Thursday, March 3, 2005

Republican media adviser R. Gregory Stevens, who recently served as co-chairman of the Bush/Cheney Entertainment Task Force, was found dead Saturday in the Hollywood home of actress Carrie Fisher.

“He passed away here, and in a place where he was loved,” Miss Fisher said yesterday from her home in Los Angeles.

Mr. Stevens, 42, was scheduled to attend the Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night and was staying with Miss Fisher at the time of his death. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said yesterday that the cause of death was unknown, pending results of toxicology tests.

His body was found in a guest room by Miss Fisher midmorning Saturday.

“I’m sorry I found him, but he was happy here,” the actress said yesterday. “People want to find a scandal in it, but there is none. I don’t get it. Nobody does.”

Mr. Stevens, who was an associate of the Washington powerhouse lobbying group Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, also helped orchestrate the firm’s star-studded party for watching the inaugural parade and was known to have deep roots in the Hollywood community.

“He was very popular, and had tons of connections in Hollywood,” said Haley Barbour, one of the firm’s founding partners, who resigned to take office as governor of Mississippi in 2004.

“They found him fun, engaging, energetic. Just the way people in Washington did,” Mr. Barbour said yesterday from his Jackson office.

A flamboyant personality and bicoastal bachelor, Mr. Stevens was regarded as something of a misfit in the corridors of the buttoned-down lobbying firm, and yet “had a large circle who he touched. His life was a journey, not a destination,” said one member of the firm. “He was always fun and entertaining.”

Miss Fisher said she attended a star-studded pre-Oscar party Friday night at the home Creative Artist Agency chief Bryan Lourd, the actress’ former husband. She said Mr. Stevens arrived around 11:30 p.m. as she was leaving.

Other party guests included Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts, Penelope Cruz and Pierce Brosnan.

“He was in good shape,” Miss Fisher recalled. “Tons and tons of people saw him. He was Greg.”

She said Mr. Stevens returned home shortly afterward, and the two watched the 1942 classic film “Mrs. Miniver,” then went to bed. The next morning they had planned to have brunch and tango lessons with other houseguests.

Miss Fisher said she went to his room and Mr. Stevens was lying on his back in the bed. She said authorities confirmed that he had been dead for “several hours.”

Barber & Griffith Chief Executive Lanny Griffith and firm President Robert D. Wood were en route to Los Angeles on Saturday morning to join Mr. Stevens when they heard of his death through an e-mail.

Miss Fisher, the daughter of Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds and actor Eddie Fisher, is best known for her performance as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” trilogy, and is the author of several books, including “Postcards From the Edge” which became a successful movie starring Meryl Streep.

She and Mr. Stevens had been close friends for the past seven years.

A native of San Clemente, Calif., Mr. Stevens began his career working for the California Republican Party, and later worked on the Bush/Quayle 1988 presidential campaign.

After President Bush’s election, Mr. Stevens served as White House liaison to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he managed all White House transition issues, according to his official biography.

From 1992 to 1994, Mr. Stevens was an associate with Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, an international public affairs and lobbying firm. He advised foreign and domestic clients, and worked on presidential elections in Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Thailand and the Philippines.

“His real strength was as a campaign guy,” Republican strategist and Mr. Stevens’ former boss Charlie Black said yesterday. “He liked the foreign business.”

Mr. Stevens served on the 2001 presidential inaugural committee, where he recruited numerous celebrity performers. For the most recent inauguration, Mr. Stevens reached out to Hollywood, trying to invite numerous celebrities to perform.

Before his death, Mr. Stevens said he was unhappy that the Republican National Committee was not more active in establishing ties to Hollywood.

Barbour, Griffith & Rogers will hold a memorial service Wednesday.

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