Hollywood George

Posted January 30, 2004 at 6:19pm

Nobody was expecting to see the name of Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), the happily boring fellow who drives a non-flashy Ford Taurus wagon, turn up in the tell-all memoir “Hollywood Animal” penned by bad boy Joe Eszterhas.

But the 735-page tome, which details Eszterhas’ dalliances with Sharon Stone among other stars, includes an entire chapter on his affair with the Senator’s twenty-something daughter during Voinovich’s time as governor of Ohio.

Eszterhas, a native of Cleveland and a former reporter in the city, went on to become the top screenwriter in Hollywood — responsible for such flicks as “Basic Instinct,” “Sliver” and “Showgirls” — before his spectacular fall.

The bad-boy author stressed to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper last week that he believes the chapter on Betsy Voinovich was fair, noting that she has been “one of the most important women in my life.”

During his time as governor, Voinovich once praised Eszterhas for using Cleveland to film a movie with a rather ironic title. “‘Telling Lies in America’ will have a direct economic impact of $3 million,” Voinovich told the Plain Dealer in 1996, “and will employ more than 300 local actors, extras and crew members.”

After chatting with the Senator on Friday, a spokeswoman told HOH: “The Senator loves his daughter very much. She’s happily married with two beautiful children.”

Lott More Controversy. The nasty spat playing out between Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Kim Eisler of Washingtonian magazine is getting a little catty — literally.

After their collaboration on a political memoir fell apart, Eisler revealed in the pages of his magazine that Lott included some rather spicy information in the book proposal, such as the fact that he believes his successor as Republican leader, Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.), is an “ingrate.”

Lott spokeswoman Susan Irby told HOH last week that Eisler’s story was a “breathtakingly unethical and inaccurate pout.”

That charge prompted Eisler to spill to HOH a litany of private e-mails that he exchanged last year with Irby, which suggest that the mag writer was correct in claiming that Lott spewed all kinds of invective at Frist and other Republicans.

The e-mails show that when Eisler sent the book proposal containing the sensational quotes from Lott, Irby confirmed the author’s account and only suggested minor grammatical changes.

And Irby herself wrote a May 12 e-mail to Eisler charging that Frist is a “Nashville blue blood, essentially waiting for society to give him what he thinks he’s due — as a result of his class status.”

She added in reference to the controversial stories about Frist killing cats as a medical student: “For an insight into his character, look at the fact that he — not as a 7th grader or rugrat, but as an adult — adopted multiple pets from shelters and dissected them.”

Irby would not comment on the documentation offered up by Eisler, who also took issue with the staffer’s contention that he has been unethical for revealing his conversations with Lott.

Eisler insists that “nothing” was ever said about the conversations being off the record and that he had a handshake agreement with Lott to serve as the author of the book.

After getting a publisher to buy the proposal written by Eisler, Lott chose to go with a different writer — without ever notifying Eisler about it.

“If he had been polite enough to call me and say, ‘Kim, we may want to go with a different writer and I’d appreciate it if you would just consider everything we talked about confidential,’ I would have honored that,” said Eisler. “But we never had that conversation. He just dumped me — like an ingrate.”

Full disclosure: HOH contributes occasional articles to Washingtonian.

Playing Hardball With “Hardball.” Chris Matthews went out of his way Thursday night to tout the following evening’s episode of “Hardball” on MSNBC.

“Don’t miss tomorrow’s show, with two exclusives, Joe Trippi, who just got back from the Dean campaign, and a guy I hold close to my heart, Darrell Hammond, who does me on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” teased Matthews.

One little problem: After a quick commercial break, Deborah Norville featured an “exclusive” interview with Trippi, the ousted top strategist for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, on her new show.

“Exclusive certainly is a relative term,” joked one MSNBC source.

Even funnier was that the promos for Norville’s program urged viewers to tune in to watch her sit down with Trippi — even though it was an interview conducted via cellphone while the strategist was driving from Dean headquarters in Vermont back to his farm in Maryland. Technically, Trippi was sitting down for the interview since he was in the car.

Norville steered clear of much substance, choosing instead to focus on personal questions that got Trippi to break down emotionally a couple of times, such as when he recalled telling Dean “that he really had inspired me in Iowa about a year ago.”

“Well, when you give something this much of your life and the sacrifices that you make, he really did and he still does” serve as an inspiration.

Matthews got some better punch out of Trippi, such as when the strategist was asked what was behind the Kerry surge: “6.4 million big ones … he wrote himself a check.”

No Doubting Thomas. There’s been a near-universal reaction to the notion that House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) will be performing one of the stand-up routines at Wednesday’s 60th Annual Washington Press Club Foundation Congressional Dinner.

Is he funny?

Thomas spokeswoman Kristin Tinsworth insists that attendees will be in for a pleasant surprise from the man known for his smarts, seriousness and stick-it-in-your-ear mentality.

“Chairman Thomas has a very funny side and I’m sure people will see that next Wednesday night,” Tinsworth said.

Another Republican suggested that Thomas is going to stun the assembled lawmakers and journalists with his self-deprecating sense of humor: “Keep on the edge of your seats, trust me.”

HOH can only hope that means that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) or even some Capitol Police officers will be brought to help re-enact last summer’s lockdown in the Ways and Means Committee.

The Democratic speaker/comedian will be wealthy Sen. Jon Corzine (N.J.).

His staff admits that the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who should have an uphill climb this election cycle, will have plenty of self-deprecating material.

“There’s ample opportunity from his wealth to his job at the DSCC to New Jersey — which is always good for a few jokes,” noted spokesman Darius Gore.

Kerry-Edwards on Same Team? After reporting that Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.) had forged a private pact to avoid a Super Bowl bet so as not to case each other political harm on the eve of major primaries, HOH joked that maybe the seeds of a presidential ticket was forming.

And now Citizen Consent, a Boston-based grassroots organization seeking to help push President Bush out of office, is trying to make Kerry-Edwards a reality.

The group set up draftkerryedwards.com on Friday, two days before Super Bowl XXXVIII, and launched an online petition to allow Democrats across the country to hop aboard.

“John Kerry and John Edwards may be sitting on opposite sides of the field come Sunday, but they should be paired up on the same side of the line of scrimmage come November 2,” said Jim Spencer, co-founder of Citizen Consent.

Such a ticket was also given a push Friday by two political pros: Democratic strategist James Carville and Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt.

The Carville-Hunt line is giving odds of 7-5 to Edwards getting tapped for the second spot; 3-1 to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; 5-1 to Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.); 8-1 to Rep. Richard Gephardt (Mo.); and 10-1 to retired Gen. Wesley Clark.