washingtonpost.com
The Reliable Source

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:00 PM

Reliable Source columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts were online Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Noon ET to discuss your favorite gossip, what you think about their recent columns or who you want to see them writing about in future ones.

E-mail and bookmark Reliable Source Blog.

A transcript follows.

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Roxanne Roberts: Morning all! Amy is fighting with her computer, so let's talk about her, okay?

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Oscars vs. Address to Congress: Rahm and Michelle were the only real hotties at the speech last night, as opposed to some of the Hollywood crowd Sunday night (i.e, Daniel Craig, Diane Lane, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman). Bobby Jindal appeared to be channeling Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. Allegedly there were people who staked out a good seat in the House chamber as early as 8:00 a.m. and many autograph seekers at the end, so that was sort of like the Oscar viewers.

Roxanne Roberts: Rahm a hottie? His wife will be so pleased. Yup, this is our version of the Kodak Theatre---well, actually, I think the White House, but let's not quibble. Jindal is interetsing but SO not hot.

You weren't impressed by anyone at the Oscars?

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Michelle Obama: Are you surprised that she has been making these "get acquainted" visits to the various Cabinet departments? She is emerging as a valuable asset to the administration (v. nice reception at the speech last night) and I'll bet they are wondering what will be the best use of her considerable talents and ability.

Roxanne Roberts: She's approaching Washington in a very deliberate way, instead of the more passive approach of other first ladies. She's very charming, so I can't imagine this is anything but a good thing for the administration. People are inclined to like people who reach out to them.

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Washington, D.C.: How did Amy end up hanging out with Gerard Butler and you were stuck here?

Roxanne Roberts: I covered the Oscars many years ago---it's something every reporter should do once. This was Amy's first shot, so I was happy to hold the fort here.

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Washington, D.C.: I had no idea Earth Wind and Fire were still alive, much less together. Is there anything to be made out of the Obama's hosting a band that has not had a hit in 30 years? Nobody current available?

Roxanne Roberts: This was for the Governors, remember? They probably haven't done much dancing since....oh, 1979. Seems like a great choice to me.

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Alexandria, Va.: Why did Joe Lieberman look like he was sucking on lemons during the big speech last night? Cough drops or envy?

Roxanne Roberts: Joe is committed to bipartisan cooperation and love...except when he's not. Must be cough drops.

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To Amy: Remember, you control the plug. Don't let your computer bully you.

Amy Argetsinger: New computer giving me fits -- and then the chat interface balking. But I'm here now, and happy to be here with you.

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Alexandria, Va.: Is Bobby Jindal really the hope of the Republican party? Seems like a nice enough guy, but not really ready for prime time.

Roxanne Roberts: I guess depends on your point of view. I thought he was kind of stiff and hokey at the beginning of his response, but some folks think he's the GOP's salvation.

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McLean, Va.: Hello ladies -- Kind of a weird question but I'll ask anyway. When I see gowns like those worn by Marisa Tomei and Jessica Sara Parker at the Oscars I have to wonder, how on earth do they use the facilities? I can't imagine they even fit into a stall not to mention having to hike up all of that material. Do they just not "go" all night? Or do they follow the lead of the crazy lady astronaut?

P.S. - And on the guy front, looooved Mickey's winklepickers [long, pointed-toe shoes]!

Amy Argetsinger: This is a good question -- and it probably explains why Marisa Tomei (like Taraji P. Henson and others) changed into simpler dresses for the after-parties.

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Capitol Hill: Okay, I've got to say it. I'm getting REALLY tired of Beyonce. Is there anything she won't attend? She's like the new Sheryl Crow -- waaaaay too overexposed. And it doesn't help matters that she pretty much always lip syncs anyway. I hear there's a new Mattressland opening down in Stafford county. Think she'll show?

