Jeff Daniels and Kyle MacLachlan lobby on Capitol Hill for arts funding, fail to creep us out
Our visiting celebvocates usually come in the same old flavors: warm, empathetic, super-earnest. So it was refreshing Tuesday when Capitol Hill was finally visited by a couple of creeps.
Or rather, a pair of top-drawer actors, Kyle MacLachlan and Jeff Daniels, who made their names by playing creeps. Terrible husbands, at least. Daniels, 55, sometimes branches out to play egocentric blowhards who are also terrible husbands ("The Squid and the Whale"), while MacLachlan, 51 (a terrible husband on both "Sex and the City" and "Desperate Housewives"), has a quality that, even when he played a good guy like FBI agent Dale Cooper in "Twin Peaks," kind of makes your skin crawl.
Their cause on the Hill: To push for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts at a time when public and private support for the arts is declining nationwide. Before the obligatory trip to a congressional hearing, both turned up as cheerleaders for hundreds of unfamous arts advocates at a Cannon Building breakfast, where organizers Americans for the Arts presented an award to Nancy Pelosi.
MacLachlan -- in what he told us later was his D.C. lobbying debut and first-ever cause -- was looking more Cary Grant-ish than usual, in those dark-rimmed glasses that guys wear to look like Cary Grant.
"This is new for me," he told the room. "I'd call myself apolitical at best."
But then he played it like a perfect politician, name-checking all the towns that gave him his start in theater: Millbrook, Pa.; Logan, Utah; Flat Rock, N.C. -- as different clusters in the room whooped in recognition.
Daniels, nearly unrecognizable in a goatee, praised the "courage" of organizers for bringing "as your advocate on Capitol Hill one of the co-stars of 'Dumb & Dumber.'" But seriously: He talked up the economic benefit that his Purple Rose Theatre Company, which he founded in 1991, has brought to his home town of Chelsea, Mich. "Those are real paychecks for real jobs for real people."
In all, very earnest. Is that what they're really like? Or is that acting? MacLachlan in particular seemed downright avuncular. As the David Lynch icon was being hustled off to his committee appointment, he paused to pose for a photo with high school students, and nobody's skin crawled at all.
The Reliable Source
April 14, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
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