Heard on the Hill: Inauguration 2009 Party Download

Posted January 20, 2009 at 9:47am

At the Green Ball on Monday night at the National Portrait Gallery hosted by former Vice President Al Gore, there were more than a few green gowns and bow ties — not to mention a swarm of eco-minded celebrities.

[IMGCAP(1)]Partyers, including actor John Cusack, comedian Paul Reiser and rocker Jon Bon Jovi, danced to will.i.am (the guy is everywhere these days), Maroon 5 and John Legend.

Cusack hinted we might be seeing more of him in our fair city, which is just fine by HOH, who still has a much-watched copy of “Say Anything” on VHS. He tells us that in addition to ball-hopping, he’s exploring volunteer opportunities.

“I’m doing what I can do without, you know, being useless or getting in the way,” the floppy-haired actor said. We later noticed him scooting out of the party with an entourage that included Susan McCue, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and now a strategist who briefly headed up Bono’s ONE Campaign.

But Reiser gets points for the funniest interview of the night. He told us — with a straight face — that he’s planning to do less for his fellow man this year, despite all the calls for volunteerism running rampant among the celebrity set assembled in Washington.

“It’s so predictable,” he deadpanned. “I think I’ll do even less next year [for others].”

Legend, who had to cool his heels in the lobby while waiting for his limo, was gracious — and much shorter than we expected.

“Man, this whole town is buzzing,” he said with a shy smile. “I think the planet’s buzzing.”

A Very Happy Day, For More Reasons Than One. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali served as the guest of honor at the Kentucky Bluegrass Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Monday night. But the Louisville, Ky., native also celebrated his birthday a few days earlier — and so party attendees took a few moments to toast the former champ.

The Temptations sang “Happy Birthday” to Ali in honor of his 67th birthday, which was on Jan. 17. An HOH spy reports that Ali also had the group sing “My Girl” to his wife, Lonnie.

“The Champ” also was presented with an Abraham Lincoln bust and separate oil portraits of Ali and President-elect Barack Obama, a spy reports. Other party guests included actress Ashley Judd and boxer Evander Holyfield.

Oprah Outtake. Well-dressed women were swooning over Oprah Winfrey as the talk-show queen and Obama supporter hosted a star-studded show on Monday from the Kennedy Center. But some of the best moments came when the cameras were off, and HOH was in the audience to bring them to you.

• Winfrey was sitting with Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and his wife, Jill, who made a surprise visit on the show. During a commercial break, Winfrey turned to the new vice president and began wiping his face, much as a mom does to a child with a dirty face.

“You have something in your eye,” she said. Biden blinked a bit, and he finally turned to his wife for more assistance.

We suppose as the Queen of All Media, the big “O” outranks the soon-to-be veep, and therefore has eye-goop-dabbing privileges.

• Oprah might be multitalented, but a triple threat she’s not. She joked about her inability to carry a tune during a break before the final segment of the show, when singers Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige, will.i.am and producer/composer David Foster joined together to reprise an original piece written by Foster and will.i.am called “America’s Song.” The song is available for free for a limited time on Oprah.com, thankfully sans Oprah’s vocal styling.

• The event was heavily but expertly managed — attendees had been warned ahead of time not to wear black, beige or white. “Bright colors look good on T.V.,” the advance material provided with tickets read.

And a member of the “audience team” whipped up the crowd — and dispensed very specific instructions. Audience members in the camera’s view were told to take off their wristbands, not to chew gum, and to show their excitement for the benefit of viewers. “You’ll be moved and we want to see it on your face,” she said (or was it warned?).

• E! celebrity chronicler Ken Baker, a celebrity in his own right, summed up the inaugural festivities for HOH while we waited in line for seats. With all the A-listers in Washington (notable audience members included Glenn Close and Angela Bassett, and Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore were among the show’s guests), Baker says he had to come, too.

After all, if he’d stayed in L.A. this weekend, he would have been mighty lonely. “There would be no point in being there because everyone is here,” he said.

Nails on a Chalkboard? How does a member of the outgoing Bush administration mark her last few days in power? If you’re Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, you get some pampering.

HOH spotted Chao, who is the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), getting a manicure on Sunday afternoon at Capitol Nails, near the GOP power couple’s Capitol Hill home. Mid-mani, another customer entered and excitedly asked the manager to turn on the TV to the concert happening at the Lincoln Memorial. An employee switched on the channel to find Obama in mid-speech.

Chao, dressed in jeans and a fur coat, kept a studiously pleasant look on her face. So much for that relaxing spa escape.

A Fine Bromance. At the bash thrown by the Council for Leadership, Equality and Diversity on Sunday night at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, HOH was disappointed that invitee and all-around hunk Denzel Washington was a no-show, but we amused ourselves by chatting with a Washington celebrity duo. Forget Brangelina or TomKat — meet “Norm-da,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

The two told HOH they’ve been friends since childhood, when their fathers both taught at the University of Chicago. But they’re not a tabloid item, Honda jokes. “We’ve known each other forever, but not in the biblical sense.”

Still, they acted as each other’s wingmen at the party, which celebrated minority leadership.

Party On by MoveOn. Hundreds crowded into the Manifest Hope: DC art gallery event in Georgetown on Monday night, where hip-hop hall of famers De La Soul and Moby were among the artists who kept the party going well into the night.

But the highlight of the event, sponsored by MoveOn.org, the Service Employees International Union and Obey Giant, was the appearance of artist Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic “Hope” image of Obama that is now hanging at the National Portrait Gallery. Fairey told the crowd that he was arrested 14 times during the Bush administration years for taking part in various demonstrations and protests, but he said he believes that a real change has now come to America.

Other celebs spotted at the bash included Rosario Dawson, Heather Graham and Michael Stipe.

Notes From All Over. Musician George Clinton kept the inaugural bash hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus going on Monday night … Revelers from Draft Obama, the grass-roots organization founded in 2006 with the purpose of convincing the former Illinois Senator to run for president, celebrated on Monday night at Local 16. The party definitely was set up for networking, since many in the young crowd sported “Hello, My Name Is” nametags … Despite a ton of pre-party buzz, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) did not show up to the Prairie State’s big society bash on Monday night … Actor/musician Jamie Foxx, who scored big laughs at Sunday’s “We Are One” free inaugural concert on the National Mall for his spot-on Obama impersonation, repeated it at Sunday night’s “Declare Yourself” bash at the Renaissance Washington hotel. When a 13-year-old reporter from Time for Kids interviewed Foxx earlier in the night, the actor also channeled musician Ray Charles, whom he won an Oscar for portraying in the 2004 movie “Ray.” In a more somber moment, Foxx told reporters that his friend Jennifer Hudson, the singer whose mother, brother and nephew were brutally shot in 2008, is disappointed not to attend inaugural festivities but is “doing good.”

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.