in your column on a has-been windbag like Michael Saylor? Who was in the VIP group who thought Saylor was anything other than old news at best?

Roxanne Roberts: If you think Michael Saylor is a has-been windbag, then why are you interested in who attended his party?

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washingtonpost.com: Retorting From The White House (Post, March 14)

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Providence: Hey Roxanne ... do you know the identity of the "NPR vixen" referenced on this weekend's "Wait, Wait"?

Roxanne Roberts: I wish I knew. It's so seldom that anyone at NPR gets to be a "vixen." Any guesses?

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washingtonpost.com: Alec Baldwin, Lobbyist: Turning On the Star Power (Post, March 15)

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Hey, they're down to twelve on American Idol. Would that be considered leafy-green, protein-rich or champagne and bon-bons gossip?

Roxanne Roberts: Oh, bon bons without a doubt. It can't possibly be good for you.

Amy Argetsinger: Are you kidding? Leafy-green! American Idol is THAT important. It's good and good for you -- there's so much at stake. If you're not watching that show, you might as well be living in some mountain cave, it would put you that far out of the mainstream. This is news you can use, folks.

I'm predicting a bottom 3 of Melissa, Kevin and Lisa for tonight. I think Taylor, Chris and Katharine will be somewhere in the top 4 when all is said and done.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: I've noticed that while J. Aniston seems to say that she just wants to get on with her life, she still seems to talk about her split with B. Pitt A LOT. And she takes these opportunities to take backhanded swipes at him -- "He has a sensitivity chip missing," "Billy Idol wants his hair back," "Don't make me your victim." -- Well, stop talking! If you are asked about the breakup, just say "I no longer wish to discuss it" and then move on. You say that enough and guess what! People stop asking you about it if they know they aren't going to get any more juicy quotes from you. Jeez!

And what's with Michael Douglas's comments about the Pitt/Jolie relationship? Like he has any right to pass judgment on anyone's relationship -- just ask his ex-wife. Sometimes, fella, the best thing to say is nothing at all.

Amy Argetsinger: Interesting thoughts, RE: Aniston. I've heard her say that Gwyneth Paltrow has scolded her for being so open with reporters about her marriage during the good times, because it opened the door to ever-more scrutiny when things went bad. Maybe she figures it's too late to do a Garbo routine.

RE: Michael Douglas. He told GQ magazine: "I don't know about Brad Pitt, leaving that beautiful wife to go hold orphans for Angelina... I mean, how long is that going to last?" He also mouthed off about celebs with short-lived marriages: "I mean, don't ask me what happened with Renee Zellweger. I don't know how you get married for four months. And Julia with Lyle."

Yeah, yeah, pot-kettle-black and all that. But you know why I think it's hilarious? Because that's exactly the way us regular folk talk about celebrities!

P.S. Can't help noting that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones had a very civilized chat with Brangelina when the two couples bumped into each other at Cafe Milano in Georgetown last fall. We noted at the time that it appeared to be a first in the Brangelina-going-public cycle, being greeted by fellow Hollywood types...

Roxanne Roberts: Back to Jennifer: The thing is she got dumped, in public, for the Sexiest Women in the Universe and now has to watch while Brangelina has the perfect baby, the perfect marriage, blah, blah, blah. That's gotta hurt.

While it's impossible to know what goes on inside any marriage, the split was pretty humiliating for all concerned and Brad didn't make it any easier, from what I could tell. My guess is that Jennifer can't help talking, even when we all know (her included) that she should just say no comment.

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Laurel, Md.: In today's paper Tom Shales describes Lara Logan as "Australian-born." Wasn't she actually born in South Africa?

washingtonpost.com: The Man Who Made '60 Minutes' Tick (Post, March 15)

Amy Argetsinger: Hmmm, you're right. Says on her CBS web page that she was born in Durban, South Africa. Oh, To-o-o-om!

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Baltimore, Md.: This relates to last week's discussion re Teri Hatcher's Vanity Fair tell-all and her disquiet at being photographed in Starbucks.

