ByAmy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
All the Dirt That's Fit to Print
What, Jessica Cutler left you wanting more?
The former Senate aide's lightly fictionalized account of her Capitol Hill sexcapades kept her on the local bestseller list for a couple weeks this summer. Now, the woman who helpfully alerted the world to Cutler's "Washingtonienne" online journal, Ana Marie Cox of the high-snark political blog Wonkette, wants a piece of the action.
"Dog Days" is due out from Riverhead Books in January, but we got our hands on an early manuscript. Cox's novel, full of insidery shout-outs to Bob Shrum, Campbell Brown and our own colleague Tom Edsall, also tells the story of a kinky sex blog that rocks D.C. -- here, "Capitolette" -- leading to all manner of shame, fame, etc. . . . 'cept that in this novel, the oversexed blogger is the whole-cloth invention of the anti-heroine, a young Democratic aide desperate to deflect attention from a scandal enveloping her John Kerry-like candidate.
Enough about plot, though. Members of the media/political-industrial complex want to know: Am I in it?
Oh, probably. It depends on whether you view the character of chic Georgetown hostess/political operator Emily Brompton as Sally Quinn, Beth Dozoretz or Juleanna Glover Weiss. Whether talk show host/former political wife/past-life explorer Teresa Altamont strikes you as more Arianna Huffington than Shirley MacLaine.
The "thuggish prude" columnist -- with a name like Marilyn Talcum, she has to be Michelle Malkin, doesn't she? But as for the socially awkward reporter, or the pundit who would leave a relative's funeral for a five-minute cable spot -- the possibilities are endless! And our lawyers prefer we not speculate on the inspiration for the telegenic political writer who cheats on his wife.
We're disturbed, however, by the portrayal of "Paul Lead," described as the columnist for "The Reliable Source" who constantly moans that he'd rather be in Baghdad than attending all these awful parties. Some may presume this man is our predecessor, Richard Leiby. Clearly he is not. While Lead is described as wearing "incongruously hip" eyeglasses, Leiby's glasses are quite congruously hip, thank you.
Cox pleads it's all a mere fiction. "I now realize that it's impossible to create any Washington character without somebody thinking it's them," she said via BlackBerry, of course, from Puerto Rico. "I shouldn't have written a novel, I should have written an index."
A Lot on the Menu
It's not Nixon and Elvis, but the B & B Lunch Club (Bush and Bono) met at the White House yesterday, where B2 chatted about AIDS, malaria and poverty. Bush was not planning to attend the U2 concert last night. Bono was not planning to take over FEMA.
When You're Really Big, It Pays to Party
You already know celebrities get invited to the best parties. You already know they get outrageously luxe freebies. Here's the big old caboose on that gravy train: Some of them get huge personal appearance fees just for showing up. After interviewing agents, event planners and publicists, Radar magazine's November-December issue reports the price of those A-list cash cows:
* Halle Berry made at least $100,000 (and possibly as much as $500,000) for dropping by Oral-B's toothbrush party and Wal-Mart's shareholders meeting.
* Sean "Diddy" Combs received $100,000 on New Year's Eve for contractually obligated mingling with partygoers at the Mansion nightclub in Miami.
* Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez gets $100,000 for corporate dinners, where he's "not very nice and not very polite. He's a male diva."
* Paris Hilton is raking in at least $1 million to show up twice a month at Orlando's new Club Paris, while former best friend Nicole Richie got only $10,000 for an American Express party.
The Reliable Source appears Tuesday through Friday and on Sunday; its Web chat is at noon Wednesdays. Got a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.