Amy Argetsinger: You are so mean. Was she really that bad at the Oscars? I was typing away on deadline and couldn't really sit back and watch -- though every time I looked up at the screen, I was boggled. Was that top hat routine she did with Hugh Jackman supposed to be a kitschy tribute/mockery to all the old Debbie Allen production numbers of days gone by? Or was it a return to those bad old days?

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Washington, D.C.: What's this about a WWDTM TV show? Will it be a series, or a one-time thing? Where and when will it air? And most importantly, will it feature the lovely and talented Roxanne Roberts?

Roxanne Roberts: There's a pilot but it's floating in TV development land, so who knows when or if it will actually land on the airwaves. Most the radio panelists, including me, haven't been part of the TV show yet, which is cool. We've get to do an awesome radio show.

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The future: Reading that Liz Smith has been let go from the New York Post, hope that both of your jobs are secure. You are good writers, excellent multi-taskers, and valuable to the dot.com side of the Washington Post enterprise.

washingtonpost.com: N.Y. Post Drops Gossip Columnist Liz Smith (AP, Feb. 25)

Amy Argetsinger: If only Liz Smith had her own online discussion. It's the way of the future!

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Reston, Va.: The idea of all of those politicos grooving to Earth, Wind and Fire just cracks me up. All I can picture in my head is my 65-year-old dad doing his "rhythm in my feet doesn't equal the rhythm in my hands" chicken dance. You know, the one where the snapping fingers aren't timed with the tapping of the feet. LOL.

Roxanne Roberts: Surely, some of them can dance. Michelle looks like a woman who knows how to dance, don't you think?

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Jindal: Love the Kenneth reference. But speaking of Jindal, did you hear Keith Olbermann's "Oh, my god" utterance when Jindal walked to the microphone? He was then cut off, and didn't offer an explanation later. I share some of Keith's views, but he really does himself no favors, you know?

Amy Argetsinger: For all his self-regard, no, he does not do himself a lot of favors. Sorry I missed that moment.

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Confessionville, USA: I will admit to being hopelessly enamored of Rahm Emmanuel as well! Something about his take charge, do right, rest be darned attitude makes me swoon ...

Roxanne Roberts: Well, he did save that guy at the movie theater last weekend. If I were on a desert island, I'd want Rahm on my team.

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Arlington, Va.: Regarding the Billy Joel/Elton John show at Nationals Park. I'm looking forward to the show, but noticed tickets were $56 to $182. Seems absurd. I would hope for $186 you would be sitting on the stage.

Amy Argetsinger: For $186, you should be dueting on the piano with one of them. But we're hopelessly out of date. Haven't the baby boomers driven front-row ticket prices for the likes of The Who, Paul McCartney, etc., up for $4,000 and crazy stuff like that?

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Hey Now!: Don't diss Earth, Wind and Fire. I've seen them in concert recently and they put on a GREAT show. Even my two-year-old loves dancing to "Let's Groove."

Roxanne Roberts: They opened the White House set with "Boogey Wonderland." I'd dance to that.

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Arlington Gay: Amy, how are you typing without cuticles?

Amy Argetsinger: Much better, actually. My fingers are more streamlined now -- less air resistance.

For those of you wondering, I had my cuticles removed last week in a brief outpatient procedure -- no anesthesia, even! I'm told that they grow back, though, and that many women undergo this surgery a couple times a month.

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There he is again!: Don't get me wrong -- I'm a big fan -- but is Sully Sullenberger the new Forrest Gump? At the inauguration, at the Super Bowl, at the Oscars, at the State of the Nation. He's getting around!

Roxanne Roberts: Ha! "My mama always said, 'Life is life a soft landing on the Hudson....' "

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Hollywood Ball Gowns: It's a strange time of austerity and opulence. We want our stars to dress like royalty and we even pluck beggers from the streets to star in our fantasies; it all seems a dream somehow.

Amy Argetsinger: All of Los Angeles feels like a dream.

