Changing of the Guard

It's the end of an era, of sorts. Citing "concerns about his own mortality" after nearly 50 years (50 years!?!) as reigning king of the National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. is relinquishing his throne, the magazine said yesterday.

The 78-year-old -- known as the father of the modern conservative movement -- is handing over his controlling shares in the mag to a board of trustees he has carefully selected, one being his son, humorist Christopher Buckley. Others are Thomas L. Rhodes, the magazine's president, and Austin Bramwell, a contributing writer who graduated from Yale in 2000. Despite Buckley's self-described "divestiture," the conservative journal will still publish its founder's widely read syndicated column.

Will the magazine, which has grown to 155,000 in circulation, change? "No," says editor Rich Lowry, laughing. "That's my job to make sure it doesn't change direction.

"I think everyone has a sense of wistfulness and the focus of the mind on the extraordinary accomplishments, given what he did politically and intellectually and the fullness of his life. National Review is kind of losing its renaissance man. We'll never have someone who's had such an extraordinary range of interests and excellence in so much." Lowry added: "I won't be taking up the harpsichord anytime soon."

Sister, Sister

In a completely different part of the universe, otherwise known as Hollywood, Ashley Olsen speaks up about her twin's current battle with an eating disorder.

Mary-Kate had "been struggling . . . for quite a while," the blond Olsen told People mag. "She's hanging in there." The 18-year-old multimillionairess added: "I think this is an issue the girl down the street can have. It's an issue a lot of people deal with."

Insofar as how the twins are dealing with this latest blip, Ashley said, "It's private. I'm here for her whenever she needs me, and, you know, that's how it works."

Rocking Into the Twilight Years

Aerosmith's rockin' frontman Steven Tyler explains his band's staying power (after all, it has been 34 years of ups and downs) to CBS News's "Early Show" correspondent Tracy Smith, saying: "We're the epitome of old school." But he adds: "I have given that some thought, though: Either we're too stupid to break up or we never made enough money."

And is the ever-youthful Tyler, 56, excited about the prospect of being a, gasp!, grandfather? (Daughter Liv Tyler, married to musician Royston Langdon, is reportedly preggers.) "Lord have mercy! Does this mean I have to change my toenail color?" What was he saying about being old school again?

Noted . . .

We've really gotta hand it to Suzanne Conrad of Ohio. She baked a pie and won a million bucks. It's as simple as that. We do not exaggerate. Conrad spent a week perfecting her pie-baking abilities, and beat out 95 other woman and five men who entered the Pillsbury Bake-Off. "It's a lot of money for a little effort," she said of her Oats n' Honey Granola winning dessert. And her plans for the dough? The former librarian says she'll use the money for her 3-year-old's and 1-year-old's college education . . .

Rick "Super Freak" James happily accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award during the Rhythm & Soul Awards in Beverly Hills on Monday. The official ceremony carefully excluded the low points of James's career (mainly drug use and prison time), but thanks to James, the elephant in the room wasn't ignored for too long. Never one to hold back, the funk pioneer reminisced while he examined his statuette made of smooth glass and quipped, "Years ago, I would have used this for something totally different. Cocaine is a hell of a drug."

. . . and Quoted

"My brain cells are coming out in my breast milk."

-- New mom Gwyneth Paltrow, offering up an interesting mental picture to those attending the Crystal & Lucy Awards in Los Angeles.

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

The Reliable Source will return next week.

William F. Buckley Jr. is stepping down after half a century at the National Review.