By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, May 14, 2009 12:00 AM
Hey, did that really happen?
It's the nagging question in your head while watching any biopic or historical drama (did Richard Nixon really drunk-dial David Frost, as in "Frost/Nixon"? Did the Spartans really fight the Persians wearing capes and Speedos, a la "300"?) -- and sometimes you just wish you had a couple of prizewinning historians next to you on the couch to help sort it out.
Fortunately, British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald provided exactly that Tuesday night at a dinner and screening of the new HBO film "Into the Storm." Actor Brendan Gleeson, who stars as the wartime Winston Churchill, was there -- but so were best-selling historians Michael Beschloss and Jon Meacham, who conducted a little panel discussion after the lights went back up that saved us, like, hours of Wikipeding.
Okay, guys: Did Churchill really suffer a top-secret heart attack during the war?
Indeed. "He almost died after Casablanca in '43," said Meacham, the editor of Newsweek and author of "Franklin and Winston," a book about the friendship between the allies. No, interjected Beschloss, it was after the Tehran Conference in '44. But, okay, in the ballpark, anyway.
Did King George VI really put the kibosh on the prime minister's notions of riding ashore with the troops on D-Day? Really true, they said.
But did Churchill really conduct a business meeting with FDR while soaking in a White House bathtub? (In the film, his towel drops and he quips, "As you can see, Mr. President, I have nothing to conceal from you.")
Yes! said Meacham, eyes lighting up. "I actually interviewed the man who took the dictation!" He added: "For me, in a dork way, it was very glamorous."Love, Etc.
-- Born: A son to Rep. Linda Sánchez and husband Jim Sullivan in Washington yesterday. Joaquin Sánchez Sullivan (7 pounds 14.6 ounces) almost made history as the first baby born to a single member of Congress -- but his parents decided against that big post-pregnancy wedding and quietly tied the knot last month.
-- Born: Twins to Wanda Sykes and wife Alex, reports People. The comedian kept mum about the babies -- Alex gave birth to Olivia Lou and Lucas Claude on April 27 -- while at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. The couple married last year.Hey, Isn't That . . . ?
-- Ben Stiller eating space ice cream with his 3-year-old son at the Air and Space Museum yesterday -- the place he filmed the "Night at the Museum" sequel and where he'll attend its premiere tonight. Jeans, huge sneakers, same shaggy haircut as his son. Waved from the escalator to the girls screaming, "We love you, Ben Stiller!"
-- Zach Braff drinking beers and getting all touchy and close-talking flirty with several ladies at L2 in Georgetown Tuesday. The "Scrubs" star, all suited up, mingled with others who had come from a White House arts event -- Conor Oberst; the tall guy from Arcade Fire; a gal in a tutu -- at the party for new NEA publicist Yosi Sergant. A-list graphic designer Shepard Fairey, of all people, played DJ.Update
Former Miss USA Shanna Moakler abruptly resigned as co-director of the Miss California USA pageant yesterday. "I cannot with a clear conscience move forward supporting and promoting the Miss Universe Organization when I no longer believe in it," she said in a statement.
Moakler was in New York Tuesday when Donald Trump announced Carrie Prejean could keep her state title and vowed to work with Prejean "on issues important to her and to our organization." Trump told reporters that the "miscommunication" between Prejean and state officials was "totally solved." Guess not.