Pickin’, Grinnin’ and Advocatin’

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • March 16, 2005

by Karen Feld

Arts advocates made their presence known in D.C. this week, just two weeks before the Supreme Court oral argument on file-sharing.

“I’m a songwriter,” country-pop star Deborah Allen, who’s written hundreds of songs, told me. “If not, I’d be wrapping presents at Sears. This is all I know how to do.”


Allen, who is preparing to hit the road with her Pajama Party tour, performed compliments of the Broadcast Music Industry at a reception at the Library of Congress on Monday evening. Allen drew attention to the importance of Copyright Awareness Week and, specifically, educated people about the evils of downloads. “I can’t build a lifestyle on one song. After it sells, I can make a few pennies at a time because of the copyright law. They add up.”

She might think songwriting and singing are her only talents, but during our conversation, she revealed another: Allen has trained her cat, Romeo, to use the toilet and even swirl the toilet paper. Perhaps, if the pennies stop rolling in, he can learn to wrap gifts, too, and the pair can duet at Sears. She told me of her dad’s talent too: He was an automobile upholsterer and upholstered Elvis’ first bus.

Jack Valenti said he’s happily pulling in the big public-speaking bucks while in retirement.

‘Arts shouldn’t be political’

Across town, the Creative Coalition, an arts advocacy group, honored the legendary Tony Bennett at the Willard Hotel. “The arts shouldn’t be political,” crooned Bennett. “People should just love the arts.” Arts lovers included: Sens. Ted Stevens and Max Baucus, actors Harry Hamlin and Joe Pantoliano, and retired MPAA head honcho Jack Valenti, who says in retirement he’s busy speaking and getting paid for it.

Discreet security

While most of “official” Washington and their security entourages were at the Gridiron Dinner Saturday evening, there was plenty of private security at Oceanaire – both in the dining room and outside. The protection was for Dr. Angel Foster, a pro-choice activist and researcher on women’s health and sexuality in the Middle East. The downtown seafood restaurant is also a fave of former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. “He eats here all the time, but his security people were more discreet,” observed one employee.

And he’s back

Georgetowners are happy to welcome Cyrille Brenac back to the “hood,” this time as managing partner of the popular Bistrot Lepic. He greeted guests at Cafe Milano before moving downtown to Les Halles, where he worked for the past four years.

Speaking of Bistrot Lepic

D.C.’s movers and shakers – jewelry designer Ann Hand, Cakelove’s Warren Brown, Kip O’Neill, socialite Tandy Dickerson – turned out Sunday afternoon, to view Kyle Samperton’s dramatic photo exhibit at Bistrot Lepic. Most who know Samperton as a social photographer were surprised to see another side to his work.

Author, Author …

Want to keep company with five best-selling authors? Curl up with Fannie Flagg, Michael Beschloss, Dan Silva, Chris Buckley and Cal Ripken Jr. as First Sister Doro Bush Koch and hubby Bobby host the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s second annual Maryland Celebration of Reading at Strathmore Music Center on April 22.


The Stinger

Delaying the inevitable? Republicans, already concerned about the hypocrisy displayed by their House Leader Tom DeLay, are not as worried over the travel scandal as much as the controversies surrounding Delay Inc. – his network of former aides and allies – and the unraveling scam about insurance policies on Indian elders involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon. Could this be the GOP leader’s downfall? Beware of the Ides of March – even on the 16th.

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