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For Spring Fever, a Little Dose of Hollywood

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Was it the summerlike temps or the cherry blossoms making everyone so darned goofy-giddy on Capitol Hill yesterday? No, of course, just another magical Hollywood airlift bringing us a fresh dose of celebrity advocacy -- Robert Redford , John Legend and Kerry Washington.

Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) couldn't resist a movie tease in his own testimony on arts funding with a little "The Way We Were" name check. "I have not forgiven you for leaving Barbra Streisand ," he told Redford. "But you sort of made up for it by choosing Glenn Close in 'The Natural.' "

"It is kind of curious he didn't mention my films with Jane Fonda," the actor-director retorted, when he got his turn at the mike. Ha!

Things did get serious, our colleague Jacqueline Trescott reports. Redford testified that a third-grade teacher encouraged his interest in drawing, which led to a career in the arts; and that the National Endowment for the Arts gave the first grant to his Sundance Institute, which now generates millions each year for Utah. "There are many more like us out there," said the star (all earth tones in a tweed jacket and turquoise ring).

Grammy winner Legend (gray sports coat, open-neck shirt) claimed to have jitters about making his congressional debut but then smoothly hit all his marks. The arts "can develop and cultivate your soul and I think provides us with a better understanding of our humanity."

Stars -- they love it here! Washington (in one of those sharp black pinstriped suits that movie stars wear on the Hill) later told Trescott she tried to postpone her next movie shoot since it conflicted with the Pennsylvania primary -- and she's a big Obama campaigner. No go, she was told, "but I'll be doing radio interviews that day."

For Student Reporters, A Story to Crowe About

Scooped again! While we've been obsessively writing about the "State of Play" filming, Silver Chips Online -- the independent student newspaper at Montgomery Blair High School -- snagged an exclusive interview with stars Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams.

Student journalists tagged along two weeks ago when the Silver Spring school's marching band played on the steps of the Scottish Rite Masonic temple on 16th Street NW. (The band members got $130 as extras plus an elaborate breakfast .)

But the paper's big "get" was face time with the two stars, who both play reporters. Crowe's take on the profession? "It's a kind of a conceit that journalists live under, that they remain objective," he said. "That's never been my experience. They're all too human, all too emotionally affected."

Other than that, the Aussie's impressed with Washington: "I like the people here, actually. There's certain friendliness without being obsequious here."

CELEBRITY PRIMARIES 2008

The latest endorsements:

* Reality starlet Heidi Montag -- hailed by the NYT as a "feminist hero" on the new season of "The Hills" (they're kinda kidding) -- tells Us Weekly in its new issue she's for John McCain , citing his experience. (Her domineering boyfriend Spencer warned her against endorsing, the mag reports; she replied, "I don't think anyone cares who Heidi Montag votes for!")

* 50 Cent , after coming out for Hillary Clinton ("I'm not sure America is ready to have a black president"), flip-flopped last week, first telling MTV that after seeing Barack Obama speak "I swear to God, I'm like, 'Yo, Obama!' "; then claiming he's undecided: "Just say, '50 Cent, he don't know, so don't ask Fiddy.' "

Quote

"You look like a guy whose laptop would be seized by the authorities. . . . The guy who the neighbors later say, 'He mostly kept to himself.' . . . The guy who enjoys getting into a hot tub and watching his swim trunks inflate."

-- John McCain on "Late Show With David Letterman" last night, getting back at the host for his regular gag about what the GOP nominee looks like ("the guy who can't stop talking about how well his tomatoes are doing . . . who points out the spots they missed at the carwash").

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