When Michael Boskin showed up Saturday night at Robert Altman and Lynda Carter's Potomac home, he was surprised to see a gathering of his friends and associates all in the grand entranceway wearing Groucho Marx disguises. The event was a carefully planned surprise 45th birthday party for the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers. Among the birthday presents were autographed photographs from tennis great Martina Navratilova and Trump great Marla Maples, as well as a box of shredded dollars from Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Carter, who is some eight months pregnant, said she had come downstairs for the party, the first time she had been out of bed in nearly three weeks. She spends most of her time, under doctor's orders, off her feet. Saturday night Carter spent some time commiserating with very pregnant tennis coach Kathy Kemper, who is due later this week. Among the other guests were Cabinet secretaries Clayton Yeutter, Jack Kemp and Samuel Skinner, Sens. John Heinz and Robert Kasten, Rep. John Dingell, Washington attorney Vernon Jordan, "Entertainment Tonight" host Mary Hart and media couples Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff and Tim Russert and Maureen Orth, not to forget a quick drop-by visit from White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, who couldn't stay for dinner.

Out and About

Washingtonian owners Phil and Ellie Merrill are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of their magazine this week by donating $100,000 in the publication's name to 25 children's charities. Phil Merrill, currently assistant secretary general of NATO in Brussels, will be flying in for tomorrow's celebration of his magazine's milestone at the Washingtonian offices on L Street NW. He bought the Washingtonian in 1979 from its founder, Laughlin Phillips, who decided to run his family's Phillips Gallery full time. In addition to a number of well-known Washingtonian bylines, the guest list for Tuesday's 25th anniversary party includes Defense Secretary Richard Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lynne Cheney has had a long association with the magazine as a contributing editor. Others on the list are Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Bill Bradley, Reps. Les Aspin, Joe Kennedy and Tom McMillen and publisher Mort Zuckerman ...

The celebrated composer-arranger Quincy Jones is to be in town tomorrow for the world premiere of the film "Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones." There will be a Congressional Black Caucus-hosted screening of the movie at the K-B Fine Arts Theatre, followed by a reception and musical evening at the Westin Hotel ...

There were those who were worried that the New York City Opera's performance of "Moses und Aron" with three naked virgins in the cast would run afoul of the new National Endowment for the Arts obscenity guidelines, but the opera opened Saturday as planned, naked virgins and all. The NEA gave the company a grant to do "Moses und Aron," an unfinished piece by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg that is considered to be one of the 20th century's masterpieces, and had said the opera was an unlikely target for action. And since Jesse Helms spent the weekend running around North Carolina trying to save his Senate seat, he was a little too busy to chase after the nation's second-largest repertory opera company ...

If U.S. forces are still facing Iraqi troops come Christmastime, it is possible that Bob Hope will travel to entertain the troops again. He had said his USO touring was at an end, but this weekend while performing at a Ronald McDonald House benefit in Kansas, he said he might travel to Saudi Arabia, but was worried about bringing along beautiful women. "The Saudi Arabians, they don't like a girl unless she's wearing a veil," he said. "I can't see Madonna wearing a veil" ...

Sen. Tom Harkin flew out to Iowa Friday for a reelection campaign swing and ended up in the hospital. He had to reschedule several appearances and was treated for stomach cramps related to food poisoning. When he got back on schedule Saturday, Harkin quipped: "I've learned my lesson. No more Senate cafeteria food before coming back to Iowa" ...