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Lloyd Grove
Lloyd Grove
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The Reliable Source
Hosted by Lloyd Grove
Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, March 7, 2003; 11 a.m. ET

Got a rumor to dispel or confirm? Looking for dirt on your favorite or most-hated Washington celebrity? Ask "The Reliable Source" columnist Lloyd Grove.

Grove, a 20-year veteran of The Washington Post, has been writing The Reliable Source column in the Style section since May 1999.

Grove grew up in Los Angeles and Greenwich, Conn. He was an English major at Yale and worked for the Kansas City Times (now defunct, we think), the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Dallas Morning News before joining the Post on the Weekend section, where for a few years he reviewed practically every live theater show that opened in D.C., including a few in church basements.

From there, he joined Style as a general assignment writer with a special interest in politics, and spent a year and a half covering the 1988 presidential campaign for the National staff. In 1991 -- after an ill-advised book leave -- he returned to Style and served as a political reporter, with occasional detours into television and movie coverage. He also has written extensively for Vanity Fair magazine.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Lloyd Grove: Good morning, Americans!
And a tip of the hat to all other supporters of this column on the UN Security Council.
Let's see if you have the guts to exercise your veto on ME.

Norfolk, Va.: Hey, Lloyd what's up? I have been hearing a rumor recently around D.C. that Norah O'Donnell is having her first child. Is that true or not? Or have you heard anything about Norah?

Lloyd Grove: I have not heard this, and I saw Norah recently and she certainly wasn't showing. But I'll check it out Monday when I get back from a fun-filled weekend in New York.

Arlington, Va.: I am simply shocked, stunned, and outraged to find out that Dick and Lynne Cheney DO NOT support freedom of speech. -- Oh please. (I don't think they sent in a letter of support when Hilary was being treated the same way.) Instead of a few people looking at the Web site, thousands more have probably passed the link on to their friends. And that lawyer who is playing the hangman for them must feel real stupid about now. Glad someone on their side is feeling the heat for trying to
censor the public while waving the patriotic banner. Long live the First Amendment.

Lloyd Grove: Indeed.
And while the Cheneys might not have had prior knowledge of Counsel Addington's letter, they were probably told about it soon AFTER it was sent, and I would bet $1 they had not the slightest objection.

Itsall, Okla.: Lloyd,

I understand the FBI wanted to brief General Ashcroft about the impending problems at Lisner Auditorium tonight but were told they weren't allowed to say 'estrogen' to the Attorney General.

Lloyd Grove: Why, is he on hormone replacement therapy?

Washington, D.C.: Did you see where philandering Chicago Trib columnist Bob Greene said he chose not to write about the Monica Lewinsky unpleasantness because that would have been hypocrisy? Wow! Principle! How many other journalists should have kept their mouths shut but didn't?

Lloyd Grove: Well, let's review:
Clinton wasn't put in the rack for having an affair; he was impeached for lying about it.
Turns out the Senate wisely decided that lying about one's sex life is not an impeachable offense.
Bob Greene is not my journalistic role model, in any case.

Arlington, Va.: Lloyd, I think I have a crush on you! Are you available?

Lloyd Grove: You must control yourself!
No, I'm taken.

Orange, Va.: Your colleague Tom Shales suggests in his critique of last night's news conference that Dubya may have been on drugs during the event. Any thoughts as to what pills the President might have been popping?

Lloyd Grove: They sure weren't happy pills.
Possibly phen phen or ephedrin?
Everything Juliette Lewis despises, no doubt.
Actually, I think Tom was being funny.

Northern Virginia: I don't have duct tape or plastic, but I do have a miniature dachshund. Am I prepared and doing my part for national security?

Lloyd Grove: Yes, as long as you -- like Donald Rumsfeld -- have access to an underground bunker hardened against nuclear attack.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I saw Drew Carey walking around the Capitol on Wednesday -- What was he doing there?

Lloyd Grove: Dunno, but he's a big Republican, so maybe he was just wandering around glorying in his VIP status.

