The Reliable Source: Jack White, Michelle Rhee, a-ha, Levi Johnston, Carrie Prejean

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 11, 2009; 12:00 PM

Washington Post columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts were online Wednesday, Nov. 11, at Noon ET to discuss your favorite gossip, recent celebrity sightings and their recent columns.

In recent columns: Jack White, guitar hero and space geek, sneaks into town to pay homage to Carl Sagan. Michelle Rhee gets engaged to NBA star/Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Drama over Che, Lenin posters at Busboys and Poets. No wedding rings necessary on new Embassy Row. Norway mourns breakup of a-ha. Congressman misses his son's wedding to vote against health-care bill. Shaq's wife files for divorce. Levi Johnston claims he's going to sue for custody. And Carrie Prejean explains it's not really a sex tape if you're the only one in it.


Amy Argetsinger: Good morning everyone! Let's just get started.


Washington, D.C.: Is Levi really going do to do this? I don't know. He has a very good public persona. Maybe he should go into politics. Levi Johnston says he'll sue for joint custody (Reliable Source, Nov. 9)

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, honestly? I doubt it. In so many ways, Levi is just a tease. He's just words.


Amy Argetsinger: For those of you asking about a certain story about a local celebrity... It's very easy for someone to put a rumor on the Internet. You could do it, too, if you wanted! Reputable news organizations need more evidence before repeating whispers, or reprinting unverified e-mail exchanges or whatever.


Lawyer in Sheeps Clothing: I hope you realize by using the term "a-ha" in your column you may be risking a lawsuit from Oprah.

Amy Argetsinger: Crazy, isn't it? I was just Googling "a-ha" yesterday -- the Norwegian band, whose breakup is devastating the diplomatic community -- and what should come up instead but stories about how Oprah and Mutual of Omaha are squabbling over who owns the phrase "aha moment." Link to follow.

_______________________ Mutual of Omaha settles 'aha' suit against Winfrey (AP, Nov. 10)


Hollywood, Fla.: Do you think Levi Johnston is a lot smarter than we give him credit for or is he just a pawn of the media? Any idea when we get to see the Playgirl spread from the talented Mr. Johnson?

Amy Argetsinger: He seems to just be enjoying his Kato Kaelin moment. And he does seem to be exploiting that and extending it to the best of his abilities. But is that a long-term strategy to a happy life? I don't think so.


D.C.: Shaquille and Va'Shaundya O'Neal really seemed like the couple that would survive. So sad. Perhaps Gilbert Arenas could blog about what makes a happy and successful relationship?

Amy Argetsinger: If ever there was a time for him to resume blogging...


Athens, Ga.: If Levi Johnston was doing this to any other family, I'd be on their side. Except the Palins exploit themselves and their babies all the time without Levi's help. Plus whenever Levi Johnston does one of his a_ _-hat moves, a Sarah Palin flunky releases some over-the-top and mean spirited statement and I lose all sympathy for the Palins after reading it.

Roxanne Roberts: The thing is that they are well-matched. Everyone is behaving in petty ways instead of sucking it up and acting like grownups. Which they don't seem to be, including the adults in the family. Where's the person saying, "Cut the crap. He's the kid's father. Let him see his son."


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: You never really answered your question -- when did Tiffani-Amber Thiessen drop the 'Amber'?

Amy Argetsinger: Some Internet research indicates that the "Amber" went defunct c. 2000. Does anyone else have better information? Obviously, it hurt her career terribly.


I hate commercials: Is it possible that Shaq's wife was so disgusted by those lame Comcast commercials Shaq has been doing with Ben Stein that she decided a divorce was the only way to save face ?

Roxanne Roberts: If only it were that simple. Somehow, I don't think NBA wives are delicate flowers.


Washington, D.C.: In 50 words or less, can you explain why I should or should not care about Lady Gaga?

Amy Argetsinger: Because she's Madonna 2.0, but a sense of humor upgrade. Because she gets the fact that her music is catchy but conventional, so she overcompensates with an utterly self-consciously bonkers self-invented persona that's hugely entertaining. And because this new video (link to follow) is INSANE.


