- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2009

The Australian minister for the environment, heritage and the arts was in the District Thursday night to open “Culture Warriors” at American University’s Katzen Arts Center, the largest exhibit of indigenous art ever to leave Australia. But Peter Garrett used to come to town in a very different guise — as the lead singer of political punk-influenced rockers Midnight Oil.

Mr. Garrett admits that the late nights of a successful band meant he didn’t see too many D.C. mornings. But he and his band mates, whose biggest hit here was the Aborigine rights anthem “Beds Are Burning,” did find time to see the city.

“We played here a fair bit and enjoyed it very much. It’s a very musically literate town,” he told our colleague Kelly Jane Torrance. “And then you’d spend a bit of time in the afternoon checking out the monuments and going to some of the institutions, some wonderful national institutions you people have here. A bit of nourishment for the spirit and for the mind.”

Ricci to the rescue

She played the eccentric Wednesday Addams in the film version of “The Addams Family,” so it was fitting that G2 caught up with actress Christina Ricci on Wednesday evening while she was in town as a spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which says it is the nation’s largest anti-sexual-assault organization.

The tiny 29-year-old, who has been the public face for RAINN since 2007, was dressed in a short black minidress and stiletto heels, her pin-straight raven mane slung over her shoulders.

Not exactly the look of a conventional lobbyist, but Miss Ricci said she made the rounds on Capitol Hill to advocate for more funding for rape hot-line centers, where Miss Ricci has volunteered her time and encourages others to do the same.

“It only takes a few hours a month, and you can [take calls from victims] from your couch,” she said.

The “Monster” actress also said, “I am not an active Democrat. I met with Republicans and Democrats. [Supporting rape victims] is a bipartisan issue.”

When G2 showed Miss Ricci The Washington Times’ front-page story on the rape epidemic in the Congo, Miss Ricci expressed her outrage.

“Rape as a means of warfare has been going on for centuries, and I don’t know what we can do to stop it,” she said.

As for sexual assaults in the United States, she says part of her agenda is to institute stricter sentences for sex offenders. When asked what she had in mind, she said, “I don’t know, but people need to understand that rapists are career rapists.”

Among her upcoming professional projects is the film “After.Life” with Liam Neeson, whose wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died in March after a skiing accident.

Miss Ricci, who called Mr. Neeson “a lovely man,” said she plays a woman caught between life and death after a car accident. Mr. Neeson portrays a funeral director in the horror flick, which was shot before Miss Richardson’s sudden death. Miss Ricci said Mr. Neeson “won’t be doing press” when the movie makes its debut.

Horsin’ around

The crew of “Cavalia,” the Cirque du Soleil touring show celebrating the special relationship between horses and humans, has arrived. G2 caught up with the cast — including those with tails and four legs — Thursday for a behind-the-scenes sneak peak at the equine extravaganza, which opens Friday, with proceeds benefiting the Pentagon Memorial Fund.

The cast members, including artistic director Normand Latourelle, said they haven’t had a chance to do much sightseeing around town because of the heavy practice schedule. Could they be polishing the act in hopes of attracting some distinguished guests?

We hear Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who will be in town next week, has been leaning on the Obama family — diplomatically, of course — to take in the show. After all, “Cavalia” is based in Quebec.

Mr. Latourelle intimated that invitations had been sent to the Obama girls, but said, “I don’t know if they like horses,” in a charming French accent.

At any rate, if the crew needs help finding local haunts, they have the perfect go-to guy in James Buchanan, a 20-something “Cavalia” rider from Alexandria who learned to ride on his grandfather’s farm in Maryland.

We always appreciate seeing a local boy who makes good.

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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