- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

The room was warm and crowded, the spotlights glaring, the program loud and long — but who cared about comfort when so many stars were getting up-close and personal at the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts’ night of nights?

The ninth annual Noche de Gala blowout Tuesday at the Mayflower was the biggest and best ever, featuring a nonstop cavalcade of Latino celebs from the political and entertainment worlds.

Starting with the hottest muchacha of all, Emmy-winning “Desperate Housewives” actress Eva Longoria, who fairly sizzled in a little black-and-plunging BCBG number and serious bling. Not too hard to figure out why so many lawyer-lobbyist types didn’t notice Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sitting at the same table.

Mr. Gonzales didn’t go unrecognized for long, however, especially after actor Jimmy Smits suggested to the clued-in crowd that the nation’s highest-ranking Latino (and a prospective Supreme Court nominee) was “movin’ up, movin’ up.”

ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Vargas, recipient of the foundation’s Raul Julia Award for Excellence, followed up later by gesturing toward the attorney general while mentioning the possibility of a Hispanic on the high court: “Mr. Gonzales … ?”

All very heady stuff, but then so was the stem-winding speech about diversity in American life by hotshot Sen. Barack Obama, the hip-grinding performance of Cuban-born singer Albita, the last-minute surprise entrance of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a parade of glamorously gowned ladies (Rima al-Sabah, Pamela Aparicio and Gabriela Moreno, among others) that kept the photographers on their toes from pre-dinner cocktails until the post-dessert schmoozing that continued into the wee hours at Washington Life’s tony after-party at the nearby Ozio Restaurant & Lounge.

Kevin Chaffee

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