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Some politicians help MTV's "The Buried Life," but Lautenberg resists the lure of reality TV

In a screengrab from MTV's "The Buried Life," the cast confronts Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

We've been asked not to reveal whether the plucky young cast of "The Buried Life" fulfilled their wish to play basketball with President Obama in next Monday's episode of the MTV reality series, about a gang of friends working on their list of 100-things-to-do-before-we-die. But we can reveal (spoiler alert!) that they managed to get a surprising amount of on-camera help elsewhere in Washington officialdom, with one key exception.

Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) invited the postgrads into his office and promised, "I'm gonna e-mail the president's chief of staff right now." Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also welcomed the cameras and agreed to make a call. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), whom the guys just happen to catch on the ice-hockey rink, promised to put in a good word with POTUS. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) even took the stars to a cafe and coyly suggested they call Obama aide Reggie Love to set up a hoops game: "Let Reggie know that Claire said it's my birthday tomorrow and it would be a good gift."

And then -- just as it's all looking like so much choreographed youth-vote pandering -- one legislator bravely bucks the reality onslaught: a white-haired gentleman approached by the cast and crew outside the Hart Senate Office Building. He must not have signed a waiver; producers blacked out his face. He hedges, then shoos them off with a finger-wag: "Now, if I wind up in some porn movie that you've got ..."

Yes, indeed, his office confirms: That's Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

The 86-year-old lawmaker is recovering from a bleeding ulcer, and his staff declined to comment on his MTV cameo. The show's executive producers take no offense at the brushoff: "No one wants to be Borat-ed," said Howard T. Owens.

And hey, Lautenberg dissing them makes the show seem, well, just a wee bit less contrived. "It was a pretty authentic blitz" of D.C., insists producer Noah Oppenheim, "a combination of pounding the pavement and working the phones."

By The Reliable Source  |  February 19, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
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