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But They're Aces on Getting Out the Youth Vote!

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, August 3, 2006

Big-time candidates pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their advice. So wouldn't your li'l politician love to get James Carville and Mary Matalin's guidance for free?

Alas, that won't be an option at several area high schools that have said thanks-but-no to the feisty political power couple's offer to campaign-manage their student council races -- before the cameras of a planned Lifetime reality TV series .

"This is a big-deal Hollywood operation," Fairfax County schools spokesman Paul Regnier told our colleague Maria Glod. "They would take over the school. That's their set."

Producers approached Fairfax's Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson high schools; both said no. D.C. prep school St. Albans got a call, but producers wanted to film at a time when students weren't available. A few Montgomery County schools had healthy debates about whether to welcome the cameras, but ultimately turned them away.

"They really promoted themselves as being interested in what was going on with kids and in their desire to be responsible documentarians," Bethesda-Chevy Chase principal Sean Bulson told our colleague Lori Aratani. But parents were "very cautious and very skeptical," and he decided film crews would be too disruptive. Principal Chris Garran doubted producers could find enough natural drama in his Walter Johnson High School races to fill six 30-minute episodes -- would they end up rigging story lines? "We don't do primaries or anything," he said. "I didn't know what the pull was going to be." Other officials fretted that teen losers might be devastated seeing their disappointments aired on basic cable.

"Election" was originally scheduled to run around the end of the year; now, a channel spokesman said, it's not expected to go into production until early 2007; he confirmed that producers are still looking for a school.

They might want to try Arlington's Wakefield High again. School officials there were tantalized when they got the call months ago, and they're not saying no -- yet.

"It certainly has the potential to be a good learning experience -- to work with two very highly esteemed professionals in their field," said district spokeswoman Linda Erdos . "We're waiting for them to come back to us."

Summers, It's the Only Place to Go

Defying all odds, 80-year-old Art Buchwald checked out of his Washington hospice July 1, flew to his summer home on Martha's Vineyard, wrote a book, and now is back penning his twice-weekly column (see Page C2). "Too Soon to Say Goodbye" chronicles his kidney disease and five-month stay at the Washington Home hospice, and includes eulogies prepared by pals Mike Wallace, Tom Brokaw and George Stevens; publication is scheduled for December.

"Things are going very well," Buchwald said yesterday. "I made a good decision to go to Martha's Vineyard instead of Heaven."

Hello, He Must Be Going . . .

The revolving door of diplomacy is spinning faster these days: The dozens of welcome parties for Colombian Ambassador Andrés Pastrana just ended -- and now he's outta here. "In politics, you never know what's going to happen," said Pastrana, the guest of honor Tuesday at a hastily arranged farewell dinner hosted by Jordanian envoy Karim Kawar.

Pastrana (president of Colombia, 1998-2002) abruptly resigned last month after Colombia's current president named an old political rival with alleged drug ties as ambassador to France. The rival declined the post, but Pastrana and his wife, Nora , are headed home next week after just seven months in Washington -- no time for the traditional lineup of farewell toasts and speeches. The new ambassador, Carolina Barco , arrives in three weeks.

QUOTED

"I love D.C.! I swear to God I didn't say that in Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago last week! . . . You have everything from, you know, the go-go scene and then you have, you know, Georgetown, and then you've got the White House, you know? You just got range and diversity. And because I think it's such a college town it's just young minds, just, out there, there's enthusiasm . . . energy. "

-- Songstress Nelly Furtado on Hot 99.5 FM's morning show yesterday. Hey, at least she's not dissing our suburbs or firing our native-born drummers like some pop starlets we could name ( cough!- Hilary Duff!-cough! ).

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