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Interview With Michel Bryant, George Rush, Lloyd Grove

Aired May 14, 2003 - 20:47   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We really hate to tell you about this, but, in spite of all those "I heart New York" bumper stickers -- I'm sure you've seen them -- New Yorkers really don't love everybody. It's true. I know. You're going to be surprised. In fact, they downright hate some people.
That's right. A survey in the New York tabloids found the top five most-hated New Yorkers are -- and wouldn't you want to be on this list? -- the top five are the Donald -- of course, Donald Trump right there. Then Martha Stewart. I bet that makes her feel blue, actually, maybe aqua blue or speckled-egg blue. Al Sharpton was also on the list. Guess he'll have to rely on California's electoral votes. Lizzie "Don't get near my SUV" white-trash Grubman. And the most hated New Yorker -- that's right -- still hotel queen of mean Leona Helmsley.

So what are we to make of this lack of brotherly and sisterly love right here in the Big Apple? And what about other big cities? Who's hated there? Well, joining us are "Washington Post" "Reliable Source" columnist Lloyd Grove; in Los Angeles, "Extra" legal correspondent Michel Bryant. And here in New York with me: "Daily News" gossip columnist George Rush. Thank you all for being with us.

George, let me start with you, since you're the New Yorker here. Were you surprised at who made the list?

GEORGE RUSH, "DAILY NEWS": It's kind of predictable. I think those are in the top five for a lot of New Yorkers.

Donald kind of surprised me. I remember, years ago, we did a focus group among readers about who they'd most like to read about. And a lot of readers, and particularly immigrants, loved the Donald. And they aspire to be like him. So that -- he may -- sure, he will complain. That is his way.

COOPER: Well, actually, I think he enjoys just being in the media no matter what. He'll take it however he can get it.

RUSH: Absolutely.

COOPER: Lloyd, in Washington, who's most hated, do you think? Or maybe give me the top three, if you can.

LLOYD GROVE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, let me make clear, I'm not a hater. But I think the most demonized people in Washington are right now Abe Pollin, the owner of the Washington Wizards, who used Michel Jordan to make his franchise profitable, then fired him after his knees went out; Hillary Clinton, who is still the great polarizer. People love her intensely and also dislike her intensely. And Tom "the Hammer" DeLay, who glories in his reputation as a tough, meat- eating, partisan SOB.

COOPER: I want to come back to that one, just get Michel in here, Michel from L.A.

I know in L.A., everyone loves everyone else.


COOPER: And no one says anything to their face about how much they hate them.

BRYANT: I've never seen the word hate anywhere. So I'll call them notorious.

COOPER: OK, or loved less, people who are loved a little less than everyone else.

BRYANT: We have, on my list, No. 3, Winona Ryder. No. 2...

COOPER: Winona Ryder?


COOPER: Really?

BRYANT: Now, bear with me. I'll defend these.

COOPER: All right. All right.

BRYANT: No. 2: Robert Blake. And No. 1: Roman Polanski.

COOPER: All right, I can understand Roman Polanski, obviously. But that's an old -- that's been around for a long time. You think he's still high on the list?

BRYANT: Well, I think, because of the Academy Awards this year, that the thing just came back to a head. And it's such an amazing story that, 25 years after this horrific crime from which he fled, the guy is picking up an Academy Award. So I think it's a great example of how Hollywood treats its own, criminal or otherwise.

COOPER: What's amazing, though, about Hollywood and L.A. in general is that -- the ability to come back. I mean, no one stays down for very long. Everyone gets a makeover, a new hair, set, and they're back.

BRYANT: Well, here's the huge difference between New York society, Washington, the Beltway buddies, and Hollywood. New York, who cares? Beltway buddies, who cares? Hollywood, everybody cares. People pay to see the people we're talking about in Hollywood. When is the last time you paid to see Leona Helmsley? It's just a different mentality. We've taken these people -- the country takes these people into their homes as entertainers, as friends. So I think they feel a closer connection. So they're more willing to forgive.

