"There is nothing like a good negative review to sell a book," wrote Hugh Barbour.

The funniest thing in politics, where nothing is funny anymore, was the MSNBC coverage of Tea Party Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky making a speech that, according to Rachel Maddow, "totally plagiarized" the Wikipedia page for the sci-fi film "Gattaca." Hilarious! Thank you, Rachel.

Our readers are so smart. For instance, I said the other day that when the brief run of Harold Pinter's play "Betrayal" ends that maybe Mike Nichols would have his fabulous stars (Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig and Rafe Spall) repeat it all for a movie.

Now reader Ronald Kaplan adds: "There has already been a film made of Pinter's play. In 1983, there was a movie version with Jeremy Irons, Patricia Hodge and Ben Kingsley."

Yes, but not a Mike Nichols version.

If you are one of those people who don't recognize most of the new movie stars, you could collect the Nov. 4 issue of New York magazine and instead of reading all about the new family that will be occupying Gracie Mansion in "Meet the DeBlasios" -- well, you could look at the Culture Pages inside.

They show, rate and describe "Hollywood's 100 Most Valuable Stars: Who's up and who's down in Vulture's second annual ranking?" And numero uno is Robert Downey Jr. You remember him!

I ran into NYC's beleaguered police commissioner Ray Kelly and his wonderful wife Veronica at the Woodrow Wilson Awards dinner in the Pierre Hotel this week. Top cop Ray, one of my heroes, had just been booed by Brown University students and almost at the same time, been given the Paul Carey "Shining Spirit Award" in honor of late N.Y. Governor Hugh Carey. So it goes when one is in the public eye. (I am hoping Ray Kelly stays in place!)

I tried to pin Ray down as to his future under either of the incoming mayoral candidates and he just shook his head. "Liz, I don't know exactly what I am going to do." Then he introduced me to Gen. David Petraeus, who was one of the speakers that evening.

The retired general was wonderfully patriotic when talking about the men and women he has led, and we were assured he can still do push-ups with the best of them.

Two of the greatest most philanthropic and brilliant lawyers in the United States -- Mary and David Boies -- (the Supreme Court knows them well!) were also being honored. They received the award for public service. Likewise, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis took home the Woodrow Wilson Award for corporate citizenship. The upscale crowd for this night out was impressive and I had a great time talking with ABC's Bob Woodward.

I ran into the shy Weinstein brother of the moviemaking NYC team, Harvey and Bob. I reminded Bob that when the brothers were made into "Living Landmarks" of the N.Y. Conservancy, neither had shown up to accept. "You were our only honorees ever not to come in person to accept," I said, pointing out that even Laurance and David Rockefeller arrived in person. Bob just laughed. He was eager to get away and back to his shy ways, so as soon as our table filled up with beautiful women, he moved off alone to another table with his cellphone.

At dinner, I was entertained by literary ace agent Mort Janklow, who reminded me of our trip to Egypt in a group many years ago. We were given star treatment because we were with Barbara Walters. (How times have changed.) Mort has handed much of his book business over to his rising son, Luke.

Everybody says they are sick of awards dinners and speeches and so forth. But still they go on and as for raising money for worthy causes they can't be beat, except by "entertainment" evenings. Anyway, I saw scores of distinguished people and enjoyed learning about the Woodrow Wilson organization, which reminds us that we are all citizens of a great nation. California's former senator, Jane Harman, who now runs this center, was dynamic at the podium.

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)