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Whistle a happy tune: Rodgers & Hammerstein music for sale

The Baltimore Sun

The famed Rodgers & Hammerstein music publishing business, run by Ted Chapin, has put itself on the market for a mere $250 million. This seems like as good a time as any, what with R&H; a hit again at Lincoln Center in the brilliant revival of just one of their famous musicals, South Pacific.

But Chapin isn't selling his other gold mine - the music of Irving Berlin.

Bloomin' Bloomberg

His honor the mayor of New York has peripheral publicity this month. Mike Bloomberg's terrific girlfriend, Diana Taylor, is among the rare few on Vanity Fair's best-dressed list.

And his aide Megan Sheekey, that blond bombshell of public dedication, is expecting. She married music producer-sound designer Shelby Gaines last Christmas. They went snowboarding on their honeymoon but are now into bassinets. (Megan's brother, Kevin, is Bloomberg's other strong right arm.) The mayor will toast his pals at a barbecue on Gracie Mansion grounds Thursday.

And tomorrow night he'll be welcoming New York Sen. Hillary Clinton back to the city to show her that New Yorkers still love her. That, too, at Gracie Mansion.


Crime (white-collar variety) did pay for author Lee Israel, who is the talk of lit circles New York to London. Her little book, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, reveals her remembrances as a literary forger of fabulous fake letters from the likes of Dorothy Parker, Noel Coward, Lillian Hellman, Louise Brooks, et al.

Ms. Israel is a talented biographer who did more than justice in the past to actress Tallulah Bankhead and columnist Dorothy Kilgallen. But she fell on hard times and took the "easy" way out. (Actually, it wasn't so easy. She had to find ancient paper, make up stationery, use old typewriters and copy her betters, then find buyers on the rare missives market via loathsome go-betweens.) Actually, Ms. Israel went her "betters" one better as her fake signatures and made-up letters were so good, she almost got away with it.

But the FBI finally nabbed Lee, giving her a severe talking to. She didn't go to jail but paid a price and was under house arrest. So now she redeems herself with sheer talent.

This is an amusing story - provided you aren't Lee Israel.

Worth a Reed

As long as we're talking books - I was thinking ... President Bush totally failed "New Orleans 101" doing next to nothing about rescuing that important American port city, our commercial gateway along the Mississippi.

So let's celebrate the terrific Vogue/Newsweek writer Julia Reed, whose new book, The House on First Street, is the story of how she fell in love - with a man and a house - and went back to New Orleans to save her romance and a part of the city's history.

If you don't know Julia's peripatetic work, where have you been? Just know she is a specialist in politics and The Big Easy cuisine, plus the Mississippi Delta. Her other titles are Queen of the Turtle Derby and Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties.

You can read Julia this month in Vogue. She sits for a talk with John McCain's 91-year-old mother.

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