Rule of Jaw

In the last several weeks, a new mix has begun to emerge like a negative in a developing pan. The chief film critic is Rod Dreher, who was hired pre-Pod but writes like a longtime protégé, peppering his reviews with gibes at Hollywood and the National Endowment for the Arts. For deputy film critic, the Pod chose Jonathan Foreman, a disaffected lawyer who freelanced for The Weekly Standard and the National Review before becoming a Post editor last spring.

But don't think the arrival of conservatives will displace cheesecake, a longtime staple of the Post. A recent column by section veteran V.A. Musetto offered a checklist of videos in which Nicole Kidman has disrobed, accompanied by a fetching photo of the thespian in a diaphanous dress. And Rod Dreher's rant against Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche ("the planet's most overexposed celebrity lesbians") was accompanied by a blowup of Clinton and the two actresses grinning at each other, as if all any of them could think about was who would win a cunnilingus contest. (How about a Rod Dreher think piece on how hard it is for Republican porn stars to get noticed for their acting skills?)

In his boldest move, Podhoretz has snapped up Donald Lyons, whom he calls "the best writer on theater in America." Of course, it doesn't hurt that Lyons has impeccable conservative credentials. A former classics professor, he contributes to the New Criterion and The Weekly Standard, and was most recently on staff at The Wall Street Journal. (Indeed, he may be the only conservative drama critic in America.)

To cover theater news, the Pod hired Michael Riedel, a Daily News reporter with no particular agenda, but lots of sources and no compunction about dishing the dirt.

Asked if he is using the Living section to work out a conservative manifesto, Podhoretz says he reserves his political views for the editorial pages. "My goal is to get the most interesting and provocative voices I can find, and to bring the Post's cultural coverage up to the next level," he says.

Podhoretz is also seeking more women readers. To that end, art director Dennis Wickman has given the Living section a "soft" look, which one former Post staffer says is modeled after the Femail section of the Daily Mail, the most successful paper in England. (Podhoretz says he has never read the Daily Mail. However, his star writer, Vicky Ward, was a longtime fixture at . . . the Femail section of the Daily Mail.)

Lately, the Living section has begun to run gossipy features that read like an extended-play version of Page Six. In addition to silly grooming advice ("Stop Already With the Plucking!"), they've offered readers the true story behind the bookstore wars in You've Got Mail and an exposé on Cosmopolitan's difficulty launching its new "It" girl.

If more young women start reading the Post, the possibilities for political reeducation are endless. But what budding conservative trend would Robert Novak have spotted in the recent Post headline, "Do Power Girls Canoodle at Moomba?"

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