By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
This was the reverend's combination 61st birthday party and annual awards dinner for his Rainbow/PUSH organization. Six hundred attendees -- from trade unionists to corporate moguls as well as a healthy contingent of the Hollywood left -- paid $250 a plate (10 to 20 times that amount in some cases) to come ogle each other and see Ray Charles perform.
I was along as escort for columnist Arianna Huffington. She was being given Jackson's Woman of Conscience Award, and Beatty was scheduled to introduce her. At our table, writer Roy Sekoff, producer Lawrence Bender, Bill Maher and his Amazon-sized date, plus Laurie David and Kimberly Shlain, the wives of Larry David and Albert Brooks, could only speculate whether Beatty would actually show. And what exactly would he say? This event, after all, was taking place just as Congress was voting for Dubya's war on Iraq.
To be fair, Beatty gives generously of his time and makes himself available for a surprising number of low-profile political fund-raisers. But he's also capable of pulling impromptu disappearing acts. Two years ago during the Democratic Convention, I helped Huffington organize the Shadow Convention, and Beatty -- who said he might say a few words on opening night -- never showed. Later, the notoriously mysterious actor said something about losing track of the time in the shower.
It was now 8 p.m., more than 30 minutes into the Jackson program. Huffington was about to be given the award, and there was still no sign of Beatty. Fortunately, everyone's favorite uncle, Stanley Sheinbaum -- accepting the Courage Award from Jackson -- stretched out his remarks long enough that the piano started tinkling behind him. And when Beatty's name was finally called to introduce Huffington, he seemed to materialize onstage out of nowhere.
And what did Warren say? We'd heard he was furious -- livid, really -- over a recent New York Timespiece in which reporter John Broder had gone to Sheinbaum's Brentwood home to see former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter make a presentation to a mostly Hollywood crowd. Beatty had been in attendance, and Broder's piece said that the actor's response had been "measured, almost circumspect." The piece was loaded with Beatty quotes obviously chosen to depict him as reticent -- if not outright chicken -- to speak out against the coming war. No wonder Beatty was pissed.
Clad in a gray Armani ensemble, Beatty began by doing one of his favorite shticks -- acting somewhat disoriented, like an absent-minded professor. But skillfully, without missing a well-timed comic or dramatic beat, he lauded Huffington, saying he never believed she was a conservative, even when she said she was. For a moment, it seemed as if he was going to wind up punting on the war. But then, a sudden sharp transition. A hush fell over the audience as Beatty turned serious and opened up a double-barreled attack on Bush and the Congress. Referring twice to "our new and unparalleled American domination of the world," he called the congressional vote of war authorization "an act of political expediency" and pure "careerism" by both parties. "Is this a preventive war to create peace?" he asked. "Or preventive war to build empire?"
The overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal crowd roared its approval. Beatty looked pleased to have set the record straight. And as quickly as he appeared in the room, he seemed to vanish as soon as he left the stage. --Marc Cooper
CRUSHES: Jake for All
OVER DINNER AT THE KITCHEN IN Silver Lake, the subject of Jake Gyllenhaal came up. Immediately, Heather, a lesbian, said this about the actor who seems to be in everything this year: "I would fuck him in an instant." She said it again for emphasis, looking across the table at her girlfriend, Molly, for confirmation. Molly nodded. She too would fuck Jake Gyllenhaal. These are not women who make gender exceptions lightly. Heather is very butch, and proud of it. Molly thinks men are boring and has no interest in sleeping with them.
Heather explained: "When Jennifer Aniston comes up to him [in The Good Girl] and talks about his having eyes and lips like a woman's, that's it. You can't focus on anything else for the rest of movie."
She did not need to tell me about his lips, by the way. But I thought it was just me and a billion other straight women. If Heather and Molly can't help themselves either, just what is the extent of Jake Gyllenhaal's appeal? Does it extend to gay men too? To other lesbians? Even to straight men? Can Jake Gyllenhaal be stopped at all?
I sent out a mass e-mail asking the crucial questions: Do you think Jake Gyllenhaal is hot? Would you have sex with him? The replies came so fast I couldn't keep up.
Tim: "He's pretty hot -- in Lovely and Amazing he had that wide-eyed, testosterone-fueled sexual sincerity thing down pat. But if you hadn't asked the question, I don't think I ever would have thought about switching teams for him."
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