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A SPORTING CHANCE

A hot property: What is it that is hotly being pursued by both Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman? Why, it's Brian Brown's soon-to-be-published book, "TV: A Novel of Media, Madness and Redemption." This is the tale of an over-the-top sports TV director, a kind of "Network" on steroids. Pre-publication kudos already have rolled in from the knowledgeable likes of Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw.

A friend to the end: We are waiting with bated breath for Denise Rich's decision on testifying about her ex-husband's pardon by Bill Clinton and to elaborate on gifts she gave to both Clintons. Although Ms. Rich is very well liked in New York for her generosity, her charm and her naive manner, this wouldn't have been the first time she went to bat for a guy. When her onetime live-in beau, the fertility doctor Niels Lauersen, got in trouble about nine years ago, Denise visited various prominent physicians in Manhattan begging them to help him get reinstated at a hospital. (He was convicted last month of insurance fraud.) So we see that (1) Denise is generous to those close to her, and (2) has lousy taste in men.

Election fallout: People are talking about John Kenneth Galbraith's analysis of Election 2000, which has been the talk of the Internet. The former ambassador to India under JFK says that the recent election caused us to leave behind "constitutional republicanism," and, he says, we "turned to a different form of government . . . corporate democracy. It is a system whereby a board of directors - read Supreme Court - selects the chief executive officer."

The other side of tragedy: There's more talk about former CNN correspondent Jill Brooke, who now edits Avenue. She took last year off to write "Don't Let Death Ruin Your Life," a moving, refreshing account of how the famous and the unknown live through tragedies. There are interviews with Rosie O'Donnell, Ted Turner, Bill Cosby and Rupert Murdoch, who told Brooke that losing his father at 19 motivated him into "battle mode."

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