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"Marilyn! ... that look ... that smile ... those eyes ... those lips ... those thighs ... her moves ... Oh, God!"

So said collector supreme Leon Constantiner last week at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where he presented hundreds of his photos of Marilyn Monroe, in an exhibit titled "I Wanna Be Loved by You." (Leon's wife, Michaela, is a blond knockout, a leaner version of his idol. She wore red. Tight. It made an impression.)

This show, now through March, is dazzling. The opening night crowd gasped, sighed, giggled, pointed and seemed genuinely moved by this wide-ranging tribute to a woman who has passed beyond mere movie fame and into history 42 years after her death. Cleopatra has nothing on MM! Here we see the star performing in the medium she loved best -- still photography. Unencumbered by dialogue, directors, time schedules, critical judgments, her soft, whispery voice, she is Everywoman. From fresh-scrubbed starlet, to the sturdy bombshell on the subway grate, to the thin, haunted glamour of her final sitting with Bert Stern, Marilyn is in control. (Stern still holds back a bit on offering his elegant fashion shots of Marilyn, preferring the tipsy, wanton seminudes, many of which MM hated!) The works of Gordon Parks, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Eve Arnold and Milton Greene are also on display.

This is the first American museum ever to present such an exhibition. (And Marilyn loved Brooklyn!) Kudos to curators Matthew Yokobosky and Marilyn Kushner, who put the show together so elegantly. Both admitted they came away far more impressed by MM than they'd been previously. And a big hand to Arnold Lehman, the museum's director, for taking a chance on Monroe.

Had she lived, Marilyn would be nearly 80. But as Constantiner said, "Time has not passed. She only looks at the most ... 36."

We will see none other than Nicole Kidman receive the Citizen of the World Award from Kofi Annan at the United Nations gala dinner dance for ambassadors Dec. 3. This event was masterminded by Gloria Starr Kinns and New York teen star Julianne Michelle.

One of our favorite upfront, upright, no-nonsense, funny and super-intelligent men, Bill Maher, will be among the "Banned, Boycotted, Bold and Brave" artists to be honored by the People for the American Way at its Spirit of Liberty Awards gala in January. This happens at the Plaza. People for the American Way was founded by Norman Lear 23 years ago to protect artistic expression. We need it now more than ever! Call 212-573-6933.

Speaking of Bill, I get a laugh whenever I come upon one of his early acting gigs. He did a lot of "Murder, She Wrote." He was good, but so much better these days as his own unfettered self.

Jill Krementz has her magic camera eye everywhere. Now, her 2005 Desk Diary from Barnes & Noble comes out, and this bestseller is her eighth for the bookstore. You can also get the diary at St. Bart's bookstore, where Jill donated "The Writer's Faith," based on a sermon heard in that great Park Avenue church.

Tribune Media Services

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