Monday 20 January 2020

US Diary: Orla Healy

As if the last 10 days weren't tough enough, Hollister "Holly" Knowlton Petraeus appears to be getting the short end of the stick once again as Hollywood-types weigh in with their casting pitches for the inevitable movie based on her husband's affair.

Unlike her disgraced 60-year-old husband, who pundits feel must be played by a swashbuckling Daniel Craig or Kevin Costner, Kathy (Misery) Bates is getting the popular vote as the actress best suited to play the role of the 59-year-old betrayed wife. Hardly flattering, even before you factor in the rest of the suggested players: Angelina Jolie as Paula Broadwell, the sultry biographer turned overwrought other woman; Marisa Tomei as Jill Kelley, who was responsible for the scandal going public, and (in the no-brainer category) Matthew McConaughey as the FBI counterterrorism agent Frederick Humphries whohad some time ago, as a joke, emailed a shirtless picture of himself to Kelley and others.

Steve Buscemi looks like a shoe-in to play General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, whose entanglement with Kelley involved emails that have reportedly been printed out to total 30,000 pages of documentation currently sitting on the desk of the Pentagon's inspector general.

Brad Pitt could luck out with his potential role as Scott Broadwell, Paula's radiologist husband, who may or may not have been the author of an anonymous July 13 letter to the New York Times in which a man asked for guidance in dealing with his wife who was "having an affair with a government executive".

Unlike the "furious" Mrs Petraeus, who according to Beltway scuttlebutt plans to stand by her husband of 38 years (for the time being, at any rate), Scott Broadwell is being viewed as something of a wildcard.

He's also probably one of the few sympathetic characters in this story: on the evening of Friday November 9, just as the scandal blew, he was enjoying dinner-a-deux to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday. Sources at the remote Inn at Little Washington where the couple planned to spend a romantic weekend, report he was in fine form when he checked in on November 8 armed with a bottle of champagne and a bouquet of pink roses and white lilies. By the time the couple left "earlier than expected" on Saturday morning, as his wife furiously fielded text messages, the 47-year-old Ken-doll look-a-like was described as decidedly "not talkative" – a stance every media outlet in the country is trying to change.

Scandal too late for Sorkin

AARON Sorkin says he "would love to take on" the Petraeus storyline in his hit drama The Newsroom, but it's not possible since shooting for the second season wrapped just one day before the four-star scandal broke.

Speaking to an audience at the Newsweek/Daily Beast Hero Conference Thursday night, The West Wing creator lashed out at the public for "eating our heroes alive" after defining General Petraeus as "a hero in the classic definition. He's put men in harm's way. . . he's protected us. . . who made a very human mistake".

Asked how he would portray President Bartlet today, Sorkin was equally downbeat. "I'm not 100 per cent sure The West Wing could work today," he said, adding that he is tired of seeing leaders depicted as "either Machiavellian or as dolts", and that, in the Nineties drama he tried to portray White House officials as people who "wake up in the morning thinking of something bigger than themselves" – a concept, he wryly suggested, that might not be seen as realistic today.

Bailey unzips fashion world

Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey has no trouble telling it like it is. During his keynote speech to introduce the winner of this year's CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award in Manhattan Tuesday night, Bailey, who interned for fashion powerhouses including Donna Karan and Tom Ford, talked about "how nutty – and how brilliant" life inside the fabulous fashion world bubble can be.

Much to the delight of an audience that included Liv Tyler, Christina Ricci, Alexa Chung, Chelsea Clinton, Dakota Fanning, Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Carolina Herrera, DVF and Reed Krakoff, Bailey riffed about showing up at Gucci HQ for a bizarre first interview with Ford.

"It was a huge room, quite dark. In the middle of the room there were these two chairs. On one of these chairs there is this chap sat there with his shirt open to his navel, with a huge gold belt."

His recollections about working for Karan were equally colourful. "Donna," he deadpanned, "is completely brilliant and completely ridiculous. We would work very, very late, as anyone here that works or worked for or with Donna knows. At 3am, the masseur was coming around to give a massage. That's weird. And at 4am, we'd all sit in a little circle and we'd chant over the fabrics. That was weird to me. And then, at 5am, Demi Moore would come in for a fitting."


Camelot back for JFK 50th

Get ready for Camelot 2.0. On Thursday, ReelzChannel announced it was green-lighting J Randy Taraborrelli's bestselling book After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family 1968 to the Present, for a mini-series it plans to bring to the small-screen in time for the 50th anniversary of JFK's death on November 22, 2013.

The network, which picked up the controversial Greg Kinnear/Katie Holmes mini-series The Kennedys (after it was abruptly dropped by the History Channel, which reportedly bowed to political pressure from Caroline Kennedy), is looking to sign a screenwriter who will pick the story up where the Emmy-winning 2011 mini-series ended: the 1968 assassination of Robert F Kennedy. No word yet on whether they'll try to convince Taylor Swift, who famously dated Conor Kennedy, the son of Robert F Kennedy Jr, and the late Mary Kennedy, to play herself.

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