Michael  Douglas and Mayor  Tony Williams discuss their scene for
Michael Douglas and Mayor Tony Williams discuss their scene for "The Sentinel" outside the Renaissance Mayflower hotel. (D.c. Government)
Friday, July 29, 2005

The Mayor Makes the Scene

That was Michael Douglas you saw downtown yesterday. He's filming a drama, "The Sentinel," and Washington's very own Mayor Tony Williams has a part. Okay, a scene. But he has a line.

Six white movie trailers perched on either side of M Street between 16th and 17th streets yesterday signaled that Hollywood had planted itself firmly in the nation's capital (for the next week, at least). The first day of filming for "The Sentinel," which also features Kiefer Sutherland , Eva Longoria and Kim Basinger , began at the Renaissance Mayflower hotel at 7:30 a.m.

For his film debut, Williams stars as himself in a gripping scene: He shakes hands with Douglas, who plays Secret Service agent Pete Garrison. Mayoral spokeswoman Sharon Gang says Williams then delivers his one and only line: "Pete Garrison, good to see you. It's a nice day, isn't it?" We're sure it will be the highlight of the movie.

Gang reports that the mayor's performance was "great."

As for Douglas, Crystal Palmer , director of the mayor's film office, observed that the 60-year-old looked, well, like a movie star: "He's trim and every hair was in place."

Palmer said the mayor wore his usual garb -- a classic suit -- but the film crew specifically requested that he wear his signature bow tie.

Coincidentally, yesterday was the mayor's 54th birthday: "They surprised him with one cupcake and gave him a birthday card that the cast had signed," Palmer said. Williams also earned a whopping $600, which a rep says he'll donate to a charity. That's not a shabby salary for 90 minutes of work.

Filming moved to M Street and Connecticut Avenue in the afternoon -- without the mayor -- where tourists and Washingtonians on lunch break crowded around to watch the action. Inside the yellow tape that kept spectators at bay were harried-looking production workers and a table with sandwiches, chips, watermelon and biscotti. Mmm.

Dressed simply in a blue tank top and green hat, production assistant Amy O'Byrne of Mount Pleasant seemed remarkably awake for someone who had to be at the set at 4:45 a.m. While fiddling with the strap on her backpack, O'Byrne said her assignment was "trying to tell people that they can't walk on the sidewalk." It didn't appear that she was successful: Spectators frequently walked through the set and gawked.

In "The Sentinel," Douglas tries to nail a neo-Nazi who has infiltrated the White House. He is framed for the murder of a White House agent and blackmailed over his affair with the first lady (Basinger).

Douglas's wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, isn't in the film but is in town. When she and Douglas were spotted on M Street, O'Byrne said, heads turned. "It's funny how the world is obsessed with celebrities," she mused with a smile. Hey, we're not ashamed of it!

End Note

ยท Gee, a senator is writing a book -- shocker. Random House announced yesterday that Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) is trying his hand as an author, telling "the story of his remarkable 30-year career in the United States Senate -- from journeyman days as a 29-year-old Senator, to his rise to become one of the most powerful Democrats." Sounds like a page-turner. His yet-untitled memoir is conveniently set for release in 2007, a year before the next presidential election.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller from staff and wire reports

© 2005 The Washington Post Company