Kennedy’s ‘Kong’ Kris Kringle

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • December 21, 2005

by Karen Feld

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and his wife, Vicki, scored high marks again this year at their traditional off-the-record holiday party for friends and staff Monday evening in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Each year the senator and his wife surprise guests when they arrive in costume and perform a topical dialogue scripted by longtime aide Kerry Parker. Kennedy, dressed as a furry King Kong, explained that he was late because he was on a phone call with President Bush. Vicki, dressed in a curly blond wig as Ann Darrow – immortalized by Fay Wray and now played by Naomi Watts – asked Kong if the president called him. “No.” Did you call the president? “No. He’s on top of every call,” of course referring to the recent National Security Agency wire-tapping story. No Republican was off limits, from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney to Tom DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A healthy tumble down

Kennedy did a very funny routine spoofing our health care system: When falling from the top of the Empire State Building, he said, you’d better call and get your half-tablet of generic aspirin before you reach the 34th floor, and fill out the form for the HMO before you hit bottom.

Falling for beauty and the beast

The couple sang special lyrics – “Falling Polls” to the tune of “Falling Snow.” Spotted among the guests: the junior senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, hanging near the door long enough to wave when Kennedy said how patient the Massachusetts House delegation has been and that there might be an open Senate seat in their state in three years when Kerry moves to the White House. Other present and former Kennedy aides joining the celebration: Melody Miller, Jim Flug, Mary Beth Cahill, C-SPAN’s Steve Scully and Williams & Connolly power attorney Greg Craig, who has represented high-profile clients such as Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, publisher Conrad Black and Elian Gonzalez. Mrs. Kennedy told me that neither she nor the senator had seen the new “King Kong” film.

Welcome home, ‘Betty’

The activist female rock band called Betty would probably be banned in Iran, but plays to sold-out crowds here in its hometown. Sisters Elizabeth and Amy Ziff and Alyson Palmer, all originally from Fairfax, describe themselves as “women of passion.” Their autobiographical musical show, “Betty Rules,” which opened at Theater J last night plays through Jan. 29. The talented and sometimes outrageous gals, who do the theme song for Showtime’s “The L Word” and appear in many episodes as well as off-Broadway in New York where they now live, talked to me before their rehearsal earlier this week. “Washington audiences have a global awareness,” said Alyson. “They get the political nuances that people don’t get in other towns,” added Elizabeth.

And they rock and rule

“It’s strange to do an autobiographical piece,” said Amy. “I wasn’t prepared for the intense emotions.”

“But it’s who we are and how our lives have been,” Alyson says about “Betty Rules.”

The group has been together for 20 years. “There’s definitely intense conflict and intense love,” said Alyson. “We’re all strong-willed. Sometimes, we’re destined to have a fight, but if you can keep your lines of communication open – sometimes the communication is screaming and yelling – then we just jam and come up with a song. There’s something so magical when our three voices come together.”

They call Michael Greif, who directed “Rent” as well as their original New York production, their mediator. “He had us keep digging deeper and deeper to different levels to show funny, bitter, sweet, sad, and great music,” Alyson said.

In 20 years, they’ve never sat together to discuss a common goal. In fact, they have different goals. Alyson: “To be happy and enjoy. We’re all fans as well as performers.” Elizabeth: “I never had a real personal goal, but want to have a voice to make change and use it for feminist causes.” She adds, “We’re show folk. We have a good time and bring joy to people.”

“I love troubled gals with great voices,” said Alyson, a self-proclaimed Tracy Bonham fan. “That’s why I’m in Betty.” Elizabeth is a Dolly Parton fan.

“I’m a fan of anybody who can transport me,” Amy said. “I hope that’s the way people experience us.” Don’t miss the chance to see this zany trio and their three-part harmonies while they’re back in their hometown to perform their story.

Geez, might as well as shop

While the D.C. Council postponed its vote on Washington’s new baseball stadium, Mayor Tony Williams put the unexpected time off to good use and was sighted at Whole Foods Market on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park Monday evening around 7:30. Yes, he was still wearing his Washington Nationals baseball cap as he eyed the fruits and veggies.

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