'Princess Pleasant' of Kent
The British press loves to call her "Princess Pushy," but to us, her royal highness Princess Michael of Kent seemed no more aggressive than any other author flogging a book in Washington. "If there are any movie producers here, please see me after," she told fans who gathered in Georgetown on Saturday evening to buy copies of her third book, "The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King." The 59-year-old princess (who, you should know, signs her name Marie Christine, not Michael) sees big-screen potential in her chronicle of a royal love triangle involving King Henri II of France, his alluring mistress Diane de Poitiers, and homely, embittered wife Catherine de Medici.
"He was what you call in America a hunk," the author said of Henri. "I'm planning for Jude Law to play him." She'd also like to see Cate Blanchette cast as Diane and Renee Zellweger as Catherine. Not that the princess has actually landed a movie deal: "This is a fantasy, pie in the sky," she told us. But a girl can dream: "It's the same period as 'Shakespeare in Love' and they could use the same costumes!"
The wife of the queen's first cousin, Princess Michael stirred controversy in May for telling a table of black diners at a ritzy Manhattan restaurant to "quiet down" and allegedly advising them to "go back to the colonies." Her publicist dropped her. The princess strenuously denied saying any such thing, later telling a TV interviewer, "To call me a racist is a knife in my heart because I have done so much -- I think probably more than most people I know -- for Africans."
Though reputed to be a snob, the princess was on her best behaviour while chatting up this common scribe and signing books at the home of grand dame Oatsie Charles. Dressed in monochrome for her book tour -- in tribute to her ancestor, de Poitiers, who only wore black and white -- Princess Michael mentioned several times that she also descends from de Medici, her other main female character. (But, hey, that's what royalty's all about -- those dusty old bloodlines and such.)
"I'm not a historian," the princess graciously informed us. "I'm just a storyteller. But my stories are true. And I give you such great quotes!"
The Clooneys' Large Supporting Cast
* The George and Nick Clooney show came to Washington on Sunday, with Democrats lining up to meet the movie star's father and write checks for his congressional campaign. Nick Clooney, 69, a former Cincinnati newspaper columnist and newscaster, is running for a seat from Kentucky.
About 70 people cozied up to the father and son (and were wowed by youthful-looking mom Nina Clooney) at the Bethesda home of dentist Michelle Loewinger and lawyer Howard Gutman. Among those attending the fundraiser: Ted Leonsis, Sargent Shriver and son Mark Shriver. Guests told us the pile of contributions included a sizable check from a Democrat who couldn't make it: Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.
Later in the evening, the Clooneys starred at another fundraiser held at Lounge 201 for Capitol Hill types, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who brought along his dog. Sporting a beard and about 30 extra pounds for his role as spy Robert Baer in the movie "Syriana," George introduced his pop by first saying he's sorry. "Everyone knows I'm liberal," he said, "but I'd like to apologize for anything I've said in the past that could have upset people so that I can properly campaign for my old man. I'd like to apologize to the NRA . . . and to the RNC . . . and for making 'Batman and Robin.' "
Hardy-har-har. And, never fear, ladies: George wears the extra weight very well.
The Running Mates Square Off at the Newsstand
* First Lady Watch: We're keeping our eyes peeled in case revealing details emerge as the glossy mags crank out their preelection profiles of Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry.
In the October GQ, which hits newsstands today, we learn something that isn't exactly new but is of note: Laura Bush still believes the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling should not be overturned. "Yeah," the tight-lipped first lady says in a curt affirmation of her opinion. (In January 2001, she buoyed abortion-rights supporters by backing Roe v. Wade on the "Today" show.)
Meanwhile, in this week's New Yorker, the more voluble Heinz Kerry, chronicled at an appearance in Daytona Beach, Fla., describes herself as a "strict, bossy, witchy mother" who forbade her sons to eat junk food and restricted their weekly TV viewing to an hour at most. She also made them write reports about the shows. "So we spent our time figuring out how to watch TV and eat junk food," son Andre Heinz tells the mag, adding (affectionately, of course): "Mom could be terrifying."
With Anne Schroeder