Hotels in this town are murderously competitive when it comes to attracting lucrative convention business, and now the Grand Hyatt Washington has come up with something a little different from the usual meeting of salesmen or politicians. Next week, the recently opened hotel at 10th and H streets will host a gathering of the Barry Manilow International Fan Club.

There may be people in Washington who might well ask "What's a Barry Manilow?" but delegates from around the country, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia will be there to explain to the uninitiated. And be prepared to bump into Manilow look-alikes dressed for the Wednesday night costume party and lip-synch singing contests.

'Chili Queen' Heat

A number of Jim Lehrer's friends showed up at a party at the Canadian ambassador's on Monday night to celebrate the Kennedy Center production of Lehrer's latest play, "Chili Queen," even though reviews of the Terrace Theater production haven't been good and neither have ticket sales.

Ambassador Allan Gotlieb and his wife Sondra hosted the posttheater gathering, held at poolside in the searing July heat. The event doubled as a fundraiser for the PEN/Faulkner Awards. Among the mostly media guests were Lehrer's TV news anchor partner Robert MacNeil; former State Department spokesman Hodding Carter; U.S. News & World Report Editor David Gergen; television correspondents David Brinkley, Roger Mudd, Judy Woodruff, Bob Schieffer and Chris Wallace; CIA director-designate William Webster; and Sen. David Boren.

Birthday, Italian Style

Political operative Bob Shrum loves Italy and goes there as often as he can. Monday night, he was walking across a canal bridge in Georgetown to his Flour Mill apartment when he noticed the red, white and green Italian flag and a group of people at a party wearing red, white and green buttons. As he got closer, he could see that the button read: "Shrum Capisce" (Shrum Understand). It was his surprise birthday party a day early, but as his significant other, Los Angeles Times columnist Marylouise Oates, explained, it was already Shrum's 44th birthday in Venice.

Oates cooked the lasagna, sausage and peppers and all the other Italian food for the affair and cohosted it with Shrum's partner, David Doak. Sen. Edward Kennedy came to the party for his former press secretary and longtime political aide. Other guests included Sen. Alan Cranston, actress Morgan Fairchild, former Democratic National Committee chairman Chuck Manatt and California Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, who is running for the Senate.

Out and About

Kennedy Center music director John Mauceri will be conducting the Boston Pops for the remainder of the orchestra's national tour. Pops conductor John Williams is at his Los Angeles home recovering from a stomach infection. Williams, composer of the music for "Star Wars," "Jaws" and "The Witches of Eastwick," had been scheduled to rejoin the orchestra in California last weekend, but his doctor ordered a longer rest. Mauceri, who has been a guest conductor of the Boston Pops the past two seasons, will complete the 10-city tour, which ends Saturday ...

Historical milestone: Ernest Hemingway would have been 88 yesterday ...

Amy Carter, who has spent so much time in protest activities, may be getting kicked out of Brown University for not keeping up academically, but her parents continue to be supportive. "She is 19 years old and makes her own decisions," former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn said in a statement. "Her parents have always supported her and continue to do so." She can reapply to the university after a year's absence ...

A Los Angeles court has issued an arrest warrent for actor Sean Penn, who has allegedly violated an agreement that allowed him to delay his jail sentence until completing movie obligations ...

Former White House chief of staff Donald Regan has been booked by the Harry Walker agency to deliver three economics speeches in Tokyo this week. He reportedly will be paid $100,000 ...