There was an especially poignant moment Sunday night during Arena Stage's production of "From the Mississippi Delta," an autobiographical play by Endesha Ida Mae Holland about growing up in the Deep South. In the play, Holland's character earns her PhD and thanks those people who helped make it all possible. Among them is Frank Smith, a 1950s civil rights activist in Greenville, Miss. Smith, now a D.C. Council member, was in the Kreeger Theater audience.

Jacqueline Williams, the actress portraying Holland in the production, left the stage as she came to Smith's name, walked into the audience and hugged the councilman, who was sitting in the front row. The playwright wasn't at the performance, but Smith went backstage later to meet with the cast.

Out and About

Hospital Report: Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater is to be admitted to George Washington University Medical Center for surgery on Monday to remove a large mass of dead tissue near his inoperable brain tumor. The procedure, described by doctors as routine but risky, is intended to relieve discomfort caused by pressure the tissue mass is creating in other parts of the brain. An associate of Atwater said the surgery had been contemplated for some time ...

Actors Roy Scheider and Mike Farrell are scheduled to be in Charlottesville Thursday for a special screening of "Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture" at the Vinegar Hill Theatre in support of a new trial for Joe Giarratano. Giarratano was convicted in 1979 of murdering a 15-year-old girl and her mother. Scheider, who appears in the movie about a fictional photographer who attempts to stop the execution of a man he believes innocent, said of the Giarratano case: "You don't have to be opposed to the death penalty to see the utter tragedy and futility of executing Joe Giarratano. Not only is there the great likelihood that the man is innocent, but there is incontrovertible evidence that he has changed the course of his life dramatically for the better" ...

Rep. George W. Gekas and four other members of Congress are hosting a premiere of the film "Not Without My Daughter," tomorrow at the AMC theaters at Union Station. The premiere, also sponsored by Sens. Alan Dixon and Donald Riegle and Reps. Charles Schumer and James Saxton, is to bring attention to legislation to strengthen international parental child abduction laws. The film, starring Sally Field, is based on the story of Betty Mahmoody, who undertook a dangerous escape from Iran with her daughter after they were held as virtual prisoners there by her Iranian-born husband. Mahmoody will be at a press conference before the screening in Union Station's Columbus Club. Alfred Molina, who plays Mahmoody's husband, is also scheduled to attend the press conference ...

Filipino actress Lea Salonga will be allowed to re-create her starring role of the Vietnamese bar girl Kim in "Miss Saigon" when the hit London musical arrives on Broadway in March. The decision came yesterday after the show's producers had sought a reversal of the Actors Equity ruling barring the Filipino actress. An arbitrator ruled that Salonga is qualified to appear in the musical as "an actor providing unique services," as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between Equity and the League of American Theater Owners and Producers. The casting dispute was the second involving the production, which has an advance sale of more than $31 million, the largest in Broadway history.

"Urban Cowboy" John Travolta, a man who has avoided marriage all his 36 years, has become engaged to actress Kelly Preston, 28, and has sealed the bargain by giving her a horse-choking six-carat yellow- and white-diamond ring. A spokesman for the actor said Travolta popped the question at midnight New Year's Eve in the Swiss resort of Gstaad. Travolta and Preston, who has been married before, met in 1988 when they appeared together in the film "The Experts" ...

Men's Health magazine has compiled a number of facts we probably didn't need to know, but certainly are interesting. They include: Forty-two percent of men clean their navels daily; 28 percent never do. Men 30 to 39 think about sex every 15 minutes, but the frequency drops to once every half-hour for men over 40. And in the category of how do they know such things: The ability to wiggle the ears is apparently a throwback to a time when our ancestors could adjust their ears to aid in hearing. Sort of like a German shepherd ...

Today is Elvis Presley's birthday. He would have been 56, and to celebrate, the Hard Rock Cafe is serving his favorite meal: pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and apple pie. It might be pointed out that Terry Murphy, the Hard Rock manager here, has read too many supermarket tabloids: He believes Elvis is still alive somewhere ...