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Jerry Oppenheimer has been writing celebrity tell-alls for 20 years, culminating in his recent bestseller Front Row: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Anna Wintour, a raw, unabashed peek into the world of the fascinating -- and venomous -- editor of Vogue. Before he deconstructed the bitch-eat-bitch fashion world of the bobbed head of the world's fashion bible, Oppenheimer wrote unauthorized bios of such iconic figures as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jerry Seinfeld, and America's favorite domestic dominatrix criminal, Martha Stewart. But, as big as his books are, not all the best stories made it into print. Taking a little break from the Front Row publicity juggernaut, Oppenheimer served up some of the stories behind his celebrity bios -- and much, much more -- exclusively for The Black Table.



Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart: Just Desserts: An Unauthorized Biography

Shocking Discoveries: Westport, Conn., where the Stewarts lived, long ago had a reputation for "key parties" -- couples threw their house keys into a pile and then went home with the husband or wife who matched the key. A friend of Martha's from those days told me, "My husband and I were invited to a party (at Martha's) once with this group" and was "horrified at the behavior. Martha, for instance, was in [so-and-so's lap] and she was acting pretty playful…I knew that they had nude pool parties. My reaction was that Martha walked on the wild side…" Being the investigative biographer I am, I tracked down so-and-so and he confirmed, "There was a lot of chemistry going both ways between Martha and me…"

Most Surprising Hookup:


ImClone's Sam Waksal (who also dated Martha's daughter, Lexi). Also, there was the handsome young Englishman with whom Martha disappeared late into the night while on vacation with her husband in Italy. Martha claimed to her irate hubby that it was all innocent, that she and the stranger had gone to midnight mass at the local


cathedral. (And Martha never lies…just ask those federal prosecutors who probed that insider trading case.)

Best Feuds With Fellow Celebrity: Martha claimed to a friend that bestselling "zipless fuck" author Erica Jong had had an affair with her husband, Andy Stewart. Martha and Jong had been classmates at Barnard and had long had it in for each other. Jong, in her novel Fear of Fifty, depicted a Connecticut blond who spent a great deal of time "in a hotel room in Stamford with a

  variety of swains half her age" and kept a "creative home a la Martha Stewart -- the woman who earned her freedom by glorifying the slavery of Home."

Stuff that Couldn't Be Printed and Why: It all made it into the book.

Official Celebrity Reaction: Ballistic! She told anyone who would listen not to cooperate with me -- and most ignored her. In public appearances on Larry King Live and in a 92nd street Y forum with Charlie Rose she referred to my work in progress as "stupid." In a newspaper interview, the now future The Apprentice reality TV star and current cellblock commode polisher said, "It's unauthorized. Why would a reputable publisher pay for it." At one point a Stewart relative told me that Martha had even instructed certain people to tell me falsehoods, which served only to intensify my scrutiny. Before the book hit the shelves, she sicced her lawyers on the publisher in hopes of getting it killed.

Thing That Would Get Celebrity Kicked Out of the Catholic Church: A felony conviction? (But, of course, know-it-all Martha's confident the conviction will be reversed on appeal.)

Weirdest Thing That Happened After Book Was Published That You Wish You Could Have Reported On: Nada.



Bill and Hillary Clinton
State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton

Shocking Discoveries: In anger, Hillary called Bill's Arkansas congressional campaign manager a "fucking Jew bastard" the night they lost the election many years ago. (Is there a trend here? Political types who use racial and religious epithets?) I never saw Hillary's words as a blockbuster -- the anecdote was summed up in about a dozen paragraphs in a book of 312-pages -- but someone leaked it to Drudge, who broke the story on his website just prior to publication in the midst of Hillary's New York senatorial campaign. The shit, as they say, hit the fan. A teary Hillary held a press conference to deny she ever used such language, and "Slick Willie" interrupted the Camp David peace talks to defend his First (but not his last) Lady. The Left and the Right jumped on the story. The book hit the New York Times

  bestseller list, but the Times, which backed Hillary, did a vicious hit-job review, which knocked the book off the list. After that the book never got the attention it deserved. Only the FJB incident received attention.

Most Surprising Hookup: For Hillary -- Vince Foster. For Bill - take


your pick.

Best Feuds With Fellow Celebrity: Hill vs. Bill -- the first First Family reality show.

Stuff that Couldn't Be Printed and Why: No problemo.

Official Celebrity Reaction: Nasty leaks and innuendoes to the media by Clinton White House operatives. (Kitty Kelly probably experienced the

  same from the Bush White House after her unauthorized Bush bio was published recently.)

Thing That Would Get Celebrity Kicked Out of the Catholic Church: For one, William Jefferson Clinton's deposition under oath: "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her."

Weirdest Thing That Happened After Book Was Published That You Wish You Could Have Reported On: Bill Clinton and George Bush (41) doing a public service announcement together for tsunami relief.



