He'll Give You Pickett's Charge and Take Visa

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Local developer Bob Monahan grew up in Gettysburg, Pa., and had a vision for bringing tourists and their dollars to the hallowed ground. Nine years ago, he lost a bid to renovate the antiquated visitor center on the Civil War battlefield itself, so he built his own grand complex -- the $300 million Gateway Gettysburg center -- and produced his own $7 million giant-screen film to show in it.

"Fields of Freedom," a high-tech version of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, makes its debut in Washington tonight, then takes permanent residence in the sleepy Pennsylvania town.

"Other than eating ice cream and buying T-shirts, there was very little to do in Gettysburg outside the park," says Monahan, a former Reagan staffer. "What we needed to do was raise the bar."

The 30-minute film follows two soldiers -- one Union, one Confederate -- before, during and after Pickett's Charge. The score is played by the London Symphony, and former president George H. W. Bush recites Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The movie gets its first public screening for 400 VIPs at the National Archives tonight, then opens April 19 for a permanent run in the four-hotel complex on a 100-acre site a mile from the battlefield.

Monahan's goal is to keep tourist dollars in Gettysburg overnight and pull in corporate conventioneers from the Washington area. The National Park Service's new $95 million museum and visitor center won't open until 2008, and projects such as Monahan's don't compete with the main attraction, says Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon. "We feel like the battlefield itself is critically important for people to come and experience," she says.

The next battle of Gettysburg is over slots. A local businessman, David LeVan, hopes to gain state approval for a casino across the street from Gateway Gettysburg. The casino would sit on 42 acres that Monahan also owns -- and being the visionary and savvy businessman that he is, he says he's quite willing to sell.

GQ Goes Into War Mode With Photos From Iraq

GQ Editor in Chief Jim Nelson
GQ Editor and DeMatha survivor Jim Nelson.(David S. Holloway - Getty Images)
First surprise at Monday's D.C. launch for "This Is Our War": that the book of gritty battlefield photos taken by servicemen in Iraq was published by GQ, that glossy arbiter of metrosexual style.

"We want people to think of us differently," Editor in Chief Jim Nelson explained at the party, which drew Jack Kemp , Terry McAuliffe and Wesley Clark , who penned the book's introduction. "We're not just a fashion magazine. We feel an obligation to report creatively on the war."

Second surprise: that GQ's boyishly urbane editor is a 1981 grad of DeMatha -- the jock school ? The Greenbelt native laughed. "I grew up in the cult of DeMatha -- heavily Catholic, all about basketball, and it was kind of intimidating for a non-jock, but I have very fond memories. It was the '80s, so it was all jocks and preps. I was neither, so I became editor of the school paper. It was the only way to survive!"

In Richmond, More Bushes in the Running

Best way for the Bush twins to stay incognito: Change into running clothes and hide out in Richmond.

Jenna and Barbara ran a 10K through the state capital's Fan district Saturday -- even crossing the finish line together! -- but went barely detected until the Richmond Times-Dispatch put the pieces together yesterday. The paper deduced that the twins ran under the fake names of Sarah and Emily Jackson , finishing at 54:27. Jenna's boyfriend, Henry Hager, finished three minutes faster under his own name. Race director Tracey Russell told us the White House reserved slots for the twins three weeks ago; both they and the Secret Service agents who ran with them blended invisibly into the crowd. "They're definitely in good shape," Russell said.

Dave Chappelle, Monking Around Backstage

Our colleague Hamil Harris was skulking backstage at the Kennedy Center after its Duke Ellington School benefit Monday, hoping to snag a quote from headliner/alumnus Dave Chappelle , when he heard piano music coming from the star's dressing room. Inside, he found the edgy comic chilling over the keys of a baby grand, picking out Thelonious Monk 's " 'Round Midnight." Publicist Carla Sims explained it's "something that he does for relaxation. Whenever there is a piano, Dave is going to be on it." Chappelle also commandeered a piano he found while visiting the school earlier in the day.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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