- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

Pols, pundits, Paddy

At Thursday’s 19th annual First Amendment Awards dinner, Washington’s media and political elite gathered at the downtown Ritz-Carlton to toast their colleagues, but their minds were drifting to this week’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Here’s a sampling of their Paddy day plans:

• Philadelphia Irishman Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball” on MSNBC and the evening’s emcee, said he would be returning to Pennsylvania to host the American Ireland Fund dinner in Philly as well another holiday luncheon in Scranton. Hmm sounds suspiciously like the schedule of a Pennsylvania pol, not a Beltway shout-show host, no?

• Veteran newsman Sam Donaldson, who was quick to point out that he’s a proud Scot, said he’ll be trading in his ubiquitous red tie for a green one in a nod to his Irish friends.

• ABC’s Cokie Roberts revealed that she’ll be hosting her grandchildren at the beach house on green day. When asked if she’ll be cooking any shepherd’s pie, she grimaced but volunteered, “I love Irish coffee.”

• Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, said he always looks forward to the annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon hosted by the House speaker for the president because the tradition was started by the late Tip O’Neill, also a Massachusetts man of Irish stock.

Don’t expect any pub hopping from Mr. Markey, though. He told The Times he’s a teetotaler.

Stephanie Green

Oregon stage

Actor-comedian Steve Martin has offered to pay for an off-campus production of his play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which was banned from La Grande High School in Oregon because parents objected to what they called adult content.

Mr. Martin wrote to the La Grande Observer newspaper that he wants to keep the play, presented in other high schools without controversy, “from acquiring a reputation it does not deserve.” The 1993 play imagines a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in a Paris bar.

The school board halted rehearsals, but plans have been afoot for the students to present the play at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, AP reports.

Retraction

People magazine on Friday retracted its Thursday story that pop stars Chris Brown and Rihanna, roiled in controversy over the savage beating he reportedly inflicted on her Feb. 8, had recorded a “sweet and sentimental” duet. “Contrary to published reports, Chris Brown and Rihanna did not record a duet after the incident,” a record “label source” told People, according to the Agence France-Presse report.

On Air America

Veteran TV personality Montel Williams has signed a deal to host a new flagship talk show on Air America, the struggling radio network that comedian and would-be U.S. senator Al Franken helped launch in 2004 as a voice for the political left, Reuters news agency reports.

Under his multiyear agreement, Mr. Williams, 52, will debut the new program, “Montel Across America,” on April 6, and the show will air weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on affiliate stations nationwide, the network says.

Compiled by Richard Slusser from staff, wire and Web reports

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