George's Goodbye to John

In their first public comments since last month's death of John F. Kennedy Jr., staff members of George magazine have penned "A Letter for the Editor" for the new issue. "We've left this issue of George as it was before John's death because it was the last one he edited," the staff writes in the September issue, set for release next Tuesday. They say they'll devote much of the October issue to remembering JFK Jr., the magazine's founder.

The staff writes that Kennedy was involved in every aspect of the publication--from advertising to composing his usual editor's note for each issue. He "edited George because the magazine manifested certain beliefs he wanted to promote: That there are good men and women in politics whose work is made harder because our political era fluctuates between scandal and alienation. That for all its imperfections, politics is a noble profession."

The staff also thanks readers for their many condolences: "Your kind thoughts have helped give us strength to carry on despite losing an irreplaceable colleague and friend. In the end, the greatest tribute that we can pay John is to continue putting out the finest magazine we can. We think he'd want it that way."

The Beatty Bid

We still haven't heard a definitive answer from The Man himself, but people close to Warren Beatty say he's really, really serious about running for president. Minnesota advertising executive Bill Hillsman, who helped get Jesse Ventura elected governor, said yesterday that he has met with the actor and thinks he's earnest about mounting a White House bid. "I'd be willing to help. I don't see anyone else lighting the world on fire--in either party," Hillsman said.

Meanwhile, a Tennessee company has launched a Web site--www.Beatty2000.com--intended "to gauge interest from the public" about a possible Beatty bid. "If you are fed up by the partisan politics of the Washington establishment and are ready for a candidate that is genuinely concerned about America, drop us an email to let us know what you think," the site says. But before making up his mind, Beatty might want to consider this: A new Field Poll shows the actor-turned-politician getting just 1 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary.

Real Witch Criticizes

'Blair Witch' Real witches apparently aren't too keen on "The Blair Witch Project," the very successful pseudo-documentary set in Burkittsville, Md. The movie "both exploits and reinforces negative stereotypes about witches: that they are evil murderers of children and adults," says Phyllis Curott, a New York attorney and practicing witch. Curott tried to get a disclaimer added at the film's beginning--saying it's not representative of all witchcraft--but the distributor, Artisan Entertainment, refused.

End Notes

Another quiet day for the Clintons up on Martha's Vineyard, with the whole family remaining close to their vacation cottage yesterday. But The Post's Ceci Connolly reports that Chelsea Clinton went out Tuesday night while Mom and Dad stayed home. The Stanford University junior was spotted lingering over a leisurely dinner at the popular Red Cat restaurant. She was with two good-looking young men, while a Secret Service agent waited outside . . . Now there's an education: Florida State University is the nation's "No. 1 party school," according to the new edition of the Princeton Review's guide to the "best" colleges . . .

Actor Martin Lawrence collapsed from heatstroke after jogging and was in a coma for three days before regaining consciousness, hospital officials in Thousand Oaks, Calif., said yesterday . . . In other health news, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) was resting comfortably yesterday after undergoing surgery for an enlarged prostate. Doctors didn't find any evidence of prostate cancer or other serious illnesses.

Lloyd Grove is on vacation. The Reliable Source will resume when he returns.

CAPTION: The staff of George magazine wrote "A Letter for the Editor" about John F. Kennedy Jr.