Bethesda, Md.: I was reading the Us magazine cover story last week on Fergie and Josh, and got really concerned. I mean, where are Jon and Kate? I thought they were supposed to be on the cover every week. Is there any news with them lately? Or has their time already passed?

Roxanne Roberts: ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.....did you say Gosselin? Jon's countersuing TLC.....zzzzzzzzz.

Sorry, I nodded off again. Yeah, their 15 minutes are about up. Couldn't happen to a nicer couple.

_______________________ Music Video: Lady Gaga - Bad Romance


Amherst, Mass.: I was curious if you'll be remember the new book by Mark Ndesandjo, paternal half-brother of President Barack.

After reading the article about, one of the biggest shockers for me is that Mark Ndesandjo's mother, and therefore at one point the president's step-mother, is Jewish. So we've got a a president with half-siblings who are Muslims and now Jewish ones too. And Maya Soetoro-Ng, his maternal half-sister, is a Buddhist.

C'mon, that's a pretty diverse family by anybody's standards.

Obama half brother steps into spotlight to tell his own story (Post, Nov. 5)

Amy Argetsinger: No kidding, huh? I mean, this family would be a story even if one of its members wasn't president.


Annapolis, Md.: If you were to predict, how does a relationship between Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee work out. California and D.C. are not exactly close, and both have high pressure jobs that require them to be near their homes. Does she end up moving there? Does he move here? Do they go find a third city and just take it over with the beauty and brilliance?

Amy Argetsinger: That's the question, isn't it? She's vowed to stay in her job through the next Fenty administration; he obviously has reasons he can't move. Maybe she sees a light at the end of the tunnel and figures she'll move to Sacramento years down the road; maybe they just keep doing the bicoastal thing... I don't know. Anyone know any long-term couples living three time zones apart?


Silver Spring, Md.: I had to go to a wedding last Saturday of someone from my wife's side of the family. I really wish I would have thought up the excuse that I could not go because of the health-care debate. Rep. King is a smart guy.

Amy Argetsinger: Hahaha! I'm sure Rep. King wishes he could have been at his son's wedding -- he sounded kind of misty talking about his vision of having the whole family together. But this is the third and last son to get married.


Oklahoma City, Okla.: at Athens, Ga.

While I agree with your point, remember one of these people is former governor with a highly paid professional PR staff and one is teenaged high school drop-out from a lower income family. Like in golf, I'll handicap the less experience one although sometimes it hard to tell which one that is...

Roxanne Roberts: Totally agree. It speaks volumes that Palin and her staff have not been able to shut down Levi. Bunch of rookies.


Alexandria, Va.: Shouldn't you be heading out to the Patriot Center right about now to see Bob Dylan? Speaking of which -- what do you think of his Christmas album?

Amy Argetsinger: That's tonight, isn't it? But Patriot Center -- boo. Too far away. I haven't heard the Christmas album yet, but Chris Richards reviewed it (link to follow) and said it was creepy, disturbing, menacing -- and AWESOME.


Los Angeles, Calif.: Carrie Prejean says it's not a sex tape if she's the only person in it?

At last -- the sound of one hand clapping!

Roxanne Roberts: So bad it's good. Reminds me of a Woody Allen joke---too dirty for a family chat. Sorry.

_______________________ Bob Dylan's Christmas Album: He'll Sleigh You (Post, Oct. 13)


Prejean: Pardon me as I learn new words, but did she accurately use the definition of 'sexting'? I thought, sadly having learning from very young co-workers, that such an act described text messages, not sending someone a sex tape. I hope this error in language does not lower the American public's opinion of Miss Prejean.

Amy Argetsinger: Well, you see, she's saying it's NOT a sex tape, because it's just a tape of herself she sent to her boyfriend "for personal use"... I know, I know.


