Beth Dozoretz's Exit Strategy

"This job was unrelenting--day and night it was on my mind--and I took my responsibility very seriously," said mover and shaker Beth Dozoretz, who just quit as finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee only eight months after asking President Clinton to give her the task of raising $170 million by next November. "There was a lot of stress," Dozoretz, 47, told us yesterday, "and it was wearing thin on Ron"--her 63-year-old mega-millionaire psychiatrist husband, "but the thing that made it even more difficult is that I have little kids. Josh will be going to school, and two Sundays ago I had a birthday party for my 1-year-old daughter, Melanne, and I thought, 'My God, I've missed a year of her life.' "

The Dozoretzes claimed their place at the top of the Washington ziggurat last year when the president stood as godfather during an eyebrow-raising ceremony for little Melanne. Democratic Party regulars bitterly envied Beth, but ultimately gave her credit for shouldering the fund-raising burden. Yesterday she insisted she had always planned an early departure--never mind assumptions to the contrary--and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell's selection as new party chairman "is a perfect exit strategy for me." But her misery index had quickly risen on the job, and sources said her cheery chutzpah grated on, among others, Vice President Gore's campaign chairman, Tony Coelho. But Dozoretz told us she's proud of her performance. "I am smiling from the inside."

War of the Gingriches

* The divorce of Newt and Marianne Gingrich has taken a turn for the toxic. Yesterday, lawyers for the 56-year-old former House speaker told us that they'll bombard his estranged wife with paperwork if she doesn't agree to terms of surrender. "We'll do a court filing every day for the next 12 days," vowed Newt's attorney Randolph Evans. "This week we're going to deal with the financial assets. Next week we'll deal with who's responsible for the breakup of the marriage."

The battle heated up Tuesday when Newt's lawyers asked a Cobb County, Ga., judge to make Marianne, 48, sit for a videotaped deposition on Oct. 19. She has already won the right to question Newt's girlfriend, 33-year-old congressional aide Callista Bisek, and wants to grill Newt, too (perhaps nicely seared on the outside, juicy on the inside).

The Gingriches have agreed to put all their cash into a joint account till the divorce is final, with an independent financial adviser to look after it. But Newt claims that Marianne has bungled her job as the couple's money manager. "The truth is, the money isn't there," said Newt's lawyer, who yesterday demanded that the judge make Marianne deposit all the bucks within 14 days or be held in contempt.

Marianne's lawyer, John Mayoue, shot back: "It's quite apparent that Mr. Gingrich does not understand and has not investigated their finances. Marianne is fully in compliance with the agreement." He added that Marianne would be "delighted" to be questioned under oath. Stay tuned.


* How can she back out now? Hillary Rodham Clinton, who turns 52 on Oct. 26, is whooping it up by having dozens of celebs come to Washington and New York to raise millions for her supposedly uncertain Senate campaign. On Oct. 23 Hootie & the Blowfish, Gwyneth Paltrow and Calista Flockhart will be among the headliners at a Washington Hilton birthday lunch. On Oct. 25, there'll be a "Broadway for Hillary" gala emceed by Rosie O'Donnell and Nathan Lane. Fund-raisers who collect more than $25,000 for the event will party up close and personal with the quasi-candidate at the refurbished Russian Tea Room.

* Rabid response? After waiting more than a day to deny a Reason magazine article alleging nasty bathroom behavior, Democratic pollster Mark Penn has gone negative on us. Jonathan Gardner, who identifies himself as the polling firm's chief of staff, chided in a written statement: "The idea of libertarians snooping through the bathroom is as bad as a newspaper writing a story such as this."

* A crowd of art critics, including President Clinton, showed up yesterday for the unveiling of former commerce secretary Mickey Kantor's official portrait by painter Steven Polson. We got two reviews from department headquarters. "Shockingly accurate," Kantor's successor, Bill Daley, told us, while Kantor said, "It's a very good likeness, unfortunately."

* Choreographer Debbie Allen has snagged R&B diva Patti LaBelle to star in her new music and dance drama, "Soul Possessed," for six Kennedy Center performances Oct. 28-31. LaBelle plays Aunt Sally, the proprietor of a juke joint, and will belt out several numbers, reports The Post's Jacqueline Trescott.

* We shouldn't have relied on Issues Sphere Inc.'s erroneous press release to describe sarcoidosis yesterday. The American Medical Association defines the malady as "a rare disease with no known cause that leads to inflammation in tissues throughout the body, including the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, skin and eyes."