If there's one place in town that knows how to throw a smashing party for itself, it's the Capital Hilton Hotel, this newspaper's near neighbor across L Street. Last year it celebrated the beginning of its $32 million upscaling renovation, which will reduce the number of guest rooms from more than 800 to 550 larger (and costlier) ones. This year's party ostensibly marked the halfway point in that metamorphosis.

The theme of the party on Wednesday night was the Hollywood of yore, and as guests entered they were greeted by a marvelously hokey "press photographer" and "reporter," one of whom called out (as their supposed picture was taken) to a man and his companion, "Lucille Ball, Robert Mitchum -- are you trying to make it together?"

"Well, I sure am," replied the man.

Inside, after passing through a "Wizard of Oz" tunnel, was all the liquid and solid nourishment one might want, set amidst a mockup of the Tara mansion from "Gone with the Wind," a rooftop with a fiddler, a "Jaws"-style shark replica, some "Godfathers" in gangster suits, the Lone Ranger wandering about in masked glory and King Kong mounting a stubby Empire State Building model.

A serious purpose for the party: to introduce the hotel's new general manager, Kevin Deverich, who took over in July.