Obama Inauguralpalooza, Night Two; Oprah on Deck Tonight
We saw Bo Derek again last night at another pre-inaugural party and now we know: she has a thing for Jewish guys. A thing for not-very-tall Jewish journalists to be exact.
Derek, a Republican who says she voted for Barack Obama, has been a fixture on the inaugural party circuit. We first ran into her at Café Milano on Friday night, and again last night at the Slate magazine party at the home of Christopher Hitchens and Carol Blue.
On Friday, the subject of her adulation was the Sleuth's husband, an investigative correspondent at Newsweek. And last night, it was Jonathan Alter, also of Newsweek.
It was in Hitchens' sprawling apartment, which was packed mostly with journalists and a smattering of academic and think-tank type luminaries, where Derek spotted Alter.
"Hi, Jon, do you remember me?" she said, interrupting a conversation Alter was having with the Slate's Emily Yoffe, who relayed the incident to us.
"We met at a bowling alley in Austin a couple of years ago," the 1979 star of "10" said. "I'm Bo Derek."
At that point, we thinks most men would puff out their chest, give Derek a haughty hello kiss and hope everyone at the party was watching. But not Alter. He was totally unfazed.
"Oh, yeah, hi. Hi, Bo," Alter said, nonchalantly, as if he were greeting a colleague he sees in the office every day.
"I just wanted to say hi," Derek said. "Oh, hi, yeah," Alter replied, as he turned back to finish his conversation with Yoffe, who was amused and bewildered.
"This is probably the only time in my life that a guy turns away from Bo Derek to continue talking to me," she laughed, recounting the moment to us later. "His wife should be very, very happy."
Besides Derek, who is now 52 and still gorgeous, other famous somebodies at the Slate party included Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M., Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, and former senator John Sununu (R-N.H.), who lost his Senate reelection race in November and is now sitting on the TARP board overseeing the government's massive Wall Street bailout.
Tribe told the Sleuth Obama was his "best student ever" at Harvard Law School. Sure, Obama had analytical smarts, Tribe said. But what made him special was his "emotional intelligence" and his equanimity. "He was always remarkably calm," Tribe said.
Others at the Slate party: New York Times executive editor Bill Keller; Dal LaMagna, a.k.a., Tweezerman; British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald; former Bush speechwriter David Frum (remember "Axis of Evil"?); and conservative activist Grover Norquist.
Later, we went to an amazing -- really breathtaking -- live performance by cellist superstar Yo Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble. From the very last row, way at the top of the Sidney Harman Hall theater, where we sat, we spotted Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) sitting in the fourth row, waving to Yo Yo Ma at the end of the concert. (The show concluded with a superb, stirring rendition of Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell," the theme song for Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.)
Incoming Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, incoming National Economic Council chief Lawrence Summers and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) gave introductory remarks before the concert. (Frank said they were trying to decide who would speak first and someone suggested "the arrogant Jewish guy," at which point the three arrogant Jewish guys all said, "Which one?")
Lots of Obama officials, including Cabinet appointees, dropped by the British Embassy for a whiskey tasting before hitting the party scene last night. Among them: Eric Holder, Obama's choice for attorney general; energy secretary-designate Steven Chu; Pete Orzag, incoming budget director to the president-elect; incoming White House counsel Greg Craig; and new deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton.
Tonight's hot ticket: a pre-inaugural ball hosted by The Root online magazine, where Oprah Winfrey is expected to be. (The Obamas were invited but we're told they won't make it.)
The late-night hot ticket for tonight: The Impact Film Fund's bash at Fur nightclub featuring the Sleuth's favorite gal in show business, comedian Sarah Silverman. Some of the hottest hip-hop artists alive will headline the event - namely, Ludacris, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels and Nelly.
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