Tiffani-Amber Thiessen: Is her name really Tiffani? Is that a real name? Have you ever actually met someone named Tiffani with an "i" in real life?

Amy Argetsinger: I heard a terrible rumor that she was originally a "Tiffany" but changed it to "Tiffani," but that is so mean, I refuse to believe it.


Boulder, Colo.: In terms of the appointment unelected members currently serving in the U.S. Senate

Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Roland Burris (D-Ill.) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) Paul Kirk (D-Mass.) George LeMieux (R-Fla.)

Who would top your list in terms of providing the best gossip about them. I mean if I was unelected, I'd be stirring up the pot more.

Actually scratch Roland Burris off that list since he is just too easy an answer.

Amy Argetsinger: Senators don't really provide good gossip -- until they do, and then it's an A1 story and they're out of a job. Sad, really, but that's what the body is like. House is a better place for gossip.


New Orleans, La.: Actually Michelle Rhee question makes me think of Melissa Harris-Lacewell. Anybody who watches too much MSNBC knows her. She is a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey yet she is dating James Perry, a candidate for mayor of New Orleans. That's one I can't figure out. Now you're adding Michelle Rhee. It's confusing.

Roxanne Roberts: It all depends on your definition of dating. For serious worker bees, it means stealing a weekend here and there while they pursue their high-power careers---which the possibility of ending up in the same city at some point. Cell phones and e-mail make the process easier. Less time curking up in front of a fire together, but I don't judge.


Josh and Fergie: In response to the prior question about Us magazine, perhaps you can answer a question about Josh and Fergie on the front page. Is Fergie supposed to be considered to be a) attractive, b) talented, or c) both? And who is Josh? Is he a celebrity too?

Amy Argetsinger: I will say this for Fergie -- she has a distinctive voice, and an occasional knack for hilarious rhymes. ("My body stay vicious/I be up in the gym, workin' on my fitness.") And indeed, she is very fit. Beyond that, I find her to be a terrifying dead-eyed zombie. She is married to Josh Duhamel, who used to be on that one show, and maybe is now on that other show. I just remember Tom Shales reviewing his show "Las Vegas," and saying that Duhamel looked like the guy modeling shirts in the Montgomery Ward catalog.


Ray Mabus : Will he be appearing on the original NCIS with Mark Harmon, or the newer amesomer version with LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell?

Roxanne Roberts: I don't know---I'd guess the original.


ah-ha: for all the ah-ha fans out there, a little ukelele tribute on YouTube

Take On Me-A-Ha-Ukulele Cover

Amy Argetsinger: Wow, thanks for sharing. It's a pretty good song, isn't it? Holds up as a decent cover.


Wait, wait, do tell me...: How old was she when the tape was made? There have been overzealous prosecutors who have charged people with child pornography after taking photos of themselves underage.

Amy Argetsinger: She says she was 17 at the time. I don't think any prosecutor wants this mess.


D.C.: This is from left field, but whatever happened to Marlene Ramallo Chalmers Cooke (one-time wife of Jack Kent Cooke)?

Roxanne Roberts: She went overseas after Jack finally died with a hefty settlement from his estate (millions, but not clear how many)----and there were some messy legal questions involving deportation, etc. Then just last year, she popped up here in D.C. briefly for a couple weeks, then headed to the islands to vacation with her son. And, lo and behold, she was back last week at the big Knock Out Abuse gala.


Roland Burris : I was watching The Fugitive the other day on cable, as it is mandated to be shown at least once every weekend. And you may recall there is a scene where Harrison Ford runs through a St. Patrick's Day parade to get away from Tommy Lee Jones. As they are showing the parade and the people marching, there the camera freezes for a few seconds on Roland Burris. He was so young, so idealistic, so non-under investigation. A long time ago. I watch too much TV.

Amy Argetsinger: Are you serious? I just found the clip on YouTube and will see if you are correct or if you are pulling my leg, as you are wont to do.


College Park, Md.: Thanks to that person for highlighting the story of Barack Obama's half-brother.

