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President Reagan’s Agenda * Bush’s Big Deal * Lovers’ Lane

Peter J. Wallison, former White House counsel to president Ronald Reagan, has written an extraordinary book, “Ronald Reagan: The Power of Conviction and the Success of His Presidency.” It’s a fascinating inside look at a charismatic president, whose never-wavering philosophy of how a country should be governed and whose powerful convictions and strategies are responsible for the success of his presidency, not only inspired his country but succeeded in shaping the world.

This story first appeared in the February 19, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Wallison, who served in the Reagan administration for five years and as the president’s counsel in the White House from mid-1986 to mid-1987, was able to observe Reagan almost daily and kept a complete and meticulous diary during this “pivotal year.” The book is based on the diary, and Wallison makes clear it reflects only his “own perspective and analysis.” It looks at Reagan’s successes and failures — the Iran Contra scandal is described in detail — in a clear and even-handed manner and illuminates aspects of this modest man who shunned self-aggrandizement in all he did. Whether you are a Reagan admirer or not, the book makes for excellent, clarifying reading. Nancy Reagan is so impressed and pleased with Wallison’s work that he has been invited to the Reagan Library in California next month to lecture on the book. According to the library’s staff, Mrs. Reagan has said she wants to give a luncheon in Wallison’s honor, participate in the program and sign the book, which she believes captures so very many aspects of her husband no one else has. She has even taken it to a library board meeting to show to everyone and has sung its praises wherever she goes, complimenting Wallison and his perception and remarking how fortunate it was that he kept a diary. Indeed.

Faye Dunaway and Michael York have been cast to play the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in a movie to be called “The Bahama Triangle.” The story will focus on the love affair between the Duchess, when she was 54, and the 37-year-old wily uninhibited playboy Jimmy Donahue of the Woolworth fortune. The love triangle played out in the Bahamas where the Duke was governor from 1940 through 1945. Though Jimmy was enthralled with the Duchess, maybe “love affair” is not quite the phrase, because he preferred the opposite sex. However, he kept a dozen pictures of the Duchess in his bedroom, all framed in gold, and bought her jewels. He found out what the Duchess wanted for her birthday and bought the piece at a famous New York jeweler, thereby beating the Duke to the punch. There was a time when Jimmy and the Duchess were everywhere in New York together but that went the way of all affairs of this nature. The film’s costume designer will create some of the Duchess’ quintessentially chic clothes designed by her favorite French couturiers, including Pierre Balmain. Dunaway will have the chance to emulate the Duchess’ incomparable fashion sense.

You may find it hard to swallow but Nicole Kidman claims that she has low self-esteem. She says she is so insecure as an actress (she says actor. I never will. To me, an actor is a male thespian and Nicole certainly is not that) that she tries to persuade directors to choose other people for her roles. “It’s weird because every time I start a film, I think I can’t act. I’ve tried to pull out of almost every one I’ve ever done because of sheer terror. I can always come up with a list of actresses (I thought she called them actors) who I think would be better and try to convince the director to cast someone else by showing them the list.”

Nicole says that her mother has often told her to quit acting because she thinks her nature is too fragile. She remarks that she probably will one day but right now it’s the only way she has of expressing her feelings. Only way? What has she been doing with all those men?

News from London: Prince Harry will play the part of Conrade in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at his Eton dormitory Manor House. Conrade, of course, is the character who spends a lot of time drinking with his friends and Harry is the 18-year-old prince who was once famously barred from drinking with his chums in the local pubs. The word around campus is that Harry is “awesome” in the part. Hold the typecasting jokes and pass the tea and scones.

Stop me if you’ve heard this — the Sultan of Brunei, one of the richest men in the world whose fortune is estimated to be in the range of $12 billion, is getting a divorce from his second wife, HRH Pengiran Ifteri Hajah Mariam, after 21 years of marriage. Mariam will not only lose her title, but portraits of her all over the land are being stripped from walls. The reason for the breakdown of the marriage is still a mystery but the sultan has 100 days to change his mind without requiring new marriage vows. Their romance began when the couple met while Mariam, a 26-year-old Bruneian/Japanese/English beauty, was a stewardess on Royal Brunei Airlines and the sultan was already married to his cousin. Which is not a problem, really, because under Brunei’s Islamic law, the sultan is able to have more than one wife and simply oodles of girlfriends.

After eight months, the romance between Diane Lane and Barbra Streisand’s stepson, Josh Brolin, has heated up to the engagement point. They even say they hope to marry this year. Diane, who gets around and around and around, was once married to Christopher Lambert, by whom she has a nine-year-old daughter, and has had flings or whatever with Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton and Jon Bon Jovi. Josh was once married to Deborah Adair, by whom he has a son and a daughter, and was engaged more recently to Minnie Driver. When that breakup went North, it was heard around the West and East Coasts and parts of Wisconsin.

Rocker Chris Martin has been asked to compose the theme song for Hugh Grant’s next romantic comedy, “Love Actually.” It’s still a love actually between Chris and Gwyneth Paltrow.

President Bush’s nephew Billy Bush and his wife, Sydney, are the honorary chairmen of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s 12th annual Bunny Hop at FAO Schwarz on March 11. Billy, a correspondent on the “Today” show will bring along his daughters, Josephine, 4, and Mary Bradley, 2, to the event, which will kick off with the Rockettes and a magic show. This year’s chairmen, Mary Darling, Leslie Coleman and Leslie Heaney will wear dresses designed by Leah Anderson and made from the fabric of the event’s sponsor, Scalamandre. They will give a party at the fabric house’s salon on Third Avenue for their committee on Feb. 26, where guests can take home Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls wearing outfits made from the house’s “funny toile,” inspired from a Westcott lining from the 1800’s.

Billy starts taping the revival of “Let’s Make a Deal” on March 1. It’s the show Monty Hall made famous in the Seventies. Maybe President Bush can send Billy to the U.N. where they don’t know the first thing about making a deal. Oh ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

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