Prison. Scandal. Adultery. Delusion. Death. Divorce. Remorse. And always, reinvention.
It's been quite the year for denizens of the Republic of Dish, including a quintet of individuals or couples seemingly poised for next acts in 2011.
Washington uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff
is writing a book about influence peddling, a subject he knows intimately. He left prison in June after serving 42 months for corruption and fraud, did another six months of work-release at a Kosher pizzeria in Baltimore, and is now on probation. Abramoff, who lives outside Washington, is not using a ghostwriter, a source tells me. Yes, Jack "crossed the line" nearly half the time he spent working as a Republican fixer/fundraiser/lobbyist. But the majority of his wheeling and dealing was "business as usual'' legal. In other words, the system stinks.
"Who better than he to tell you why so-called reforms won't work?" asked the source, hinting at "other options" in Abramoff's future beyond the book. Yes, the fledgling author saw both "Casino Jack"
films, the documentary as well as the Kevin Spacey feature about his exploits. His Facebook
page could use updating.
Long-suffering Elizabeth Edwards
, estranged wife of two-time (and two-timing) presidential candidate John Edwards
of cancer Dec. 7, leaving behind three children. Her death came weeks after her husband's (possibly) former mistress, Rielle Hunter
, hit Hollywood seeking romance. The National Enquirer -- which broke the oft-denied story of the politician, the paramour, and their love child -- reports Hunter hoped to contact old flames Matt LeBlanc and John Cusack. Though John Edwards assured Elizabeth he'd quit seeing Hunter, Elizabeth told People last summer she didn't completely believe him. He reportedly visits Frances Quinn Hunter,
A far more serious potential problem for Edwards is legal: Two ex-aides from his 2008 White House campaign recently talked to the ongoing federal grand jury probing whether he improperly diverted campaign funds to Hunter.
Al and Tipper Gore
had already celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary
when the former vice president and his photographer/mental health advocate wife announced their amicable split via e-mail. The news brought gasps of disbelief and dismay from millions of strangers, even as close friends insisted there were no third parties, just late-in-life marital ennui.
Last summer, Seattle police declined to re-open an old case involving allegations that Gore made improper sexual moves on a hotel masseuse who'd told her story to the Enquirer. The globe-trotting Nobel Prize and Oscar winner continues to warn against climate change.
Michaele and Tariq Salahi
, who will be eternally known for allegedly breaching security at the Obamas' first White House state dinner in 2009 and refusing to discuss it
on Capitol Hill in January, promise a "really huge" new venture in 2011. "It has something to do with retail," was all Michaele -- whose infamous red sari fetched $7,000 at an autumn charity auction -- would tell me.
As for "The Real Housewives of D.C.," in which costars
dissed the Salahis with overt and subtle barbs, the Bravo cable network hasn't announced a second season. Michaele said the couple would be "surprised" if they were dropped, never mind that Cat Ommanney, the tart-tongued Brit, threatened to quit the show if the duo returned.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's
second term ends next month and already the conservative Republican has given $250,000 in surplus campaign funds to charity. The big question is what's next for the once-rising GOP star forced to confess a long affair with his Argentine "soulmate" after sneaking off to Buenos Aires for a springtime tryst. No word yet.
Meanwhile, ex-wife Jenny Sanford
, mother of the couple's four sons, won plaudits for bolting rather than standing by her mate. She wrote "Staying True" about the ordeal and started to date again. Nothing serious so far but she did tell Dr. Phil, "I just have to make sure I pick someone who maybe loves me back."