Washington, D.C.: Hi Lloyd. I'd like to throw an extreme, yet fun-filled, hypothetical at you. If you were in Afghanistan or Tora Bora or Pakistan, and you hit the street and made some connections and used your super-sleuth gossip-finding ways, do you think you could find Osama bin Laden? I think our country may be wasting a valuable resource here.

Lloyd Grove: Boy is that EVER hypothetical. The reason I am here in Washington writing a gossip column -- unlike my friend Rich Leiby, embedded in Kuwait -- is that I am a coward.

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd, just loved your swipe this week at lefty Laurie David for signing on with John Edwards, the Democrats' Dan Quayle. You'd think that her anti-SUV activism would have caused her to join the campaign of John Kerry, who, in a hearing about his bill to force people to drive smaller cars, asked, "Who needs a V-8 engine?" He must be ticked. Any reaction from Kerry on losing this leading light of Hollywood?

Lloyd Grove: Not yet. But I'm sure Laurie will we welcomed by the Kerry camp with open arms should Sen. Edwards run out of gas.

Bowie, Md.: In the particular case of the Cheneys, this may not be an issue, but how much of a problem is lawyer-intimidation to small publishers.

I mean, suppose I, an ordinary middle-class American, put up a caricature of someone famous and important. They hire an attorney who has no real power to make me stop (I have the first Amendment on my side) but he can make me pay too much in legal bills to make it cost-effective for me to continue.

Considering the relative wealth of most people in your profession to those about whom you (generic "you") write, are SLAPP suits an a major limitation to those who don't have major news organization behind them?

Lloyd Grove: Interesting question, and I don't have the answer. I suspect that deep-pocketed celebs can intimidate poor satirists, but they will lose in the end, I would hope. But maybe if there's a libel law discussion scheduled online--and that might be a good idea -- you can ask your question and get a more intelligent answer.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I quit smoking 2 weeks ago and I've found that from 11:00 a.m. - noon on Fridays is the only time I'm not spazzing out over it. You're my vice, Lloyd! Thanks!

Lloyd Grove: And I am low-tar.

Kensington, Md.: Lloyd, my job allows me to talk to a number of people every day from every walk of life. After a survey of all females, Michael Bolton is not a babe magnet. Just thought I'd let you know.

Lloyd Grove: How about a babe-iron filing?

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd -

What was the occasion for John Wooden having that picture taken at the presidential lectern? It seems odd that someone who had that picture taken smack dab during the middle of the first Reagan administration would be on the outs with the current crowd.

Lloyd Grove: I think he and his parents must have had a friend in the press corps and were visiting. But I'm not sure. Sounds like this bears watching.

Eastern Market: You plan on getting any dish from Valerie Harper during her stay in Washington?

Lloyd Grove: Oh no! I'm afraid that once again Valerie and I will miss each other!
Why why why does this keep happening to me?

Blonde: Can you explain that little Juliette Lewis reference to me? She definitely LOOKS like a cokehead or something.

Lloyd Grove: We ran an item about her this week and her Scientology-inspired against psychiatric pharmaceuticals.

12th Floor Metro Center: Hi Lloyd, there's a new book out about presidential children. In it, they say that Warren Harding had an affair while serving as Senator and got her pregnant. Was this a scandal back then or was this covered up? Apparently, he gave his Secret Service agents child-support payments to deliver to the mother, but refused to ever meet the child. Do you know if they ever met? Apparently, she's still alive, by the way.

Lloyd Grove: I believe it was hushed up and in any case overwhelmed by the Teapot Dome scandal. This is a book by former Bush I aide Doug Wead? I've been meaning to get a copy.

Virginia: Who were the blonde coifed women sitting two rows behind Ari yesterday at the press conferences? Bush smiled at them.

Lloyd Grove: I did not watch, but I can only assume that they were members of his staff.

Wheaton, Md.: Speaking of Scientology, why is it so many movie stars seem attracted to a UFO cult?

Lloyd Grove: Showbiz is crazy and malevolent, so I am not surprised if some of its victims find some comfort in a deeply detailed and authoritarian system of living and thinking.