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washingtonpost.com: Bobby Jindal's Republican Response: Olbermann "Oh God" and FOX Agrees? (MSNBC, Feb. 24)

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Earth, Wind and Fire.: I had a roommate in the Air Force played a rotation of exactly two albums, one by E, W and F and one by the Commodores. It drove me crazy then but is a fairly pleasant memory today.

Roxanne Roberts: I feel the same way about Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic." I was living in a group house and it was the favorite album of a roommate.

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Washington, D.C.: What did you think of Hillary Clinton's outfit? In HD, it seemed it would glow in the dark.

Amy Argetsinger: How would you describe the color? Sort of Day-Glo Watermelon. She eschewed her trademark black pantsuits for bright colors during the campaign, and I guess she still has some of those to wear. You have to admit -- they make you stand out on camera.

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Amy Argetsinger: Oh, apparently the live-mic "oh my god" slip up came from Chris Matthews. I'm told we have a link to the story up.

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WWDTM????: Am I to know what these initials stand for - because I don't...

Please help those of us not in the know.

Roxanne Roberts: It's shorthand for "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me"---the NPR news quiz show. I'm one of the panelists. If you've never heard it (it's on weekends all over the country), check it out---I promise you'll LOL.

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Ugly Hollywood: Heard the charity mafia show was changing its name and also did some refilming at some hotel downtown. Is this a train speeding to a big wreck?

Amy Argetsinger: I had heard speculation about a name change, but no one's commenting. It's the most deliciously ugly name, but perhaps it doesn't convey what they want it to convey. And yes, after wrapping last fall, they have been doing some refilming this month... The truth is that most pilots never make it to the air. Fingers crossed and all, but we should adjust our expectations accordingly.

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Cuticles?: Just curious -- what would be the reason for having your cuticles removed?

Amy Argetsinger: I'm told it's called a "manicure." Sadly, insurance doesn't cover it.

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Reston, Va.: I can't wait until Sunday when Tom Green meets Donald. My one hope is that he does a version of his Canterbury Tales skit in front of Trump.

Also, would love the format of the Apprentice to be modified so that Trump would have to report to a majority shareholder who, in turn, could fire him.

Roxanne Roberts: Looks like it's going to be a bloodbath. I wonder who makes Joan Rivers cry?

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Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: The Beyonce/Hugh Jackman routine reminded me of Robe Lowe/Snow White from 20 years back. Just awful. I had been a Beyonce fan before, but this just seemed like too much. Time for her to go away.

Amy Argetsinger: Is that Beyonce's fault, or is it Baz Luhrmann's fault? Or the Oscars' fault for hiring Baz Luhrmann? I wish I had taped the show, because you see so little of it when you're covering it. Will have to look on YouTube.

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Mickey Winklepicker: Might just be my new pseudonym. I can hear it now, "order for Winklepicker" That's Mr. Winklepicker to you.

Amy Argetsinger: It sounds like a euphemism for something.

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Leesburg, Va.: I'm over Beyonce, too. It was weird that she was in the Oscars at all. Was the last movie she appeared in "Austin Powers: the Spy who Shagged Me?" Then she "sings" the same song she sang at the Neighborhood Ball. It just didn't make any sense. Amanda Seyfreid made sense, as did the HS Musical dinks, but not Beyonce.

Also, Amy, I just have to say that I saw a pic of you in your Oscar dress I think for HuffPO...Wow.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh you traitors -- does no one remember "Cadillac Records" just a couple months ago? Nor "Dreamgirls"? And she's got a movie coming out this spring, "Obsessed," co-starring Idris Elba, our beloved Stringer Bell from "The Wire."

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Baltimore, Md.: Just wanted to comment on something Amy noted last week about thinking that fame is, in the long run, terrible -- that it's like a disease.

I suppose it depends on the level of fame. If you are Angelina and Brad-level famous, it probably does get to be a drag, because you can't step foot outside without a paparazzi sticking a camera in your face. But if you are, say, Dame Judi Dench or Sir Ian McKellan or, to cite someone younger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I imagine fame can be pretty enjoyable. There's lotsa money, good tables at restaurants, first class airplane flights -- all the perks of real celebrity -- but your life is more or less your own.

