The GOP Convention Draws a Mob -- of Actors

For actor Joe Pantoliano -- aka Joey Pants, aka Ralph Cifaretto on "The Sopranos" (a character who, sadly, got whacked) -- the Republican National Convention might seem like something of a cast reunion. Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) and Federico Castelluccio (Furio Giunta) are expected to be there, too. But we do not recommend that you refer to Joey and his gang as "mobster buddies."

Calling from a Hollywood set while working on a CBS series for the fall, Mr. Pants exploded: "I'm not a mobster! I'm an educated actor."

And, he informed us, "I only want to talk about 'Five Minutes With the President,' " a book of essays he's promoting for the nonprofit Creative Coalition, of which he is co-president. Its actual title is "If You Had Five Minutes With the President," but Pantoliano confessed he hasn't read it. "I've been too busy working," he said. "I'm waiting until they turn it into a movie."

Ron Reagan, who addressed the Democratic National Convention, edited and wrote a foreword for "Five Minutes," but the arts advocacy group will be in New York to show its nonpartisan stripes. Indeed, Pantoliano told us he even changed his voter registration from Democrat to Independent. He's an equal-opportunity insulter. Citing the flap over one of John Kerry's Purple Hearts, he quipped: "If he self-inflicted himself with a grenade, then I'm voting for him! Anybody that stupid has got to be better than the guy we have now."

Then, an epiphany: "Maybe I should run for the governor of New Jersey! I have plenty of things to hide," the New Jersey native said excitedly. "How much money do they make being a governor anyway?"

Depends. Maybe as much as a rat fink little hood, maybe more, but certainly not as much as an actor with Pantoliano's credits ("The Matrix," "Daredevil," "The Fugitive" and lots more).

"I can't," he declared. "I get all this free stuff as an actor -- there's no way I'm giving that stuff up!"

A Cold Shoulder for Laurie

* For the love of Laurie: We can't resist printing one more publicity picture of actress Laurie Coleman, even though some folks in Minnesota saw blue on Thursday after we ran a boudoir shot showing the glamorous wife of their Republican senator, Norm Coleman, posing in a bustier, garter and stockings. "It's disappointing," Tom Prichard, head of the conservative Minnesota Family Council, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "It sends the wrong message to young girls. She's in a position of influence, being married to a public figure. Whether one likes it or not, there's a degree of responsibility that goes with it."

By authorizing release of the photos to The Post, Mrs. Coleman's publicity rep in Los Angeles, Anthony Turk, told us she hoped to win sexy roles and strike a blow against ageism in casting. (She's 47 and the mother of two teenagers.) Mission accomplished: "You made her out to be a cool, hip, happening chick!" crowed Turk.

But will it fly with the Hollywood-bashing wing of the GOP? Her husband, a co-host of the Republican National Convention, pronounced himself "very proud" of his wife's career. "She works hard to maintain and build her career, while at the same time staying focused on the needs of our family and our kids," the senator said in a statement. "I think it's great that someone who has talent, and is obviously gorgeous, has the opportunity to reach out and be successful."

The onetime model issued her own statement: "I am very flattered that the photos are getting any attention." Well, it's just one of those things people will do in August.

Donnie McClurkin, Ready to Sing Out Against Gay 'Curse'

* Culture war update: Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, a self-proclaimed formerly gay man who has vowed to battle "the curse of homosexuality," said he'll perform as scheduled at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, despite controversy over his views that homosexuality can be reversed by religious intervention.

"I can never be swayed from my God-given assignment by the response of the people," the Grammy winner said in a statement Friday. "This Gospel cannot and will not be selective in its presentation. . . . I've sung for President Clinton as well as George Bush senior at the White House, three times. This Gospel can't be subject to partisanship."

McClurkin wrote on a Christian Web site in 2002 that he became homosexual because he was molested by male relatives when he was 8 and 13. "I've been through this and have experienced God's power to change my lifestyle. . . . I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too."

The New Frontier of Journalism: A Son of George?

* The New Frontier, a magazine whose name evokes the John F. Kennedy administration, will debut tomorrow on the Internet with coverage of the Republican convention. Publisher Helen O'Donnell, daughter of the late, influential JFK aide Kenneth P. O'Donnell, told us the focus will be on government, politics and Hollywood -- or "poliwood," as her staff puts it. Promo materials for the New Frontier describe it as the "relaunch" of the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s magazine, George, but say it is "decidedly not a Kennedy-related magazine."

O'Donnell's first foray into the magazine world can be seen online at www.thenewfrontier.us. A forthcoming print edition is expected to carry a November cover date. "Even though Helen comes from Democratic roots, very strong ones, we are available to people across the political aisle," Deputy Editor Gary B. La Forest told us. "The launch during the Republican National Convention shows our balance."

With Anne Schroeder