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Thoroughly Modern Neely

July 03, 2001|ANN O'NEILL

Pass the Vicodin, the Coppertone and your mate, please. We've just cavorted through our copy of this summer's sequel to Jacqueline Susann's 1966 cult classic, "Valley of the Dolls." Susann died 27 years ago, but her literary legacy lives on, much to our guilty pleasure.

The sequel, "Shadow of the Dolls," has been ghost-written by author Rae Lawrence. In real life, she's Ruth Liebmann, 45, a clever sales exec at Random House, parent company of her publisher, Crown. Liebmann started with Susann's 200-page draft, discovered 11 years ago in a filing cabinet.

The result is a quick, 305-page update of the adventures of goody-goody Anne Welles and self-absorbed schemer Neely O'Hara.

Liebmann lives in New York with an English professor who's an expert on Virginia Woolf. She came to Los Angeles last week to promote the book and take a "Jackie tour," led by Lisa Bishop, Susann's literary gatekeeper. Sights included the bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Susann often wrote, and her table at the Polo Lounge.

We caught up with Liebmann at a book party Thursday night at Catherine Malandrino's Sunset Plaza boutique. There, amid the sequined slipdresses, mingled pretty party people such as Selma Blair and Arianna Huffington.

They sipped a concoction called "The Doll," a potent blend of mandarin orange-flavored vodka, tonic and cranberry juice. Like the pink-jacketed book, the cocktail went down smoothly.

Our hosts also offered a Cosmo-style quiz: Are you a Neely or an Anne? Trash or class? "I am Neely on the inside, but Anne on the outside," Liebmann admitted. "That's partly why writing this book was so fun. I could let my inner Neely loose."

Modernizing the medicine cabinets was a snap. "There are drugs for Neely and drugs for Anne," Liebmann said. "Vicodin plus Neely equals big trouble. She's a painkiller princess. Anne, you know, she's a tranquilizer girl. I picture Anne being so proper that her bathroom towels match the color of the pills she's on."

Stand by Your Man

Keeping a stiff upper lip and toting a velvet bag of jewels, Lady Mary Archer took the witness stand at her husband's perjury trial in London and said she knew he cheated on her. Lord Jeffrey Archer, the Tory politician and bestselling author, is accused of fudging evidence in a 1987 libel case he won against a tabloid that reported he'd engaged the services of a prostitute.

The trial has featured gossipy tidbits about Jeffrey Archer's infidelities--including testimony by former personal assistant Andrina Colquhoun that she and Archer had a six-year affair. Mary Archer testified that she learned of her husband's infidelity from a newspaper gossip column. "Wives," she said, "are not necessarily the first to find out about these things."

Archer ended the affair, his wife testified, after "a full and frank discussion." She brought her baubles to court to dispute earlier testimony that her husband often bought two sets of jewels--one for his wife and one for his mistress. She accounted for all the jewels--even a necklace they gave Margaret Thatcher. (For that, she produced Thatcher's thank-you note.)

Mary Archer met her husband when she was a 19-year-old chemistry student at Oxford. She now teaches at Cambridge. In court, she acknowledged that the libel trial was a strain: "I think we explored the further reaches of 'for better or for worse' more than some other married couples." However, she denied helping her husband cover up his peccadilloes to advance his political career. "He would hardly be the first aspiring politician to have had the odd fling," she said.

Girl Crazy

O.J. Simpson still considers himself quite the babe magnet. "Women are my biggest defenders. It's that bad-boy syndrome. Now girls chase me," Simpson tells writer Pat Jordan in next Monday's issue of the New Yorker.

Simpson, who lives in Florida, speculates about his ex-wife's "real" killer. "I wonder if I've run into this person who killed Nicole? Have I talked to them? Do I see them every day?" The interview also included these oinks from Simpson:

He loved Nicole Brown Simpson's looks. If he passed her on the street today, he says, "I'd pull over and hit on her."

Nicole look-alike Christie Prody "ain't my girlfriend," he says. "Find me a girl that owns a golf course and will pay all my bills, and I'm pretty sure I'll marry her."

Who does he think is hot? "Now, that Heather Graham girl is fine. And that Jennifer Love Hewitt--that girl got booty for days." Neither owns a golf course.

Simpson, 53, boasts that he doesn't need Viagra: "Thank God, it's still there."

Where's Lorena Bobbitt when we need her?

Quote, Unquote

"I never thought I would be standing here, married to an All-American guy, living in Oklahoma. What a country!" --Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci, who became a U.S. citizen on Friday in Oklahoma City. She's married to former U.S. gymnast Bart Conner.


Times staff writers Gina Piccalo and Louise Roug contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. E-mail:

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