Curious : Any idea why this guy fixated on Lynne Cheney? I mean beside the fact that she is a right wing conservative who goes ballistic anytime the press asks about her lesbian daughter? She has always seemed fairly harmless, in a benign, wife of a millionaire right winger sort of way.

Lloyd Grove: You would have to ask HIM but I'm sure the details you mention would be more than enough to fire his imagination.

Silver Spring, Md.: How come you haven't reported on the burgeoning "Boycott French Wine and Cognac" movement?

Lloyd Grove: Is it really burgeoning? I haven't noticed. I am doing my part my trying to deplete the world supplies of French wine products as quickly as possible and remove this terrible blight from Planet Earth once and for all!

Springfield, Va.: Ever see Dave Grohl around town (he supposedly lives in Alexandria)? He seems to hide himself away very well. How does he escape your column?

Lloyd Grove: I believe he visits from time to time and I occasionally hear from his dad. I forget his name but he always introduces himself as "Dave Grohl's Dad".

Washington, D.C.: Who were those women all in pink walking around Congress?

Lloyd Grove: Antiwar activists of the stripe celebrated by Michelle Shocked in today's column, I would guess.

Curious: When celebs like Juliette Lewis, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone (you name 'em) come to testify before Congress on their cause du jour, do our hard working reps actually take them seriously or is it more of an opportunity to add to their power 'f' photo wall? I guess I want to know if they are just considered a big joke.

Lloyd Grove: It's that and a way to get much-desired publicity for themselves as they bask in the reflected glow of cheap celebrity.

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd, where did you see Norah you lucky bird? Just kidding about the bird thing.

Lloyd Grove: Some party or other, can't remember. I can't recall whether I'm seeing her this weekend or not, but if I do I'll ask the instrusive and inappropriate question posted here earlier.

SUVs and Huffington: I'm convinced that both sides in the SUV debate are, deep down, really motivated by feelings of power or powerlessness. I can easily imagine some people intimidated by the steamship-sized Excursions and Suburbans. (Others may buy those vehicles so they can feel powerful.) Based on what you know about Arianna Huffington, do you see her as having some issues about powerlessness?

Lloyd Grove: Based on what I know about Arianna Huffington, I would say she doesn't feel powerless at all. Far from it, she seems to have done pretty well having her way with the world.

Capitol Hill: Lloyd,

I'm a lefty feminist and even I don't buy the Michelle Shocked theory that women make kinder, gentler leaders. As Bill Maher pointed out: that wasn't a candygram Janet Reno sent to Waco!

Lloyd Grove: I agree.
I mentioned Margaret Thatcher in the item, but with Michelle I also mentioned Benazir Bhutto, Golda Meir, Queen Elizabeth I and II, Indira Gandhi and a couple of other female heads of state who aren't or weren't shy about taking up arms.

Re: Norah O'Donnell: While you're asking her the question Miss Manners would not approve of, make sure you ask her who really killed Jon Benet Ramsey. I believe she went on MSNBC as an expert on the topic several times, and such expertise under the camera lights ultimately led to her being taken seriously as a teevee reporter.

Lloyd Grove: I'll take your interesting suggestion under advisement.

Washington, D.C.: Whoa, nellie!

We take our case to the UN. The UN comes to a decision. We don't like the decision. We say to heck with the UN, we're doing whatever we want.

This sounds promising.

As for Bush being doped up for the event, it is entirely possible (considering all the things they injected Kennedy with over the years), but isn't it more likely that it is way past his bedtime?

Lloyd Grove: LOL.

Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.: Dear Lloyd: I hope that you will do a series on the dating habits of that sexy Khalid Sheik Mohammed while in prison in Cuba.

Lloyd Grove: You are a very disturbed person.

Downtown D.C.: I would be willing to testify before Congress that Julia Roberts has no idea what she's talking about. Seriously. I used to work for a guy who worked with her and she is FAR from the sharpest knife in the drawer. SUCH an idiot. And I'm a man, and trust me, her complete lack of brains far outweighs any of her redhead and banana-lips appeal.

