- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dining with stars

When you’re planning a dinner for mega-watt stars, it’s always best to know their culinary tastes beforehand.

Publicist Janet Donovan learned this the hard way when she discovered from G2 that the evening’s guest of honor, rap star and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, is a vegan.

“Well, he can eat the lobster,” Ms. Donovan suggested. Uh, no. Vegan means no meat, dairy products or eggs - in short, no animal byproducts. A tall order at an Italian restaurant like Teatro Goldoni.

Without breaking a sweat, Ms. Donovan and the helpful staff whipped up a veggie-and-pasta dish for Mr. Simmons, who graciously conceded, “I don’t normally eat pasta because it comes from eggs, but sometimes you have to.”

Mr. Simmons told us he has practiced veganism for “the past nine years” and “for about the past 20 years” has been a teetotaler.

“It’s spiritual,” he explained about his lifestyle choices.

Decked out in a hoodie and New York Yankees cap, Mr. Simmons was a perfect gentleman throughout the evening, chatting with guests and removing his hat before the meal began, revealing his bald head.

Mr. Simmons, actor Terrence Howard and actress Gabrielle Union (“10 Things I Hate About You”) are in town this week for Children Uniting Nations (CUN), a nonprofit for at-risk and foster youth in partnership with Mr. Simmons’ Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

In addition to Monday night’s dinner with journos, the group attended a press conference and panel discussion yesterday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Miss Union, we learned, is also an advocate for rape victims. At age 19, she told us, she was beaten and raped by a stranger in the Payless Shoe Source store where she was working.

Her assailant is serving 33 years in prison, but that has not stopped Miss Union from working tirelessly for funding to help women, particularly those in low-income enclaves, from being turned away at rape-crisis shelters. She says she will testify before the Senate about the issue while she’s in town.

Next week, Miss Union reports, the CW will decide the fate of her latest pilot, “The Body Politic,” about a group of U.S. Senate staffers starring Brian Austin Green of “Beverly Hills 90210” fame and Tim Matheson, who will play a Republican senator.

She said the pilot was shot in Richmond “because of those great tax breaks.”

‘Real World’ update

Having heard so much speculation about the suspected MTV “Real World” house at 2000 S St. NW, we decided to stretch our legs and snoop around the site for ourselves.

At the hulking, turreted red brick mansion that would serve as the home for the seven characters of a “Real World: Washington,” we encountered a PR executive who works with Bunim/Murray Productions, which produces “The Real World” franchise, the longest-running series in the history of MTV.

“Oh yes, it’s the ‘Real World’ house,” confirmed the source, who has represented previous “Real World” cast members.

If indeed the pioneering reality-TV series has finally, after 21 seasons on the air, chosen the nation’s capital as its host city, it’s sure been a long time coming.

What took them so long?

Well, our source claims to have heard John Murray, the Bunim/Murray chairman and “Real World” producer, vow that the show “wouldn’t come to the District until there was a Democrat in the White House.”

Now that there is a friendly Democrat at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it’s only natural that “Real World” would stop by to say “Hi” - and our source says there is, in fact, talk of a ” ‘Real World’ White House event” around the Fourth of July.

Bunim/Murray Productions declined to comment for this story, insisting “the location has not been confirmed.”

As for a possible White House drop-by, Bill Burton, President Obama’s deputy press secretary said, “I don’t have anything on our schedule that far in advance.”

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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