Some years back, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Waters. I asked him if being recognized around Baltimore, having strangers come up to him, was ever bothersome. He said, "Oh, no. I realized years ago that any time I leave my house, I'm at work."

He then went on to say that he had heard countless performers bemoan the unwanted attention fame brought them. And he said he always asked them the same question: "What kind of business did you think you were getting into, anyway?"

Granted, it's probably easier for John Waters to go out for a latte than it is for Teri Hatcher, but you gotta love the attitude.

Roxanne Roberts: Waters is so sane, it's astounding he's done as well as he has. And he's right: No one should be surprised, in this 24-7 tabloid universe we share, when a photographer snaps a picture of a star in public. Take note, future celebrities, and remember: No whining. That's why they're paying you the big bucks.

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Washington, D.C.: I saw David Gregory walking outside the White House yesterday. Very tall guy. And it suddenly occurred to me, what, if anything, are you supposed to say to a journalist? "I love your news"? "Way to stick it to McClellan"? Or would it be simpler just give a head nod?

Amy Argetsinger: Fawning flattery about specific stories the journalist has done is always the best route. You want to make sure, though, that you're not confusing his stories with someone else's stories -- say, John Roberts or John King or some other square-jawed guy. That's awkward.

"I love your news" -- I like that one. I think I'm going to test that out here in this building, see if it works for folks.

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Idol: Oh my God. HOW has Kevin made it this far? He is awful. I mean, awful. I have never heard a worse idol make it so far. You can still hear puberty in his voice!

I don't think Lisa is on her way out yet. She did not do well, but she's done so well in the past ...

And even though I'm a straight female, I find the tall brunette -- what is her name? -- almost too sexy to look at.

Amy Argetsinger: It's the underdog factor -- if you and a tiny minority of viewers take a liking to a contestant who is so roundly reviled, you're all going to be inspired to make 100 phone calls each for him.

Lisa's fine, I thought she did very well last night, and she's very pretty. I just don't sense a lot of enthusiasm for her out there, somehow.

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Falls Church, Va.: Hey Ladies,

You've had a few weeks now, so tell me, which Starbucks should I be at to meet the very cute Alexander Ovechkin?

Amy Argetsinger: Ah, sorry... we'll have to put it out to our readers to try to help. Anyone ever see the Caps wunderkind out on the scene?

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Great Falls, Va.: Just wondered how he floated back into the spotlight after he helped to hurt so many people just a few years ago and which VIPs would not remember it.

Roxanne Roberts: Michael has been throwing these amazing parties for years. Since his stock crashed and burned, he's tried to keep a lower profile but still hosts parties for hundreds of beautiful people (but no press)who never saw their shares of MicroStrategy go poof. I wasn't at Saturday's party, but I hear it was full was gorgeous young things---more female than male.

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Dave from Herndon: Did you mean Condi was 'tickling' the ivories? I tinkled the ivories once at a party and got kicked out. Never invited back.

Dave

Amy Argetsinger: Huh, I don't know. Maybe *that's* why we couldn't run a picture of her at the piano!

Actually, just checking the dictionary and web idiom glossaries, it looks like the original phrase was indeed "tinkle the ivories" -- as in, to make light, tinkling, bell-like sounds. But "tickle the ivories" is becoming more popular because -- well, it's safer.

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Washington, DC: How long until Britney declares bankruptcy? She's not singing or acting, and her husband seems to be going through her fortune. Is she this generation's MC Hammer?

Amy Argetsinger: Oooh, very interesting analogy. Hammer was one of those stars who made a lot of money off of one album, could have been set for life, but he started living as if that kind of income was going to keep coming in year after year. Could it be happening to Britney?

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Washington, D.C.: So, what's this about a J. Simpson arrival in D.C. manana?

Amy Argetsinger: The former reality-TV star (and I think she does something else -- sing, maybe?) is coming to town to "lobby" for Operation Smile, a charitable organization that fixes the cleft palates of Third-World children and such.