Lloyd Grove: She does have amazing teeth, you have to give her that.

College Park, Md.: Why is a washed-up singer considered an expert on feminist geopolitics? Surely you could have found feminist professors who have written doctoral theses on this topic, and who thus have much more expertise than Ms. Shocked.

Lloyd Grove: Washed up?
I like her. Anyhow, if I were running a college seminar on the intellectual origins of feminism, and not a gossip column, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. In fact, I would be sleeping fitfully and having the most the terrifying nightmare I have ever had.

Somewhere, USA: Juliette Lewis is one of the most versatile and under-appreciated actors out there! You have to respect that.

Lloyd Grove: I do. Loved her in Cape Fear, too.

Really a Terrorist?: I dunno. The 9-11 mastermind sure looks a lot like a long-lost John Belushi if you ask me. Maybe they can catch Andy Kaufman next.

Lloyd Grove: Someone was sending around an e-mail suggesting a resemblance to a famous (among his fans anyway) porn star.

Alexandria, Va.: Seriously, I don't think Tom Shales was joking when he suggested that Bush might have been mildly medicated last night. I thought the same thing, too. His totally monotonous delivery and lack of passion made me wonder if he was ever-so-slightly drugged, as well.

Lloyd Grove: Once again, I will have to ask Tom if I can inspect his sheepskin from Pharmacology College.

Annandale, Va.: Enough with the celebrity-testifier bashing! Don't you good people realize that Martin Sheen, by virtue of playing the president on TV, is qualified to make vast global pronouncements? And that Mike Farrell, because he played the unfunny sidekick on MASH, is an expert on wartime conditions close to the front? Come on, Colin Powell and Tommy Franks have nothing on these two!

Lloyd Grove: Actually, Mike Farrell seems very well informed and articulate in the appearances I've seen on Face the Nation and Meet the Press.

Re: Huffington's motivations: The previous poster was on to something with the "deeper motivations" thread. Michael Huffington, as we all know, made his money in Big Oil. So her campaign is really about getting back at her ex-husband. (Funny, though, that she has yet to shed her married name.)

Lloyd Grove: Hardly.

Arkansas: Julia Roberts s- - -s big time. Hopefully she won't be a presenter at this year's Oscars and do that rude obnoxious albatross schtick she pulled on Denzel in what should have been his moment of glory -- not hers! Whatta maroon!

Lloyd Grove: I never quite understood the appeal. And I did have the same reaction to her jumping Denzel.

Speaking of Julia Roberts:: Why is it that women with gorgeous dark hair, like Roberts, Gina Davis and Kirsty Alley dye it stupid colors?

Lloyd Grove: I would not deprive them of the right to experiment? But I, too, like dark hair.

Kensington, Md.: OK, you've probably seen it by now, but there is an e-mail floating around suggesting a separated at birth scenerio for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and porn legend Ron Jeremy ... very funny.

Lloyd Grove: yeah, that's the one.
I was only mildly amused.

Re: Curious: Lynne Cheney has long been a conservative policy activist. Hardly benign. She is known to regularly organize against professors and other think tanks to get educators fired, books banned, or intimidate founders from contributing to those with a "liberal" point of view. Hardly innocuous.

Lloyd Grove: She is definitely a combatant in the war of ideologies and I betcha her skin is thick enough for her to handle the occasional attack, satirical or otherwise.

Washington, D.C.: Did I hear a gasp from the reporters last night when Bush ignored tradition and skipped Helen Thomas?

Sure, she labeled him the worst president ever, but his reaction shows a vindictiveness we haven't seen since, oh, Nixon.

And the Post got snubbed, too.

And the UN. And anyone who disagrees with him. And ...

"I'm a snubber, and a divider"

When did the shrub become the snub?

Lloyd Grove: Really, I can't get too excited. Helen is Helen, a great personality, but she's an opinion columnist and no longer the lead dog for UPI, which is no longer a great wire service. On the other hand, I am outraged -- do you hear me, OUTRAGED -- that the president would dare diss my wonderful colleague Mike Allen!!!