Jerry Seinfeld
Seinfeld: The Making of An American Icon

Shocking Discoveries: Jerry, the bar mitzvah boy (he despised Hebrew school) from Long-Guy-Land's town of Massapequa -- "Indian for near the mall" -- became Jerry, the Dianetics kid -- a devout Scientologist. Friends to whom he proselytized, like his college girlfriend, told me he was a true believer of L. Ron Hubbard's theories. As one confidant revealed, "It had to do with pain - being able to withstand pain, being able not to sleep…[Jerry] believed that if you will yourself not to have pain, you won't feel any pain…he was trying to get to a new level of consciousness."

Most Surprising Hookup: Ambitious Jewish American Princess Jessica Sklar Nederlander, who began an affair


with Jerry after meeting him at Manhattan's tony Reebok Sports Club and hooked up with him not long after her marriage to Eric Nederlander, scion of one of America's great theater dynasties. Jerry and she are now married with children. (Oh, I can't forget his brief Hollywood fling with the Pam Anderson and fantasy shiksa of her time,


Tawny Kitaen, whose ex-husband, Whitesnake rocker David Coverdale, called, "my whore and my inspiration." Jerry was so proud of having her that he even called his mother to boast , "…we're in the Enquirer...")

Best Feuds With Fellow Celebrity: Constant creative battles with Larry David, the real brilliance behind Seinfeld. David was a prima donna, always threatening to quit, asserting his creative juices had dried up. Privately, Jerry told a pal, "[David's] a fucking pain in my ass." In 1996, David quit the


show, requiring a Brinks truck to take home his haul. Along with the Larry David problem, Jerry's costars felt he wasn't looking out for them in terms of salary.

Stuff that Couldn't Be Printed and Why: Pretty much everything made it into the book. Look, the guy's not Mr. Excitement.

Official Celebrity Reaction: His spokeswoman told me he doesn't participate in projects he can't control. What a shocker!

Thing That Would Get Celebrity Kicked Out of the Catholic Church: Stealing another man's bride? Robbing the cradle (Shoshana Lonstein -- Jerry, 39, Lonstein, 17.)? Being really boring?

Weirdest Thing That Happened After Book Was Published That You Wish You Could Have Reported On: During my research Jerry's high-powered literary agent at William Morris, who conceived and packaged the blockbuster SeinLanguage, would not agree to an interview. Around the time my book was published the agent partnered in a new agency-- and became my literary agent. "Jerry really liked your book," he told me at our first meeting.



Anna Wintour
Front Row: Anna Wintour: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue's Editor in Chief

Shocking Discoveries: Jaw droppers every page. Here's a crumb, revealed by a gal pal from Anna's Swinging Sixties teenage years in London: After attending a wedding, Anna carefully examined the photos taken of her. "She said, 'Your knees don't look like mine. Mine look BIGGER,' and she actually took out a ruler and measured her knees, and then measured my knees. Her knee bone was wider than mine. She was SO upset."

Most Surprising Hookup: Dreadlocked, ganja-smoking Bob Marley. But Anna denied to a pal that they got it on, although she did acknowledge that she had "met God…She says she didn't have an affair, but she had this revelation and felt she had a mystical experience. I said, 'How come I'm not invited?' But when Anna found something that good, she wanted to keep it to herself. I

  don't think anyone moved her as much as Bob Marley."

Best Feuds With Fellow Celebrity: Ongoing battle with Tina Brown, dating back to when Anna's father's London newspaper often gave two thumbs down to Tina's father's film productions. As editors: "Their relationship with Si [Newhouse] had many elements of a classic family structure -- a classic dysfunctional family structure -- with Si as the


father figure and Anna and Tina vying to be the favored daughter," observes a female former Conde Nast executive who worked closely with both of them.

Stuff that Couldn't Be Printed and Why: Most everything made it to print.

Official Celebrity Reaction: Her spokesman at Conde Nast says, "It comes with the territory."

Thing That Would Get Celebrity Kicked Out of


the Catholic Church: An affair while married that led to divorce?

Weirdest Thing That Happened After Book Was Published That You Wish You Could Have Reported On: 99% of reviewers loved it, and found it balanced. Whew! It's the best read out there. Go buy it.


Who's Next?

I haven't decided because there are so few worthy iconic types left. I
prefer to be the first to write a bio about a subject, and not take
sloppy seconds; like those who would cut-and-paste the gazillionth
Barbra Streisand bio, or do a clip job on the Kennedys.

There are several powerful boldface names who would make interesting subjects, but they've insulated themselves from unauthorized biographers like myself. Publishers wouldn't touch bios of Oprah, Katie Couric, or Larry King for fear they'd never get another book plugged on their programs -- and those three wield considerable clout in making instant bestsellers.

Read Part One.


Jerry Oppenheimer is author of Front Row: Anna Wintour: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue's Editor in Chief.

Jim Cooke is a freelance illustrator in New York. His book Heroes and She-roes will be released in March. His work can be seen at