Hello, Dan; Good-Bye, Jack
One of the final parties of last week’s GOP convention was held in honor of Jack Valenti, outgoing head of the Motion Picture Association of America, at the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Plaza.
But while the swanky, early-evening soiree was billed as a going-away party for the legendary Valenti, it was also an opportunity
for Dan Glickman, Valenti’s successor, to smooth over relations with Republicans still bitter over the choice of a Democrat to fill the job of chief motion picture lobbyist.
[IMGCAP(1)] Glickman, as one industry source put it,
isn’t the problem; he’s a “good, decent, solid guy.”
The fact that they didn’t choose a Republican “is a statement of disrespect,” the source said. “That will linger.”
Glickman, who is all too aware of the tension, told HOH that the GOP convention provided a great opportunity for him to “reach out and make them feel comfortable.” And with that, he wasted no time kissing the first GOP ring to pass by: Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“Bob Goodlatte is one of the finest people I know,” Glickman said as he introduced Goodlatte to HOH. Then Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) walked over. “You know, Tom, you are one of the most tenacious Congressmen I think I’ve ever seen,” Glickman said.
Both Goodlatte and Davis smooched back, telling HOH that Glickman will be a fine motion picture chief. “Dan will be fine,” Goodlatte said. Davis said he has “faith in Dan Glickman” and that he thinks “Dan will be perfectly bipartisan.”
Valenti’s good-bye speech to his Republican friends was his last lobbying blitz, and was made on behalf of his successor. In an unexpectedly dramatic analogy, Valenti told the audience that he was struck by the tombstones over U.S. soldiers buried in Normandy. The tombstones don’t say Republican or Democrat. “All that matters is that they were Americans,” he said.
Valenti, who turned 83 on Sunday, told HOH later that Republicans “just don’t know Dan yet.” (Glickman, apparently, was a wallflower during 18 years in Congress and a couple more in the Clinton Cabinet.) As Valenti put it, “I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make sure Dan succeeds. He’s not going to fail.”
In addition to the GOP lawmakers who were the recipients of Glickman’s entreaties, the party also played host to such Hollywood figures as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a number of actors rustled up by the nonpartisan Creative Coalition to spice up the party list at convention events. Singer Marc Cohn — perhaps best known for “Walking in Memphis” — performed. Actors included Richard Kind from “Spin City,” Giancarlo Esposito, a regular in Spike Lee films, and George Wendt, better known as Norm from “Cheers.”
Kid Rock Rocked. The hottest ticket at the Republican convention turned out to be as hot as its hype. The Kid Rock concert Wednesday night at the Avalon, sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America in honor of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), was a throbbing mass of energy.
Looking down on the packed house from a fourth-floor balcony, every Lily Pulitzer dress in the joint was wiggling, and the Madras pants and Polo khakis were dancing wildy as Kid rocked the house blind. (No, he did not sing “F— You Blind” to the assembled crowd of Republican partiers, although, yes, he liberally dropped the F- bomb.) Aside from that, though, his show, which ranged from country and Southern rock to rock ’n’ rap, could almost be considered family friendly.
Would that were the case with everyone in the audience.
At least one skirmish erupted at the party, where shoving and pushing got a little heavy-handed in certain spots. Down close to the stage, one petite young gal repeatedly kept butting in front of a taller guy in front of her until, finally, he could take it no more. He shoved the pushy young woman, which turned out to be quite the wrong move.
Her response? She threw the beers she was carrying on the floor and hauled off and clocked her assailant.
“It was a good hit,” one House GOP staffer told HOH.
The guy went back after the tiny bruiser, but, thankfully, cooler heads in the crowd prevailed and bystanders restrained both rowdy kids before more damage was done.
At the Avalon party, different colored tickets provided different levels of access. Blue passes got you to the tippy top balconies, close to the steeple of the towering Episcopalian cathedral-turned nightclub. But two blue ticket holders from outside Chicago who said they were “friends of Denny” were hassled by a young Republican staffer manning the velvet rope.
“What company gave you these passes?” she demanded. The two men looked stunned and before they could explain that “that company” would be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The exasperated young gatekeeper looked around hurredly and snapped, “We’re expecting the twins and their security detail up here any minute.” As if two guys from the Midwest weren’t good enough for the twins! The forces of good won. The friends of Denny got up on the VIP balcony.
Speaker Hastert: Party Animal. Get that fusty image of Hastert out of your head. No, he didn’t stick around for the Kid Rock concert in his honor. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t hip. At least that’s what his spokesman, John Feehery, would have us believe. Feehery notes that the 62-year-old former wrestling coach was yukking it up with all types of celebrities in New York last week.
On Wednesday alone, Hastert sat next to U2’s Bono at an Irish-American luncheon, soaking up music by the Chieftains at New York’s Roseland Ballroom. Then, Hastert introduced country star Trace Atkins, who opened for Kid Rock.
Said Feehery: “Hastert is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.”
When pressed, Feehery acknowledged that Hastert’s tastes lean a little more country than rock and roll.
“He seemed to really enjoy Trace Atkins,” Feehery said.
Sam, Dave and George W. One of the more notable comebacks at the New York City convention didn’t involve a politician. It involved a song: “Soul Man.” During one of the convention’s musical interludes Wednesday night, delegates boogied in the aisles to the 1967 Sam and Dave classic “Soul Man.” This would not have been so noteworthy had the song not become a bone of contention eight years earlier between then-GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole and the owners of the song’s copyright.
In 1996, Rondor Music International threatened the Dole campaign with damages of $100,000 a day if it persisted in using “Dole Man” — a tongue-in-cheek variation on “Soul Man” — as its campaign theme song. The music company charged that the song’s use at dozens of Dole campaign events and the Republican National Convention infringed upon its copyright to the song. Ultimately, the campaign decided to stop using the ditty.
Peter LoFrumento, a spokesman for Universal Music Group, which purchased Rondor in 2000, was unable to confirm whether the ownership change had any impact in the song’s return to the Republican big tent.
Pray for an End. Midway through the marathon prayer that closed the Republican National Convention, one antsy Louisiana delegate asked a nearby reporter, “Is this the keynote speech or the prayer?” Several minutes later, she looked up at the giant teleprompter across from the podium and said, “I don’t see an ‘Amen’ yet.”
More Troubles. Former Rep. Frank Ballance (D-N.C.), who left Congress in June, made an appearance in federal court Friday to face federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail and money laundering, among other allegations. Federal prosectors charge that Ballance used more than $100,000 from a foundation he controlled to benefit himself and his family. Ballance, who admitted “some mistakes” in the foundation’s operations, is expected to plead guilty to some of the charges, The Associated Press reported.
Emily Pierce, Louis Jacobson and John Bresnahan contributed to this story.