- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2009

Stiller of the night

G2 was on red er, make that blue carpet duty for Thursday night’s world premiere of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” at the storied institution’s National Air and Space Museum, where the movie was shot.

Hundreds packed the hallowed halls (one of the Smithsonian’s most popular buildings) before the film’s screening a sequel to 2006’s wildly successful “A Night at the Museum” for a chance to mingle with the stars and statesmen on hand for the big night.

Ben Stiller, who reprises his role as Larry Daley the hapless museum security guard who discovers its exhibits’ spring to life at night expressed his awe.

“When I walk into a museum, I feel like the world is my oyster,” he said. “But after about 40 or 45 minutes into it, it’s on to something else. For example, tonight, I’m very interested in all the airplanes here, but not so much in the butterflies.”

Meanwhile, two-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams, radiant in her stunning lavender Roland Mouret gown and chandelierlike earrings adorned with turquoise and diamonds, elaborated on her portrayal of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Miss Adams, noting the research she did to play the less-glamorous and more adventurous Earhart, whose plane mysteriously disappeared near Howland Island over the central Pacific Ocean in 1937.

Others had fond memories of museum visits and the wealth of knowledge it offers families well, some did.

“Actually, I didn’t visit the Smithsonian until I was an adult,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley, who arrived with his wife Kasey and three children in tow. The Democrat from New York did point out, however, that the first “Night at the Museum” was filmed at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

Now the Smithsonian also can claim bragging rights to its appearance in a major motion picture.

“Anything that will help bring families to the museum,” said Secretary of the Smithsonian G. Wayne Clough, noting that the movie’s film crew was given unprecedented access. And, he added “we can expect more films to be shot at the Smithsonian in the future.”

Naturally, G2 wanted to know what suddenly prompted the usually staid Smithsonian to open its doors to moviemakers. So we gently queried WJLA-ABC7 entertainment critic Arch Campbell.

How does he think it happened?

“I think some money was passed under the table,” Mr. Campbell jokingly said.

Cheers and salutes

At the congressional reception for the GI Film Festival honoring members of Congress who served in the military, we caught up with the man who was Dr. Frasier Crane on “Cheers” and star of the classic comedy “Frasier,” Kelsey Grammer.

“It’s the least I can do to show up for them,” said Mr. Grammer, calling himself “an ardent supporter of the military.”

The reception was held in the historic Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building , which, as Sen. John McCain pointed out in his remarks, also was the site of the Watergate and Iran-Contra hearings.

“Having some notoriety in the entertainment industry and being one of the few people who are openly conservative in Hollywood, I’m very happy to be here to say ‘Thank you,’ ” Mr. Grammer said.

We wondered if the actor had experienced discrimination in liberal Hollywood as a result of his outspokenly conservative views. “I’m a bit of a rebel. I tend to resist authority,” he answered. “If someone’s being pulled by the nose somewhere, I tend to go the other way. So if I’ve lost anything, it probably wasn’t worth it in the first place.”

NEA touts winners

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) on Thursday announced the recipients of the 2009 National Heritage Fellowships, awards of $25,000 for “artistic excellence and contributions to their respective artistic traditions,” according to an NEA press release.

The 2009 awardees will come to the District in September for a series of events, including a banquet at the Library of Congress and an awards presentation on Capitol Hill as well as a concert scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.

The winners are:

Birmingham Sunlights, a cappella gospel group, Birmingham, Ala.; Chitresh Das, Kathak dancer and choreographer, San Francisco LeRoy Graber, German-Russian willow basketmaker, Freeman, S.D.; “Queen” Ida Guillory, zydeco musician, Dale City, Calif.; Dudley Laufman, dance caller and musician, Canterbury, N.H.; Amma D. McKen, Yoruba Orisha singer, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Joel Nelson, cowboy poet, Alpine, Texas; Teri Rofkar, Tlingit weaver and basket maker, Sitka, Alaska; Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, Cambodian classical dancer and choreographer; Long Beach, Calif.; Edwin Colon Zayas, cuatro player, Orocovis, Puerto Rico.

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

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