We've got to give Donna Rice a hand. Begrudgingly, perhaps, but nonetheless, a hand. The woman has given a whole new dimension to the phrase: did she or didn't she, and we are not talking about hair color. Do we care whether she did? You betcha. And it looks like Rice might finally be making some money.

Lynn Armandt, the best-known "best friend" since Betsy Bloomingdale, told People magazine that Donna Rice and Gary Hart did not -- repeat, did not -- spend that fateful night in his Capitol Hill town house rolling bandages for the Red Cross. But does she really know what went on? She wasn't there, was she? No. She was camping out at the home of one of Gary Hart's good friends. So really only two people know -- I mean really know -- what happened on the night that cost Gary Hart a very great deal.

Hart isn't talking, which is probably the most sensible thing he has done this year.

But Donna Rice is. Sort of. Her story is coming out in tantalizing little episodes that would make a soap opera writer writhe with envy. She is keeping us hooked with the tiniest morsels. This is a woman who knows how to milk a situation.

Or at least make the best of it. At first it looked as if Donna Rice was going to be another celebrity comet. But thanks to her friend Lynn Armandt there was enough interesting dirt surfacing to get us more permanently interested in Rice. The scandal was developing some genuine substance. The Miami Herald story about That Night in Washington was rapidly overtaken by the pictures that Armandt took and later reportedly sold to the National Enquirer. Those were the famous Monkey Business pictures that made the rounds of every office in town that week. Armandt also provided People magazine with one of its most interesting anthropological scoops of the year when she told the magazine that Rice had slept with Hart on the Bimini trip. "It was absolutely clear that she had slept with Gary," Armandt told People. "She's not one to detail {her sex life}, but she said she had a wonderful time with him . . . that he was very gentle and romantic."

I know men who would kill for that kind of publicity.

Thanks to Armandt, we have pretty good evidence that Rice and Hart were not rolling bandages for the Red Cross in Bimini either.

And thanks to People we also know that Rice successfully enhanced her natural endownments, otherwise the cover picture of her in her bathing suit wouldn't have been quite as amazing as it was.

But while Armandt and People and the National Enquirer were making money out of the scandal, poor Donna Rice was getting nothing. She did a photo layout for Life magazine for which she reportedly got a mere $4,000.

But things seem to be picking up. She did an interview with Barbara Walters that got stupendous ratings. Did we all watch? You betcha. Did we learn anything new? No. Rice didn't tell. Not then, anyway. There was the matter of her privacy. So there we all were, watching this show, waiting for the other shoe to drop, for her to look earnestly into Walters' eyes and say, "Yes, Barbara. I did. We didn't spend the night rolling bandages for the Red Cross. We made love and he was very gentle and romantic." But she didn't do any such thing. She discussed her dignity, and TV sets clicked off around the country.

Now, however, it looks like Donna Rice is going to cash in on her discretion as well as her indiscretion. ABC wants to air a two-hour movie next year called "The Donna Rice Story" and ABC says it is going to be the entire story. According to some news reports, she will be receiving between $100,000 and $200,000 for telling the exact nature of her relationship with Hart, including what happened That Night, although Rice is now saying she won't make any deals that require her to Kiss and Tell so we may still have to Wait and See.

USA Today got a terrific quote from Ted Harbert, ABC's vice president for movies, in which he said: "It is being done truly to tell the whole truth," although he apparently doesn't know what the truth is. (I hope for his sake they weren't rolling bandages That Night because that would ruin the movie.)

So thanks to ABC's desire to tell the whole truth -- not to mention making a killing in the ratings if Rice comes through -- we may finally find out what happened That Night and Donna Rice may finally be able to cash in on her notoriety. Is it fair to Hart? This is a man who, according to Armandt, dropped Rice like an atomic bomb when they were discovered. Not even a farewell smooch.

Moreover, do we care what happened after all this time? Will anyone watch this movie?

You betcha.