'Military Idol': Great Beat, Hard to March to

We first heard about "Military Idol" in August, when soldiers at Fort Myer competed for the local title. The first contenders eliminated? The foolhardy who tried to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- never a good idea in a vocal competition, no matter how patriotic.

The 12-week contest, based on the wildly popular "American Idol," was open to any active-duty soldier with dreams of being the Army's Kelly Clarkson or Ruben Studdard; 36 finalists from installations around the world faced off at Fort Gordon in Georgia last week.

Saturday's final 90-minute show was originally scheduled to be broadcast live on the Pentagon Channel, which can be found on cable around the country -- until organizers realized that anyone with a TV and a satellite dish could tune in. The licensing agreement with FremantleMedia, which holds the rights to "American Idol," allowed the Army to use the "Idol" name but only broadcast on military installations. Anything else was a conflict with all those Fox stations.

So if proud moms or pops wanted to watch and vote for their GI, all they needed was a computer, an Army Knowledge Online account (or sponsored guest account), and a QuickTime viewer. Simple, eh? Nevertheless: "Thousands and thousands" saw the semifinals online and the live Webcast Saturday, says executive producer Victor Hurtado. The show was, he said, intended as a pilot program anyway, not a major broadcast.

The winner? Sgt. William Glenn, a 42-year-old Alabama National Guardsman stationed in Darmstadt, Germany, who won with a killer version of "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay." (He received a grand $1,000 grand prize.) The final show is still available on AKO, and will be broadcast overseas on, yes, the Pentagon Channel.

No-Show Ludacris

Maybe it was the rain. Or maybe he just had an eerie feeling it was the wrong weekend for fun-lovin' MCs to drive expensive cars through the District. Whatever the reason, it appears Ludacris did not make good on a rapped-about promise to make it to Howard University Homecoming. Better see you next year -- your cred's at stake.

Philanthropist Jim Kimsey, On the Receiving End

How do you honor a big-bucks philanthropist who has devoted millions of dollars and thousands of hours to making Washington the "Athens of Pericles"? Jim Kimsey -- "softest touch in town," legendary bachelor and global adventurer -- was toasted and roasted Friday night by an august group at the Kennedy Center who tiptoed that fine line between respect and ribald.

"I could go on about Jim's many trips to Colombia but, as a true gentleman, I forgot them all," cracked Luis Moreno, ex-Colombian ambassador.

Joe Robert (Kimsey's best bud) and Don Graham (our Big Boss, as Washington Post chairman) co-hosted the $350,000 fundraiser for Greater D.C. Cares; VIPs included Queen Noor, Vernon Jordan, Alma Powell, George Vrandenburg, Susie Kay and Tom Lewis.

The AOL founder grinned like mad and refused to give details about any trips, even when we asked real nice. Smart guy.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

* Alan Greenspan, sitting in Dan Snyder's box at Sunday's Redskins game and getting a smooch on the cheek from Andrea Mitchell whenever the Skins scored -- in other words a total make-out session. So: Will the Maestro still get those sweet seats when he's no longer moving markets, or will all the hot invites shift to Fed Chair-to-be Ben Bernanke? That's what we wanna know.

* Diane Keaton, swanning through the Starbucks at Third and Penn SE Sunday morning while friends waited in line, looking so Keaton in a long coat and an Annie Hall hat and kooky glasses and at the same time looking great . . . and later buying a 1916 clothbound scrapbook about a New York women's soup kitchen at the Georgetown Flea Market.

* Nicole Kidman, sporting a blond pageboy and driving a sport ute around the 18th-Connecticut-K Street loop over and over yesterday for the filming of her sci-fi thriller, "The Visiting." She plays a Washington psychiatrist; Baltimore's Bolton Hill neighborhood plays Georgetown, though the real thing is rumored to have a cameo in today's shooting.


Buyer: Greta Van Susteren and John Coale

Price: $3 million

Details: Long hours in the trenches with O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson and Joran van der Sloot sure pay off! The Fox News legal-affairs star and her lawyer husband bought a five-bedroom, 4,400-square-foot home -- built in 1995 but looks like an old plantation -- on Chesapeake waterfront on the southern tip of Maryland's Kent Island. "You get the sunset. You're on the bay," Coale told the Capital newspaper in Annapolis. "It couldn't be better."