Nancy Reagan, a Rare Sight In the Capital

Natan Sharansky receives a Reagan Freedom Award from the former first lady.
Natan Sharansky receives a Reagan Freedom Award from the former first lady. (Alex Wong - Getty Images)
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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, September 19, 2008

The man of the hour Wednesday night was Natan Sharansky, the human rights activist and former Soviet political prisoner, who came to dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building to receive an award. But the first standing ovation came when publishing exec Fred Ryan took the podium to greet someone else:

"Mrs. Reagan, welcome back to Washington."

Nancy Reagan has made only a few trips here in recent years; she traveled from California this week to present the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to Sharansky, whose case became a special cause for the late president. At 87, she looked delicate behind glamorously oversize glasses. She wore a silvery top and a chunky pearl choker.

The former first lady never took the stage; instead she stayed at the head table, put the purple-ribboned medal around Sharansky's neck and embraced him. Speakers, including Cindy McCain and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, again and again returned the focus to Nancy Reagan.

"I want to thank you for 'Just Say No,' " the California Democrat said, citing the first lady's anti-drug campaign. "I know you got a lot of flak for it, but I watched the statistics, and drug use went down."

Sharansky, whose wife, Avital, led the campaign to get him released from a Siberian work camp, also redirected the praise: "I know as well as anybody how important [it is that] a strong lady stand by her husband."

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· The Keno brothers--the twin blond antiques appraisers of "Antiques Roadshow" fame -- having a smoke on a Pennsylvania Avenue bench Wednesday afternoon and dressed, yes, in identical blue shirts and dark pants. Friendly as can be to a fan who chatted them up. Leigh and Leslie were in town to visit Laura Bush for a History Channel special about the White House.

· Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh having a quiet dinner together at Brasserie Les Halles Tuesday. (Was Tim Kaine not available?) Had the rainbow trout almandine and the hanger steak.

· Jalal Talabani dining with an entourage of about 30 -- mostly family and security -- at the Bombay Club Wednesday night. The Iraqi president had a White House visit last week; he's due at the U.N. General Assembly next week.

For Howard's Homecoming, a Real Live Howard

It's Howard Homecoming -- no C-listers allowed! Not on the dais, anyway. Howard University will announce today a typically glitzy lineup of officiating celebs for its 2008 homecoming ceremonies, maybe even a little glitzier than usual. Doing the honors as "ambassador and grand marshal" of the Oct. 18 parade will be Oscar nominee Terrence Howard. Remember: The star has a new neo-soul album to promote, so beg him to sing. (The Howard-Howard connection? The star's agent is an alum.)

Also scheduled to participate: Brandon T. Jackson, a big deal lately for his role in "Tropic Thunder," who will serve as master of ceremonies. Some actual alums will serve as marshals as well: '04 grads Lance Gross, co-star of the cable sitcom "House of Payne," and Olympic bronze-medal hurdler David Oliver.


Seller: Anthony Piszel

Asking price: $4.975 million

Details: Oh, dear. We'll probably see a lot of these places on the market soon. Freddie Mac chief financial officer Piszel put his Easton, Md., Georgian-style waterfront mansion up for sale two weeks ago, the New York Post first reported yesterday; it's been less than two years since he bought it for $3.375 million. Six bedrooms, gourmet kitchen, guesthouse, three-car garage -- and it comes furnished.

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