Jewish World Review Oct. 28, 2003 / 2 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

It's Cher calling!; Brown Alert | NEW YORK — Cher is certainly an early-riser.

The sun was barely up Monday when the 57-year-old pop diva, resting from her so-called "farewell concert tour" at her Miami Beach mansion, dialed up C-SPAN and, without identifying herself, gave "Washington Journal" host Peter Slem a detailed account of her recent visit with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

She talked a blue streak about a variety of subjects, including "the unbelievable courage" of the soldiers, her dislike of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft, and her deep disillusionment with Ross Perot.

"The thing that I was most shocked by as I was walking into the hospital, the first person I ran into was a boy that was about 19 or 20 years old who had lost both of his arms," Cher said. "I walked into the hospital and visited all these boys all day long. Everyone had lost either one limb or two limbs. . . . A couple of the boys told me it was because their vehicles — the rockets pierce their vehicles so much . . . it's like being kind of in a tin can."

Slem, who initially had no idea who his anonymous caller was, eventually had trouble getting her off the phone.

"It took everything that I have as a person to not, you know, break down when I was talking to these guys," said Cher, who visited the hospital around the time of her June 29 concert in Washington. "This was the most heinous thing I've ever seen. . . . I wonder why none of Cheney, (Deputy Defense Secretary Paul) Wolfowitz, (Iraq Administrator Paul) Bremer, the president, why aren't they taking pictures with all these guys? Because I don't understand why these guys are so hidden."

Slem finally unmasked the caller's identity in a game of Animal, Vegetable or Celebrity.

Q: "What were you doing at Walter Reed? Are you a volunteer?"

A: "No, I was asked to come and spend the day. I was working that day in Washington, D.C."

Q: "What kind of work do you do?"

A: "I'm an entertainer."

Q: "What kind of entertaining? Are you U.S.O?"

A: "No . . . I really don't want to go much past that. But — "

Q: "Is this Cher?"

A: "Yeah."

Afterward Slem told me: "It didn't occur to me that it would be Cher. But I recognized her voice. I'm a big Cher fan. I own every CD she ever put out."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.


BROWN ALERT: I'm told the real reason CNN anchor Aaron Brown skipped last week's big political coverage breakfast is that CNN President Jim Walton has informed him that he won't be anchoring the cable network's campaign coverage. I hear Brown was expecting to anchor CNN's coverage of the Oct. 7 California gubernatorial recall election, but the plum assignment was given instead to Wolf Blitzer. A CNN spokeswoman disputed this version of events: "Aaron's primary function is to anchor our 10 p.m. newscast 'NewsNight' and to be a lead anchor on breaking news stories. His absence from the breakfast was a scheduling issue. With a year to go, we aren't ready to discuss specifics of election night, but any assertion that Aaron Brown is not an important part of the team is just plain wrong."

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10/27/03: Paparazzi uncensored!; where's Aaron Brown?; postcards from the middle; invasion of the party snatchers?; House flooded when not afire?; suspenders of disbelief?
10/23/03: Ace up Howard Dean's sleeve; Woody's ordeal; Paul Simon's kid makes good; the non-beginning of a beautiful friendship?
10/22/03: Showing the flag; Joe Frazier, smokin'!; see Carville bruised-up — sort of
10/21/03: Morris & Jaci's charm offensive; Hell hath no fury; Wintertime for Hitler
10/20/03: Isn't it rich?; men (and the occasional woman) behaving badly; peacenik John Lennon supporting the U.S. military?; courageous Connie
10/16/03: George Clooney and intolerable Drudgery; Cameron goes native; and you thought the war in Iraq was nasty?; now it can be revealed; star wars?
10/15/03: Kerik into the breach?; holiday pander?; "the Dink" corrects the record; more
10/14/03: Madge gets mad, lips are sealed; the candidates who listen; he who hesitates is Beatty
10/13/03: Clothes, but no cigar; New Yorkers put a Sox in it; mad at Matalin?; more
10/09/03: Gray Davis goes to the movies; Ali Wentworth, working blue; Law & Order?; pot of gold at the end of the rainbow room?
10/08/03: Art-time for Hitler; the actress who hates movies; lying "Liam"
10/07/03: Pond scum of the rich and famous
07/24/03: Ali and George, living it up; Mel Gibson's Washington power play
07/21/03: White House smear?
07/17/03: Yet another intern scandal; it's her party and she can pay if she wants to
07/14/03: On the auction block: JFK'S boxer shorts; love bytes the maestro
07/10/03: A hairy situation at Homeland Security; Van Susteren v. Orth
06/30/03: Rep. Patrick Kennedy: I've never worked a (bleeping) day in my life; Drudge's dressing down; Ken Lay's Kerry connection
06/26/03: Rapping the beat
06/23/03: Another Watergate scandal?; AL GORE TV!
06/19/03: Tony Snow, rocker?; that won't be crow on Mr. Carlson's plate
06/16/03: Missing dog, ransom demand, Hollywood ending
06/12/03: Giving both parties the needle
06/05/03: Incoming from Barbara Bush?
06/02/03: Bob Dole's plan for fighting unemployment
05/29/03: Newt's new novel
05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate