Lewinsky Featured in HBO Documentary

Thursday, January 17th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Four years after the start of the scandal that almost toppled a president, Monica Lewinsky says she's still trying to figure out how to live a normal life.

Fighting back tears, and laughing a little, Lewinsky appeared at a news conference Wednesday to promote an HBO documentary scheduled to debut on March 3. Called ``Monica in Black and White,'' it largely consists of her answering questions from an audience of HBO staff and college students.

Lewinsky initiated the project and was paid for her participation, but she wouldn't say how much.

The former intern said she made the film partly because she was worried other TV movies being made about her case would perpetuate inaccuracies and misconceptions.

What is the biggest misconception people have about her?

``That I sought this celebrity by seducing the president and going to the White House with an agenda and turning on him so all of this could happen, so I could enjoy it and cause trouble for this country and make millions of dollars and perpetuate my celebrity,'' she said.

``And that I'm stupid,'' she added.

Lewinsky, who designs handbags and attends classes at Columbia University in New York, wore a black leather jacket and skirt. She appeared to fight back tears when a reporter asked about former President Clinton's moral standards.

``I'm flustered right now,'' she said. ``I'm so sorry.''

She also tried not to answer a handful of questions, including how she felt about Monica Lewinsky jokes, indicating HBO wanted to save responses for the documentary. Eventually, she said gallows humor helped her, but she doesn't like how her name has become synonymous with the scandal.

``The ones that take my last name and equate that to something a lot of people in the world do is something really cruel,'' she said.

Lewinsky lamented that there's no handbook on how to act when anonymity is lost. Asked why she doesn't try to avoid public attention, she said, ``What I learned to do _ and it seemed to work _ is if I went to a certain number of events and gave photographers some pictures, they didn't stand outside my house.''

``I'm really trying to do the best I can to normalize my life,'' she said.

She curtly dismissed a question about how she felt about Clinton today: ``It's all in the past and I've really just moved on.''

Most people who recognize her _ maybe not journalists _ are very kind, she said.

``It started with that rule in kindergarten,'' she said. ``If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all.''