Jewish World Review May 14, 2004 / 23 Iyar, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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What it was like to be Kerry's 'mistress'; Curious George (Stephanopoulos); more | NEW YORK — Three months ago, Columbia Journalism School grad Alexandra Polier was the target of Internet rumors and media speculation about a supposed extramarital affair (denied by all concerned) with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Back then, the 27-year-old Polier's photograph was published in papers from New York to London, and she pleaded publicly "that the press respect our privacy and leave all of us alone."

But now she's had enough of privacy.

Word from Nairobi, Kenya — where Polier has been living with the family of her Israeli fiance, Yaron Schwartzman — is that she's toiling on an epic essay about her experiences at the center of a political firestorm.

According to an informed source, the former Associated Press intern is writing her account — for which New York magazine is paying $10,000 — of how it felt to be on the wrong side of the reporter-subject equation.

Polier was hounded by media lowlifes and guttersnipe gossip columnists (me, perhaps?) who published provocative details of a profile in which she — or someone claiming to be her — was described as "just another hot piece of a — with a philosophy degree."

My informant tells me: "She is also going to detail her work for Kerry and, possibly, her relationship with one of his staffers, not the candidate."

After cybergossip Matt Drudge energetically stoked the rumors into a full-fledged non-scandal, Polier issued a statement that said in part: "Because these stories were false, I assumed the media would ignore them. It seems that efforts to peddle these lies continue, so I feel compelled to address them. I have never had a relationship with Sen. Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false."

Kerry also dismissed the stories, telling reporters: "I just deny it categorically. It's rumor. It's untrue."

On Thursday, the Kerry campaign declined to weigh in on Polier's article-in-progress, and New York mag spokeswoman Serena Torrey told me: "We don't comment on any stories that may or may not be in the works."

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CURIOUS GEORGE (Stephanopoulos)

I always suspected that ABC News "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos was a deep and sensitive soul.

Now there's confirmation in "Truth & Beauty," novelist Ann Patchett's memoir of her friendship with famed writer Lucy Grealy.

Patchett writes that five years ago, before he dated and married comedian and television host Ali Wentworth, the former top Bill Clinton aide answered a personal ad placed by Grealy.

And just where did Stephanopoulos find Grealy's ad?

Not in New York Press or, but in the New York Review of Books.

Talk about intellectual heavyweight!

"She listed herself as a successful author who was not interested in dating other authors," Patchett writes. "As for her physical appearance, she said that she was 'fetching.'"

In due course, a note from Stephanopoulos arrived. "He said he was intrigued by the word fetching. It wasn't a word you saw much anymore."

Patchett quotes her friend: "Who would have thought that George Stephanapoulos read the personal ads?" To which Patchett replied: "Who would have thought he answered them?"

Grealy eventually met Stephanopoulos for a drink. Her review: "He's a very nice guy. Very smart. We had a great talk about politics. . . . He's cute, but definitely no sparks."

On Thursday, Stephanopoulos was unreachable and on his way to the Middle East.

Grealy, the author of "The Autobiography of a Face," her acclaimed memoir of coping with the cosmetic effects of childhood cancer, died at age 39 in December 2002.


SLY FOX?: More than a week after Fox Television triumphantly announced an agreement with the actors who voice its wildly successful animated sitcom, "The Simpsons," the contract still hasn't been inked. I hear that Hank Azaria, Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and Julie Kavner are each getting a huge raise to $250,000 per episode, plus a bonus, but they're balking at Fox's eleventh-hour demand that they help promote "Simpsons" DVDs and other products for which they won't be paid. I'm told that the actors have so far recorded three episodes for the sitcom's 22-episode 16th season, which starts next fall. But if the contracts don't get signed, Fox won't be able to use their voices.

INTERNATIONAL LEGALISMS: Various ambassadors to the United Nations are clamoring to do cameos in "The Interpreter," the Nicole Kidman movie current being filmed on location in New York, but director Sydney Pollack tells me that before he can cast real diplomats, the question of U.S. work permits for foreigners must be sorted out. Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman, meanwhile, wonders if he needs to get a Screen Actors Guild card.

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© 2003, Creators Syndicate