Survey Says: Time for a Change

Frank Luntz, showing off his home, has hosted his last East Coast All-Star party.
Frank Luntz, showing off his home, has hosted his last East Coast All-Star party. (Rebecca D'Angelo For The Washington Post)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, July 17, 2008

Frank Luntz took a poll of one -- and decided he should move to California.

Tired of working 24-7, the wunderkind pollster is leaving Washington at the end of the year -- selling his McLean home, taking the chairman emeritus role at his research company and moving his vast collection of political and film memorabilia to a condo in Santa Monica. But he's not, he insists, retiring.

"No one who knows me will call it that," Luntz, 46, told us yesterday.

The surprise announcement came Tuesday at his annual beer-and-burger backyard All-Star party. Among the 150 friends and clients: former White House press secretary Scott McClellan (rested, friendly, surrounded by people carefully trying to make small talk), "West Wing" actor Richard Schiff, Sen. Norm Coleman, a dozen members of the House and British Ambassador Nigel Sheinw ald. Luntz gathered the crowd and said, "This will be the last one of these," then explained that he is decamping for the Left Coast. "You're liberal after all!" hooted one pal.

Fifteen years ago, Luntz pioneered the instant-focus-group technique that made him the go-to guy for election coverage and a marquee name in political research. But a couple of close friends died this year, and Luntz decided he needed to work less and live more. He picked California, where he plans to consult (fewer polls, more strategy), read books for fun and take an occasional vacation -- something he hasn't done in years.

"It's been an awesome, awesome run," he said.

THIS JUST IN . . .

· Will the FBI mind that its top-secret paranormal research has been taken over by the Smithsonian? "X-Files" creators Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz donated memorabilia yesterday from the cult TV series to the National Museum of American History: an annotated script from the show's pilot episode, posters, Scully's cross, Mulder's badge and a little alien statue that was the model for all aliens in the first movie version. (And yes, it just so happens there is a new "X-Files" movie about to come out.)

· Perpetually troubled/troubling comedian Andy Dick ("NewsRadio") was arrested in SoCal yesterday for investigation of drug use and sexual battery after he allegedly pulled the top off a 17-year-old girl outside a restaurant. He was released after posting $5,000 bail and leaving behind one of the most disturbing celebrity mug shots in a while.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Robert Redford touring the Newseum yesterday, dressed in classic Redford style (light blue oxford shirt, bluejeans), accompanied by a couple of handlers. A museum veep showed him around, told him they have an original door from the DNC's Watergate HQ in the collection, and he told her they also used an original Watergate door in "All the President's Men"! The actor-director was here to talk up a youth slam-poetry program sponsored by his foundation on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," which tapes at the Newseum.

· Anthony Bourdain (jeans, gray tee) talking to a white-haired gentleman outside a Tunlaw Road apartment building in Glover Park yesterday, a camera crew capturing it all. The macho chef turned cable-foodie superstar is shooting a new episode of "No Reservations" at a diverse array of D.C. historic/culinary sites over the next couple of days -- where exactly we can't tell you, crazy stalker fans.

THE SOURCE QUOTE

"We have given out over 150 free tickets to some high quality women. Please come have some drinks, food, and support Jack."

-- Bo Blair, owner of members-only restaurant/bar the Rookery, in an e-mail asking patrons to turn out for a fundraiser last night for D.C. Council member Jack Evans. "High quality women"? (Or is he just as obsessed with finding a nice girlfriend for Jack as we are?) Blair says he means "friends of ours that are well-educated, attractive, intelligent, social and sweet."


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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