Noticed that you have covered Maya Soetoro-Ng a couple of times before.

Nice to know that I'm not the only one who finds the people of interest.

From the Kennedy brothers and sisters to Billy Carter to Roger Clinton to all those Bush siblings running around naming their kids George, it's always fun to see what kind of siblings a new president brings into the spotlight.

Amy Argetsinger: I agree. And does everyone play that game where you think about which sibling would embarrass you most if YOU got elected president?


Washington, D.C. : I think I identify a little too much with the 90210-ers as I was really happy to see Tiffani (Amber) Thiessen on White Collar. Not like a close friend, but like hearing about someone you knew in high school who you hadn't thought about in a while.

Roxanne Roberts: Depends how much you liked your high school classmates.


Josh Duhamel: Does the Montgomery Ward catalog still exist? Seems that Fergie's husband likes the strippers, if you believe the magazines. Who would have thought?

Amy Argetsinger: Exactly? Who woulda thought?


My Name Really Is Tiffany: Someone said this to me after we were introduced: "Can you imagine going through life with a name like Tiffany?"

Yes, I can. And it rocks. People either think I'm waaay classy or an adult film star. What more could a girl want?

Amy Argetsinger: So you don't have to play that tedious pet name/street name = porn name game (which I maintain is a trick to get you to cough up your bank password).


Cumberband is getting tight: I hate to be a pest but when will the Obama's be having their first formal state dinner? My tux is ready and waiting but I'm starting to think it may go out of style by the time I get my invite.

Amy Argetsinger: November 24, honoring India.


Amy Argetsinger: Hey, I found that Fugitive clip -- and you're right! Check it out for yourself. There's Burriss at 0:59. Link to follow.

_______________________ Video: The Fugitive: St. Patrick's Day Parade sequence (YouTube)


Lancaster, Pa.: Re: Carrie Prejean

The ladies of The View were pretty unsympathetic yesterday. I think Carrie thought she would be getting a free ride and when it became apparent she wasn't, I thought she was going to bxxxx-slap Barbara Walters.

Amy Argetsinger: Dang, how did I miss Carrie Prejean on The View? That was probably fun.


Washington, D.C.: Re: Fergie's hilarious "rhymes"

A 4th grader can tell you that vicious and fitness in no way rhyme with each other. You're essentially praising her for lyrical laziness.

Amy Argetsinger: Well, duh, that's what's so hilarious about it.


Roland Burris/The Fugitive: I would not lie.

Roxanne Roberts: We now have a reason to watch that movie.


Fergalicious: Okay, I saw the Black Eyed Peas recently, because they were opening for U2, which was a seriously weird combination, but they -- and Fergie -- were actually great live. They all had tons of energy and seemed to be having a legitimately good time on stage. So she may be a dead-eyed zombie, but she's a dead-eyed zombie who can ACT. (I was maybe 20 feet away, so this wasn't a back-row-of-the-stadium impression.)

Roxanne Roberts: And really, what more do you need from 20 feet away?


Thiessen: Didn't she used to date Brian Austin Green? Didn't everybody used to date Brian Austin Green?

Amy Argetsinger: He's still dating way above his weight class -- Megan Fox, right?


Tempe, Ariz.: To be honest, I think I'd rather be the the president's embarrassing sibling rather then president of the United States.

Amy Argetsinger: Word. I'm with you there.


Midlothian, Va.: How does Steve King figure he's not using his son's missed wedding for political purposes when he makes a big announcement about missing the wedding for political purposes? In my mind, King's no hero, just a jerk, missing his kid's wedding to vote against a bill that had no chance of losing.

Amy Argetsinger: The announcement he made last week was just to fellow GOP lawmakers; I don't think it made it into the papers until after the vote. But arguably, by letting it be known that he missed the wedding to make a vote, he's sending a message to his constituents about his dedication.


