The Reliable Source
Hosted by Lloyd Grove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 23, 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, everyone. Another crazy week -- I was even forced to read some scurrilous gossip about myself -- so let's get to it.
Say it isn't so!: I just read that you may leave the Post. Please say it isn't true!
We will die without you!
Lloyd Grove: No you wouldn't -- note the use of the conditional tense. There have been a few inaccurate reports and crazy rumors about me in recent days, and I'm not going to comment on them. Suffice it to say that I am here, at my desk at The Washington Post, wondering what in God's name I am going to put into a column for this Sunday.
12th Floor Metro Center: Scurrilous gossip about you, Lloyd? Pray tell. By the way, what's your take on the American Idol voting numbers controversy?
Lloyd Grove: Well the producers say that Ryan Seacrest merely misread the tally, and I'm not sure whether I believe them, or whether there is a real scandal brewing. Obviously, the judges and show's producer have made no secret of their willingness to tweak the results -- either by persuasion or mass hypnosis -- in order to achieve a desired outcome -- Ruben -- that seems to make the most market sense. On the other hand, Clay isn't going away. I am soooo glad it's over.
Boston, Mass.: Would gossip about yourself be considered metagossip?!
Lloyd Grove: You are far too high minded and erudite for me. But, yes, possibly.
Dupont Mystery: I live in Dupont and tend to leave for work fairly early most mornings. I believe one of my neighbors must be in the government and have the same habits/schedule as me. Who lives on the corner of 19th and Swann Street that has enough influence to deserve one to two secret service cars each morning?
Lloyd Grove: Hmmm. That seems like such a Clinton administration location. Lemme see if I can find out.
New York, N.Y.: Hey Lloyd --
I was in LA last week and caught you on TV talking about the Kennedy affair. Cool! But you do look different from your online photo.
Anyway, someone on mediabistro.com referred to Jayson Blair as "The Milli Vanilli of journalism" this week. So this got me thinking, when they make the movie, what will the theme song be? And who will play Blair, Jalil While (Urkel from Family Matters) perhaps? Your thoughts? (And my apologies if this came up in last week's discussion ... )
Lloyd Grove: Thanks -- yes I have gained in girth,
I think Gary Coleman should play Mr. Blair.
15th and L: If you do go to the NY Daily News, I just want to warn you, that's NOT a garden gnome in the sports department. It's actually Mike Lupica. I know a lot of people have that misunderstanding.
Lloyd Grove: LOL!
Six Flags America: Don't get me wrong, Lloyd, I have no love for the incompetent boob in charge of the Department of Homeland Security. But your piece on him today made it sound like he was fiddling while Rome burned. Is the terrorist threat so severe that a busy man can't have 'one night' out with his son? Or were you just putting him in a bad light to pad out your column inches?
Lloyd Grove: Neither. I just thought it was one of life's ironies that get people talkin' and makes 'em think. I was amused by the Homeland Security Department spokesman's explanation -- that Secretary Ridge is merely living his life normally and leaving his safety to the homeland security professionals. And what, pray tell, is Ridge supposed to be?
Austin, Tex.: What to Write About on Sunday:
Horse world gossip. There's got to be a lot of dish there. And what about the hats they wear?
Lloyd Grove: Say what you will about the hats.
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Lloyd, would you rather:
Be forced to utter lewd profanities every time you meet someone for the first time ... or have your credit card declined on every first date you ever go on.
Lloyd Grove: Having already experience the latter, perhaps I would try the former.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Need something for Sundays column? My car is ready at the shop after two weeks. But the muffler is fixed.
Lloyd Grove: I'll get right on it.
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Is Parker Posey in town? I could have sworn that I spied the pixie this morning.
Lloyd Grove: I haven't heard, but she's in that "Mighty Wind" movie with my pal Harry Shearer, so maybe it's something to do with that.
Out West: As if Gary Coleman didn't have enough problems already. Is the Republican National Committee really ready to kiss off every state west of the Mississippi except Utah? Medical Marijuana is incredibly popular out here (and in Maine). I feel an onset of the vapors. Now if I could just remember where I left that splif ...
Lloyd Grove: Isn't it a little early in the day? ...
