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Lloyd Grove is The Daily News' newest gossip columnist, joining us from The Washington Post, where he wrote the widely read 'Reliable Source' column.

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lgrove@ edit.nydailynews.com

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Dean looks back, dryly

Lowdown

Howard Dean writes about his drinking days.
For his soon-to-be-published campaign manifesto, "Winning Back America," Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean takes a confessional approach. He describes his privileged preppie upbringing, his youthful drunken behavior and his occasional adventures in petty theft.

"Although I was born in New York and went to school in the city until I was 13," writes the former Vermont governor, who recently claimed to be a farmer, "I really grew up in East Hampton. ... Once in a while, we'd sneak a potato or two out of a farmer's field, just to say we'd done it."

Dean notes that he attended the posh St. George's School in Newport, R.I., "an incredibly beautiful setting, up on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean."

Dean also reminisces about his fraught relationship with alcohol - a narrative that parallels the experience of fellow Eastern Establishment scion George W. Bush, a graduate of Phillips Andover Academy.

"Once we were 18, we could indulge in lazy days of 'Baseball and Ballantine,'" Dean writes. "We'd buy some beer and put it in a garbage can of ice and play softball all day long. If you hit somebody's beer with a batted ball, it was an automatic out."

After he got married, "I quit drinking," he writes. "When I drank, I would drink a lot and do outrageous things, and then I wouldn't drink again for a while. I realized that what was very funny when you're 18 is not very funny when you're 30. I had a terrible hangover after my bachelor party, which didn't help. So I quit. Drinking served no useful purpose in my life, and I just got tired of it. I haven't had a drink in over 22 years."

Dean spokesman Jay Carson said that while his candidate violently disagrees with Bush on most things, "He agrees with him that his younger days were his younger days - and he's going to leave it at that."

I guess those prep-school guys stick together.

Plays the King, but gets trumped

It looks like a catfight is brewing between sexy siren LisaRaye, the star of the UPN sitcom "All of Us," and dishy R&B babe Mya.

The Chicago-born Lisa Ray McCoy (as LisaRaye sometimes identifies herself) brandishes the first claw, telling interviewer Jamie Foster Brown that she pulled out of a King magazine spread when she learned that Mya Harrison - and not her - would be on the cover.

"I did a hell of a shoot with them," the 36-year-old single mom confides in the December issue of Sister 2 Sister. "At the last minute, they put Mya on the cover.

"I had turned down Smooth [magazine] because I was doing King. So when I found out, they said. 'You know we gotta give it to Mya, her album is coming out,' and blah blah blah.

"So I was, like, 'You mean to tell me I wasted all of that for the inside, the back of your book? Nah, that ain't cool with me.'"

Mya's rep at Interscope Records told me, "I don't think I'm going to comment on that."

LisaRaye also recounts how she took her young daughter, Kaienja, to the premiere of "The Players Club," the 2001 movie in which she plays a stripper who, in one scene, receives oral sex:

"I wanted her to realize that this was a lifestyle and this was a choice and this is what these women do with their choices," she explains.

"I don't do anything that I'm embarrassed about or that will embarrass my family," she continues. "The body is beautiful. I've stood in the mirror with my daughter and said, 'Look at your breasts and look at my breasts.'"

LisaRaye also reveals that she's doing her UPN sitcom, produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, on the cheap - because an African American-oriented show won't pay big bucks, she says.

Brown asks: "People get these roles and think that everybody is making a million dollars a week, like on 'Friends' or something. Is it like $50,000 a week?"

"Oh, hell no," the actress answers. "That'll probably never happen with a black show, period. I wish I could make that, but it's about $20,000."

Chandler, we hardly knew ye

Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter has discovered "Gay TV."

The proliferation of homosexual themes on prime-time television - "with at least nine gay-centric shows" this season alone - is the slick mag's December cover, which features the stars of NBC's "Will & Grace," Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and Showtime's "Queer as Folk."

But an essay by Ned Zeman comes to the surprising conclusion that "TV's gayest show is, and always has been, 'Friends.' "

Zeman argues: "The hugely popular sitcom put a face on the love that dare not speak its name, starring those three lovably wisecracking girly-boys, Chandler, Ross and Joey, who favor pastel neckties, sweater-vests and hair products, and who spend their days lounging around a coffee bar, sharing muffins and lattes with the gals.

"That only the Friends themselves seem unaware of their obvious gayness says a little about them and a lot about the state of prime-time television, which is so steeped in gayness even the straight guys could go either way."

Zeman adds that one-time superagent Michael Ovitz was partly right when he famously complained about a "gay mafia" in Hollywood - though "it doesn't exist to foil embittered, old heterosexuals." Zeman's mafia includes producers Kevin Williamson of "Dawson's Creek," Dan Jinks of "American Beauty," Darren Star of "Sex and the City," Alan Ball of "Six Feet Under" and David Crane of "Friends."

The briefing

Just don't call him 'Scooter'!: NBC producer Brian Doherty was taking a stroll with friends around Miami Beach the other day when he saw a strange apparition: three beefy men barreling toward them on those weird-looking vehicles called Segways.

As the men rolled by, Doherty was staring so intently at the contraptions that he didn't notice who was driving.

"Now there's something you don't see every day," said his Aussie pal, Newark investment adviser Letham Burns. "Mike Tyson on a Segway!"

The shocked Doherty grabbed a camera and chased after the bankrupt former heavyweight champ, convicted rapist and ear-biter, who had stopped on the sidewalk. A small crowd gathered.

"Hey, aren't you Mike Tyson?" someone asked. "Nah - people say I look like him, but I'm not," came the high-pitched answer, peppered with a lisp. Doherty continued snapping away at close range, and one of Iron Mike's henchman remarked: "Normally, we get paid for pictures."

Segway spokeswoman Stacy Ferguson told me: "Some people have questioned the safety of our product, but at least it doesn't bite back."

Rosie scenarios: New York magazine's Big Question this week is: After her G+J battle, what should Rosie O'Donnell edit next?

Some answers:

Keith Blanchard, editor, Maxim - "Rosie should take over Oprah. Call it 'Opie: Personal empowerment with a lesbian twist.'"

David Pecker, head of American Media - "National Enquirer, because we can always use another Rosie source."

Janice Min, editor, Us Weekly - "I hear there might be an opening at 'Martha Stewart Living' soon."

Originally published on November 2, 2003

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