THIS JUST IN . . .
* People magazine got an exclusive on Linda Tripp's amazing make-over--the face and eye lifts, the nose job, the chin implant and the neck fat removal. "She is not a petite woman," confided Tripp's plastic surgeon, Geoffrey Keyes, "and as with when you are operating on a man, you are dealing with a large surface area that makes it complicated." People's deal prevents us from showing you the photos--but then again, you're probably eating breakfast.
* Still on their Press Junket of Love, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have announced their engagement. No wedding date yet: Douglas still must divorce longtime wife Diandra.
* We hear that neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol, who was sacked just before Christmas from ABC's Sunday show "This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts," just received a lovely holiday card from ABC News President David Westin and wife Sherrie. Kristol, who went on CBS's "Face the Nation" and joked that his ABC gig was like "disappear[ing] down a black hole," may have more quips this Sunday when he goes on NBC's "Meet the Press."
* Elizabeth Dole is supporting George W. Bush, but her husband likes a different candidate. Today, reports The Post's Scott Moore, Bob Dole will tape a commercial touting Bugs Bunny for president--of the Cartoon Network.
Stop the Lunacy!
One small step for NASA, one giant leap for Peggy Davis. After a severe PR thrashing for seizing a retirement gift that allegedly contains Apollo 11 moon dust--it had belonged to Davis's late father, Joseph Healy, a NASA contract employee--the space agency has decided to give it back to the 58-year-old Oregon child-welfare worker.
This morning Davis's lawyer, Gavin Lentz, will send a paralegal to retrieve the commemorative desk set insured for $1 million and featuring a plastic moon rock that contains tiny fragments of alleged lunar material. "That's wonderful--if they're giving it back with no restrictions," Davis told us yesterday. In December, she accused NASA of taking her father's keepsake--presented to him on his 1970 retirement from Houston's Lunar Receiving Laboratory--and of threatening her with prosecution for trying to sell government property. Not so, says Inspector General Roberta Gross, who insists that Davis's sales agent, John Reznikoff, asked NASA to analyze the desk set without damaging it, and NASA was merely cooperating. After viewing the plastic rock through a microscope, NASA's analyst says the particles "did not exhibit any characteristic features commonly associated with lunar soil." Davis, of course, disagrees.
"I'm stuck in time. Every political journalist has a key on his typewriter that automatically types after Hart, 'whose campaign went up in flames after . . .' "
--1988 presidential contender Gary Hart, whose campaign went up in flames after he was caught cavorting with model Donna Rice, emoting to Talk magazine columnist Arianna Huffington.
In the Eye Of the 'Hurricane'
* The new Denzel Washington movie, "The Hurricane," dramatizes the wrongful conviction and prison sentence of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter for a triple murder he didn't commit. But like Bob Dylan's hit ballad about the celebrated case, the film gives short shrift to Carter's little-known co-defendant. John Artis was a 19-year-old former high school track star driving Carter's automobile that summer night in 1966, when Paterson, N.J., police pulled them over on suspicion of murder. And he ended up suffering just as much.
"I was in state prison for 15 years, and then spent another six years on parole," the 53-year-old Artis told us yesterday from his home in Virginia's Hampton Roads area, where he counsels youths at a detention center in Norfolk. "I was taking a year off after graduating from high school, killing time, trying to get over the death of my mother. She was only 44. We were extremely close. I was a hurdler at Paterson Central High School, and my coach had arranged for a track scholarship at Adams State College in Colorado."
Artis's bright prospects evaporated after he met Carter at a nightclub and asked for a lift home. After two racially charged jury trials, he and Carter were convicted of killing three white people at the Lafayette Grill and sentenced to three concurrent life terms. A model prisoner, he was released in 1981 but had further scrapes with the law before straightening himself out. In 1988 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal court ruling that voided his murder conviction, along with Carter's, and blamed the police and prosecutors for "grave constitutional violations," including mishandling evidence. "I was simply elated to have the case thrown out," said Artis, who remains friends with Carter and spent his birthday last October visiting the boxer in Toronto. "I never collected anything, no money, nothing. I've never even had an apology."