Washington, D.C.: Lloyd,
It doesn't surprise me that Maureen Dowd and Aaron Sorkin are dating. She must have been smoking crack to give the speech she gave at Michael Kelly's memorial service.
Lloyd Grove: Ha ha. actually, while Maureen's remarks definitely pushed the envelope on expected eulogy fare, I thought they were very good and to the point -- and I doubt Michael Kelly would have had a problem with them (though I understand some members of his family did).
New York, N.Y.: Lloyd, I haven't seen any of this gossip yet, but if you are coming to NYC, you should probably get to know me. I am great fodder.
Lloyd Grove: Really. Do tell.
Alexandria, Va.: I notice that George Michael, the sportscaster on NBC4, has gotten a haircut. He looks so much better! I think you should cover his new hair and the mayor's as part of an education campaign. It's not the hair loss that women find unattractive, it's the silly and unattractive things that men do with their remaining hair that we dislike.
Lloyd Grove: Speaking as a man -- indeed for all men -- I think George's hair looks better, too.
Virginia: Oh, man, Lloyd, you've GOTTA tell us what Dowd said at Kelly's memorial. Or give us a link or something.
Lloyd Grove: I can't recall precisely, but she told a number of stories involving Kelly's appreciation for the fairer sex.
Washington, D.C.: Would you be interested in some gossip about Robert Rivard, the Editor of the San-Antonion Express?
Lloyd Grove: Sure. Bob is an old friend of mine from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, where we were reporters together, and I like him a great deal, so I hope it's GOOD gossip.
New York, N.Y.: Gary Coleman -- LOL!
That's great. How about that Peterman guy from Seinfeld as Howell Raines?
On another note (ba-dum) how about "Lies Lies Lies" by Thompson Twins for the theme song? Or maybe the surviving member of Milli Vannilli can reprise one of their big hits as "Blame It On The Raines" ...
Lloyd Grove: The imaginations are really firing up this morning!
Washington, D.C.: Wendy wore a leather jacket on Channel 4 yesterday. She sure loves leather.
Lloyd Grove: As, apparently, do you!
Washington, D.C.: Tom Daschle got one of the two female African American reporters names mixed up a couple of days ago and the offended reporter got majorly pissed. So he screwed up a name. People do it all the time. Nothing at all to do with racism, as she seems to be alleging.
Lloyd Grove: I missed that one. Can u e-mail me privately the details? Has this been printed?
washingtonpost.com: Here is the article: Red-Faced Sen.Daschle Mixes Up Black Journos(New York Post, May 23).
Virginia: Rikki Klieman -- her background is suspicious. She claimed a few degrees.
Lloyd Grove: Such as...?
Rockville, Md.: Lloyd, on the Today show the other day, Ari Fleischer mentioned that one of the reasons he was leaving the position was to get out of Washington because he had been here too long. I think you should find out what he feels is so distasteful about our fair city.
Lloyd Grove: Did he mean Washington the city, or Washington the state of mind? I would suspect the latter.
George Michael: I don't watch much TV - what was he doing with his hair? The Martin Frost comb-over?
Lloyd Grove: Well there WAS that, and his hair was constantly on Orange Alert.
Bowie, Md.: Re: George Michael's hair
I know it's exactly the sort of thing on which only the shallowest cast their ballots, but as a folically-challanged male myself I will never vote for Dennis Kucinich.
To me, it's kind of an insult that he thinks he looks better that way than he would looking like me.
Lloyd Grove: All of which serves to confirm a truism of American politics: when people vote for president, it is a very personal decision.
A little too early?: Its a long weekend, dude. Awake and bake!
Lloyd Grove: A lost weekend for YOU, more like it.
Beautiful downtown Rosslyn, Va.: Lloyd, I happened to catch you on Fox this week opining about the American Idol finale. I have no idea who that woman was on the panel, but I wanted to stuff a gag in her mouth! You hardly were able to get a word in edgewise. And YOU were the only I wanted to hear.
Lloyd Grove: A problem that was not helped with Erin Carman, who I think is very funny and nice, stuffed a whipped creamed strawberry into my mouth.