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David Gregory: Not sure this counts as gossip, but I've been reading a lot about White House reporter David Gregory lately. Howard Kurtz wrote a story about him recently, and I guess there were rumblings that he was tipsy when he called in to a talk show. I feel the need to defend him! I used to work with him, and he is completely professional. He is also a goofball and has a fabulous sense of humor. There is no way he would drink while working. He was probably tired and had a case of the giggles. I love the way he gives the current administration some grief and think more reporters should learn from him and not worry so much about perceptions of them.

Amy Argetsinger: Actually, we sort of defended him too, in an item the Friday before last when all the bloggers were going crazy with the "drunk Gregory" meme. Here's what we wrote March 3 (easier than linking):

We know drunks. Drunks have been friends of ours. David Gregory, we don't think you were drunk on Imus yesterday. (Jet-lagged, perhaps. *Maybe* the loser in a tickle fight. But not drunk.)

The NBC White House correspondent lit up the blogosphere yesterday morning when he called into Don Imus's MSNBC show from President Bush's India trip, and promptly burst into giggles. "Are you drunk?" the pugnacious host asked. "He is drunk!"

Gregory later composed himself enough to pronounce that the United States is "going to provide nuclear know-how and fuel to India, which they need for their economy to grow. But since they never signed the nonproliferation treaty . . ." -- well, that's all we needed to hear. A real drunk wouldn't even try "nonproliferation."

"Of course he was not drinking," said NBC spokeswoman Barbara Levin. "Do you watch Imus? If so, you know how he jokes."

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Michael Douglas/Brangelina : How hilarious is it that MD has pooh-poohed Brangelina? Are we to forget that Mr. Newly-Designated Paragon of Virture has an iron-clad prenup with his current wife that gives her buckets of cash if he cheats?

His comments have made me giggle all day. What a buffoon.

Roxanne Roberts: Do as I say, not as I do (or did.)

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NPR Vixen: She has to be Cokie Roberts. Cokie smiled at me outside the Strosniders a few weeks ago and I almost asked her to marry me. Except that we are both married to other people and she is fifteen years older than I am. Those kind of proposals only work in Malibu. Cokie is still hot.

Roxanne Roberts: And smart. But she's got this marriage thing going with Steve Roberts that seems pretty solid: They'll celebrate their 40th anniversary this year.

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Arlington, Va.: Did you ever find out why there is a Secret Service detail at 3000 Connecticut? I'm moving extremely close to there at the end of the month and I'm curious. I am more than willing to become a devoted spy for you ladies once I'm settled.

Amy Argetsinger: I think we determined that it's for Tai Shan.

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Jennifer Aniston: To be fair, the comments the previous poster mentioned were all made by Jennifer in the same interview. So it's not like she was going to every media outlet spilling dirt. And I can't say I blame her for wanting a bit of the truth out there, esp. since at that time the rumors were that Brad left her because she didn't want kids. Anyway, I'm rooting for Paris B. on American Idol. And I just love that little Kevin, even though he's way out of his league.

Amy Argetsinger: You see folks? THAT'S why Kevin is probably safe for another week or two. Even though he's not any good, people *like* him.

I'm rooting for Bucky and Chris. They're both like Bo Bice without the charisma.

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Washington, D.C.: Is Jim Kimsey still squiring Queen Noor? If so, was he ever concerned about possible uproar and retribution in the Muslim community over him bedding the former wife of King Hussein?

Roxanne Roberts: There you go, jumping to conclusions. Who said anything about "bedding"---neither of them, I can assure you. It's fair to say they're friends, and remain so, although they're not quite joined at the hip the way they were a couple years ago.

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Washington, D.C.: For what it's worth, I think you should make "Follow the Celebrity Around As They Lobby" a regular feature. Obviously, you'd need their cooperation, but it seems like the ones who are really passionate about their causes would readily agree, in the interest of free publicity.

