After mingling with Buffy Cafritz, Andrea Mitchell, Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paused to note that Hillary Rodham Clinton was a fabulous choice for her former post. “She’s highly respected throughout the world. I do think that women are very good at diplomacy and she is especially good.”
The spirited crowd of Obama supporters included Vernon Jordan who declared of the historic inauguration: “It’s a great time. I thought I’d never live to see this day.”
Red Carpet Chatter
“Please don’t call the Kennedy Center. We’re begging you not to call us,” said a rep. This was, of course, a reference to the announcement that Oprah Winfrey would be broadcasting her Inauguration special live on Martin Luther King Day from the Opera House, temporarily renamed “The Oprah House.”
Newt Gingrich was still high on Sarah Palin. “She has a big following nationally,” the former Speaker of the House said. “And she’s going to be an important part of the Republican Party.”
Also spotted: Aretha Franklin smartly turned out in a short white suit, leaving last year’s weighty floor length gown behind … Glenn Close (reflecting on the death the previous day of tragic heiress Sunny von Bülow, whom she played in the film Reversal of Fortune) … Morgan Freeman bucking the press and keeping mum about recent personal troubles … David Gregory upgraded to the red carpet after the announcement that he would be hosting Meet the Press … Terry McAuliffe not on the red carpet yet, maybe because he hadn’t yet officially sprung for the Virginia gubernatorial race … Kelli O’Hara singing for Barbra Streisand acknowledging it was “one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had. I’m a bit nervous.” (No kidding) … Noted while passing: Lynn Redgrave, Baby Face Edmonds, Maxine Waters, Elaine Chao, and Queen Latifah.
Best choreography: Barbra Streisand and hubby James Brolin clustered with Clint Eastwood and wife Dina, trying to give the impression they were actually engaging with the press.
Country singer George Jones, who survived more personal turbulence than his fellow honorees, was also the most gracious. Truly grateful for that which came later in his life, the affable crooner took to the media like ketchup on fries. “I’m so lucky, I’m speechless,” he said. “This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me except for being in the Hall of Fame for country music.” Reminded that Frank Sinatra once called him the second best singer in America, Jones replied: “Bless his heart. I had a chance to record a song with him, but had to turn it down.” How does one turn down Frank Sinatra? “Well, I thought he was too smooth and too good a singer to record with an old country boy like me.” Later, Jones was fittingly introduced by First Lady Laura Bush as a man who got his start in the honkytonk bars of Texas.
Most memorable moment of the evening: Streisand air kissing nemesis President Bush. This too shall pass.
By the Numbers
The collective genius and artistic talent of the honorees combined with personal details, added up to at least 408 years, 12 marriages, 19 offspring, 3 Academy awards and too many Grammys, Tonys, and Emmys to count.
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