I will liked what what director John Waters says to actors who complain about being famous: "Look...just what sort of business did you think you were getting into anyway?"

Roxanne Roberts: My thoughts exactly. There's always a tradeoff in privacy, but even the most famous can navigate around that if they want to (Johnny Carlson vacationed in countries where he was less likely to be recognized.) The trick, I think, is to be just famous enough to be rich (enough so you never have to work again) then do whatever you like. There are celebs with very private lives.

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Well, he did save that guy at the movie theater last weekend. If I were on a desert island, I'd want Rahm on my team.: Please explain. I seem to have missed something in my breathless review of all things Rahm.

Amy Argetsinger: Ladies love them some Rahm, at least some ladies. It's the bedroom eyes and the swagger.

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WWDTM: I want to go to Chicago to see the show (although was tempted to do the $500 pledge to WAMU to get tix for D.C.), but I'm confused about the schedule. Web site says they release them 6 weeks in advance, but there is nothing past March 12 available. Is there some hiatus or extended travel period I'm not aware of? Sorry, I know this isn't really the point of the chat. Um, I saw Joe Lieberman at Pizzeria Paradisio in Georgetown last year, does that help?

Roxanne Roberts: Haven't checked the website recently, but the show is usually in Chicago about three weeks per month and on the road one. You could plan a couple weekend dates in Chicago and then snap up tickets as soon as they become available.

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Earth, Wind and Fire: Wait! They played at the "NOT the State of The Union Address?" I'm confused? (yes, I have yet to read the paper, am reading chats instead) But I have a great image of some 400 plus old white guys trying to boogie. I hope no one hurt themselves.

Roxanne Roberts: Nope. They played Sunday night at the White House for the Governors' Dinner.

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Springfield, Va.: I read (on TMZ, thank you) that Earth Wind and Fire were also part of that big, expensive bash that Northern Trust threw recently (on the taxpayer dime, they are asserting). So they must not be as irrelevant as some think.

Amy Argetsinger: Still catching up on this -- think this broke over the weekend -- but yes, Northern Trust, one of those bailed-out banks, threw a big party for clients and workers in L.A. last week, entertainment including Sheryl Crow and EWF.

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Lancaster, Pa.: P.S. Did you know you received sort of a shout-out from Oprah last Friday? She and Gale were talking about their White House visit and Oprah said, "Wouldn't you know it, those Washington Post reporters were on it within the hour," Or, something to that effect. I immediately thought of you guys.

Roxanne Roberts: Ooooh. It WAS us! I didn't hear that. Does that mean she'll return our phone calls personally now?

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Carson City, Nev.: It's Johnny CARSON, not Carlson. (As a fellow Carson, I had to protest. Thank you.)

Roxanne Roberts: That was a TYPO. I'm old enough to know better. (And I think I'm missing our colleague Peter Carlson, who took the buyout.)

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Rahm a hero?: OK - what guy in the movie theater? In all the Oscar overload, I think I missed something.

Roxanne Roberts: It was in Monday's column: Rahm was at a screening of the "Wrestler" Saturday night when a guy passed out. Rahm took charge, got employees to call 911, amd made sure everything was okay before he sat down to finish the movie.

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Rahm-bone: I'm on board with a Rahm crush, life saver or not. But maybe there's just some halo effect now that I know the Josh Lyman character on West Wing was based on him.

Roxanne Roberts: Maybe a little bit of both?

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Well, he did save that guy at the movie theater last weekend. If I were on a desert island, I'd want Rahm on my team.: Please explain. I seem to have missed something in my breathless review of all things Rahm.: So I guess he didn't really save anyone, it's just a complicated metacomment about Rahm as super hero. Kind of equating him with Vincent Chase or Clive Owen? Or did I spend too long in grad school and thus am making too much out of a throw-away sentence?

Roxanne Roberts: Yeah, grad schools will do that to you.

