Newsmakers

They Had To Be in Pictures

Under normal circumstances, you don't want a porn king buying up naked pictures of you and your pals. But Paris Hilton must be wishing Hustler publisher Larry Flynt had done for her what he did for Jessica Lynch. Hilton, an heir to the $300 million hotel fortune and a notorious party girl/ink hound, got more exposure than even she wanted when a three-year-old video of her, engaged in various sex acts--interrupted by a cell-phone call--with her then boyfriend Rick Solomon, popped up on the Internet. Her family released a statement saying how upset they were that she was being exploited; then Solomon filed a $10 million slander suit claiming the family and a publicist were trying to paint him as a "rapist." The family got the video back, but of course the most graphic three minutes are now everywhere.

Bummer. If only Flynt had bought that Hilton footage when it was offered to him three months ago. He passed, he says, because the video was so dark it looked as if it had been shot with night-vision goggles, "like footage out of Iraq."

Flynt must have a thing about Iraq. He did buy nude photos of soldier-survivor Lynch from the two male GIs in the pictures with her, in order to show that she wasn't the saintly martyr sold by the Bushies and the media. But his wife told him "America is going to hate you," and he buried the pix in Hustler's vault. ("You should come by the office and I'll give you a tour," he told NEWSWEEK.) He'll even let Lynch have them if she wants. "I've always been an advocate for sexual liberation, so I have a hard time now condemning someone for having a good time," he says. Heck, he might have suppressed the Hilton footage for the same reason, "even though those Hilton girls are kind of millionaire brats."

Sad as this all is, there's a silver lining for Hilton. It should boost ratings for her new Fox reality show, "The Simple Life," which debuts Dec. 2. Better still, she's finally famous for being something besides being rich.

Q&A: AL SHARPTON

He's the most entertaining presidential hopeful--we know, we know--but could he really run the show? We'll find out Dec. 6, when the Rev. Al Sharpton hosts "Saturday Night Live." Last week--as if he needed to--he honed his media skills with NEWSWEEK's Marc Peyser.

You've run for mayor, senator and now president. Have you ever won an election?

No, but I certainly did a lot better than people thought. I think Lincoln lost six elections before he was president, so I'm a little disappointed I haven't lost that many. But I think I'm going to break my streak on this one.

You politicians can't seem to get enough of comedy shows. Did you see John Kerry on Jay Leno?

I did "The Tonight Show" in a suit and tie. He drove on in a motorcycle. And they call me flamboyant.

I'm surprised you're going on a show that's made so much fun of you in the past.

That doesn't bother me. When you've been in the middle of controversies all your career, you learn not to take this stuff personally.

So why are you doing this?

If Bill Clinton can go on "Arsenio Hall," put on glasses and blow a horn to reach out to people, then I can go on "Saturday Night Live."

Are you worried that you might flop? This could be risky. You could look foolish.

I've had to preach a lot of Sunday mornings to people who had crazy Saturday nights, so this is just another Saturday night that I might have to call for repentance about on Sunday.

What if the "SNL" folks want you to change your hair for a skit?

I developed my hairstyle in 1981, when James Brown took me to the White House. I said I wouldn't change my hair as long as he's alive, and I want to keep that commitment.

Even if they want to dress you up as, say, President Bush?

I will wear my hairstyle on "Saturday Night Live." It wouldn't be me if I had to change.

How funny are you? Do you tell jokes or do impressions?

I do a very good George Bush. I know how to act like I really won an election.