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WARHOL FILM CAUSES A STIR

"Once you are a star, people start asking you about politics, astronomy, archaeology and birth control!" said Marlon Brando.

Andy Warhol created a rather motley stable of "superstars" back in the swinging '60s and salacious '70s. (The fragile, ethereal Candy Darling came closest to legitimacy. Today, she'd be a "real" star, no contest.) Now, a movie is planned about a Warhol celeb, the late Edie Sedgwick. It's called "Factory Girl," and Kate Bosworth and Sienna Miller are rumored up for the role. (According to Variety, Sienna nabbed it.)

This movie has some of the surviving Warhol stars in a dither. Brigid Berlin, known as Andy's closest confidante, and her sister, Richie, fear they might be shown in a bad light. Noises have been made to possibly stop the film.

Having known both the wild and wildly inventive Berlin girls, I must say, I do wonder what they'd object to?

Hollywood's hot open secret? The cocaine addiction of one of its youngest, most luscious stars. But don't anticipate public rehab. Too much tied up in "image" right now. Still, I see dead people. Oh, no, not the star. She'll survive. But reps, parents, handlers of all sorts, will get the heave-ho when this girl clears her head. And she will. A tough, smart, ambitious cookie.

Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion is always hopping. The recent Halloween party was a smash, with everybody from Anna Nicole Smith (who arrived dressed as always in pink feathers) to "O.C." hottie Mischa Barton (as Betty Boop) to L.A.'s glam gadfly Nikki Haskell, who has taken to carrying her bondage-like, Star-Cruncher exercise machine with her everywhere. It looks like a little instrument of torture, so it fit right in at this Fright Night gala.

But next week, Hefner's pleasure palace gets something really classy. A Grand Classics screening of the movie-to-end-all-movies about gossip columnists and the down and dirty world of dish, "Sweet Smell of Success." Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor host. It is Grand Classics series' first event in L.A. (The New York screenings have become hot among the fashionable and cinema-addicted.)

It will be interesting to see the crowd Hef attracts to this 1957 movie about low-down tactics in the world of newspaper scandal.

"Dedicated to Liza Minnelli's artistry." That's what it says on Page 1 of Scott Schechter's "The Liza Minnelli Scrapbook" (Citadel Press). This is a glossy valentine to the great star, concentrating on her long, award-laden stage, screen and recording career. The sensation of her "private" life is not emphasized. Tons of previously unseen photos and plenty of Minnelli minutiae. (Her first reviews, even as an awkward teenager, are thrilling to read; she had legendary style from the start!) Flip through this and be reminded that Liza is an artist, one whose commitment to her audience never wavers.

Sen. John Kerry and the Democrats? Their loss to George W. Bush can be chalked up to a number of things:

Not selecting Dick Gephardt for his vice presidential nominee . . . Ralph Nader, who didn't do Kerry much harm, but didn't do him any good, either . . . the Massachusetts gay marriage OK that caused 11 other states to effect laws against it, making it "an issue" . . . failure, perhaps, to follow up on the antiwar stance of Howard Dean . . . Karl Rove's brilliantly dedicated and organized evangelical, "born again" Christian crusade . . . Teresa Kerry's quirky independence . . . the backlash against liberal show business exemplified by the amazing embrace of Mel Gibson's well-timed "The Passion of the Christ" . . . Bill Clinton's illness, which sidelined him as a campaigner . . . the worst division in ideology since the Civil War.

While I am all for rigid separation of church and state, I say to my readers today -- let us pray. And let's try to work together for the ultimate goal of America's implicit greatness.

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