Baltimore, Md.: Montgomery Ward: No, the catalog does not still exist, because the store of that name is gone. But the man who gave his name to the store, Mr. Montgomery Ward, is a hero in my book, because the fought the corrupt Chicago business and political establishment to a standstill when the establishment tried to sell development rights to the shore of Lake Michigan, even though it was expressly forbidden by city charter. As a result, Chicago has a breathtaking lake front reserved for the people's recreation.

Amy Argetsinger: Did he play a cameo in "The Fugitive"?


SW Nebraska: If Prejean would just shut up would all this go away? I really think it's unfair to ask beauty contestants any questions that can't be answered with "world peace." She's a ditz and a dim bulb but should we really be going after her like this?

Roxanne Roberts: She doesn't WANT it to go away. She has a book to sell---and plenty of gossip outlets are suggesting that the sex tape happen to surface just before the release of her book. The people that believe her won't care and will buy it anyway. The rest just don't care.


Today, Calif.: I woke up to the best celebrity experience. Woof. My tiny dog was barking at my 80 lb dog because they both wanted to sleep on my leg. But it was cute when my cat took over and pawed them both in the face. She wanted to sit on my arm without any dogs nearby.

Amy Argetsinger: You could probably get a million hits if you put that on YouTube.


Josh Duhamel : He used to be on All My Children...and wasn't he also in the move Win a Date?

Amy Argetsinger: Sounds like you have a good grasp on your Josh Duhamel knowledge.


Marlene Cooke: Now SHE would make an excellent "Real Housewife" of D.C. Just sayin.

Roxanne Roberts: Magic, a dream get. Someone call Bravo. Right. Now.


As old as I feel: Maybe it's because I was born when Ike was still president but I don't know who the heck anyone is that you are talking about today and haven't understood a single cultural reference today except for Oprah and Levi Johnston. Should I just hang it up and go to the cooking chat?

Amy Argetsinger: Of course not! You should find this educational. Can we provide footnotes?

1. Shaquille O'Neal, one of the biggest stars of the NBA

2. Fergie, singer with Black Eyed Peas and solo star as well, skanky looking, married to Josh Duhamel, the Montgomery-Ward looking star of Las Vegas, no longer on the air; both on the cover of US and People a lot.

3. Carrie Prejean, former Miss California USA, fired after dispute with pageant connected to the whole complex publicity-stunt saga she was mixed up with involving Perez Hilton and gay marriage opponents.

4. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, former star of "Beverly Hills 90210," notable because her name is Tiffani-Amber Thiessen...

Am I missing any?


D.C.: OK, Denzel is really too old for this, so my question: who should play Barack and Michelle in the eventual flood of movies?

Amy Argetsinger: Well, I'm voting against Fred Armisen...


Brian Austin Green: The Megan Fox era has to be over, right? He was dating her before anyone knew who she was, so shouldn't we assume she would trade up? And didn't he knock up one of Fergie's husband's costars from Las Vegas?

Amy Argetsinger: The things you learn from reading Wikipedia. He had a kid with Vanessa Marcil, whom I remember from "General Hospital."


New York, N.Y.: I read too much TMZ, so for the past couple of days every time they post a picture of Papa Joe Jackson, I can't help but notice that MJ's daughter Paris looks exactly like him (if Paris was a nasty old man). And the Princes Michael look like their grandma.

Wouldn't it be funny if they were MJ's biological kids after all?

Amy Argetsinger: No reason to think that they're not.


Lancaster, Pa.: I also watched Entertainment Tonight and one of the segments took you house hunting with Levi. Two things struck me: houses are expensive in Alaska. The houses he was looking at were relatively dinky and nothing special. In one room, he asked why the light was so low and the realtor had to point out they were in the dining room and the table goes under the light. Anyway, he was looking in the $450,000 price range, which made me wonder how does a seemingly unemployed person afford that! Must be getting big bucks from Playgirl.

Amy Argetsinger: That's assuming this little real estate trip wasn't just for show...


Dogs and Cats: I hope I am not the one getting hit. My dogs can take it but I scar pretty easily. P.S. I think you both should know you are a perk for everyone's day. I couldn't miss my hometown more. The LA Times sucks.

