brucekluger.com

    The Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2001

    Commentary
    Colin, Condi—Need Help? Ask the Celebs

    By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin


    This week, a new type of international
    diplomacy was trotted onto the world stage
    and it wasn't the negotiations between the
    United States and China over the midair
    collision of an American spy plane and
    Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea.

    Halfway around the globe, actor Kevin
    Costner met with Cuban leader Fidel Castro
    for hours, discussing, among other topics,
    Costner's recent film, 13 Days, which retells
    the story of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis.

    "I shouldn't be speaking for the president," Costner's spokesman, Stephen Rivers,
    told Reuters news service after the landmark powwow. "But [I will say that] he
    responded to the film very favorably, and we had a very interesting discussion
    afterward."

    Could this be just the beginning?

    April 30: Actress Suzanne Somers meets with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin
    to discuss ways in which Russian women, customarily depicted as perilously
    overweight, can benefit from Somers' endorsed line of thigh-slimming exercise
    equipment. The four-hour talks break down when Russian apparatchik insist on the
    presence of additional envoys, specifically John Ritter and Don Knotts.

    May 21: Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart confers with Somali warlords to discuss
    that nation's ongoing famine, proposing the implementation of "imaginative,
    stretchable menus that don't compromise tastiness." At Stewart's suggestion, they
    order an immediate air drop of 4 million amuse-bouches over the central part of the
    country. "It's a good thing," Stewart tells gathered media before meeting the Somali
    interior minister on the use of "sand art as the perfect centerpiece."

    June 24: Actors Jack Klugman and Tony Randall are summoned to the 38th
    Parallel by the recently united Kims of Korea—General Secretary Kim Jong Il of the
    North and President Kim Dae Jung of the South—to direct the leaders in a joint
    Pyongyang-Seoul dinner theater tour of The Odd Couple. Rehearsals end abruptly
    when the two Kims begin arguing over top billing.

    July 17: A joint delegation led by animal activist and ageless game show host Bob
    Barker and former singing televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker travels to London to
    advise British Prime Minister Tony Blair on humane alternatives to destroying
    livestock infected with foot-and-mouth disease. Proposed solutions include
    instructing the fetid cattle on the joys of abstinence and reminding them that "just
    because you're stricken with a hideously degenerative disease, that doesn't mean
    you're not a nice cow."

    Sept. 18: Florence Henderson flies to Bahrain to lobby Arab leaders for the
    inclusion of Wesson Oil in the OPEC alliance. Back in the U.S., ABC-TV executives,
    inspired by the event, immediately begin pre-production on the forthcoming special,
    A Very Brady Ramadan.

    Oct. 4: Music and fashion impresario Sean "Puffy" Combs (a.k.a. P. Diddy) jets to
    the Balkans for closed-door meetings with detained Serbian war crimes suspect
    Slobodan Milosevic (a.k.a. S. Milo) to plot successful strategies for beating a rap.
    Assisting Combs are celebrity lawyer and inveterate rhymer Johnnie Cochran
    ("Slobo's no bobo!") as well as diplomatic attaches Vanilla Ice and Gary Coleman,
    who advise Milosevic on "life after exile."

    Oct. 25: A delegation of top American sight-gag comediansled by Rip Taylor,
    Gallagher and Carrot Top—meet with international terrorist Osama bin Laden to
    implore the notorious revolutionary to stop his campaign of violence and instead
    consider "knockin' 'em dead with laughter." The meeting abruptly derails when Bin
    Laden, a devout Muslim, ejects the funnymen from his hide-out after Taylor pulls a
    rubber pork chop from his pants.

    Nov. 15: The cast of HBO's hit show, The Sopranos, flies to Tel Aviv for a meeting
    with members of the Knesset to propose "a more persuasive diplomacy" in
    negotiating with the PLO. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tells the actors he will
    take their suggestions under advisement, but then confides his disappointment to
    his top aides. "Maybe I read the briefing papers wrong," he confesses, "but weren't
    we also supposed to meet with those shiksas from Sex and the City? "