The Oct. 14 Reliable Source column contained an incorrect name for the Georgetown restaurant visited by actor F. Murray Abraham on Tuesday. It is the Wine Room, not the Wine Bar. (Published 10/15/04)
On O'Reilly's Show, The Litigation Factor
Hot times at Fox: A 33-year-old producer on Bill O'Reilly's popular Fox News Channel show filed a steamy sexual harassment lawsuit against the 55-year-old conservative icon yesterday, and he launched a blistering offensive against her in court and on the air.
"This is the single most evil thing I have ever experienced," O'Reilly told his viewers, branding the allegations a $60 million extortion scheme. "In a case like this you have to fight, even at some risk. . . . These people picked the wrong guy."
The suit filed in Manhattan by Andrea Mackris, who began working on "The O'Reilly Factor" in 2000, quotes heavily from what seem to be tape recordings she made of her boss. She claims he had phone sex with her against her wishes, "babbled perversely" to her while watching a porn movie, suggested she buy a vibrator, propositioned her and a female friend, and invited her to his hotel room.
O'Reilly's attorney, Ronald Green, said he wants a court to make the tapes public. "I know that he does not fear what is on the tapes," Green told the Associated Press. Gaining a preemptive edge after settlement negotiations collapsed Tuesday, O'Reilly announced his suit yesterday morning, claiming he was the victim of a shakedown; the suit, filed in Nassau County, names not only Mackris but her attorney and his law firm. But by the afternoon news cycle, Mackris's allegations dominated.
Mackris's suit quotes O'Reilly (who is married) as telling her over the phone, allegedly after pleasuring himself: "You know, Mackris, in these days of your celibacy and your hibernation, this is good for you to have a little fantasy outlet, you know, just to keep it tuned, keep that sensuality tuned until, you know, Mr. Right comes along and then you can put him in traction. . . . I'm trying to tell you, this is good for your mental health."
Mackris, a White House intern during the first George Bush administration, left her job with O'Reilly in January, worked for five months at CNN, then returned to her Fox job in July. Legal papers indicate she earns about $93,000. A Fox spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that Mackris still worked for the network.
At a dinner with O'Reilly in April, she says in her suit, she agreed to return to Fox "only if he no longer engaged in inappropriate conduct" and warned him that other women in the workplace might not be so forgiving. She quotes O'Reilly as telling her: "If any woman ever breathed a word I'll make her pay so dearly that she'll wish she'd never been born. I'll rake her through the mud, bring up things in her life and make her so miserable that she'll be destroyed."
On his show, O'Reilly said: "Obviously, I can't get into specifics as the litigation is in motion," but his suit calls Mackris's allegations "baseless."
Giving Props to The 'Voice of God'
* Georgetown gave Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham the star treatment Tuesday night at the U.S. premiere of "My Father," in which he plays a Jewish lawyer seeking compensation for victims of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, played by the legendary Charlton Heston. Shown as part of the Washington Italia Film Festival, the movie by Italian director Egidio Eronico is "an important film," Abraham says.
Even so, "It's a hard film to enjoy," Abraham told The Post's Robert Thomason. Spirits certainly weren't dampened at the Wine Bar in Georgetown: The actor conversed in Italian with friends and entertained a question from party promoter Cassandra Eckert: "What's it like to work with God?" (i.e. Heston, who played Moses and the deity's voice in "The Ten Commandments").
"God has a lot of bodyguards," Murray said, then chuckled. "It was a pleasure."
Heston, who turned 80 earlier this month, filmed on location in Brazilian slums and rain forests in 2001, a year before he announced that he has Alzheimer's disease. "It was easy to direct Heston because he is such a professional," Eronico said, "but it could be difficult because he was not always feeling well." Fans can catch free screenings of "My Father" at Loews Cineplex in Georgetown through Sunday.
Other celebs will be hitting Washington for the National Italian American Foundation's Saturday night awards gala. Keep an eye out for Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Yogi Berra, Danny Aiello, Franco Harris, Tony Danza, Giancarlo Giannini and Barbara Sinatra.
* Wearing a "Stand Up for Choice" T-shirt, actress and new mom Helen Hunt joins the John Kerry bandwagon in a Planned Parenthood commercial that begins airing next week. The ad highlights the fact that the 88-year-old nonprofit organization has never before endorsed a presidential candidate -- which it's doing through its Washington-based political action fund.
* The exhaustively subtitled new book by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter -- "What We've Lost: How the Bush Administration Has Curtailed Our Freedoms, Mortgaged Our Economy, Ravaged Our Environment, and Damaged Our Standing in the World" -- pretty much tells you how he feels about the prez's record. And the fact that he held a book party Tuesday night at the Dem-heavy Center for American Progress might also speak volumes. Still, the Canadian-born Carter, a naturalized U.S. citizen, would not reveal to us yesterday how he intends to vote. "A very private matter," he called it. He did, however, have a prediction: "I think that it will be a Kerry landslide, but then I also thought that irony would end after September 11th."
* Army Pfc. Lynndie England, 21, known as "Leash Gal" in the tabloids for her photographed behavior at Abu Ghraib, had her baby Sunday, an Army spokesman said yesterday. The family declined to release info about the birth, but the Baltimore Sun cited a source claiming it's a boy. The father is England's ex-boyfriend, Spec. Charles Graner Jr., who's also charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners.
With Anne Schroeder