Tailor-Made Support for Obama?

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tailor-Made Support for Obama?

While trying to watch Barack Obama's concession speech Tuesday night, countless Americans were distracted by the three dudes behind him wearing Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts. Whoa -- what marketing genius engineered 20 minutes of free advertising for the frat-boy clothing company?

Missed it? Three college-age guys sat side by side in the second row at the Evansville, Ind., rally -- each wearing a different and very visible A&F logo shirt. Positioned directly behind Obama, they were caught by the cameras cheering, whispering and even yakking on a cellphone.

Who were they? "These are folks who presumably support Senator Obama and showed up on an important night for the campaign," said Indiana spokesman Nick Kimball, who told us Obama's staff had no idea how those three ended up in those seats. The rally for 8,000 was organized in 24 hours, open to the general public, did not require tickets -- and had no dress code. "We are an inclusive campaign," said Kimball. "Folks come as they are."

But what are the chances three random guys would show up in $29.50 A&F duds in primo camera space? "We had nothing to do with it," company spokesman Tom Lennox said with a laugh yesterday. "Thanks to the campaign for the product placement. We wish we had thought of it."

We'll buy it: A&F (over the years accused of racist designs, discriminatory hiring and over-sexed advertising) would have used way hotter boys if it had planned the stunt. An Evansville employee was not allowed to comment, but confirmed the A&F triplets -- still unidentified yesterday -- are customers at the local store. Can "The Real World" be far behind?

From Clay Aiken, the Same Old Refrain

It's been two months since we blew the lid off the simmering Clay Aiken scandal, revealing that the most successful "American Idol" runner-up ever has skipped all but one of the quarterly meetings of the Presidential Committee for People With Intellectual Disabilities since he was appointed in fall 2006. Much scorn was heaped upon our story by the fanatical Claymates community -- but silence from the crooner and his reps.

So we asked our colleague J. Freedom du Lac to confront Aiken during a scheduled Q&A for the Post Rock music blog. Aiken explained he's just so busy :"The last time I had two days off in a row was October. I was on tour throughout the country through Christmas, then I went straight to Mexico for UNICEF. [Then] I went straight to New York for 'Spamalot' . . ." Okay, gotcha. He added that "if there's something I can do remotely, I would've been happy to do it." Well, guess no one told him about the conference-call option.

Aiken also told du Lac that "Idol" has lost its charm, with fewer finalists that possess the oddball "kids next door" quality of Ruben Studdard, Fantasia and himself. "Now, my understanding is that a lot of them are coming up from having contracts already," he said. "It's different now."

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· D.L. Hughley dining with a friend at Zola Tuesday -- lobster sliders, tuna tartare, chocolate bundt cake, a glass of pinot noir. No idea what the comic (navy blue jacket, jeans, white sneaks) was doing in town, but he does have a show here next month.

· Former local hero Citizen Cope lunching with two others downtown at Proof yesterday after a long U.S. and European tour. The singer-producer-DJ (who now lives in Brooklyn) enjoyed salmon, salad and chickpea flatbread. Healthy! Oh, and also some Taittinger champagne.

LOVE, ETC.

· Divorcing: TV personality Star Jones and her banker husband, Al Reynolds, her rep confirmed to reporters yesterday, 3 1/2 years after their massive, product-placement-happy wedding. In a statement, Jones, 46, said she regretted courting so much publicity back then and asked for privacy now.

· Finally wed : Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, in a secret ceremony in Colorado this month, the New York Post reported. The art-rock pioneer, 66, and the performance artist, 60, have lived together since 1995.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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