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Clooney....droooool: Caught Clooney on Larry King Live on Monday night, and had a passing thought that I should get out of my sweats and into something dazzling, and race down to the Ritz (at 22nd and M) to stake him out on his return (since that's his hotel, right? When we joined Sports Club/LA, they touted it as HIS gym). Besides knowing he was at the White House, were there any Clooney sitings?

Roxanne Roberts: Nah. George does a pretty good job of staying below the radar when he sees fit. He's really, really good at this fame thing.

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: I have to take issue how you two determine what is an acceptable celebrity sighting. I had mentioned in a previous chat that I saw a celebrity walking down the street, but was called out someone else who cited an apparent rule from you that random sightings don't count.

This makes zero sense. What is the big deal about spotting a celebrity who is making a planned, pre-publicized public appearance? How is that interesting or unexpected. In fact, how is it even news if we already know they're going to be there?

I hope you realize this makes you train spotters. In case you don't know what that term is (and I don't mean the movie) they are people who are like bird watchers, but instead of birds they watch trains. Trains with widely available published schedules. Something birds don't have.

In addition to the big whoopness of it all, when you see a celeb at a planned public event, they are on guard. They are aware they are being watched and scrutinized and they modify their behavior for that situation. But when you see them walking down the street, playing ball with their kid or shoving food in their mouth at a restaurant, it's infinitely more interesting. These are random chance meetings -- far more rare than a publicized even and far more interesting and revealing.

You need to change this rule. Thank you.

Amy Argetsinger: Actually, seems to be a bit of confuzzlement here. We're all about the random sightings.

In fact, our rule is the one you seem to be calling for. We actually apply very rigorous standards to our "Hey, Isn't That...?" sightings. A star sighting of a star at a private party is not a sighting. (Unless, say, it's Dave Chappelle crashing an office party -- true story.) But if the star is out on the street or in a restaurant or store -- that's a sighting. Case in point: Stevie Wonder, who we have plenty of chance to see at all kinds of official events in connection with the Gershwin Prize (and some of these events will be duly covered as stories). Seeing him there is not a "hey," but seeing him in off-hours at Cork wine bar in D.C. as someone did -- that's in today's column.

There are a couple minor exceptions I can think of -- stars who are doing an official thing, but the official thing is out in public, especially if there's something noteworthy about their dress or manner (and also it's a slow news day).

The other rule -- and this is where the confusion may be coming from -- the sightings generally have to be in Washington if they're going to qualify as a "Hey, Isn't That" for print. We're happy to blab about them here in the chat, but a star walking through their own neighborhood in NYC isn't a story for us, as you can imagine.

(Similarly, a D.C. star walking down the street in D.C. usually isn't a sighting -- unless there's something interesting about it, who they're with, or not wearing shoes, or whatever.)

Hope that helps. See? We're on the same page here.

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Rosslyn, Va.: This may not be the right forum for this comment, but did it not seem rather tacky for people to be asking Mr. Pres for his autograph after his speech last night? All the people on the main floor there are pretty big deals themselves, right? Shouldn't they be used to this sort of event (that does happen once a year, if I am not mistaken...)?

Roxanne Roberts: Lacks a certain cool, if you ask me. But I'm not an autograph collector.

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Good Works: I notice we haven't heard another peep out of Val Kilmer.

Amy Argetsinger: I assume he must have gone back to New Mexico by now. He's got some campaigning to do.

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D.C.: With every day that passes, I am more and more on Etta James's side. I just wish Beyonce would stop singing (I mean, lip synching) "At Last."

Roxanne Roberts: Etta is being a pill about it, but maybe Beyonce should take a couple months off?

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Beyonce: So is nothing Beyonce's fault? Amy, we know you are a Beyonce apologist, but at some point she should take responsibility for agreeing to be in every commercial/show offered. Baz Luhrmann's production wasn't great, but it was hurt further by a completely overexposed Beyonce. At least we all know where we were when the era of Beyonce ended. A quick fall from the glory of Single Ladies a couple months back.

