The Last Potato Show

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They, the grand jury. Twenty-three women and men, black and white, tramping back and forth to that small, stuffy windowless room in that federal courthouse, the one with all the cameras outside. Filing in two or three days a week, every week, for almost a year. For a measly $50 a day, plus $3 a day bus fare.

Some (newly) famous faces have come and gone -- a Tripp here, a Lewinsky there -- and surely it's been exciting to be in the know while the rest of the curious world subsists on Ken Starr's surreptitous leavings. (Even if they can never, ever talk about it.) But the guest list has never been classier than on Monday when the President himself looms before them on closed-circuit TV. And the 23 will put down their crosswords and coffee cups, and settle in for . . .

The Last Picture Show (1971). Peter Bogdanovich's black-and-white neo-classic about the death of a North Texas town has plenty of similarities to this scandal, whose own denouement is tiptoeing into view. Sex, sex, sex, for one thing, including plenty of discussion about how far is too far to go on a sultry Panhandle night. The coquette/tramp, played with appropriate feminine deviltry by Cybill Shepherd (who never looked so good -- just ask Bogdanovich, who did a May-December bit of his own with Cybill during the shoot and after). And of course the mantra, inserted early on by John Keats via John Hillerman: "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' -- that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." The grand jury knows. But they ain't talking.

Twenty years after the moviehouse closed, Bogdanovich gave his landmark film the Evening Star treatment with the wan Texasville (1991). Pass on it. But if it's true the President is considering a sequel of his own on Monday night -- a televised primetime address to the nation -- you'll want to tune in at 9. If he's a no-show, there's always Miss Teen USA.