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New York Daily News - Home - Lloyd Grove's Lowdown: Jesse's right-on move (New York Daily News)

Some longtime admirers of the Rev. Jesse Jackson were shaking their heads yesterday after the two-time Democratic presidential candidate suddenly popped up in the Terri Schiavo controversy.

Jackson was seen standing in a photo op in Pinellas Park, Fla., with the comatose woman's parents and their spokesman, right-wing anti-abortion activist Randall Terry.

"It looks like desperation," one dismayed former Jackson admirer told me after Jackson called for Schiavo's feeding tube to be restored, as Terry stood nearby.

Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, has urged that abortion providers be prosecuted and given the death penalty. A decade ago he served five months in prison after one of his operatives showed presidential candidate Bill Clinton a fetus during a 1992 campaign stop - in violation of a federal court order.

"Jesse must be pretty desperate to fly to Florida 48 hours after he let Michael Jackson compare himself to Nelson Mandela in a television interview, and didn't even challenge him on it.

"Yesterday the pro-choice Jackson insisted that he definitely was not teaming up with Terry, though he's on the same side of the Schiavo issue.

"That's wrong," Jackson told me. "I didn't show up with Randall Terry. I showed up with Mrs. Schindler and her husband" - Schiavo's parents - "because they invited me to be with them and pray with them and offer solace to their dying daughter. I was not there at Randall Terry's invitation.

"But I'm told that the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also favors restoring the feeding tube but declined a similar invitation to appear with Schiavo's parents, received several phone calls yesterday from political insiders expressing surprise at Jackson's role in the controversy.

I hear that one caller, Democratic PR type Ken Sunshine, joked to Sharpton, an occasional rival of Jackson's for the media spotlight: "You've finally driven him over the edge.

"Sharpton declined to comment yesterday, and Sunshine, who has worked closely with Jackson in the past, distanced himself from the quip.

Sunshine said, "I consider myself a disciple of Jesse Jackson," but added: "I spoke to Rev. Sharpton and expressed how disappointed I was in what Rev. Jackson is doing in Florida.

"Cumming has toast to his opening nightIt's hard to believe, but Svedka vodka is apparently all about sex.

Raw sex. Glamorous sex. Embarrassing sex.

So the Swedish distillery hired actor Alan Cumming for Tuesday night's Svedka Erotica Reading at the nightclub Duvet, where the party guests lounged on king-size beds and the actor obligingly shared the story of how he lost his virginity.

"I was going out with this girl who had very pale skin and long red hair," he recalled. "She looked like that picture of Ophelia drowning. There was this other girl with olive skin and curly hair, and was a little older and very sexually active.

"Me and this other girl had flirted a little bit, and I think she quite enjoyed flirting with me in front of her boyfriend, who was also called Alan.

"One time his parents went away for the weekend, and of course we had a sleepover thing - me and Ophelia and Alan and the olive-skinned girl. And we cooked dinner, and then we played, like, strip poker, like what you do when you're 16.

"I went upstairs with olive-skin, Alan's girlfriend, and he stayed downstairs with Ophelia. They just sat there playing cards or something. And we were upstairs going at it like rabbits! This was in a suburban little Scottish town. It's kind of portentous that I would lose my virginity in a kind of wife-swapping situation.

"Cumming flashed a look of pure mischief, and added a salacious detail unfit for a family newspaper. Members of the crowd shrieked with horror and delight - and then downed more vodka to calm their nerves.

A Go for Lil' Kim's TV show? Just like Martha Stewart, maybe Kimberly Jones' brush with the law will help her television career. Lil' Kim's recent perjury conviction apparently hasn't killed her VH1 reality show. Lowdown hears that the music channel is almost done editing the pilot of "Lil' Kim's Hollyhood Makeover," in which the pneumatic rap diva gives regular women a glam new look - never mind that Lil' Kim was found guilty on March 17 of three counts of perjury and one charge of conspiracy in connection with her testimony to a federal grand jury about a 2001 gunfight. "I'm very excited about it," VH1 development honcho Jim Ackerman told me yesterday. "Once we have a completed pilot, it goes to Brian Graden, the president of entertainment, and he's the guy who decides whether we ultimately move forward.

"Of course, there is that little matter of Lil' Kim's June 24 sentencing - she faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars, so it might create a few scheduling challenges.

Seeing RedBest-selling crime novelist Mary Higgins Clark definitely has a favorite color. "I love red," she said the other night during a book party for daughter Carol Higgins Clark's suspense novel "Burned" at the Chelsea nightclub Coral Room. "My study is red," Clark went on. "Maybe red makes me think of blood subconsciously, but consciously for me, red is cheerful, red is a do-something girl color and red helps me write. It is not because red has something to do with blood. In my mysteries, the murders are off-camera, you hear footsteps on the stairs, you don't have the blood and guts. ... I prefer a nice clean murder.

" Hey, who doesn't?

With Hudson Morgan Originally published on March 31, 2005


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