Amy Argetsinger: What's your suggestion -- how should she amend this situation? Take time off, as Rox suggests? Come up with a whole new act? It's important to me that we find a way for Beyonce to restore your trust in her.

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Rockville, Md.: A bunch of us in the D.C. area -- longtime film fans -- would like to note that there are indeed many people out here who love "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" -- as well as the other prestige films from 2008. In fact, there's plenty of room to love all of them. But "Button" is indeed an excellent film -- it is well-produced, well-directed, well-acted, well-written, and overall, artistically above-average in all filmic areas, and that includes editing, sound, visual effects, costuming, set construction, period props, cars and costumes, make-up and overall art direction. It is definitely a film that was more than worthy of Best Picture -- no offense to "Slumdog." Either film would have been an excellent choice. But go and see "Button" if you haven't -- it really is an entertaining, intelligent, provocative and quality film.

Amy Argetsinger: Okay, thanks for your vote. I was bored to tears by it -- but I was also bored to tears by "Forrest Gump," and I'm aware that most people passionately loved it. Whereas I was struck by the fact that, despite the initial predictions, "Benjamin Button" didn't seem to really burrow itself into the public consciousness or heart. Just never really heard people talk about it. Am struck by the fact that "Gran Torino" has outgrossed it.

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Hollywood, Calif.: Were there any real surprises Sunday night besides a Ben Button backlash? Was Mickey robbed? Did Langella buy a fancy tux for nothing?

Amy Argetsinger: Hard to say -- so many of the categories seemed so wide open, with so many chance for upsets, that it was hard to tell what was a surprise and what wasn't. The buzz got so loud that Rourke was going to upset Penn that we all began to think Rourke was the front-runner, when I guess Penn was the front-runner all along. Same with Winslet -- we were all expecting a backlash, so that was sort of a surprise, but how could it have been a surprise when she was the frontrunner? Difficult times for us practitioners of Oscar inside-baseball.

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Rahm: It's the backstory -- ballet dancer, Israeli army volunteer, Congressional enforcer, business success, and still kind of a regular guy who can kid around with President Obama (who can probably use a few light moments these days). He could have played the Paul Newman role of Ari Ben Caanan in Exodus.

Roxanne Roberts: Oh, send him the poster with his face glued on top of Paul's.

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Jindal: Is not anyone's hope except Michelle Malkin's (and consider the source) judging by the post-speech commentary. David Brooks didn't have anything nice to say. It was uniformly panned.

Amy Argetsinger: I found his Manson eyes disturbing.

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Beyonce and Etta: So I guess I'm the only one who thought it was HYSTERICAL that she sang a bit of At Last during that Oscars medley, huh? I loved it. It seemed like a big 'ole middle finger to the arrogant, overreacting, PITA Etta James who thinks no one else should be allowed to sing her song (I think she's just jealous she wasn't asked instead!).

Roxanne Roberts: Oh, for sure.

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Josh Lyman Was Based on Rahm,,,: No way. Josh would never have sent someone a dead fish. And Rahm would never have carried on an inappropriately flirtatious relationship for years with his top aide -- that man is 100 percent about business, you can just tell.

Roxanne Roberts: Well, there is that.

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Anonymous: So what's to make of the rumors that Jen still likes Brad and that Brad says eight is enough?

Amy Argetsinger: Oh heavens. Can we just face up to the fact that none of us has a clue what goes on in those relationships?

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Ohio: Rham looks like the critter who chased the Roadrunner in the kids cartoons years ago. (Something slithery about him.)

Amy Argetsinger: Coyote? Don't see it. He looks like another Looney Toons character but can't quite place it right now... Will have to mull...

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Anonymous: If you guys go Hollywood and stuff will you forget us dull people back East?

Roxanne Roberts: Oh, please. I couldn't stand to spend the rest of my life covering Hollywood. Besides, I think Washington is always interesting.