Alexandria, Va.: I have to speak up for Tom Ridge. He used to be my congressman, and while I'm not friends with the guy, I have met him several times and have had many conversations with him.
Ridge is anything but incompetent. What he is, unlike 95 percent of politicians, is a normal guy who spent a whole THREE HOURS at an amusement park with his kids. Why it is okay for politicians to spending time being annoying at cocktail parties every night, but not okay to go to King's Dominion? Although I do have to question his taste in amusement parks. He should have gone to Busch Gardens.
Lloyd Grove: Or maybe Disneyworld. Just as long as it isn't EuroDisney.
Alexandria, Va.: A few months ago, some friends and I spotted Tommy Franks at Southside 815 having dinner with about five other people. Being in a good spirit, if you know what I mean, we sent him over a beer as a sort of "thank you" gesture but it was sent back saying he could not accept it. We didn't know if this was true or if he really just didn't want the beer. Any ideas?
Lloyd Grove: A little surprising, but maybe there are strict ethics rules governing military commanders, or maybe he was sitting with a bunch of lawyers from CENTCOM's inspector general's office.
Chevy Chase, D.C.: Lloyd: I saw Alec Baldwin on Wednesday night in Dupont Circle.
Do you know why he was/is in D.C?
Lloyd Grove: He was doing a PETA event, and he refused to talk to either Anne or me.
Washington, D.C.: Regarding the 'incompetent boob' running the Department of Homeland Security: Their Web site mentioned this in his bio:
"He earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967. After his first year at The Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor. After returning to Pennsylvania, he earned his law degree and was in private practice before becoming assistant district attorney in Erie County."
Lloyd Grove: Fair enough.
New York, N.Y.: Page Six reported the Dashcle slip and in typical fashion, demonized him. If you do go to the NY Post's mortal enemy (the Daily News), are you ready to deal with Richard Johnson and Co. in a less friendly way?
Lloyd Grove: Missed it completely. Or now I am vaguely remembering it and remembering my reaction -- which was similar to yours. Oddly, I like Richard and have always found him to be a standup guy. Famous last words, yes?
West Hollywood, Calif.: Since when did George Michael become a sportscaster? And why are you fawning over his haircut? I thought he was still on parole for hanging out in restrooms? Am I confused?
Lloyd Grove: Cheap.
Laurel, Md.: Ridge going to an amusement park is par for the course during this Orange Alert. Did you see yesterday's Post article [ Orange Alert Appears Less So (Post, May 22)] about how much less "heightened" all the local police are than during the last elevation?
The five terror levels have quickly gone the way of the G-PG-R-X movie rating system. G and X became genres rather than ratings; so everything was PG or R and they needed to invent new ratings to express the broad range of content there.
So, what do we put "between" Yellow and Orange? Maybe amber, except that's already the name of a child-napping alert system.
Lloyd Grove: It's giving me eye-strain.
Icebergville, Minn.: Since the topic is hair.
Please get someone to do something about George Stephanopoulos's hair.
I'm predicting a better cut will have the opposite effect of the "felicity" hair-cut. He has great hair, why can't the man get a decent cut?
Really, a good hair-do = better ratings.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about Will. Yikes.
Lloyd Grove: I generally applaud George S.'s hair, though sometimes an errant strand seems lie down and die right there on his forehead. George Will's hair makes me nostalgic for Strom Thurmond.
Downtown D.C.: Regarding Secret Service ...
They actually protect very few people and only the highest in the White House. Ashcroft is protected by the FBI, Powell is protected by State Dept. Diplomatic protection service, Congress (except for Hillary) protected by Capitol Police. Most guys with ear pieces are not Secret Service. Just an FYI for the guy in Dupont ...
Lloyd Grove: Thanks for the guidance.
Washington, D.C.: Does Alec Baldwin want to rip your head off like Tim Robbins?
Lloyd Grove: Alec Baldwin and I have never met nor talked. I once had dinner with his then-wife, Ms. Basinger, and then wrote about her Free The Elephants campaign in a manner she didn't appreciate. But I would bet 1.) Mr. Baldwin would have remembered that and 2.), even if he did, he's far angrier at her than he'd be at me.