Free Lloyd Plug: What's the latest on your syndication deal? Is it a definite go?

Lloyd Grove: Yes indeed. The sales force is traveling the country with their pop-open suitcases, selling my column along with a variety of wonderful Amway products.

Washington, D.C.: Celebrities who take stands and support causes should be celebrated, not scorned. It's sad that our country is so big into freedom of speech, but scoffs when anyone actually speaks their mind. Martin Sheen, Michelle Shocked, Mike Farrell, Barbra Streisand, Fred Thompson, Drew Carey -- from both sides of the aisle -- are at least doing something positive with their fame.

Sorry, no sarcasm here. I just don't understand why someone who makes an informed, passionate plea and evokes healthy debate should be immediately discarded because they're not elected/appointed officials.

Lloyd Grove: As someone who has to fill four half pages of a broadsheet newspaper every week, I say: Thank God for them!

Fan Club President: Lloyd,
You rock! The sexiest man on live chat! Let's catch that Steve Martin and Queen Lahtifa joint together.

Lloyd Grove: I am completely baffled, but many thanks.
By the way, any word of mouth yet on the Steve Martin movie? I guess it's just opening, so maybe not. I hope it does well. I like Steve.

Bush Last Night: Didn't we discuss here a couple of months ago that when Mr. Pres is discussing something about which he really cares, he doesn't make his famous malaprops since he's focused.

I think that's how he appeared last night; it's just so different for him that it LOOKS drug-induced.

Lloyd Grove: Could be.

Kingstowne, Va.: The president likely ignored your colleague Mike Allen because Mr. Allen's pieces belong on the editorial page. Or, better yet, in Mother Jones or The Nation. Allen is not a balanced reporter. He clearly has a left-wing, anti-Bush agenda.

Lloyd Grove: Hardly.

Washington, D.C.: Is it true that Catherine Zeta-Jones's real age was once published in the Post and that it's ten years older than what she claims?

Lloyd Grove: I don't care HOW old she is.
She looks GREAT.

Julia Roberts, Dumb? : I don't think so. I've seen her do some
extraordinary, unscripted things that indicate the lady thinks on her feet, and definitly has an edge.

Lloyd Grove: "Extraordinary, unscripted things," huh?
The mind reels.

Washington, D.C.: Hey, they just caught Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and have taken them to a detention center. No lawyers allowed. No charges filed. Enemies of the state. High crimes.

Huh, whaa... where am I? Oh, it was just a dream. Drat!

Lloyd Grove: Interesting.
Perhaps you can develop the idea.
High comedy here, perhaps.

Washington, D.C.: When the NBC cameras showed the blonde coifed women (they were attractive older ladies 60+), they showed Ari giving the President freaky smiles -- like he was coaching the President on when to smile and not.

Lloyd Grove: Some if you are watching MUCH TOO CLOSELY!
Back off the TV screen, will you?
It'll give you a headache.

Takoma Park, Md.: The women in pink are part of a protest group started in Minnesota but spreading across the country called CODE PINK (Women for Peace). Michele Shocked may be helping them.

Lloyd Grove: Sounds right.

Metro: I think antiwar activists are the dumbest human beings alive.

Lloyd Grove: On what basis would you make such a strange statement?

Celebs vs. regular folks: Hey -- if people take the time to learn about the issues and want to speak their mind -- good for them. It's the bandwagon people who have no clue about the wheels that they are riding on that bug me.

That said, I hate those "on the street" interviews done by local stations.

Reporter: "Are you for or against war?"

Reponder1: "Against. War sux."
Responder2: "For. Those dudes are evil."

Lloyd Grove: Sounds like they might have interviewed the previous poster.

Stars and UFOs: Most celebrities know nothing about science. They fall in for crap about every anti-scientific notion under the sun -- astrology, seances, higher-selfs, you name it.

The exception is magicians, who are frequently active in skeptical movements.

Lloyd Grove: Penn Gilette is an articulate Libertarian, and a Harvard grad to boot. My favorite celeb-science moment was last year at a lunch at Barry Diller and Dianne von Furstenberg's listening to Dustin Hoffman explain the conection between String Theory and Reincarnation to Shirley MacLaine.
I kid you not.