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'Am struck by the fact that "Gran Torino" has outgrossed ("Benjamin Button")'. : Oh no, not correct. "Button" was far grosser than "Gran Torino".

Amy Argetsinger: Ha ha! Has made more money, I mean. Sorry to drop some jargon on you.

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Beyonce's Acting Range: "Cadillac Records"..."Dreamgirls"...

In this new movie, "Obessed," does she play...by chance... a singer? This kind of plays into the whole point -- Beyonce is over-exposed. Do we really need three movies where Beyonce plays Beyonce?

We already see that on MTV, on any entertainment show, apparently at political functions, and the Oscars -- and no one wants to charge me $15 for the pleasure.

Amy Argetsinger: No, I don't think she does... Think it's a straight-up thriller, no singing or dancing, but I could be wrong.

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Etta is being a pill: No, she's being the Grande Dame, and more power to her!

Amy Argetsinger: It sure is entertaining anyway.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Hey, a lot of people in the D.C. area who watched the Academy Awards on Sunday night actually liked this show, liked Hugh Jackman, liked the sets and songs and musical numbers, and even liked the presenters, the award winners, the speeches and the film clips. It seemed like most of the journalists covering the show hated the show -- but, again, many of us out here liked this year's show. One of the main reasons is Hugh Jackman -- one of the very best hosts in years, and the show's producers knew this, and they utilized his triple-threat talents to great use, having him host, sing, dance and even act. He was excellent. The production numbers were excellent, the set shimmered, and the show was even shorter than in recent years. This is why the ratings increased. Additionally, the group of nominated films, as a whole, was one of the best batches of quality films to earn nominations in many years, overall. It's no wonder that one of the award winners praised the show on stage -- how often do you see that happen? You have to remember that the views of a newsroom do not always reflect the views of the populace. In just the last two days, many, many people -- including some friends who actually live and work in Hollywood -- have praised this year's Academy Awards show.

Amy Argetsinger: Glad to hear it. I wish I had actually seen it!

Roxanne Roberts: I watched with a bunch of girlfriends, and we all liked it, too. I still think they should trim some of the more technical awards and shorten the show, but I overall it was much better than past years.

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Celeb Sighting Ranking System: This is how New Yorkers rank celeb sightings: A major star, even someone who lives in the neighborhood, doing something utterly mundane, is the gold standard. For example, seeing Brangelina/George Clooney shopping at the local Duane Reade (our drugstore chain) is enormous. A huge get. Seeing them with their kids at a playground is also good, but a little too routine. Seeing them during an off-moment on the set of their movie, not so great. In fact, you'd have to be a real dork to even walk by.

Amy Argetsinger: I agree with that completely. We don't have enough movies filming here, though, that we turn up our nose at the on-set off-moment. Those can be kind of revealing.

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re "Look...just what sort of business did you think you were getting into anyway?": Ding-ding-ding-ding. Give that contestant a prize. Waters was right, and not just because he's from Baltimore. His statement goes for professional athletes as well. Especially those who claim not to be role models. We may not want all of them to be but that's the nature of things these days.

Roxanne Roberts: "Michael Phelps, white courtesy phone."

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Arlington Gay: Breaking news on the Obama dog.

Amy Argetsinger: They have been saying ALL ALONG that they'd get their dog in late winter early spring, and they've been saying for weeks now that it will probably be a Water Dog or Labradoodle. Are we all so desperate for news of an Obama dog that we'll gobble up crumbs like this?

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NYC: So if Tome Cruise dumps you, you get an Oscar? I bet Penelope and Nicole don't mind that trade off.

Amy Argetsinger: When will it be Katie's turn?

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Anonymous: "When will it be Katie's turn?"

This obviously means they'll be together forever.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, I don't know. Stranger things have happened...

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So if Tom Cruise dumps you, you get an Oscar?: Mimi Rogers and Rebecca De Mornay never got one...

Amy Argetsinger: Not YET...

