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‘Alpha House’ Premiere Attracts Alpha Lawmakers

Durbin, left, speaks with Consuelos and Alter before a screening of "Alpha House" on Tuesday. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)
Durbin, left, speaks with Consuelos and Alter before a screening of "Alpha House" on Tuesday. (Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Two of the lawmakers who have called Capitol Hill’s real-life “Alpha House” their home away from home were among the distinguished guests on hand at a screening of the Amazon series Tuesday evening in D.C.

But Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., wanted to make clear that the real house was nothing like the one in the TV program, lacking the usual Hollywood blend of sex, drugs and violence.

“Violence would involve rats, drugs would involve Metamucil, and the closest thing to sex is pictures of our grandkids,” Durbin said of the row house he shares with fellow Democrats Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Rep. George Miller of California, who is the landlord. The fictional house is shared by four Republican senators.

One former roommate, retired Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., also attended the screening.

Speaking with Durbin adjacent to the red carpet in the Newseum at Tuesday’s reception and screening, Executive Producer Jonathan Alter said that all three would come in moderation.

“We do have sex, violence and drugs over the course of 11 episodes,” Alter said.

The sex part comes early, with Sen. Andy Guzman (Mark Consuelos), caught engaging in some extracurricular activity in the Cloakroom during an all-night talking filibuster.

Durbin said that he might have been the inspiration for “the best-looking guy,” with Consuelos nearby. Creator and screenwriter Garry Trudeau (of Doonesbury fame) said that Guzman, a Florida Republican who dreams of running for president, was loosely inspired by Sen. Marco Rubio.

Trudeau had the toughest words Tuesday for former Sen. Fred Thompson, identifying the Tennessee Republican as the basis for Sen. Gil John Biggs, a former University of North Carolina basketball coach portrayed by John Goodman. Biggs faces a primary challenge from the coach down the road at Duke.

“Fred Thompson has always been someone who really interested me. How he wound up being a senator, the misbegotten campaign, and so he really was the inspiration for Gil John, somebody who really didn’t feel like politics should involve the effort that everybody else did,” Trudeau said. “Obviously Gil John likes — likes his life there, he just wishes it didn’t involve so much work.”

“On the realism front, we did try to not unnecessarily make things up,” Alter said, decrying “careless inaccurate” details in TV shows about Washington.

That might be most appreciated in an audience like the one at the Newseum, which included no shortage of lawmakers from both sides of the Rotunda. In addition to Durbin, HOH spotted Senate Democrats Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, plus Angus King, I-Maine, and Deb Fischer, R-Neb. There was no shortage of House members in attendance either, not to mention all the current and former leadership aides.

Leahy could be seen in the audience cracking up during a scene featuring a wrestling match involving Stephen Colbert.

No word yet if Trudeau plans for the Duke basketball coach to ever encounter an intrepid former sports editor of student newspaper the Chronicle who goes on to co-write a blog covering the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

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