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A TV movie on the Monica Lewinsky scandal

TOP OF THE TICKET

Also: Condoleezza Rice still reads the newspaper.

March 29, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman

LOS ANGELES AND WASHINGTON — Just when you thought it was safe to deep-six that needlessly salacious Ken Starr report and offer your Clinton-era black beret to the Salvation Army, word comes that Hollywood is resurrecting the so-last-century Monica Lewinsky scandal in a movie.

"The Special Relationship," an HBO special, is actually about the frustrated efforts of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to form a working relationship with President Clinton, who seemed increasingly distracted by the fallout from the scandal.

For those who have blissfully forgotten what all that fuss was about, Clinton was accused of having sex with Lewinsky, a 22-year-old White House intern, in the Oval Office and then lying about it to Congress, a grand jury and his wife (now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton), not necessarily in that order.

Dennis Quaid has been tapped to play Clinton, with Julianne Moore as the first lady. Playing Blair and his wife, Cherie: Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory, reprising their roles in "The Queen." As for Lewinsky, filmmakers say they will use archival news footage. Screenwriter Peter Morgan, who wrote "Frost/Nixon" as well as "The Queen," makes his directorial debut with this film, which he also wrote. Still looking for funding, Morgan told Britain's Daily Express:

"Everything that happened pre-9/11 is now Jurassic history, and we've completely forgotten it. And therefore to explore what happened 10 or 15 years ago is really, really interesting."

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Life after running the State Dept.

Stop the presses! Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice still reads newspapers! And she said it on TV.

And when she wakes up each morning now back in the Bay Area, Rice told Jay Leno on Tuesday's "Tonight Show" on NBC, she's absolutely delighted to know she doesn't need to do anything about anything that's in it.

Jay expressed surprise.

"It was an honor to serve," Rice replied. "I love this country. There is nothing like being able to service. And I know that people talk about America's not this and America's not that, but I'll tell you something. Without America in the world, the most powerful country but also the most compassionate country, the freest country, the world would be a much, much worse place. So I was grateful to be a part of that."

A former concert pianist, Rice let Leno know one of her musical secrets. It's her favorite music to listen to whenever she's on the elliptical: "Then I can really be with Led Zeppelin."

But how did she go from music studies to becoming George W. Bush's foreign policy mentor, national security advisor and secretary of State? "I studied piano from age 3. I could read music before I could read, and my grandmother taught me to play the piano. . . . I went off to school and studied piano as a music major for a couple of years. And then I went off to the Aspen Music Festival, in the summer of my sophomore year. And I met 12-year-olds who played from sight everything that had taken me all year to learn.

"And I thought, 'OK. You're gonna end up teaching 13-year-olds . . . Beethoven, or maybe you'll play a piano bar, or maybe you'll play at Nordstrom, but you're not playing Carnegie Hall. Find another career path.' "

So she wandered into the international politics class of a man named Joseph Korbel, whose daughter turned out to be Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of State before Rice became No. 2 and Hillary Clinton No. 3.

Rice declined to comment on the new Barack Obama administration, just like her former boss, Bush, did in a recent speech in Canada, as The Ticket reported. "My view is, we got to do it our way," Rice says. "We did our best. We did some things well, some things not so well. Now, they get their chance.

"And I agree with the president [Bush]. We owe them our loyalty and our silence while they do it. Because I know what it's like to have people chirping at you when they perhaps don't know what's going on inside. These are quality people. I know them. They love the country. And they won't make the same decisions, perhaps, that we did. But I believe they'll do what they think is best for the country, and I'll give my advice privately and keep it to myself."

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andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

johanna.neuman @latimes.com

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