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And Now, Let's Go to the Replay

Dancing politicians and lots of schmoozing celebrities are among the most lasting images of the last week.

August 18, 2000|SHAWN HUBLER

No party is complete without the morning after. Today, as the last sore-footed delegate stuffs the last Uncle Sam hat into the Samsonite and as the last Fat Cat waddles out of the last private room at Spago with the last committee chairman, the question is: Is there a canape left in Southern California?

And Jay Leno said L.A. isn't a party town.

Maybe 500 parties came and went this week, as Los Angeles did what Los Angeles does best--offered itself up as the back lot to end all back lots. Cops, protesters, lobbyists, presidents, you name it--this week, there was no place in the nation like L.A. for somebody else's good time.

It's hard to say what will go down as the most memorable party image from this convention: President Clinton accepting his fake Oscar from Gov. Gray Davis at the governor's welcoming fete? Sen. John B. Breaux of Louisiana, wiggling to the beat of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in a fluorescent orange jumpsuit? The White House motorcade wending its way toward Barbra Streisand's Malibu compound? North Dakota delegates doing the salsa at the San Fernando Mission?

Bryant Gumbel poking around the Playboy Mansion? Rep. Loretta Sanchez not poking around the Playboy Mansion? The party for conservative Democrats out at the Santa Monica Pier, where protesters accosted weary middle-age delegates, yelling, "Sellout! Sellout!"

And those were just the more broadly known images. Most of the past week's parties, of course, were behind closed doors. Still, the occasional press person crept in to find, for example, Jimmy Smits at the Conga Room snapping candids of dancing politicians. Or John Travolta toasting President Clinton in Mandeville Canyon voicing the secret dream of so much of Hollywood, if not long-suffering Al Gore: "I only wish we could have you for another eight years."

There was Eli Broad at a Handgun Control party in Westwood getting a big hug from Frank Zappa's widow as Al Gore's daughter made small talk with Mike Feuer of the Los Angeles City Council. There were Salma Hayek and Kirsten Dunst in line for the bathroom at a dinner for Karenna Gore Schiff. There was political satirist and author Al Franken ("Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot") romping in the ocean at the Malibu beach house of writer Michele Willens and her husband, NBC exec David Corvo, as most of the Eastern media schmoozed indoors.

There was Harold E. Ford Jr., the Tennessee congressman and convention keynote speaker, getting hassled by the Sunset Room bouncers at an after-hours bash Wednesday for U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. "He's Harold Ford! You know, the congressman? The guy who gave the keynote speech?" a reporter told the officious guy at the rope.

"I didn't see tonight's convention," the gatekeeper snapped.

"It was last night," Ford offered, smiling.

"I didn't see that either," the rope guy said.

There was the mayor of San Francisco at a Sunday Wells Fargo corporate reception exhorting his fellow Democrats to hit the bank's most expensive hors d'oeuvres trays: "If you're [mad] at Wells Fargo," Willie Brown announced as the bank people smiled wanly, "eat the duck, eat the duck, eat the duck!"


There was the now-traditional George magazine-Creative Coalition party, this time to benefit the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Best off-camera speech of the week surely went to Reeve, who not only encouraged guests to stay politically active but also poked gentle fun at himself:

"I have a confession to make," the actor who once played Superman told the assemblage of celebrities, media and political junkies. "This spinal cord thing was a ploy to get you here. The project I was working on has gotten a little bogged down and I could use a directing gig. Call [my agent] at William Morris."

At least two parties a day--some for a few people, some for a couple hundred--were at the private home of some L.A. mogul or another, from supermarket magnate Ron Burkle to DreamWorks' David Geffen to the father of the "Power Rangers," Haim Saban. Many, many more were corporate parties in honor of some or another politician. The idea at these was to draw a range of lawmakers who might be chatted up now, or later at the Capitol.

There was the Shadow Convention--a sort of weeklong consciousness-raising party. There were protester parties, though not many of them. Said one organizer officiously: "We don't have time for parties. We're working too hard."

The Los Angeles police declined to comment on whether they celebrated. However, what with all the riot troops and convoys of cop cars, rumor had it by week's end that they might be having a little too much fun.


Times staff writers Michael Quintanilla, Booth Moore, Amy Wallace, Josh Meyer and Marian Liu contributed to this story.

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