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Reston, Va.: Is Meryl Streep becoming the Susan Lucci of the Oscars? At least she managed to win it once -- though decades ago. But she has been nominated for something like 15.

Amy Argetsinger: She has indeed been nominated 15 times -- and she's actually won twice: Best Supporting Actress for 1979's "Kramer Vs. Kramer," and Best Actress for 1982's "Sophie's Choice." But that was suddenly 26 years ago, and there was some buzz that she might upset Winslet. She's become a much more beloved figure in recent years than she was in her youth; I bet she'll win again soon. (And yes, I had an entire story written in case she had won on Sunday.)

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"When will it be Katie's turn? ": To paraphrase Ronald Reagan when told a CIA officer would be at the Oval Office for a 7 a.m. briefing, "Well, she's gonna have a helluva wait."

Amy Argetsinger: Is that line real? I'm going to start using that.

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Meetingsville, USA: I don't know the particulars of the Northern Trust situation, nor do I want to defend them but I did want to mention that a lot of the outrage over meetings, special events and incentive travel fails to recongize that most of things were scheduled and contracted years out and not holding the event can sometimes cost as much or MORE than canceling. Just saying....

Oh and one more thing... Business-related travel generates 2.4 million American jobs, $244 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level.

Meetings and events are responsible for 15 percent of all travel spending and generate more than one million jobs and nearly $40 billion in tax revenue

Amy Argetsinger: Fair points.

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Anonymous: Mimi Rogers and Rebecca De Mornay dumped Tom. Trust me, this is in the Academy's by rules.

Amy Argetsinger: Thanks. Wish I'd asked the Academy's reference librarian about this when I had the chance.

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Best Boy: Roxanne: I know you must be kidding but trim the technical awards? That's the best part for many of us -- without the tech support and stuff all you got is a bunch of naked badly lighted actors.

Amy Argetsinger: I like the technical awards. Gives us more wiggle room in the Oscar pools.

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Saving the cat?: Speaking of wee Tom C, that was a very, very strange Oscar night promo ad where Tom sent Jimmy Kimmel back into the burning house to rescue the (non-existent) cat. Was there some in crowd joke going on there?

Amy Argetsinger: Been meaning to go look that one up online too. Must be an injoke.

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Seems to be some confusion here...: New Yorkers do not employ a so-called gold standard of celebrity sightings but instead take pride in the sighting and pretend to know the celebrity with a wry smile and head fake, and then ignore the celebrity or make an attempt at saying something witty.

Amy Argetsinger: Duly noted.

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Josh Lyman and Dead Fish: But in West Wing Josh Lyman DID send someone a dead fish! I can't remember why, but then in a later epsiode his girlfriend, Amy, send him one as well!

Amy Argetsinger: I'll take your word for it...

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Josh would never have sent someone a dead fish. : I forget which season, maybe the last? But a reporter or someone mentions to Josh about the rumor that he sent a dead fish. Josh didn't deny it. It was just never shown in the show.

Amy Argetsinger: Wisdom of crowds. Apparently this happened on West Wing. I don't know, stopped watching after 2001.

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Etta James: has a new album coming out this year. Has anything she's done in the last five years generated her as much notice as the comments she made about Beyonce?

The woman is a marketing genius.

Amy Argetsinger: Props to her.

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An Actor's Life: I always thought it would be great to be a well-respected movie character actor. You get good tables, occasional recognition by a serious movie addict, regular and relatively high income and future financial security (provided you don't invest with Bernie Madoff) but minimal invasions of privacy. It would be a nightmare to be Jennifer Aniston or Brangelina.

Roxanne Roberts: Sounds about right to me. Even Meryl Streep seems to have figured that out. Then again, Jen could just stop giving interviews....nah, never gonna happen.

Anyway, we're happy to be writing about them all, even if we're not rich or famous. Keep sending your tips and sightings to reliablesource@washpost.com. Stay warm, people! Winter's almost over!

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