- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sign of the Times?

The Financial Times held its annual party Tuesday night in the District for the first time. Was the event’s migration from its customary home in New York coincidence - or an acknowledgement of where the real financial clout now lies?

A light projection on a wall of Georgetown’s sprawling Halcyon House read, “We live in Financial Times.” On a day when the stock market plunged to nearly a 10-year low, truer words were never, er, projected.

Guest of honor Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, seemed unfazed by the market turmoil. “We are in the midst of a negative feedback cycle right now,” he said. “Economic growth is slow, so people want to sell off, so economic growth is slower. In the midst of a negative feedback cycle, if you give people more tax breaks, they’re just going to put it under the mattress. It’s probably a time when the government has to be involved.”

Mr. Immelt shared the pep talk he has offered to managers at GE, one of the world’s 10 largest corporations: “You were put on Earth for this moment. A dog could have managed the ‘90s. Anybody could have, but only the best can do 2009!”

Recent Internet chatter has speculated about why on-air personalities such as David Gregory and Mika Brzezinski at GE subsidiary NBC and MSNBC seem to be flocking to Twitter, the social networking and news site. Could it be in part because of Six Sigma, GE’s management strategy?

Is Mr. Immelt a Six Sigma expert, or “Black Belt” as they’re called? “No,” he confessed. “I never was.”

Nor, we confirmed, are MSNBC’s Chris Matthews or Luke Russert. Yet Mr. Immelt was able to appreciate Tina Fey’s spoof of Six Sigma in a recent episode of the NBC hit “30 Rock.”

“I laughed!” he said, with a smile.

A dubious ally

Chris Brown may not want Terrence Howard in his peanut gallery.

Police and court records show that the Oscar nominee (“Hustle & Flow”) and “Iron Man” co-star- who backtracked last week on initially supportive remarks he made about Mr. Brown’s reported attack on singer Rihanna - was arrested in 2001 in Pennsylvania on suspicion of assaulting his wife, Lori McCommas, E! Online reports.

When confronted by police, Mr. Howard confessed to hitting her, according to documents obtained by the Smoking Gun.

The duo had been estranged for more than two years when Mr. Howard, fuming after a contentious phone conversation, broke down the front door of Miss McCommas’ house, states a Whitemarsh Police Department report dated Sept. 17, 2001.

Per the report, Mr. Howard told Miss McCommas, “Don’t disrespect me by hanging up on me or I’ll come over and hurt you.” She called 911, and while she was talking to the dispatcher, the actor arrived and tried to get in.

According to the police report, Mr. Howard “broke the front door down and ran through the screen door in the kitchen. He then grabbed the victim’s left arm and punched her twice with a closed fist in the left side of the face.” Mr. Howard confessed at the scene to breaking the door and hitting his wife. He was booked on suspicion of simple assault, making terroristic threats, harassment and stalking, and disorderly conduct. He was freed from custody after posting $20,000 bail and pleaded guilty in 2002 to disorderly conduct.

The actor and Miss McCommas divorced in 2003 but remarried in 2005. The duo, who have three children, are currently separated.

A representative for Mr. Howard declined comment, E! News says.

‘Next’ stop Broadway

“Next to Normal,” the Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey musical about a suburban household coping with crisis, is heading to Broadway after a critically acclaimed run at the District’s Arena Stage.

Directed by Michael Greif(“Rent,” “Grey Gardens”) the show will begin performances at the Longacre Theatre (220 W. 48th St.) on March 27 and will officially open April 15.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Elizabeth Glover from staff, Web and wire reports.

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