Phil who?
When U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm dropped out of the presidential race, he left a couple of high-profile Texas Republicans with a hard decision: To whom should they shift allegiance?

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison stood shoulder to shoulder with Governor George W. Bush to publicly announce they wouldn't decide--just yet. Bush, who can't seem to open his mouth without using a sports or combat clich, said his support would wait until he saw the "whites of the candidate's eyes."

Less than 24 hours later, hard-to-woo Kay announced she was backing Bob Dole.

Why the sudden about face?
"Dole telephoned her," says Hutchison's former political consultant, Karl Rove.

It doesn't take a political mullah to figure out how Dole so quickly got Kay in the sack--politically speaking. He's the Senate GOP majority leader, after all; and he was the one who flew down from Washington to stand by Kay's indicted side when she was in Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's sights.

Young George has no such political debts. His people say he's in no hurry to endorse, and Pat Buchanan shouldn't get his hopes up. Rove says the Bush family--including its patriarch, the former president--has an unhappy history with the columnist-candidate. Worse, says Rove, who still advises Bush, the Tejas governor, who stands against "immigrant bashing," finds Buchanan repugnantly "nativist."

"Dole is far more acceptable," Rove says. But don't count out third-place Lamar Alexander, a prominent guest at former President Bush's wedding-anniversary celebration. Besides, didn't Dole in '88 call the former prez a "liar"?

It'll all come down to practical politics--and whether those GOP memories of personal slights are truly elephantine.

Double or nothing?
Swept up in the heady excitement last year of seeing Dallas' Dyer sisters' film team rise to the cusp of fame, Observer film critic Matt Seitz declared that he would eat his "hat and other accessories" if they didn't bring home a prize from the Sundance Film Festival for their film Late Bloomers.

Well, Sundance happened, and the Dyers didn't: no prizes and, as yet, no deals. Worse, other than some mixed reviews, no national press.

Buzz, of course, immediately demanded Seitz--now at New Jersey's Newark Star-Ledger--to produce proof positive that he'd indeed made good on his bet. Seitz, like any critic with a jones for indie filmmakers, responded by upping the ante and heaping the Dyers with even more over-the-top praise.

"Basically, the Dyers (Julia, Gretchen, and Stephen) are like that other great sibling filmmaking factory, the Coens: They are so gifted and professional in just about every way that they'll land on their feet no matter what," he e-mailed Buzz. Now Seitz--on a real bender--is promising that within 10 years, the Dyers will become "the collaborators of choice for Jodie Foster, Meg Ryan, and other powerful Hollywood leading ladies."

"I guess," Seitz wrote, "that's a roundabout way of saying the stool sample is in the mail.

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