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REESE IS THE WORD

"She hears the muse. I've worked with some great women -- Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn -- and they heard the muse. I don't know how else to put it. Working with Reese was like working with them."

That's Bob Newhart talking with Vogue about the hotter-every-minute Reese Witherspoon. Newhart acts opposite Reese in the coming "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde."

Reporter Jonathan Van Meter sits with Reese, the $15-million-a-film star, and he observes: "The overall effect of the Witherspoon package -- the clothes, the office, the personality, the colors -- is that of a modern Doris Day. Sharp, bright, blonde and rat-ta-tat funny. She's also virtuous and modest, even a little prudish." On sexy clothes and image, Reese, expecting her second child later this year, says, "I don't know, I just have this idea . . . that when you sell yourself as a sexy thing -- 'I'm a sexy actress!' -- there's going to come a time when you're that used-to-be-sexy actress."

Smart girl. But also smart enough to know a little cleavage and a little glamour aren't to be despised. She is all tricked out on the June cover, photographed by Steven Klein, looking, well, like "a sexy thing."

What's his name, former "ace" reporter of The New York Times, better hope there's no such thing as karma, or that what goes around, comes around. His plagiarism, inaccuracies and deceptions are no laughing matter, except, apparently, to him. His jovial attitude talking to the New York Observer set heads aflame in offices and cubicles high and low at the Good Gray Lady on West 43rd Street.

And this is just the beginning. If this story becomes a flagellating book and inevitably a TV or even a feature film, with the man himself giving more interviews, chuckling and mocking his former employers -- well, it'll be a tsunami of tsimmes at the Times. It already is.

Tina Brown writes in the Times of London, "The spring media betrayal season has arrived, and it's the best in years." She cites not only the Times liar, but also "The newly minted novelist Stephen Glass, cashing in for the second time on the extravagant fabrications that got him bounced from The New Republic. Then there is "The Devil Wears Prada," the bitchy roman a clef by Anna Wintour's ex-assistant from hell at Vogue ... and now the 800-page memoir of the former journalist and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. My head is spinning with cries of 'J'accuse!'"

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