- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

San Antonio Spur and philanthropist Roger Mason Jr. returned to his Washington roots late last week to tend to his second love, helping children.

On his feet and with a smile on his face, Mr. Mason, soon to be 29, greeted scores of youngsters at the Motion Picture Association of America headquarters for a Movie Night With Mase, an event for students at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, part of its Adopt a Classroom program.

Mr. Mason gave some a fist bump, others a high five, but his sincerity in connecting with each child was undeniable.

Throughout the school year, “Mase” will check in on his pupils via creative social-media methods.

“I love kids,” he told us wistfully before joining his charges for a screening of the Oscar-winning animated short “The Chubbchubbs!,” thanks to sponsor Sony, which also provided backpacks and school supplies for the students.

Speaking of the wee ones, we could not let him get away without asking about his teammate Tony Parker and “Desperate Housewives” hottie Eva Longoria Parker, whom Mr. Parker wed in 2007.

Are there any baby Spurs on the way?

“I have no idea,” he replied. “Actually, I do have an idea. Tony is one of my best friends. I just got together with him and Eva.”

Talk about mixed messages.

So, has he been tapped to be a potential godparent? Well, we could not get a straight answer about that, either, but we do know that he has one important credential.

“I speak French,” which is Mr. Parker’s native language.

From our vantage point, he is getting plenty of practice with little ones.

Branson care

While on foreign soil, British tycoon Sir Richard Branson apparently does not shy away from weighing in on his host country’s political debates.

“I find it always incredible that a great nation like America doesn’t look after it’s people, said the debonair Mr. Branson, whom we encountered Sunday at Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion for the annual Virgin Mobile Festival, which was free this year.

Claiming the United States allows its citizens “to die or suffer unnecessarily,” he said, “In Britain, although I could afford to go privately, if I was ill or my family was ill, we would go completely free on the national health, and we would get the best service if we did that.”

After the criticism came the lobbying campaign: “I urge the American people to support [President] Obama in what he’s trying to do and not get frightened. There are so many myths that are put out. The British health system’s great. It’s free!”

G2 also caught up with Craig Finn, the lead vocalist and guitarist for the indie rockers of the Hold Steady, to get his take on the issue. “I’m proud to report that our band offers health care to everyone in the band,” Mr. Finn reported. “That said, I think it is absolutely a priority that we should be able to provide affordable and quality health care to everyone if we’re going to consider ourselves a great nation.”

Free concerts!

Free health care!

Who says there’s no free lunch?

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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