Heard on the Hill: Let the Chips Fall

Posted October 16, 2009 at 6:41pm

Poker all-star Phil Ivey thinks poker players and politicians have something in common.

According to Ivey, both have “got to be able to B.S. a little.—

[IMGCAP(1)]Ivey, widely considered to be the best all-around professional poker player in the world, came to town last week to ante up at a charity tournament for the Congressional Award, which honors young people for notable achievements and public service.

Along with placing his bets (and uh, winning pretty darn easily) against Members such as Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), Ivey told HOH he also personally met with Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“We were able to discuss poker a little bit … buddy to buddy,— Ivey said of Clyburn. “When you’re able to talk to a Congressman like one of the boys, it’s nice.—

It was Ivey’s second appearance at the charity tourney, and he told HOH that while some Members need to, er, practice their poker face, others knew their full houses from their royal flushes. “I thought they kind of grasped it really quickly,— Ivey added.

Reality Bites. HOH dug up more dirt on the latest potential new D.C.-based reality show, this one set to feature “chic up and comers— who “hit the Hill hard during the day and the bars harder at night.—

HOH reported last week that Magical Elves, the television production team behind shows such as “Project Runway— and “Top Chef,— had begun casting for the new docu-series centered in Washington. Since then, we chatted with head of casting Nick Gilhool, who is scheduled to be in town starting Friday in search of his would-be reality stars.

The idea behind the untitled series is to have cameras document a diverse group of 20-somethings as they build their careers in Washington, whether on Capitol Hill or K Street or another part of town, Gilhool said. Beyond that, the show is still in the conceptual stage — its final direction probably won’t even materialize until casting is complete.

Washington itself is what will hold the show together, Gilhool said.

“It’s a pretty exciting backdrop right now given what’s going on and the change in the past couple years,— Gilhool said.

Gilhool admitted that casting in D.C. is difficult, considering most of the movers and shakers in town have jobs that require staying out of the spotlight. It’s worth noting that other producers have come to town looking to launch similar shows, but those series never materialized.

But Gilhool said he’s already gotten a good response from potential reality stars. It helps that Magical Elves maintains a reputation for producing respectable reality (there aren’t too many hair-pulling drunken catfights on “Top Chef,— after all).

“Because of the shows that we produced in the past have a really respectable reputation, I think a lot of people who might not consider this for themselves might get involved,— Gilhool said. “It’s just a matter of starting the conversation.—

And getting permission from the boss …

Reid Disses Rahm. We always thought White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was the trash-talker, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was the gosh-darnit-dropping goody-two-shoes.

But Reid got downright feisty on the topic of Rahm-bo during a Thursday briefing on health care, proving he’s no slouch in the insult department.

The Nevada Democrat was praising the White House for helping move health care legislation and gave kudos to the administration’s point person on the topic, Nancy-Ann DeParle. But he made clear that he was distinctly less impressed with the role the prickly chief of staff played. “Rahm Emanuel has been Rahm Emanuel through the process,— he told reporters. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) quickly stepped in to try to smooth over the gibe, saying that Emanuel’s involvement had been “very good.—

But Reid wasn’t interested in soft-pedaling. It would depend on “what minute you’re talking about,— he countered.

The Taxman Cometh. Things were hopping at the post office near Union Station on Thursday — which just happened to be the deadline for late tax filers and people who file quarterly. The crowds rushing to get that Oct. 15 postmark included a few VIPs, an HOH tipster tells us, including Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Now That’s a Filibuster. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington— is one of the most beloved flicks about Congress. So we’re not surprised that a few Members dropped by the National Archives on Thursday night for a screening marking the film’s 70th anniversary. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) were in the audience, a tipster tells HOH. Our spy reports that Cornyn ducked out shortly after the movie started while Holt stayed for the whole thing.

Maybe Cornyn was plotting a marathon filibuster (a la Mr. Smith) of his own.

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.

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