Steve/Queen's new movie: I saw it. It's a scream!

Lloyd Grove: Can't wait to see it.

Snubbing: I found his remark about "this is scripted" to be a bit odd. It's not meant to be scripted. A press conference is where you take questions from the press, not from a list of prearranged, annointed friendly faces.

Sure, presidents call on who they want to, but most have the style and grace to pretend they are just randomly picking from the crowd.

I agree he may have been drugged for the event. He may also have been listening to coached answers in his ear. The timing of all his responses seemed to me to be perfect for someone offstage whispering hints to him. Watch it again, and try to be his coach ... you can do it.

That's scary.

Lloyd Grove: Interetsing theory. Somebody has pointed out to be that Bush might be wearing some sort of device in his ear. Mike Allen needs to get on this pronto.

5th floor Metro: Lloyd, it's been the Week From Hell. Every morning I check washingtonpost.com to see who's chatting. What joy I get from seeing your name on the schedule! A perfect reminder that the end is in sight, and my frustrations are only 40 hours out of an otherwise satisfying week.

Happy Friday!

washingtonpost.com: Imagine how relaxed you'd be if you signed up for the new Live Online E-Mail Newsletter!

Lloyd Grove: And Happy Friday to you, my friend!

Washington, D.C.: LG:

So NBC is looking for white males and women of all ethnicities for a dating show -- is it because they had enough men of color? (Did you ask that question). If they are not seeking men of color -- does it send the message that interracial dating is OK only if the male is white.

I would have expected this from Fox -- but I guess they have some standards.

Lloyd Grove: I found the whole thing rather gross and repellant. And when I find a tv show gross and repellent, that usually means it will get a high rating.

40-year-old bachelor: Antiwar women turn me on.

Should I wear pink or blue to get them to notice me?

Lloyd Grove: Wear black.
After, of course, a thorough shampooing with Head & Shoulders.

More on celebs v. regular folks: They are not as educated on the issues but they certainly do bring attention to causes that would, unfortunately, go otherwise unnoticed.

Lloyd Grove: True enough.
Though I suspect that celebrities generally have higher than average intelligence and education.
More evidence that life isn't fair.

Not drugged!: Bush wasn't drugged. He was being coached with a inner ear receiver.

The delays were his waiting for the right phrase to be located and delivered.

If he spoke any faster, there would be no time for thoughtful pauses, which would allow no time for suggestions to be given to him.

Lloyd Grove: I am fascinated by this theory. Reminds me of the William Hurt pretty boy anchorman character in Broadcast News. Do you suppose Karen Hughes is offtsage speaking into the president's ear, Holly Hunter style?

Alexandria, Va.: What geographic entity is Ms. Latifah the queen of? If something untoward should happen, who would ascend to her throne? Prince?

Lloyd Grove: No, you idiot!
Have you not studied the royal succession?
Everybody knows it would be Prince Michael II!!!

Washington, D.C.: Just to clarify things for you a bit. Your biggest fan asked you to view the new Steve Martin movie with her/him. Joint is the Spike Lee term for movie ...

Lloyd Grove: Yes, I wasn't baffled by that part, I merely sidestepped the invitation. I was baffled by the part leading up to the invite.

Washington, D.C.: What’s become of Clinton critic and WSJ editorial page writer John Fund and those tapes of phone conversations between him and his 20-something girlfriend?

Lloyd Grove: I have given all that a very wide berth. I did see Mr. Fund from afar at last week's AEI dinner and he was looking hale and hearty.

Castle Shannon, Pa.: Any plans to see "Hairspray" during your stay in New York? I'm seeing it in two weeks.

Lloyd Grove: I'm afraid there will be no time with all the social activity surrounding a big wedding we're attending. Tonight it's dinner at Le Cirque! And now, I must pack in order to be on time for the Acela train. Have a great weekend, all, and I'll see you back here usual time usual place next Friday. Bye.

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