Norfolk, Va.: Not to get into a thing, here, but Ridge -- who I have no doubt is a smart, good man and clearly committed to public service -- is just not getting it done. Just my $.02. Thanks, Lloyd.
Lloyd Grove: Good on ya.
New York, N.Y.: Ooooh, you'd love it up here. If you continue to do gossip, it's just so much easier, so much more material. You wouldn't have to write about a government official going to Six Flags or anything like that ...
Lloyd Grove: Do tell.
Long Beach, Calif.: Lloyd, Did you find out any dirt on Hitler (the mini-series)? I wonder how the producer of the show who got fired feels right now? He got beat by "The Bachelor". Wasn't Adolf a bachelor, too? (For all but a day)
Speaking of evil on TV, any Rupert Murdoch sightings?
Lloyd Grove: Nothing beyond the reports from last month about Ed Gernon being canned after telling TV Guide that he perceived interesting similarities between Adolph Hitler and George W. Bush.
Julie in Connecticut: Hi, is there any dish on Lindsey Graham? Either he doesn't have a social life or flies under the gossip radar or is am I missing something?
Lloyd Grove: Lindsey so far as I know is a bachelor-senator with many good prospects. But I have for too long given him a zone of privacy.
Washington, D.C.: Ashes, ashes, they all fall down ...
Boy, Bush telling his team that they are with him or against him for the next four years has caused quite a few to say, "uh, see ya". Ari, Christine, Rosario, Franks, and others. Let alone all the career state department officials who left before and during Bush's war.
My question, though, is Iraq. Franks replaced White, but now Franks is leaving as is Shinseki, and deputy Keane.
That leaves Rumsfeld as supreme leader of Iraq, no? But he's ruling from a podium in the U.S., which must be confusing for his people.
My question, who got Afghanistan? Does each Bush cabinet member get a country? And will these countries be handed down to family members as they grow older. Queen Jenna needs to know.
Lloyd Grove: Isn't this sort of mid-term house-cleaning a commonplace in the White House? Around this point in first-term Clinton, didn't Les Aspen, Warren Christopher and Robert Reich go out the door?
Gaithersburg, Md.: Have you heard anything about Jennifer Connelly being in town last weekend? I could've sworn I saw her at the movies in Georgetown. (If not, I found her twin.)
Lloyd Grove: Not a thing. Anybody? You shoulda flagged me on it. I would have done a comprehensive report. Now it's too old--by which I definitely don't mean Jennifer Connelly.
NW: This morning, on my way to work, I heard two local morning show DJ's making fun of the suit you "always" wear whenever they see you on the air. Do you really only own one gray suit, Lloyd?
Lloyd Grove: That's not a suit -- that's just a jacket from a suit I can no longer fit into.
Eastern Market: So you mean that dude I see on the Metro every morning with an earphone in his ear jamming to hip-hop isn't Secret Service? Dag, I feel dumb.
Lloyd Grove: Funny.
Unknown location: The not so Secret Service has been recruiting retired Heavy Metal Musicians, which explains the plethora of hearing aids. It should also be noted that since Florida 2000, they are all tuned in to the ORWELL channel.
Lloyd Grove: Complicated.
Clifton, Va.: Just because you graduated from Harvard and have a JD degree doesn't mean you are competent. I work with many an incompetent lawyer and judge who have degrees from Harvard. Having a college degree does not guarantee competence especially in politicians, lawyers, judges and political appointees. Ridge is an idiot!
Lloyd Grove: Without signing on to your last appraisal, I can confirm that I have encountered many an idiotic Ivy League grad in this world.
Fairfax, Va.: George Michael had cancer and may have been undergoing radiation treatment -- which may be the reason for his new hair style.
Lloyd Grove: Ah hah. Well, I hope the treatments are going well, and I still think the new style becomes him.
About Homeland Security: Just to add a point: Ridge may not be "getting it done," as it was put, because DHS has very little of a real mission. Most of the heavy lifting is being done by the FBI, CIA, and Justice Dept. agencies. But then again, we haven't been attacked since Ridge was appointed, so maybe he is "getting it done."
Lloyd Grove: I hope y'all think I"M "getting it done." Possibly even in the stick-a-fork-in-me sense. Either way we'll be done here in 17 minutes -- so gimme your best stuff.
