- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2001

For those in search of a mob scene, the National Museum of Women in the Arts was the place to find it Saturday night. Even those who came by limousine and it seemed as if half the guests did couldn't be sure they would get into Michael Jordan's Sweet XVI Party, hosted by his Hidden Beach record company, without an hour-long wait.

Stars from the music, entertainment and sports worlds, drawn by the big NBA weekend and the promise of All-Star hype, crammed the party, though strictly from within the confines of various roped-off VIP areas. Among them: Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith and actors Chi McBride of Fox's "Boston Public," Steve Harris (ABC's "The Practice") Jaleel White, the erstwhile Urkel from "Family Matters," and "ER"'s laconic doctor, Eriq La Salle.

Mike Phillips, a Hidden Beach label protege, kept things moving with his saxophone skills as he wove his way through the revelers on the dance floor. The crowd itself, of course, was the main event, and there were fashion statements galore. Some worked the scene in expensive black leather ensembles; others wore peerlessly tailored suits. Hats were big too, from knit numbers to Sinatra-style fedoras.

Michael Beach, the star of NBC's "Third Watch," said he was elated to be attending his first NBA All-Star weekend, although he bemoaned the lack of star power for the game. (Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and several other prime-time talents were waylaid by injuries.)

"All the centers are out," he said, "but I'm looking forward to it anyway."

Former heavyweight champ and perennial bad news generator Mike Tyson stopped by for about a round's worth of back slapping and picture taking. At first, the ex-champ looked befuddled by the adulation, but then he quickly regained his composure and made nice with his fans.

His Airness, who used the event to unveil the latest edition of his Air Jordan sneakers, was hardly to be seen throughout much of the night. He arrived late, was whisked to a VIP room for a few minutes, then left.

Which was just as well, since no one was supposed to approach him anyway.

"Don't even think about trying to talk to him," one of his handlers said.

Christian Toto

Champagne flowed freely at Playboy.com's party at Cities in Adams Morgan.

Organizers hyped the first annual "Playboy.com Rock & Roll All Star Bash," promising celebs like Denzel Washington and Cameron Diaz. All were no-shows as of 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

But the crowd, packed into the chic club like sardines, still had fun. Playmates danced for the men paying big bucks to get into the "VIP" area, as the less well-heeled ogled from the behind the velvet ropes.

Mitch Richmond of the Wizards, the only visible NBA player for most of the night, wasn't eager to mug for television cameras or talk to reporters but obliged anyway.

"I'm not supposed to be here," he said. "But it seems like a nice party, a nice atmosphere."

Redskin Doug Brown took some good-natured ribbing from a guest in stride, saying, "Hopefully we'll do better next year."

Peter LaPorte, the District's Emergency Management Agency director, stopped by on his round of parties throughout town before heading back at about midnight to his office at the Reeves building for a final check on how the city was faring.

After checking out clubs on F Street NW, the Jam Session at the MCI Center, Planet Hollywood and a few others, Mr. LaPorte reported, "Traffic was flowing smoothly; people are getting around and having a good time."

The Playmates, all in requisite low-cut dresses or tops, seemed to be enjoying themselves as well.

"We love the NBA," a table of three Playmates and one former bunny shouted in unison.

Nicole Marie Lenz, who was Miss March 2000, was hoping one NBA player in particular would arrive.

"Kobe Bryant take me to him," she said, referring to the Lakers star. I'm sure he wouldn't mind, would he?"

Miss Lenz has visited the District several times, but this weekend was special, she said, because it marked the first time she was over 21 years of age.

The only Hollywood star spotted at the club was Adrian Paul, who played the heroic Highlander in the series of the same name, decapitating villains in a quest to save the world.

Mr. Paul arrived Thursday and did the sight-seeing rounds, including the White House, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, various Smithsonian museums and the Vietnam and Korean War memorials.

"It's been nice to see stuff that is more cultural, Mr. Paul said. "You don't get a lot of that in Los Angeles."

Media and business moguls were in attendance as well.

Party goers chatted up Robert Johnson, the founder of BET who sold the company to Viacom Inc. last year, while Michael Saylor, the billionaire bachelor founder of MicroStrategy Inc., posed for pictures with several attractive women.

Other celebs spotted by guests were Louis Sanders of the Cleveland Browns, Ron Insana of CNBC and former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.

John Drake

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