House Thespian

Posted August 15, 2003 at 6:09pm

Who knew that Linwood Duncan, the unassuming press secretary for Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.), has been dabbling in acting on the side and turns up with a bit part in the new movie “Eden’s Curve”?

Based on a true story, the flick features Duncan as the

dean of a small college in Virginia that has to deal with a controversy that develops around an 18-year-old student named Peter who gets involved in several intimate relationships.

“It’s been my golf,” Duncan told HOH about his acting, which has previously been relegated to appearances on stage. “This is the first film I’ve been in.”

Duncan has played everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Sir Thomas More in dozens of shows in the D.C. and Charlottesville, Va., areas. He was approached by a longtime friend, Jerry Meadors, screenwriter and producer for “Eden’s Curve.”

The new movie has been especially popular at gay and lesbian film festivals across the country because the lead character gets mixed up in relationships with his male roommate as well as the roommate’s girlfriend. Then another male student fights for the attention of Peter, which leads to some kind of violence, according to newfestival.org.

“Consequently, Peter finds himself drawn to a third man, his poetry teacher, Ian — an attraction with serious and devastating repercussions,” says the site.

It’s left to Duncan, as head of the school, to deal with the mess. “I think I did credibly well,” he said, adding that he has no plans to leave his day job. “I much prefer politics.”

Strange But True. The race for GOP party chairman in Virginia must be a bit strange for Sen. John Warner (R) to watch unfold.

The contest, which comes in the wake of an eavesdropping scandal that toppled party Chairman Gary Thomson, pits GOP Treasurer Richard Neel Jr. against Kate Obenshain Griffin.

Obenshain has the backing of much of Virginia’s Hill delegation and her former boss, Sen. George Allen (R), and insiders peg her as the clear frontrunner for the post. Republican officials say Warner is also backing Obenshain in the Sept. 6 race, though the Senator was out of the country last week and unavailable for comment to HOH.

Neel told HOH that he has spoken to Warner’s staff and “they have not led me to believe that he has made an endorsement.”

Warner has more than a passing interest in the battle because the fathers of both Neel and Griffin perished together in a plane crash 25 years ago that led to the Senator’s original election to the chamber.

Robert Obenshain, the GOP nominee for the Senate in 1978, died in a tragic plane crash after besting Warner at a state party convention. The pilot of the plane, Richard Neel Sr., was a party activist.

Warner, who had finished second to Obenshain for the nomination, was tapped to replace him in the race. He won the general election — and the rest is history.

“Kate Griffin and I share in a very personal way a very tragic situation,” said Neel. “It had a significant impact on both of our families. For that reason, I have always had a deep respect for Kate and her family.”

Scenes From the Recess. It’s been so slow on Capitol Hill during the August break that even Democrats frustrated by the lack of specifics from Arnold Schwarzenegger have still gotten caught up in the excitement surrounding the California gubernatorial candidate.

One Senate Democratic aide flipped on the television last Monday morning to see CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC all going live to Schwarzenegger’s drive-by at a summer school program in New York. Tired of Arnold-mania, the staffer tuned over to the USA Network as a diversion.

“But at the same time on USA [was] his classic movie ‘Junior,’ in which he becomes the world’s first pregnant man,” said the staffer. “Gotta love this country.”

By the end of the week, however, at least two other cable channels announced that they were pulling the plug on all Schwarzenegger films until after the Oct. 7 recall election. The Sci Fi Channel and FX put the kibosh on Arnold’s flicks amid concerns that the dozens of other candidates in the race could have invoked the government’s equal-time rule.

The Los Angeles Times reported that channels like TNT, USA and HBO had pre-scheduled 50 airings of Schwarzenegger movies in just the next two weeks.

Will this rule be invoked if the Playboy Channel starts running some of the movies of porn star Mary Carey? And would Gov. Gray Davis (D) seek equal time on that network?

McCarthy Under Fire. Embattled Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.) is facing new scrutiny amid questions about missed votes, unusually high staff turnover and the hiring of an outside political consultant to help shape up her tattered Congressional office.

In an investigation distributed to newspapers for publication this weekend, The Associated Press revealed that McCarthy has a pattern of missing votes on the House floor and in the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

McCarthy, who has seen half of her staff depart since she fell down a House escalator in March, denied her well-publicized battle with alcohol contributed to the missed votes.

“The thing about this job is, it’s always a series of choices. I could be in three places right now,” McCarthy told the AP’s Libby Quaid. “And it’s true for every Member. And for all of us, we are constantly barraged with requests that we would like to meet every single one of. And unfortunately it’s just not possible.”

House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) has balked at McCarthy’s attempt to have taxpayers shell out $12,500 to Peter Fenn to help straighten out her official Web site and staff.

Ney has demanded more documentation from McCarthy amid questions about the propriety of having taxpayers pick up the tab. McCarthy had originally planned to have her campaign pay the entire $25,000 bill for Fenn’s services.

McCarthy insisted that Ney has cleared her. “The words out of Mr. Ney’s mouth to me were that, ‘We are satisfied,’” she said.

But Ney spokesman Brian Walsh suggested that the Congresswoman has not been responding to private requests for documentation. “Why the Congresswoman’s office would publicly claim not to be aware of these requests from the committee is as surprising to us as why it has taken over a month to receive what should be routine documentation,” he said.

In the Crossfire. With usual liberal punching bags James Carville and Paul Begala on vacation, conservative Tucker Carlson will be going toe-to-toe with a celebrity guest co-host on CNN’s “Crossfire” this week.

Actress Janeane Garofalo, the outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, will spar with Carlson all week.

“I did leave her a note,” Begala told HOH. “Be careful because Tucker cries easily. You don’t want to see your friend get beat up by a girl.”

This may provide a whole new chapter for the eventual paperback version of Carlson’s new book, “Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News.”

All About the Kids. At the age of 69, Carl Kennedy has cancer in his kidneys and gout in both feet. He doesn’t know how long he has to live, but you would never know based on the roadwork he has been doing in recent weeks to bring attention to the plight of America’s abused children.

Since July 16, Kennedy has been walking from his home in McDowell County, W.Va., to Capitol Hill to force his way onto the agenda.

He was inspired during a recent stay in the hospital when he met a child who was nearly beaten to death by an abusive parent. Remembering his own experiences as an abused child, Kennedy made up his mind to start the journey.

Kennedy, whose doctors in McDowell want him to come home to begin kidney dialysis as soon as possible, will be on the Hill this week along with traveling companion Nathan Armes, a 16-year-old boy from his hometown who also was abused as a child.

The duo will be in the Cannon House Office Building today, and Kennedy says he will stay in Washington “as long as it takes” to get on the radar screen of Members.

“I’d walk the trip again,” he said, “if it means I could save just one child.”

John McArdle contributed to this report.