Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Overt review

Katie Couric‘s The Brand New Kid” made its world premiere at the Kennedy Center during the weekend, and while the “CBS Evening News” anchorwoman says she was unable to make the opening performance, Valerie Plame of CIA-leak fame was in the audience and sends her rave reviews.

“I got a note from Valerie Plame, who said she really liked it,” Miss Couric told Inside the Beltway by telephone yesterday from New York. “She wrote, ‘It was so well done and enjoyable for all of us. It teaches important values. And fun songs. Good work!’ ”

The musical, playing at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre through Dec. 17, is based on a children’s book Miss Couric authored in 2000, titled “The Brand New Kid.” It centers on a second-grader who enrolls in a new school, only to taunted by the other children. The teasing stops when the new arrival is befriended by one of the school’s more popular students.

“I was going to go to opening night, but my daughters, typical, had plans, so I’m going to take them another time. I’m excited to do it,” said Mrs. Couric, adding that the opportunity for the book to be made into a musical “was a pleasant surprise.”

“And of course the Kennedy Center — you can’t do much better than that,” she said.

Mrs. Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, are parents of twins, a boy and girl, born in 2000.

Death notice

“Your item must have hit a raw nerve this time,” writes Washington resident Jesse H. Merrell, who had called our attention Friday to a $75 fine levied against Luther L. Miller of Garfield Street Northwest — who, according to a D.C. government notice put his trash containers “out for collection @ the wrong time or place.”

Mr. Merrell has written repeatedly to the city’s fathers, informing them that his old neighbor “Luther L. Miller is dead — has been for nearly 30 years.”

He once enclosed a copy of Mr. Miller’s death certificate, but similar notices and fines addressed to Mr. Miller kept arriving at his neighbor’s old house. Mr. Merrell even offered to drive Mayor Anthony A. Williams to the Old Stone Church Cemetery in Lewisburg, W.Va., to see for himself that Mr. Miller in no way, shape or form could be emptying his trash.

“On Feb. 2, 2002 — after an unbelievable fourth letter — I wrote and asked if I took you to see his tombstone in Lewisburg, would that help?” Mr. Merrell wrote to the mayor.

Now, we are pleased to report that Luther L. Miller might finally be resting in peace.

“I got a call from an aide to the mayor this afternoon,” says Mr. Merrell, “thanking me for bringing it to their attention. I felt like saying I had been bringing it to their attention for some time, but was polite and let it go. He said he was going to … get it corrected. I’m not holding my breath, however.”

Read about baseball

We couldn’t help but be amused yesterday when President Bush, visiting a pair of faux Indonesian classrooms in Jakarta, was asked by a small boy what his hobbies had been when he was growing up.

Observed the White House pool report: “Bush didn’t miss a beat: ‘Baseball. I liked baseball. That was my hobby. Sports.’ Then, perhaps realizing that sports was the wrong thing to push in a classroom, even a fake one, the president added: ‘The best thing that I did was to learn how to read.’ Continuing in that vein, the last thing we heard before being pushed out was Bush cautioning the kids that ‘there are people who watch TV too much.’ ”

Offer a toast

Craig Wolf, who served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and specifically its chairman, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, has become the new president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.

“We are entering a dynamic era, and the membership has every confidence that Craig … will effectively advance the wine and spirits wholesalers’ interests to policy-makers and the general public during this period of increasing attacks seeking the deregulation of alcohol in this country,” says association Chairman Stan Hastings.

We might also mention that Mr. Wolf was once a federal and state prosecutor, and he is also a captain in the U.S Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.

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