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Matt Damon??!!! We Demand to Differ!

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Monday, November 19, 2007

Last week, People magazine crowned its "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2007: Matt Damon.

Huh. Really -- sexiest man alive? What about, hmmm, Daniel Craig? Isn't everyone crushing on Barack Obama and the Romney sons these days? Shouldn't this be Seth Rogen's year or Paul Rudd's? Or 50 Cent-- if not "sexiest," what does he have going for him? Hell, why not Anderson Cooper, Patrick Fitzgerald or, you know, Morton Kondracke? As one patron of our online discussion wondered, "Was there some sort of honeybee-like die-off that I missed? I mean, he's cute and all, but . . . "

We called People to demand an audit. Could they ensure the public's trust in the process by which they derive the annual SMA?

"We look at all the men who have created some sort of buzz or have been in front of the mainstream," Julie Jordan, the mag's special correspondent in L.A., explained. She cited the wild success of Damon's "Bourne" flicks -- especially with lady ticket buyers -- and how he's a "family man, completely in love with his wife and children, and with more humility than anyone in Hollywood," blah blah.

Also: "There was the campaign that George Clooney and Brad Pitt [both two-time SMA winners] had going since 2001 trying to get him this honor." (Hmpf, so this is some kind of "Ocean's Eleven" hegemony? Who next, Bernie Mac?)

Jordan acknowledged -- brace yourself -- there's not a lot of science here. "We have our favorites. We look at who the readers want in the magazine. There's a team of editors in New York that whittle it down" over a period of about two months. "But there's always an obvious choice. . . . It's the guy of the moment, the guy of the year."

The title was created almost randomly back in 1985 when editors were preparing a story on Mel Gibson. "Someone said, 'Oh my God, he is the sexiest man alive!' And someone said, 'You should use that as a cover line.' "

SORRY, YOU'RE NOT ON THE LIST

One in an occasional series of dispatches from parties you should have crashed.

Event: Major League Soccer commissioner's party, Friday night.

Site: The Park at 14th, Marc Barnes's swank new downtown club.

Occasion: Kickoff of festivities for yesterday's MLS 2007 championship match at RFK.

Food: Veggie samosas, mushroom tarts, crab cakes.

Bar: Open!

Draw: A chance to get up close and personal with the most accessible of all pro athletes. Among the soccer gods: Jimmy Conrad, Diego Gutierrez, Chris Klein, Cobi Jones, Chris Armas and smokin' hot superstar Juan Pablo Angel of the New York Red Bulls. Only had to fight past two guys and one small child to chat up D.C. United's Luciano Emilio, newly crowned league MVP. Does he get recognized on the street? "Oh yes," he told us. "Sometimes."

Was Beckham there?: No.

Crowd: Short, handsome, friendly men with charming accents (Brazilian, Italian, Long Island). The men way outnumbered the soccer groupies, refreshingly normal take-home-to-mom type gals.

Unlikely VIP: Ethan Zohn, the curly-haired soccer-pro "Survivor 3" winner. Now runs an AIDS education nonprofit, still plays soccer for fun, rarely watches "Survivor."

Will Oscar Come Home to D.C.?

Double dose of Oscar fever in town! Two documentaries by local filmmakers made the list of 15 films in the running for the Academy Awards feature documentary category: "Nanking," produced by McLean's Ted Leonsis, and "War/Dance," made by Chevy Chase husband-and wife team Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. It's a big boost for D.C. moviemakers better known for television work than theatrical features. "It's about time," Sean Fine said yesterday. "Washington is a great place to make films."

"Nanking," which depicts the 1937 killing of 300,000 Chinese by the Japanese army, and "War/Dance," a portrait of Ugandan refugees competing in a music and dance competition, both won honors at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, became hits on the indie festival circuit and have movie distribution deals. The Fine film is in theaters; "Nanking" opens next month.

The Academy's shortlist will be formally announced today and is expected to include Michael Moore's high-profile "Sicko." The 15 documentaries will be winnowed down to five nominees announced on Jan. 22; one will take home the Oscar Feb. 24.

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