Denizens of the innermost ring of the Reagan inner circle may leave the White House, but they never seem to end up very far away.
"Hi, Fess," said Joseph Canzeri to a man walking toward the door of the Fairfax Bar at the Ritz-Carlton last night. "Mike's inside and wants to talk to you."
Inner Circle Lexicon: Joseph Canzeri -- consultant and former aide to the White House deputy chief of staff; Fess Parker -- former Davy Crockett; Michael Deaver -- newly spawned public relations mogul and former White House deputy chief of staff.
The party was just about to start. Soon, Joe, Fess and Mike would be busy with locals like U.S Information Agency Director Charles Z. Wick and denizens of Hollywood's inner circle like Tom Selleck, Veronica Hamel, John Forsythe and Robert Duvall. After all the planning for last night's party and a benefit tennis tournament to be held at the White House today, a final consultation made sense.
"A few months ago, we were standing around the tennis court in Santa Barbara, and the discussion got around to the White House tennis court, and out of this came the idea for a benefit to raise money for Mrs. Reagan's antidrug campaign on the court," said Parker.
The "we," Parker explained, included himself, Deaver, Deaver's old White House assistant William Sittman and "one of the members of the press -- I can't remember which."
Soon Canzeri was in on it. He called some of his friends, Deaver some of his, Parker some of his. Thus today's benefit, which is expected to raise $375,000 for the recently established Nancy Reagan Drug Abuse Fund, and last night's party were born.
"I'm doing a lot of this out of my feelings for the first lady," said Canzeri. "This kind of thing we just charge for the costs."
Most of the 50 or so guests at the Ritz-Carlton, everyone agreed, were friends from one place or another.
"California, Santa Barbara," said Canzeri. "Absolutely."
"I've known them for a long time," said "Dynasty" star Forsythe of the Reagans, who were only present in spirit. "We've had mutual friends and we've been to dinner a couple of times. All of the rest of the people here -- all old friends. Bob Duvall is probably the best of the actor tennis players, he and Dabney Coleman. I'm somewhere in the middle. I play with Grant Tinker and O. J. Simpson, Ron Ely -- Tarzan -- and some of these fellows."
If they weren't old friends, they became new ones. Hamel and FBI Director William Webster are scheduled to play together today, and last night the two talked and talked and talked.
"We just met," Hamel said when pulled away from their conversation. "We're playing against Bob Duvall. I think I'm in trouble."
Selleck won't be gripping a racquet (maybe rumors of Duvall's prowess had reached him), but will act as umpire with Brooke Shields. "I'm too sore to play from playing volleyball last week on the national championships," he said. "Our team came in second in the nation."
There were, of course, gawkers. A group of men and women wrapped in foreign accents, tans, tuxedos and jeweled dresses who were in town for a non-White House polo benefit watched from a distance as their tennis counterparts arrived.
And there were also, again of course, photographers and reporters. Canzeri and Deaver and a polite but firm man who identified himself as "security" kept them in line during the reception, ushering the cameras into the Fairfax Bar in carefully herded groups but keeping the pens out in the lobby.
"It was interesting to see Fess meet Tom Selleck," Deaver, a sort of emissary from the social front, came out and told the reporters at one point. "To see someone who was a hero 20 years ago meet someone who's a hero now . . . And Tom Selleck still recognized Fess as a hero -- it was wonderful!"