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The Warren Report: Proving Beatty's Casual Charms

By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2004; Page N01

Warren Beatty is on the phone. It's twilight outside your window; his laughter is low, contagious, his voice intimate and familiar.

Beatty is 67 now, but still handsome, smooth, attentive. Generous. Seven hours with the man in Los Angeles, tucked into his private office off Mulholland Drive, and then you find him standing in the doorway of your car late at night, urging you to call him, anytime, anywhere. Whatever you need.

"As you get older, the most valuable thing we have is time," says father of four Warren Beatty, who chooses projects -- cinematic or otherwise -- with great care. (Jonathan Alcorn For The Washington Post)

_____Kennedy Center Honors_____
Video: The Kennedy Center Honors
Politicians and Celebrities, Making Sweet Music
Photo Gallery: Honorees
Warren Beatty
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee
Elton John
Joan Sutherland
John Williams

Every year since 1978

the Kennedy Center has saluted a handful of national icons for their "lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts." This year's honorees are to be celebrated tonight with a gala performance and dinner at the Kennedy Center Opera House. The show will be broadcast Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. on Channel 9.

And he's true to his word, this time calling you at home. Beatty is coming to Washington soon, to be honored for his life's work in film at the Kennedy Center. He is a talented actor, a gifted filmmaker, a Hollywood icon.

His true art, though, is seduction. Movie audiences. Studio heads. Politicians.


You resist.

You ask about baseball in Washington, Beatty being a childhood Senators fan. You ask about his political aspirations. You ask about political labels.

He is gracious, compliant. He is okay with the name Nationals, though partial to Senators. He doesn't want to run for public office. He explains that his movies -- "Reds," for example, or "Bulworth" -- are his way of exploring politics through art.

Suddenly, he is questioning you, about the holidays, the family, travel plans. You tell him you are going to your brother's. The younger one or the older one? he asks. The younger one, you say, and mention he has a new girlfriend but has provided precious little information about her. What's her name? he asks. What did he tell you about her? He presses for more information.

You submit. He listens, sighs knowingly. He has some insight on the subject.

"Well, this is what the little brother really means . . ."

Turns out, he's exactly right.

It's a gorgeous afternoon in Los Angeles as the car passes the famous pink Beverly Hilton Hotel and heads up Coldwater Canyon to Beatty's house on legendary Mulholland Drive. There is, startlingly, a Bush/Cheney sign on his lawn, but there is no time to figure out the presence of a Republican poster in front of a famously liberal Democrat's house. The interview, you are told, is being moved, a few miles down Mulholland, to an office Beatty keeps.

An hour in a sterile building? This does not bode well.

But when Beatty sweeps into the office, he is full of apologies: for his tardiness, for the switched locations, for all of it. It's after 3 p.m., he explains, and school's out, and the kids just got home, and they've all dragged friends over and, well, he doesn't want to add to the chaos being overseen by his wife, movie star Annette Bening.

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