Monday, April 2, 2007

Worthy wake

In the spirit of an “Irish wake,” the late historian, social critic and presidential aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. was toasted by his many friends at a private home in Georgetown on Saturday evening.

“He went with a steak in front of him and a Maker’s Mark in his hand. It’s how he would have wanted to go,” his journalist son, Robert Schlesinger, told Inside the Beltway.

A former special assistant to President Kennedy, who later wrote a detailed Kennedy White House tome titled “A Thousand Days,” Mr. Schlesinger died Feb. 28 while dining with family members in New York. He was 89.

It so happens that the moment his father died, the younger Mr. Schlesinger, a freelance writer and former Pentagon correspondent for the Boston Globe, was writing the chapter on the Kennedy White House for his upcoming book on the history of presidential speechwriters.

“I was literally writing about my father when I got the sad news, so I’ve been sort of stalled a bit,” he said. “I guess ‘therapeutic’ is the right word, but I’m [back] doing this chapter at this time.”

The Georgetown wake was held at the home of Bob Vanasse, and included hosts Brian Fortune, Susan Milligan, Brian Schaefer and Jen Crow.

Sends his regrets

Bill Clinton‘s office called Friday to say that he cannot make the party,” American Spectator founder and editor in chief R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., tells Inside the Beltway. “We have yet to hear from Hillary.”

Mr. Tyrrell is referring to the book party to be held in his honor this evening at Morton’s on Connecticut Avenue, hosted by former U.S. Solicitor General TheodoreTedOlson and celebrating the publication of “The Clinton Crackup.”

Strong demand for Mr. Tyrrell’s expose of the post-White House activities and escapades of the former president and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton reportedly has caught the country’s major booksellers off guard.

The publisher, Nelson Current, reports that just one week after the book’s release, it is already reordering and shipping “around the clock.”

D.C. to Evansville?

“The main topic of the evening was everyone trying to figure out how to get to Evansville, Ind., for the September wedding,” laughs Anne Schroeder, the gossip columnist for the Politico (and formerly of The Washington Post’s “Reliable Source” and Capitol File magazine), referring to Saturday evening’s engagement party thrown for her and fiance (and fellow writer) Luke Mullins at the Bethesda home of Christine (her stepsister) and Jeff Federman.

Everybody get that straight?

“And everyone was raving over the food,” adds Miss Schroeder, proud to have had her stepbrother, celebrated chef Scott Schymik, fly into town to accomplish the cooking.

Among the many well-wishers: Capitol File founding publisher Paige Bishop, who recently started the Washington marketing/business development firm Bishop Emory LLC; Brian Walsh, press secretary to Texas Sen. John Cornyn; Danielle Jones of the Hotline; New York Times reporters Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson; Wall Street Journal reporter Brody Mullins (brother of the fiance); Patrick Gavin of FishbowlDC and the Washington Examiner; Matthew Murray of Roll Call; and The Washington Post’s Paul Kane, Peter Kaufman and Ellen McCarthy.

Premiere it here

Step aside, Sundance. Move over, Toronto. Clear the aisles for the Washington International Film Festival, which is winning rave reviews.

The April 19 opening-night gala of this year’s festival will feature “La Vie en Rose,” a new film on the life of celebrated French enchantress Edith Piaf, played by Marion Cotillard, who recently co-starred with Russell Crowe in “A Good Year.”

We’re told that director Olivier Dahan will attend the opening screening at Washington’s historic Lincoln Theatre, once the premier black theater on U Street.

This year’s myriad-venue festival also features U.S. premieres of “What a Wonderful World” and “Bunny Chow,” as well as the world premiere of “The First Basket,” a documentary by Washington producer David Vyorst. Other films include “The Ax” and “Private Fears in Public Places.”

Finally, to close the festival, French movie star Fanny Ardant will introduce “Paris, je t’aime,” the work of 20 noted filmmakers who use their signature styles to show the various atmospheres prevailing in Paris’ neighborhoods.

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

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