Even certified Hollywood liberals were reeling after Chevy Chase's potty-mouthed Bush-bashing Tuesday night at the Kennedy Center, where the actor hosted an awards ceremony staged by People for the American Way.
For most of the evening, Chase was his usual comedic self, delivering lines like "This just in -- resignations in the upper echelon of the Bush administration. The Bush sisters have resigned and are being replaced by Paris and Nicky Hilton. Back for more news later."
Chevy Chase shocked the audience with an unscripted rant against President Bush during the People for the American Way awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center.
(Jonathan Ernst - Reuters)
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After actors Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon delivered speeches accepting their Defender of Democracy awards, Chase took the stage a final time and unleashed a rant against President Bush that stunned the crowd. He deployed the four-letter word that got Vice President Cheney in hot water, using it as a noun. Chase called the prez a "dumb [expletive]." He also used it as an adjective, assuring the audience, "I'm no [expletive] clown either. . . . This guy started a jihad."
Chase also said: "This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck . . . and we still couldn't beat him with a bore like Kerry."
People for the American Way distanced itself yesterday from the actor's rant. "Chevy Chase's improvised remarks caught everyone off guard, and were inappropriate and offensive," Ralph Neas, the liberal advocacy group's president, said in a statement. "It was not what I would have said, and certainly not the language People for the American Way would ever use in discussing any president of the United States."
Founder Norman Lear agreed, telling us: "I thought it was utterly untoward, obviously unexpected and unscripted and all that stuff. And, uh -- it was Chevy Chase. He'll live with it, I won't."
Sen. Tom Daschle, the former minority leader, looked taken aback when he went on directly after Chase. His opening line: "I've had to follow a lot of speakers, but -- "
The movie star didn't return for a curtain call or to savor dessert at the reception after the event. We were told he hurt his back and needed to call it a night by 9. Chase's PR rep told us yesterday she was unable to reach him.
Meanwhile, the other host of the evening, the newly blond Cynthia Nixon, told us she had a more gracious message for Bush: "Don't just listen to people who are telling you yes, listen to the people who are telling you no!"
This 'Hotel' Features a Bustling Lobby
"Hotel Rwanda" director Terry George, left, with hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle in the film).
(Chris Pizzello - AP)
State Department employees packed an auditorium yesterday afternoon for a sneak preview of a Golden Globe-nominated movie, but it was all about work, not recreation. The flick is "Hotel Rwanda," based on the searing true story of a hotel manager who sheltered more than 1,200 refugees after the West turned a blind eye to that country's genocidal violence a decade ago.
"Over 500 people came, and they were clearly moved by the film," director Terry George told us after the screening. "We had a fairly good discussion about peacemaking today and the situation in Darfur and the Congo."
As you might have guessed by now, "Hotel Rwanda," which stars Don Cheadle and opens in Washington in January, isn't escapist fare. George, an Irish filmmaker best known for collaborations with his friend Jim Sheridan on "The Boxer" and "In the Name of the Father," has also shown his new movie to packed audiences at the United Nations and the Holocaust Museum in Washington. His goal: to provoke debate on African conflicts and the peacekeeping obligations of the world community. He said he undertook the project because "I felt that the Hollywood industry actively avoids movies about Africa -- if it's a safari movie, it's fine, but the political situation is not dealt with at all."
George, 52, was caught up in sectarian strife in Northern Ireland before moving his family to New York and embarking on a writing career. A former journalist (and New Yorker fact checker), he assiduously researched the tribal slaughter depicted in "Hotel Rwanda." "I was fastidious about knowing the reality and what I had to compress," he told us. "There is that responsibility to the future and to history."
Beyond stirring debate among diplomats, George clearly hopes his movie will prick the conscience of world leaders who failed to intervene to avert the Rwandan genocide. "I want Kofi Annan to see this," he said, "and BillClinton. That's the goal."
Dan Glickman, the new chief movie industry lobbyist in town, is learning the ropes quickly. At a screening of "The Aviator" for Washington media bigwigs at the Motion Picture Association of America this week, he gushed about the Howard Hughes biopic to be released at Christmas. "A great movie," he called it, "one that might win some Academy Awards." And that was before the film even rolled. Afterward he stuck to his review, adding this plaudit for star Leonardo DiCaprio: "He did a marvelous job!" It's all part of the job, Glickman told us: "What do you think, I'm stupid?"
Diet update: Former prez and heart patient Bill Clinton was seen the other day ordering himself a hot dog bagel -- a hot dog inside a bagel -- at Einstein Brothers on Wisconsin Avenue. He also ordered trail-mix cookies, which surely qualify as health food, and coffee. With Secret Service agents watching, he carried his own bag as he greeted customers, including two excited 11-year-olds, Emily Widra of Rockville and Madelyn Levy of Washington. "Hi, ladies," he said.
In Hollywood, where stars don't bother to deny their plastic surgery, Sharon Stone, 46, is miffed that anyone would think she needs it. The actress is suing Beverly Hills surgeon Renato Calabria, claiming that he libeled her by telling magazines he gave her a facelift. The suit maintains that the allegations hurt her ability to find work: "Sharon Stone has a reputation for her natural beauty and glamour," it says (emphasis ours). An attorney for the doc said, "Dr. Calabria has never told anyone that he has [performed] surgery on Sharon Stone."