Amy Argetsinger: Hey, thanks! It's an interesting suggestion (and a useful one, as we ponder how to cover the momentous arrival of Miss S. tomorrow). I wonder how many celebs would be cooperative -- Alec Baldwin is a guy who is very self-aware and comfortable in his own skin, so we weren't surprised that he agreed to let us tag along. (By the way, if you haven't, follow the link on today's column to a brilliant profile that Hank Stuever did of Baldwin in late 2003 -- it's a joy to read.)

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Rochester, N.Y.: Loved the picture in January/February 2006 Washington Flyer. Which is the one with the great smile?

Roxanne Roberts: Amy. Infectious, isn't it? I always look like a cop on yet another knock-off of "Law and Order."

Amy Argetsinger: Hello, Rochester! Why do I suspect this is from one of my upstate relatives?

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Britney? Bankrupt?: She's probably very far from being this century's MC Hammer. First, she has not only produced more than one album, she's had enough successful singles to release a greatest hits album last year. Plus, she's toured extensively for years now (the most profitable activity for a performer). Plus, with all this K-Fed (no pun intended) publicity she could probably launch a world tour 6-months pregnant and still sell out stadiums in Singapore ... I mean, she's got to be more popular Hasselhoff right?

Roxanne Roberts: I just hate it when teenage celebrities blow all their money on stupid stuff, like husbands. Let's hope for her sake you're right.

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Falls Church, Va.: Re: "No one should be surprised, in this 24-7 tabloid universe we share, when a photographer snaps a picture of a star in public."

Please, please, if someone snaps a photo of Lisa de Morales somewhere, will you publish it?

Roxanne Roberts: I think there's a Style-nepotism type rule against that. Boo.

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Anonymous: It"s March and I'm thinking basketball. Any news on former Congressman Tom McMillan's professional and social life? In college at U.of Md. he was very shy off the basketball court. (He apparently got way over that phase.) Also what's up with Len Elmore who was a real charmer with everyone at U.M.

Amy Argetsinger: Geez, haven't heard much of him in years. I know he's been a big NCAA watchdog and critic of the excesses in college sports, but not sure what he's doing. Oh, and it's McMillen.

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Washington, D.C.: Does anyone else find Kevin Covais to be creepy? He looks like a future child molester to me.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, now I wouldn't go that far...

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Kevin is creepy: Not cute. Something about him is ... icky.

Amy Argetsinger: I will say that it seemed wildly inappropriate for him to be singing "Part-time Lover." Or any song with the word "lover" in it. Just don't want to think about it!

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Jennifer A: I think she's handled herself fabulously. Being both real and putting on a brave face is an amazing accomplishment.

Amy Argetsinger: Thanks for writing.

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Virginia: Last week someone asked about single female congresswomen. Sen. Cantwell is single and a hottie.

Amy Argetsinger: So go do a Google-Images now, everyone..

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Washington, D.C.: How about rent an Amy Argetsinger or Roxanne Roberts for charity?

Amy Argetsinger: Er, what would that entail, exactly?

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Arlington, Va.: Georgetown U seems to have educated quite a few young royals (Felipe of Spain, etc.) Anybody interesting there currently? Even American royals?

Amy Argetsinger: I know there were some young Trumps there a few years ago -- do they count as American royalty?

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Arlington, Va.: Am I the only one who almost fell out of her chair at reading "We watched Condi tinkle" until I made it to the end of the sentence.

Amy Argetsinger: Just trying to reel in the readers!

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Washington, D.C.: What really annoys me about "Chicken Little" Kevin is how cocky he has gotten. I think all of this is really going to his head. Come on, a 5-year-old thought you were "hot", that doesn't make you a sex symbol. I could maybe understand people wanting to root for the underdog just b/c he seemed like a poor, helpless child, but with his new attitude, I think he needs a reality check. I really don't think I can stand another one of his warbly songs, creepy stares and self proclaimed sex symbol status. Ugh.

Roxanne Roberts: Do you think he really BELIEVES it? Surely not. I think he's having some fun and creating a geek god persona.

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Great Falls, Va.: Maybe a "charity event" in the future would be more fitting than a big splash party. Can you suggest it?

Roxanne Roberts: Actually, Michael has hosted charity events in the past and still attends fundraisers, so he's not just playing.

