Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
NBC's "Today" show held its 25th anniversary party at the Capital Hilton Tuesday night and a lot of politicians who have been on the morning program and a whole lot more politicians who would like to be on the morning program showed up to jam the Presidential Ballroom.
At the height of the reception, they and their wives and iades and sometimes even their children ("Does every congressman have 39 aides?" groused host Tom Brokaw) waited more than five minutes to shake hands with Brokaw, and other "Today" cast members Jane Pauley, Jim Hartz, Gene Shalit, Lew Wood and Floyd Kalber.
Shalit was easily the star. Women rumpled his hair and kissed him ("you make our lives brighter") and he made jokes with people who aren't ordinarily kidded in Washington reception lines, and they loved it.
When a four-star general came throught, Shalit pointed at the stars and asked him if those things "were better than two bars?" "Not better," said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Lewis Wilson, "just older."
When a woman announced to Shalit that she and her husband were both 37 and stopped their calesthenics every morning when Shalit came on, he whooped and gave her a hug.
"Why don't you do something about that hair?" asked Hartz. "Jon Peters," said Shalit, "has enough trouble already."
In recent years, NBC has been throwing its biggest parties in Washington instead of New York, and Tuesday night around 1,100 showed up to greet the east that they seemed to think can give an obscure congressman a national platform and afternoon headlines in a matter of minutes, shoudl the magic strike.
"This is a much bigger turnout than we got for our Bicentennial gala last year," an NBC spokesman said. 'It's all these new congeressmen are there from Steubenville, Ohio?" Shalit asked nobody in particular at one point last night.
"I think we've seen everybody in the Ohio delegation," said Hartz, who kept glancing at his watch because he was due for a party with some fellow "Okies" later in the evening.
Brokaw and Pauley were pretty businesslike for the most part, getting into the spirit of things only toward the end when White House press secretary Jody Powell came through the line twice with his predecessor, Ron Nessen, and they posed with their arms around Powell for the panting NBC staff photographers.
Powel was one of several Carter administration honchos who showed up. OMB Director Bert Lance, HUD Secretary Patricia Harris and Commerce Secretary Juanita Kreps also were on hand briefly.
And over in one corner, watching the long parade waiting to shake hands with the "Today" show stars, was a member of the Washington "Today" show staff.
He is one of the people, along with Washington producer Ron Steinman and Washington correspondent Tom Pettit and "Today's" executive producer Paul Friedman, up in New York who start making the decisions every night as news stories start to break about which of the ballroom full of politicians and hopeful best-selling authors should appear the next morning at 7:15 or 8:15 to help "Today" make headlines.
"All that gladhanding," he said, without rancor, as he pointed at the long line of men and women waiting to shake hands with Tom and Jane and Jim and Gene and Lew and Floyd, "and it won't get them anywhere."