Nancy Reagan returns to D.C. today – the first trip back since the former president’s death. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation is honoring the former first lady this evening at, where else, the Reagan building. Vice President Dick Cheney will speak at the dinner and Tony Bennett will perform. Diane Sawyer is the MC. Guests include old Reagan pals – Merv Griffin, Pat Sajak, Mike Wallace, the Charlie Wicks and Mike Deavers. Proceeds will help build the new library pavilion, scheduled to open in the fall, to house Air Force 1, tail #27,000; Marine 1, the LBJ-era helicopter; and a presidential motorcade with one of Ronald Reagan’s parade limos.
Dead men don’t wear plaid
Renaissance humorist and playwright Steve Martin will receive the Kennedy Center’s eighth annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Oct. 23 in the Concert Hall.
When told that he’d won the prize, Martin quipped: “I think Mark Twain is a great guy, and I can’t wait to meet him.”
The friendly skies may get more crowded
Despite all the financial woes of existing airlines, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta tells us that the agency has received 14 new airline applications in the past couple of weeks. Indeed, during the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual forecast conference in March, Mineta said, “Demand continues to grow. We are looking ahead to more than one billion passengers by 2015.”
Delay on DeLay is good for Dems
“[Tom] DeLay will be finished sooner or later, hopefully later,” said one Democrat insider, who added, “the longer he stays the more it helps us.”
Plácido may sing for his supper
Maestro Plácido Domingo is going into the restaurant business in D.C. He has partnered with Mexican-born chef Richard Sandoval. Plans call for a 195-seat restaurant in Gallery Place called Zengo, which means “give and take.” The popular chef Sandoval also owns Maya and Pampano (a joint venture with Plácido as well), serving Mexican seafood in midtown Manhattan. Alan Yu from Citronelle will take over the executive chef’s role and serve up Latin/Asian cuisine at Zengo, scheduled to open in September.
Egyptian-born and raised Nonie Darwish, founder of Arabs for Israel, was in town from Los Angeles and spoke at a lunch yesterday at Galileo hosted by the Israel Project. Her goal is to teach kids peace, although she said, “Teaching peace is not yet considered in the best interest by Arab leaders.” Darwish, who was raised as a Muslim, said: “We can’t judge terrorism by Western standards.” Her father, before he was killed in 1956, headed intelligence for the Egyptian military under then-President Nasser, and “planned undercover attacks on Israel on a daily basis.” She then remembers Nasser putting her and her siblings on his lap and asking: “Which one of you will take revenge and kill Israelis?” She added, “The word ‘compromise’ didn’t exist in Arab culture.” Darwish, who admits to doing some soul-searching about her Arab culture, says, “Terrorism comes from within, then it goes to the outside world.”
You can’t keep this gal down
Alma Gildenhorn, a philanthropist who serves on many boards in the community (Kennedy Center, University of Maryland, Art and Preservation in American Embassies) and wife of former Ambassador to Switzerland Joe Gildenhorn, cracked her knee cap in a fall and is wearing a full leg cast. Knowing Alma, she won’t be sidelined from her good works for very long.