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Tony Kornheiser

Putting on Some Heavy Make-Up

July 04, 2001|Tony Kornheiser

A suffocating heat hung over the downtown streets like a heavy woolen blanket, sucking all the air out of the city. As I stopped to mop the sweat off my forehead, a bus backfired--and I instinctively felt the urge to dive for cover as I did back when I was in-country and heard the crack-crack-crack of gunfire.

For the last 30 years, I've tried to wring my time in Vietnam out of my head. But it always comes back, especially in the summers, when the humidity clings to you like the fear you had out on patrol--wondering if some Viet Cong sniper held you in his crosshairs and in an instant you'd be face down on the jungle floor, nose deep in the rot and mud that would be the last thing you ever saw.

Excuse me, Tony, what are you talking about? You were never in Vietnam.

But even as I look back on those days with awe and wonder, I'm grateful. If not for my time in Vietnam, I never would have won the Pulitzer Prize for my columns on the fall of Saigon. I never would have won the National Book Award for my penetrating biography of Ho Chi Minh.

Tony, you've never won the Pulitzer. The Pulitzer committee refers to you as "Korn-loser." And you never wrote a book about Ho Chi Minh.

After all my writing awards, --not to mention those touchdowns I scored in Super Bowls V, VIII and X, Sony bought the rights to my life story and made the big blockbuster "The Life of Tony: Part Une." I was a little worried the nuances of my life would be too subtle and intellectual for most of the yabbos who line up to see some pot of swill like "Porky's V: I Laughed, I Cried, I Projectile Vomited." But the marketing department at Sony assured me I'd be a hit. And the reviews were boffo.

David Manning of the Ridgefield Press (Conn.) raved: "Sony strikes gold with 'The Life of Tony: Part Une.' It's hilarious. And full of nuance." Archie Manning of the Midgefield Press (Conn.) exclaimed: "It's the feel-good movie of the millennium. Go see it twice today." Peyton Manning of the Bridgefield Press (Conn.) enthused: "Grab a date, grab your kids, grab someone off the street, and hightail it to 'The Life of Tony: Part Une.' What a life! What a guy!"

Tony, Sony invented those reviewers. They don't exist. They're made-up people and made-up quotes. Sony knew your movie was a dead lox. It stunk so bad everyone who walked in the door was given a surgical mask. What am I talking about? You had no movie, Tony!

Of course there was a movie! Didn't you see all those man-on-the-street spots? Happy people coming out of the theater, beaming--as if the multiplex had been pumped full of nitrous oxide. And they'd say: "You simply must see 'Life of Tony."'

They weren't real, Tony. They were so fake Spielberg could have used them in "A.I." They work for Sony. They were employees. Sony fudged the whole deal.

So then, of course, I was a big star. I was in great demand. I married Nicole Kidman, but it didn't work out. Sure, she's beautiful, but she had these little habits that I thought were charming at first but quickly began to drive me nuts. Like every time I got within 6 feet of her, she shrieked, "Stay away from me you fat, bald freak!"

So I married Meg Ryan. That didn't work out either. She just couldn't understand my needs as a multitalented genius. And every time I tried to explain them, I had to stop and say, "Um, Russell, would you mind removing your tongue from my wife's ear?" Now I'm married to Angeline Jolie. Tony, you can't just make stuff up about famous people and write it as if it were true.

I turned to political writing. I wrote passionately about the nomination of Clarence "I'm Not Mute, I'm Just Thinking" Thomas to the Supreme Court. I was an unflinching supporter of Thomas, and my book, "Bad Stuff About Anita Hill," attempted to discredit Hill. I became a hero to the conservative right.

There's only one thing that bothers me: I lied. I made up the bad stuff about Anita Hill. I pretty much tried to ruin her life. I feel bad now. I hope that sounds sincere, because I'm thinking that if I sound sincere maybe I can get back on TV again.

Now that I've said I'm sorry, do you think Anita Hill would date me?

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