- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns dropped by the National Press Club on Monday and discussed his latest project, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” The six-part, 12-hour series about the creation and evolution of the country’s national parks debuted Sunday and continues through the week on PBS.

During the question-and-answer portion of the luncheon, the moderator posed a question to Mr. Burns that had been submitted by a member of the audience, requesting that Mr. Burns contrast his work with the films of outspoken documentary auteur Michael Moore. The query prompted laughter throughout the room.

“I couldn’t imagine two filmmakers that are more different,” Mr. Burns said with a smile. “I try to keep myself out of the film. It is, in fact, important that every one of his films have him in them as [a] presence in every single film, and that’s so important to his work.

“He is involved in direct and obvious political advocacy. I have, and my films reflect, a certain wide range of views [that are] not just political but otherwise that we try to keep sort of hidden or buried. We want the story to tell it.

“But,” Mr. Burns added, “having said that, it takes a great deal of effort and energy to make a film, and those people who actually finish a film are to be commended.”

Speaking of Mr. Moore, he’ll be in town Tuesday evening for the Washington premiere screening of his latest flick, “Capitalism: A Love Story” at the Uptown Theater. It opens nationwide on Friday.

Designing woman

Clad in a playful baby-doll-style dress and 3-inch heels, fashion designer Nanette Lepore stood out in the sea of suits and basic pumps on Capitol Hill Friday night.

The New York-based fashionista, who also has a shop in Chevy Chase, has become an advocate for her industry colleagues. For starters, she penned an Op-Ed column in the New York Times earlier this month advocating zoning protection for New York City’s garment district. Then she came to Washington to meet and greet lawmakers.

Representatives from the offices of Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, Rep. David Scott, Georgia Democrat, Sen. Roland Burris, Illinois Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio Democrat and Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, were on hand in the Rayburn House Office Building. They listened attentively as business leaders including Ms. Lepore and Elizabeth Frazee from the Council of Fashion Designers of America made their pitch.

As we reported earlier this year, Mr. Conyers is among the House members who are considering forming a Fashion and Textile Caucus that would create “Federal Fashion Enterprise Zones that will generate federal, state and local tax incentives for concentrated areas of fashion related businesses in the U.S.,” according to the caucus mission statement by Christine Brooks-Cropper. Ms. Brooks-Cooper, president and founder of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, who is spearheading efforts to form the caucus, tells G2 that the group should be official by year’s end.

As if zoning issues weren’t enough, Ms. Lepore also voiced her concern that her Chevy Chase store is not drumming up better sales because of its hard-to-find location. However, when we told her celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson has opened a salon not far away, her eyes lit up.

She seemed relieved to hear she may have some new foot traffic as the holiday shopping season approaches. “I’m going to drop by the salon and say ‘Hi,’ she said.

Does that mean we get a discount for giving you the inside track?

Mum’s the word

Former Iowa congressman and now chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities Jim Leach may be a Republican, but he’s staying mum on how his friends in the party can pick up seats in next year’s midterm elections.

“Oh, it would not be appropriate for me to comment or give advice to anybody in the House,” he explained. “The only thing I can say is that we do need to find common ground.”

Mr. Leach served in Congress for 30 years as a moderate Republican but was defeated for re-election in 2006. He was one of many high-profile members of his party to endorse then candidate Barack Obama for president last year.

Mr. Leach assumed his new post at the NEH last month. We encountered him and his quiet, professorial charm at the home of uberhostess Christine Warnke last week; Mr. Leach was the guest of honor.

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

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