Laura Bush and the Case of the Celebrity Non-Endorsement

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Usually it's the Dems cozying up with Hollywood -- but a new movie got a huge plug yesterday from the nation's best-loved Republican: Laura Bush.

"Good morning, everybody," Bush told students at the Washington Middle School for Girls in Southeast. "Thank you so much for letting me visit and present Emma Roberts, who is the star of the new 'Nancy Drew' movie that I hope you all will be able to see. It's released when? June 15th?"

"June 15th," confirmed the 16-year-old actress (and niece of Julia Roberts), who was in D.C. to promote the film.

How did the studio snag the first lady's thumbs-up? A Warner Bros. rep said it pitched the White House two months ago on a joint appearance to encourage family literacy. "They called us back," said the spokeswoman. "It worked out great." (The movie's producer, Jerry Weintraub, is an old friend of the Bush family and a trustee of George H. W. Bush's presidential library foundation.)

"She wasn't endorsing the movie," said Sally McDonough, the first lady's press secretary. "Mrs. Bush hasn't even seen the movie." McDonough said the former librarian wanted to highlight the importance of summer reading, and brought the actress along to the school because of her work with a group called Drop Everything and Read.

The two spent about 20 minutes reading from "The Secret of the Old Clock," the first book in the famed series. "Nancy Drew was a favorite book of mine when I was your age," said Bush. "So if you like reading about a girl detective, you might this summer go to your library and check out Nancy Drews. And if you're a really, really fast reader, you could read all 57."

Wealth List Adds Sums and Names Names

Who's got big money in D.C.? The editors of Washington Life spent months tallying estimates gleaned from public records and private sources for their June issue. The "Wealth List" is most revelatory when it dips below the upper-upper-upper class -- you already know about the multi-billionaire Mars, Marriott and Rales families from the Forbes 400 -- to chronicle the middle-upper- upper-class folks like Mark Warner, Ron Dozoretz, Fred Malek and Franklin Raines in the mere $200 million to $300 million range. (The September issue will examine the folks in the lowly $50 million to $200 million bracket.) And did you know tech whiz-kid Michael Saylor is down to his last half-billion?

Data concerning private wealth are notoriously hard to pin down, but the mag makes a case for two local multi-billionaires -- Capital One founder Richard Fairbank and developer Robert Kogod -- who by its count were wrongly overlooked by the national Forbes list. Finally: Forget about his many millions -- simply with a name like " J. Rock Tonkel Jr.," the prez of investment banking firm FBR should really be in print more often.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

  • Boxer Floyd Mayweather and a huge posse leaving the 24-hour Georgetown Cafe at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, just hours after the new welterweight champ hosted the H20 party that ended with a fatal shooting.
  •  Gilbert Arenas at Tonic at Quigleys in Foggy Bottom during the new restaurant's pre-opening lunch Sunday for "friends and family." Agent Zero is a pal of a bartender there. Also brought along Wizards trainer Drew Cleary.
  •  Nomar Garciaparra and Luis Gonzalez at the Lucky Bar on Monday night. The L.A. Dodgers, in town to face the Nats, stayed off the salsa dance floor but signed autographs.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneer QB Jeff Garcia and his new wife, Carmella DeCesare, at a friend's wedding reception Saturday at Phillips Seafood in Annapolis, then at various after-party gatherings at City Dock bars. DeCesare, the '04 Playmate of the Year, grew up with the bride. Which half of the couple gets noticed first? "Guys recognize both of them," said a female guest.
  • LOVE, ETC.

    Wed: Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign staffers Talya Stein and Mo Elleithee at Alexandria's Torpedo Factory on Sunday. The campaign vets met in New Hampshire in '00, began dating while working separate Illinois races in '03, then signed on with HRC within weeks of each other last winter: Stein, 31, as finance chief, Elleithee, 34, as senior spokesman. The ceremony was performed by none other than Gov. Tim Kaine -- whom Elleithee helped get elected in '05.

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