Show business often comes to Capitol Hill to lobby for various causes, but the lobbyists are rarely as elegant as Academy Award-winning actress Joanne Woodward. She is in town for a conference titled "All Babies Count," addressing the issue of infants born addicted to drugs or alcohol. The campaign brings together Jean Kennedy Smith's Very Special Arts organization and the Scott Newman Center, named in memory of the son of Woodward and actor Paul Newman. Woodward took some time off from the conference to buttonhole senators about the National Endowment for the Arts appropriation being debated on the floor. She was arguing against putting content restrictions on NEA grants and said in that soft, self-deprecating style so memorable from all those movies, "I've never done this before. This is fascinating. I'm mesmerized by the whole process." Out and About New York Times Executive Editor Max Frankel has a way of talking himself into controversies. He recently angered female reporters, including those at the Times, when he likened stories involving women to coverage of tea parties. And then Tuesday, at a symposium on women and the media at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, he said it is easier for him to fire women than blacks because there are more women in the newsroom these days. "We've reached a critical mass with women," he explained. "I know that when a woman screws up, it is not a political act for me to go fire them. I cannot {easily} say that with some of our blacks. They're still precious, they're still hothouse in management, and if they are less than good, I would probably stay my hand at removing them too quickly. It's still a political act and it would hurt the organization in a larger sense, so you tolerate a little more in the short term." Frankel is going to hear the echo of these words for some time to come ...

Donald Trump should be warned: Marla Maples is a hard woman to satisfy. She's not happy with the major profile of her in the current issue of Vanity Fair because the magazine used Cher on the cover. Maples' spokesman told New York magazine that Marla gave the interview because she was promised the cover. Marla also felt the story was cut in half so the Cher story would fit. Vanity Fair Editor Tina Brown said Marla wasn't promised anything: "We tried it as a cover. In light of the gulf crisis, we thought a brunette was more appropriate." As for the length of the story, Brown sniffed, "It was always 6,000 words. I think that's quite enough about Marla Maples, don't you?" ...

American realist artist Andrew Wyeth was at the White House yesterday to receive a special Congressional Gold Medal for his lifetime achievements. Here with his wife, Betsy, and sons, Nicholas and Jamie, the latter also an artist, Wyeth was taken on a tour of the Executive Mansion by First Lady Barbara Bush. A reception was held later at the Rayburn House Office Building, sponsored by Wyeth's congressman, Richard Schulze of Pennsylvania. Some 40 members of Congress showed up, taking a break from the budget battles ...

There will be a special honor tonight for Albert B. Sabin, the developer of the oral polio vaccine. In town to receive the Phoenix Award, the highest honor of the Foundation for Critical Care, Sabin will be presented with a letter of gratitude signed by President Bush and the four living former presidents -- Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon ...

Former vice president Walter Mondale will be at the side of his son, William, tomorrow when he is admitted to the Minnesota bar. William, 27, is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Minnesota Law School ...

On the wedding circuit: Ben Banta, a top aide to drug czar William Bennett and a former aide to Sen. Robert Kasten, is to marry lobbyist Jennifer Rosendahl Saturday in Geneva, N.Y. It is the second marriage for Banta, 43, and the first for Rosendahl, 29 ...

"That new compromise budget package will raise taxes for the wealthy. Shows how smart Donald Trump is. He got out of the wealthy business just in time." -- Jay Leno ...