Amy Argetsinger: Thank you so much...


Barack and Michelle: These two are a little young-ish, but I'd vote for whoever that guy was that played Dr. Gallant (??) on ER and Gabrielle Union.

Two pretty attractive people and both reasonably tall and thin.

Amy Argetsinger: All right, we have some nominees...


Madrigal: "Washington, D.C.: Re: Fergie's hilarious "rhymes"

A 4th grader can tell you that vicious and fitness in no way rhyme with each other. You're essentially praising her for lyrical laziness."

Those of us in the poetry trade call it an "internal rhyme" based on the "i" and "s" sounds.

Yep, this is why they pay me the big bucks.

Amy Argetsinger: Heyyyyy, Madrigal! Thanks for that.


Anonymous: Cat Burp

Amy Argetsinger: Rox has walked away from her desk, so I'll take this opportunity to say: No, we're not going there today.


Pet/Street Name: It's either Tiffany Magic (!!) or Tiffany Route.

Either way I win.

Amy Argetsinger: I'm going to go break into your bank account now.


Anonymous: I love Levi because he is fighting the good fight: the fight to remind the country that Sarah Palin is a schmuck.

Amy Argetsinger: Really? You don't think this is more about enriching and aggrandizing himself?


Denzel as Barack: Trust me, it will work. By the time any movie comes out, Barack will have aged two years for every one that has passed. (If they wait too long, Morgan Freeman will be able to play the role.) And Denzel has the benefit of those great Hollywood makeup artists and plastic surgeons.

Angela Bassett can play Michelle. Or at least Michelle's arms. Go and check out the Tina Turner bio pic from the mid-90s (can't remember the name, have no IMDb access here) What's Love Got To Do With It?

Amy Argetsinger: I think Bassett will be too old by then, but whatever...


Lansdale, Pa.: RE: Roland Burris in the Fugitive -- True. But it is such a brief appearance, you blink and he is gone.

Amy Argetsinger: How random, though. I love it.


Vanessa Marcil: Who was also on 90210 and a few episodes of Lipstick Jungle.

Amy Argetsinger: See? You guys are providing the footnotes yourselves.


Carrie Prejean: Do you think she's related to Sister Helen Prejean, of "Dead Man Walking" fame?

We could start a new game -- pick the celebrities with the same last name who are most unalike and therefore would be hilarious to have at the same family reunion.

Amy Argetsinger: I've always wondered that.


Grandma: Ok, should I be concerned that my 2-month-old granddaughter doesn't cry only when a Lady Gaga recording is on?

Amy Argetsinger: That's awesome! And yes, you should be concerned.


Angela Bassett as Michelle: Michelle is going to age rapidly, too. That's one of the perks of being in the WH. Just look at Hillary -- she started out pretty and fresh faced. Eight years later? Not so much.

Amy Argetsinger: Hey now -- we're all going to look older in eight years. That's life.


Stroudsboro, Pa.: Cumberband is getting tight: I hate to be a pest but when will the Obama's be having their first formal state dinner? My tux is ready and waiting but I'm starting to think it may go out of style by the time I get my invite.

Amy Argetsinger: November 24, honoring India.

The above exchange was a bit funny. The word "Cumberbund" comes from India -- from kamar meaning waist, and bund meaning to hold.

Amy Argetsinger: Whaddaya know.


Madrigal, again: I actually liked "Las Vegas." It was my Friday night fluff.

Roxanne Roberts: Me, too. I liked the entire cast except Molly Sims.


Richmond, Va.: Christmas time is almost here! Do you have any suggestions for the Christmas list of a gossip fan? Have you read any good books lately?

Roxanne Roberts: I'd say you were jumping the gun, except I spent an hour last night making a Christmas shopping list. Can we think about the gossip list and get back to you?

In the meanwhile, we need your tips and celeb sightings (extra points if they're shopping) at Keep cozy on such a blustery day----and take some time today to honor our troops, past and present.


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