Sleeping during Entertainment Tonight: When did Alec Baldwin and Kim B. split?
Lloyd Grove: A year ago, I think. Did you see all the endless photographed public shouting matchings in parking lots that were published in the supermarket tabs? Riveting.
Idiot Ivy league grads: ... yeah I know one in particular.
Lloyd Grove: I hope this person can spell.
Good Old D.C.: I'm a big Joni Mitchell fan. Thanks for referring to one of her greatest albums in today's column!
Lloyd Grove: Yes, I too am a huge fan of her "Batman Thrill Spectacular" ballad.
Springfield, Va.: Channel 4 has been adding some attractive young ladies to its reporting team. Do you think they are trying to push some of the anchors out the door?
Lloyd Grove: In with the new, out with the old, that is television's way.
To: New York, N.Y.: Back off, sister!
Lloyd Grove: What prompts this?
New York, N.Y.: Here's a N.Y. gossip question for you: Why does Page Six refer to Alec Baldwin as "the Bloviator"? I live here and I can't figure it out, so if you have any ideas, do tell!
Lloyd Grove: Well Richard Johnson, unlike me, HAS had words with Alec Baldwin, and I believe Mr. B even challenged my good friend to a boxing grudge match of some sort (though I may have that confused with Mickey Rourke). Anyhow, it is a long and simmering enmity.
Washington, D.C.: Hi Lloyd. I work directly across the street from the Secret Service building, and none of those dudes have an ear piece. But they do carry guns. I think the whole ear piece thing is just a subtle intimidation tactic.
Lloyd Grove: Personally, I find that nose plugs do the trick.
LA: Lloyd, you're right to defend the cognitive assets of our Ridgeman. The problem is he's an Americanized poodle, a lapdog for the bigdog. Tell me he wouldn't roll over and bark like a bichon if Dubya demanded it. Hey Tom, FETCH Al QAEDA!
Lloyd Grove: I woudn't dare tell you that -- you might compare me to a Lhasa Apso.
A D.C. Cubicle: Lloyd, I've been reading this chat since it started and I'm not getting any work done.
I figure I won't have any fun this weekend because of the weather, so it's only fair.
Lloyd Grove: Rationalize, rationalize.
Wasn't that Thorough?
What prompts this: She's been all over you in these chats like a cheesy Ivana Trump ball gown. Geesh -- wake up to what's happening.
Lloyd Grove: I'm awake.
What is worse?: An Ivy League and incompetent gossip monger or an Ivy League-educated incompetent public official. At least one knows how to dress.
Lloyd Grove: Wow. I feel like I'm being stalked here.
Tysons, Virginia: Why are there people in New York on this chat? Doesn't the N.Y. Times have their own version? I mean, if N.Y. is so great, why are they on our chats?
Lloyd Grove: Good point.
Georgetown, D.C.: What is the latest on the HBO "K Street" political TV show?
Lloyd Grove: They are expected back later this summer to start filming.
Not on Capitol Hill anymore ...: ... but when we used to get bored at 11 p.m. when in session, we'd play the Congress quiz (i.e., "Who is the best-dressed member?" etc.) Sooooo -- who do you think is, say, the dumbest member? Do tell ...
Lloyd Grove: In the next three minutes, any candidates?
I, alas, have found the elected officials I've run into lately moderately to highly intelligent.
Big Dog: Clinton was and will always be the BIG DOG. Bush is a manged foo foo dog compared to him. Hell he isn't even a dog, he's a rat.
Lloyd Grove: Sidney Blumenthal, nice to hear from you!
Washington, D.C.: First, Jordan leaves. Now, Lloyd may soon follow. How much can one city take? This confirms my theory that we are a Loser City.
Lloyd Grove: Cheer up, friend. Washington is a lovely city, in my opinion.
Washington, D.C.: Done in 17 minutes ... FOREVER? You really are leaving. Man, this isn't good. At least let us give you a proper sendoff with advance notice.
Lloyd Grove: The show, man. The show! Now we are done, till next Friday, same time same place. Thanks, all, for taking part, have a great three-day weekend. Bye.
That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.
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