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Jennifer A's comments: Not only were those comments made in one interview, that interview happened much closer to the breakup than now.

Roxanne Roberts: Maybe Vince Vaughn is making it all better.

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The Young and The Guest List: Amy! Saw a picture of you in Washington Life Magazine at the Young and The Guest list party. What can you tell us about the party and how does one get on this list? Do you have to be Republican/hang out at Smithpoint? Pray tell!

Amy Argetsinger: What I can tell you about the party is what I wrote last month in our occasional feature, "Sorry, You're Not On the List: Occasional Dispatches from Parties You Should Have Crashed."

Washington Life has long done a "social list" of the most important, most desirable people to invite to your parties, and this was the launch of their "junior social list," i.e., the younger set (though they seem to define "young" as a range that includes both the Bush Twins and Dan Snyder).

How do you get on the list? I haven't a clue! I hadn't heard of the vast majority of people on it, which suggests to me that they are very swell indeed. It definitely reminded me of the parties I wasn't cool enough to go to in college. I picked up a certain old-school D.C. vibe, folks who all know each other from growing up, maybe with important parents, and not necessarily the typical Capitol Hill ambitious arriviste scene. The after-party (no, I didn't go) was at Smith Point, if that helps.

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washingtonpost.com: The Scoop on the Segway: Mobile Mystery Diner Revealed (Post, Feb. 5)

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Sorry ... Kevin C. Stays another week: I'm worried that Kevin will benefit from the "Joke Vote" like the red-head from a few seasons back. Also, he seems to believe the sex symbol talk, and doesn't quit get that it is a joke. (at least I hope it is a joke) And is it me, or is it time for Ryan Seacrest to back off of Simon? He seems to be the only voice of reason among the judges.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, come on -- you know that whole Ryan-picking-on-Simon thing is part of the scripted banter, approved by Mr. Cowell, that makes the show so popular.

The difference between Kevin Covais and John Stevens Jr. (the little red-headed kid) is that John Stevens was actually a good singer.

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Washington, D.C. : So Jenna and Babs were seen at Oyamel and YET STILL NO PICTURES OF THE NEW BOB. Blasphemy!

Amy Argetsinger: I know! You folks need to get cell phone cameras...

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Arlington, Va.: Kevin Covais is being sarcastic. He knows it's funny for him to sing "Part-Time Lover" and claim to be a sex symbol. I almost fell out of my chair laughing during his performance. I love the fact that he's being so tongue-in-cheek about all this.

Amy Argetsinger: Not a bad point... Kevin Covais -- very divisive character.

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Washington, D.C. : I too agree that Brit is heading for a bust. She hasn't worked for a long time, her last album was a disappointment, but most of all -- she's dumb as a box of rocks. Worse yet, she doesn't have anyone around her that can make up for her inadequacies (think Jessica S., who is also dense but has one heck of a support staff). Brit can't hang on much longer, I think.

Roxanne Roberts: There's also the question of Baby Number Two. If the rumors are true, that will probably keep her off stage for another year.

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Long Beach, Calif.: How about a profile or two on some of the recently signed free agents the REDSKINS just signed? Thanks

Roxanne Roberts: On the to-do list, although we've got to check out the National hotties first.

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washingtonpost.com: The most recent link (above) mentions the Washington Life magazinemention.

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Washington, D.C.: YES! Kevin is totally creepy and icky! Hearing him sing that song seemed totally inappropriate and made me quite uncomfortable. I wonder what people think of him at his school back home?

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, who knows. It's probably good for his rep.

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A.I.: Melissa will go this week because she forgot the lyrics and she has no following. Are two voted off this week or just one?

Amy Argetsinger: Just one voted off a week -- must stretch out the drama until May sweeps.

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Roxanne Roberts: Kevin: Love him, hate him. We'll see if he survives tonight and then we'll all meet back here next week to kvetch. In the meanwhile, we've got this thing called a column to write for tomorrow. Be nice, and send tips and pictures of the Twins to reliablesource@washpost.com.

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