ROMANCE IN THE SENATE
* "Hollywood" Fred Thompson has a new blonde in his life--make that "new" to The Source, though Tennessee's 56-year-old Republican senator has been seeing her seriously for several months. She's 32-year-old Jeri Kehn (pronounced "keen," which is what he is on her), and she's communications director of the Senate Republican Conference. She's been sweet on the lawyer-actor-politician since they were neighbors in a Nashville town house development.
Kehn and the divorced Thompson--who's been linked to flaxen-haired femmes ranging from country music star Lorrie Morgan to GOP Senate press secretary Laura Cox--are dating each other exclusively, says a knowledgeable source. A native of Naperville, Ill., she's a political theory and English lit graduate of Indiana's DePauw University, and was selling digital storage space, whatever that is, when they started keeping company three years ago. She moved to Washington last year for a media relations job at the Republican National Committee, and assumed her current post three weeks ago. Thompson, says our source, had nothing to do with Kehn's GOP employment.
"All I would really say is that I think he's a wonderful man," Kehn told us tersely. The senator, for his part, didn't return our phone calls.
FROM CLINTON-SPINNER TO STAR REPORTER
* You'd have to be suffering from an acute sleep disorder to notice, but George Stephanopoulos is now an ABC News anchor. Just like Peter Jennings, sort of. President Clinton's ex-spinmeister--who left the White House three years ago to become an ABC commentator, teach at Columbia and write a tell-all book--has been delivering the news, sports and weather this week on the network's graveyard-shift "World News Now," which airs in those desperate post-midnight hours rife with itch-powder ads.
ABC News President David Westin tells us that Stephanopoulos, who's just about done negotiating a new contract, is "recasting" himself as a TV journalist. He'll occasionally anchor newscasts and do reports from the field in addition to his regular Sunday pundit duties on "This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts." Stephanopoulos says his role at ABC is "evolving. I don't know exactly where or how yet. I'm looking to try some new things."
Donaldson, for one, welcomes the change--"George is an independent thinker," he says--but Harvard media critic Marvin Kalb, who's tangled with ABC News in the past, begs to differ. "You're not a journalist simply because you're a star," he says. "I find all of this profoundly upsetting, but certainly consistent with the trend in television news."
THIS JUST IN . . .
* Has basketball god Michael Jordan undergone cosmetic surgery? When he appeared on "Larry King Live" this week to hawk his new cologne, some viewers thought his skin looked a tad coppery, not to mention remarkably wrinkle-free. Puh-leez, says Jordan's spokeswoman Estee Portnoy. "He's had no work done on him," she tells The Post's Beth Berselli. "He shaved off his mustache."
* That was pundit Robert Novak, looking macho in his gleaming black Corvette with the top down, screaming obscenities at a driver who flipped him the bird from a rust-flecked junker on D Street NW Tuesday evening. Novak tells us the young [expletive] was deliberately blocking his lane as he was hurrying from CNN to an Orioles game--hence the road rage. "I used the king's English."
* Shocking revelations about former president George Bush's parachute jump in Texas last week: He almost went splat. The 75-year-old Bush has confided to reporters, including The Post's David Von Drehle, that he got himself in the wrong position when he left the airplane at 12,500 feet, and tumbled crazily through 6,000 feet of nothingness. Then he forgot to pull the ripcord and his skydiving partners had to do it for him. "Because I made a couple of mistakes," Bush said, "it was the most exhilarating experience of my entire life."
* Former New York Times pundit Anna Quindlen, who's been a full-time novelist for the past four years, has been signed by Newsweek to fill the biweekly column hole left by the death of Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield.
" Tommy has been fixed. Actually, he has been neutered or spayed. What do you call it?"
-- Pamela Anderson Lee, back with rocker Tommy Lee after his four months in jail for beating her up, telling TV Guide why she could not possibly be pregnant.
CAPTION: "Road Rage" Bob: The devil made him do it.
CAPTION: ABC newsman George Stephanopoulos.
CAPTION: Jeri Kehn: Fred Thompson's new friend.
CAPTION: Michael Jordan: Under the knife?