GROVE: Wait a second. Do you know how much people pay to see Tom DeLay at a fund-raising dinner? It's $1,000 a seat.

BRYANT: Well, that's -- again, now you're in the Beltway. Out here, who cares?

COOPER: George, let me ask you. Leona Helmsley, back in the news after so long. And she was hated years -- I mean, when I was growing up in New York, she was hated. What was fascinating about this last trial that she had, a lot of her employees came out and were saying things like, "Mama, we love you." They call her mama, which I didn't realize.

RUSH: Yes, particularly for a woman who looks a lot like Edward G. Robinson. I know that my heart...

COOPER: Man, you're tough.

RUSH: But she's -- my heart soared, really, when she -- when her trial in this case where one of her employees accused her of discriminating him because was a gay man was coming up, because she really is such a figure beloved by those who love to hiss. And she does a lot of secret good works. Perhaps they should be less secret.

COOPER: Like what secret good works?

RUSH: Well, she donates money. After 9/11, I know she was quite generous. But she just has that rap of calling people foolish for paying taxes and just being a tough bird.

COOPER: Lloyd, people who are -- oh, look at that. That could not be a worse video image of her being knocked about by the crowd right now.

Lloyd, in Washington, what makes people -- I mean, is it OK to be hated in Washington? Do politicians really care? Or is it all about power?

GROVE: Well, politicians, by definition, really want to be loved. I mean, they need that from the people. But it depends on who your enemies are.

COOPER: Are you telling me -- wait. So, like, deep down inside, Newt Gingrich just wants to be loved?

GROVE: Absolutely, Newt wants to be loved. But you judge a Rolodex by who's on it and who's not on it. And you judge a Rolodex by who dislikes you. I mean, your enemies in some way define you. And I think Newt feels that way as well.

COOPER: Unlike in L.A., in Washington, do people get that second chance? Do they get that chance to reinvent themselves?

GROVE: Absolutely. I mean, look at Hillary Clinton. She's reinvented herself from first lady to senator.

BRYANT: Yes, but isn't she just hated by different people now? Isn't that really the reinvention there? I think she's just hated by a different set of people now.

GROVE: Well, I think she's hated by Republicans who see how effective she is and how Machiavellian she has been in co-opting various ideological segments of both parties in order to move upward in the political system.

COOPER: I'll throw this out to anyone who wants to answer it. Is there redemption for any of the people who have been named so far on this list?

BRYANT: Oh, yes, definitely, in the case of the Hollywood folks, because I think for the reason I mentioned. We take these folks into our homes and we're much more happy to see the guy we feel is a relative do well and forgive that person than we are somebody that we're distant from. The politicians we might tolerate, the high- society folks in New York which we know we'll never aspire to, I think it's easier to forgive those that we've taken into our homes as entertainers.

COOPER: Maybe this is the wrong question to ask three gossip mavens, but...

BRYANT: Gossip? I don't...

COOPER: Well, all right, not you, Michel. But are you guys...

GROVE: George and I are gossipers and proud of it.

COOPER: Lloyd, do you find yourself hated in some circles when you walk into a room in D.C.?

GROVE: Well, it's rare, alas, that I walk into a large gathering in Washington where there aren't at least four people in the room who, for one reason or another, aren't speaking to me. And this pains me, but that's the job. And I just hope that they change their minds at some point.

COOPER: Yes, you look deeply pained.



RUSH: You know you're doing something right, yes, if you make some enemies. And perhaps we belong on that list. No doubt we are, in Donald Trump's and Leona's mind.

COOPER: Right.

RUSH: So, yes. But what can we do?

COOPER: What can you do? It's the price of doing it.

Michel Bryant, appreciate you joining us.

George Rush and Lloyd Grove, thanks very much. It was fun.

RUSH: My pleasure.

COOPER: All right. Thanks.


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