Jewish World Review July 21, 2004 / 3 Menachem-Av, 5764
Love among the ruins; he ain't heavy, he's my brother; talk about playing Hardball!
NEW YORK Working on an article about the protesters planning to disrupt next month's Republican National Convention, Vanity Fair contributing editor Nancy Jo Sales enjoyed very special access.
Her competitors at rival mags grumbled that protest leader Frank Morales, an associate priest at St. Marks Episcopal Church, was very hard to pin down for an interview.
But he seemed to be giving Sales an exclusive.
The two were unusually close, a rival writer told me. At planning meetings for which Sales was once spotted helping Morales set up the folding chairs she was often seen sitting beside him, giggling and whispering in his ear.
In late June, Sales turned in her 7,000-word piece in which Morales was briefly mentioned. Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter killed the piece for space.
Sales informed Morales that very night over dinner at the East Village diner, Odessa. She was initially unhappy. But he was elated because it paved the way for a romantic relationship.
"Nancy was so scrupulous about wanting to maintain a kind of clarity in terms of our relationship, and she was very concerned about how it would look."
The 39-year-old Sales revealed: "On December 4th, Frank and I are getting married. I'm so happy. I was crazy in love with him from the first moment I saw him. We're going to be married in a little garden in the East Village."
It will be Morales' third and Sales' second time at the altar. He has a 6-year-old boy, and she a 4-year-old daughter, from previous unions.
On Tuesday, Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak stressed that Sales and Morales didn't become an item until after her story was killed.
"In general, should a conflict of interest occur between the writer and the subject during the reporting process a rare occasion, to be sure we trust that the individual will recuse him- or herself from the story."
And will Graydon Carter give the bride away?
"That," Morales ventured with a laugh, "would be very nice."
TALK ABOUT PLAYING HARDBALL!
The Democrats' most potent secret weapon?
It might very well be MSNBC "Hardball" correspondent Ron Reagan Son of Gipper.
The 46-year-old Reagan, a trustee of the nominally non-partisan Creative Coalition, will be speaking out in favor of stem-cell research at next week's Democratic National Convention.
And in "If You Had Five Minutes With the President," a soon-to-be published collection of celebrity essays benefiting the Coalition, Reagan offers his own scathing critique of George W. Bush's professions of faith.
"I would want to know whether he believes that the thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans who have died as a result of our military campaigns will be welcome in heaven (as he imagines it)," Reagan writes. "People who believe they are acting with the mandate of G-d, who see others who don't share their beliefs as inferior in the eyes of G-d, make dangerous leaders. Just ask Osama bin Laden."
Among the 62 boldface names who also weigh in is "Will & Grace" star Eric McCormack, who writes: "We are all appalled at the age-old treatment of women in much of the Third World, but deny an American woman's right to choose by quoting the Bible."
Actor Alan Cumming also addresses President Bush: "You may have had, no doubt, a family member remove thousands of people from the electoral register to enable your ascension to power, but please don't forget to be publicly outraged when other countries do exactly the same thing."
The sarcasm meter is off the scale.
HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER: With Bush-bashing books streaming onto the shelves, it's no surprise that conservatives are fighting back with "Thank You, President Bush," an anthology of laudatory essays by everyone from virtue czar and ex-gambling enthusiast Bill Bennett to former Secretary of State George Schulz to anti-tax jihadist Grover Norquist. The book's foreword was written by the president's little brother Jeb, the governor of Florida, with whom Dubya has a much-discussed sibling rivalry. So this column asked co-editor Rod Martin if it was hard to get Jeb to say "Thank you, President Bush." Martin replied, "We sought him out for that he was thrilled to do it and very helpful. If they have that goin' on, they keep it to the home front they certainly didn't manifest it here. Maybe they play football at the ranch."
WRONG ACCENT?: That was Peggy Kerry at Monday night's "Bridge and Tunnel" fund-raiser for brother John, inveighing against those "anti-feminist" Republicans "in a patrician accent that rivaled Prince Charles'," a worried Kerry supporter confided to this column Tuesday. "I don't know how will that play in Topeka?" Cracking good, I'd say.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate