Oprah Winfrey makes her much-anticipated arrival today at the Kennedy Center Opera House for a special pre-inaugural broadcast of her popular TV talk-show, and her local fan base is very eager.
In fact, Inside the Beltway was told by a senior Kennedy Center official that several overly enthused ticket holders to today's broadcast checked about the possibility of spending Sunday night on the sidewalk outside the performing arts center apparently in tents and sleeping bags in subfreezing temperatures before the doors open today.
"It's open seating," explained the official, meaning first in line and through security score the best seats.
The red-velveted Opera House holds 2,318 spectators and is otherwise home to the Washington National Opera.
There is no problem whatsoever bumping into Hollywood celebrities this Inaugural Week, as they're appearing in every nook and cranny from Capitol Hill to Georgetown.
Still, you might not recognize their names.
A marketing representative for several of the city's upscale hotels tells Inside the Beltway about half of the actors and musicians overnighting at her luxury properties made reservations under assumed names. A few even reserved their rooms and suites beginning last Friday, but didn't plan to check in until today to avoid the media glare and other hassles.
Finally, this columnist has confirmed that one well-known actress, who is known for her statuesque frame and shapely curves, has booked herself into Washington under a fictitious man's name.
That was musical virtuoso Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule dedicating his vibrant rendition of the U2 hit "One" to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Presidential Transition Team co-chairman John Podesta at a Jockey Club pre-Inaugural party hosted over the weekend by Washington Life Magazine's Nancy Reynolds Bagley and Soroush Richard Shehabi.
Besides Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Podesta, other political types toasting the new term of President-elect Barack Obama were Virginia Sen. Mark Warner; Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen; former Virginia Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer Jr.; vice presidential son Hunter Biden; Kerry Kennedy; former Clinton White House social secretary Capricia Marshall; Huffington Post editor in chief Arianna Huffington (who is hosting her own 1,700-person pre-inaugural ball at the Newseum tonight, featuring entertainers will.i.am and Sting); former U.S. chief of protocol Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt; and Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor-at-large of The Washington Times.
... AND CELEBRITY
A six-liter bottle of Moet & Chandon personalized by hand in Swarovski crystals to read "OBAMA" will be auctioned off at tonight's celebrity-filled Teatro Goldoni dinner to benefit the entertainment industry's Creative Coalition.
Among the anticipated red-carpet arrivals, in no particular order: Anne Hathaway, Spike Lee, Susan Sarandon, Kerry Washington, Dana Delany, Ellen Burstyn, Alan Cumming, Barry Levinson, Alfre Woodard, Josh Lucas, Matthew Modine, Richard Schiff, Connie Britton, Marcia Cross, Maura Tierney, Sue Kramer, Rachael Leigh Cook, Gloria Reuben, Wendie Malick, Blair Underwood, Lynn Whitfield, Giancarlo Esposito, Kim Raver, Lawrence O'Donnell, Jane Krakowski, Tamara Tunie and Tom Fontana.
FALL IN LINE
Students at Washington Mill Elementary School in nearby Fairfax County were asked last Friday to wear red ribbons distributed by school officials in support of President-elect Barack Obama.
"Each student will be given a red ribbon to wear that day," advised a school flier sent home earlier with the children. Pictures of Mr. Obama and Martin Luther King adorned the flier.
One student, the son of well-known Washington public relations executive Craig Shirley, declined to wear a ribbon.
"Needless to say, the school did nothing like this four or eight years ago," pointed out Mr. Shirley, referring to the inaugurations of President Bush. "My research assistant ... who grew up under communism in Yugoslavia, said this indoctrination was identical to the communist system there, only they had to wear red scarves to show their love for [president for life] Marshal Tito."