COLUMNS

Alone in the West Wing

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • May 03, 2000

by Karen Feld

President Clinton upstaged Jay Leno with his “Alone at White House” video at his 8th and final “official” appearance at The White House Correspondents’ Dinner. That’s where pressies schmooze with their sources from the highest levels of government to the biggest names in showbiz. Referring to his end of term, he stated “I’m not concerned about my memoirs, I’m concerned about my resume,” but he doesn’t have to worry about landing a post-White House stand-up comedy gig (even if after several takes he still couldn’t pronounce the “T” in “Yahtze”). By the way, the President’s spoof video, directed by Phil Rosenthal, creator and executive producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” cost $12,000 — that’s far less than Leno’s. It even offered a disclaimer, “No press secretaries were harmed in the making of this video.”

Jay Leno offered, “I look at all these press members and wonder who the hell is watching Elian.” But powerful House Chairman John Dingell said he was offended by some of Leno’s humor.

“I’m the acting president,” actor Martin Sheen said as he cut a path through his fans to get to the media hospitality suites. “I don’t take it seriously. It’s all make-believe,” said President Bartlet of TV’s “West Wing.” “It’s the media who take me seriously.” True, after all we see a lot of the real President, and in Washington, Hollywood is still a novelty. Characters from both “West Wings” were out in full force.

A very blonde Patty Hearst confided that she’s been spending a lot of time in Washington visiting her daughter at a local university. She stuck close to director John Waters (of “Pink Flamingos” fame) who directs her in a new film as the mother of a cinema terrorist. . . Actor Michael Cole, now a producer at Showtime, reminded the dot.com generation that he made his name in “Mod Squad” and then had even greater success at Betty Ford.

Some news makers from yesteryear weren’t forgotten, although Attorney General Janet Reno may have wished one was. Matt Drudge, wearing a straw fedora and white T-shirt under his tux, flashed the A.G. and the President with the picture they’d like most to forget and the words: “The Clinton Legacy For Our Children”. . . Donna Rice tried to reform Gary Busey. . . Bo Derek stuck close to California Rep. David Dreier. . . Christie Brinkley and Regis Philbin were there. . . and the list goes on and on.

The very exclusive Bloomberg News/George Magazine after-party at the Russian Trade Federation was vintage Bloomberg. After all, Mike Bloomberg is this year’s media mogul, the guy who brought Wall Street (in the form of media) to Washington. In Washington, information has always been the ultimate form of power. Who better than Bloomberg to empower the public with information, and on this occasion to throw the glitziest “after” party — yet it was more Hollywood and New York than Washington as the few hundred “A” list guests partied into the night on caviar and champagne. It doubled as a wrap party for the premiere season of “West Wing.” “Their first season got better ratings than I did,” quipped President Clinton earlier in the evening.

Rob Lowe and Kevin Spacey leaned against a railing on the patio surrounded by a presidential size security force. All eyes were on Morgan Fairchild and all bets are on that she’s recently been nipped and tucked. White House economic whiz Gene Sperling and Treasury Secretary Larry Summers were chatting up host Bloomberg.

Sen. John McCain had the prime parking space out front for his Straight Talk Express, leading to speculation as to what he really wants. Probably at that point, a good night’s sleep. Yet not appearing the least bit jet-lagged following his return from Vietnam, the failed presidential hopeful, who’s hoping to land a prime time TV slot at the GOP convention next summer, talked about what a thrill it was to return to Vietnam with his 13-year-old son. The former POW has been back several times and still agrees with his assertion 20 years ago that “the wrong side won.”

Insider political buzz: Al Gore made the Cuba decision himself. . . Hillary is more worried about Gov. George E. Pataki – he can raise money – than Rep. Rick Lazio, but she’d rather run against the devil she knows – Rudy Guiliani. The Mayor, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, has until May 30 to decide whether he stays in the race. This may just be the graceful exit he’s been looking for.

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