Showbiz Legends Pretend To Like Bush Long Enough To Get Medal

Last night was the Kennedy Center Honors, which for the uninitiated is kind of like the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, minus drunken, rambling AC/DC acceptance speeches, but plus big, poofy ballgowns and President Bush. Among this year's honorees were Robert Redford, Tina Turner and Tony Bennett; suffice it to say, simmering anti-Bush resentment tainted the proceedings:

There's no people like show people - mostly die-hard Democrats - so a lot of folks were holding their noses yesterday as they prepared to attend President Bush's cocktail party at the White House for the Kennedy Center Honors.


"That's the lowest thing on my list," Glenn Close told me at a preshow brunch at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel here, where Brit actress Helen Mirren traipsed around the dining room sporting a hand-lettered T-shirt urging "Help New Orleans and the gulf.

Also roiling around the room was the word that for the first time in the event's 27-year history, the White House had asked the trustees of the Kennedy Center - via faxes to their homes - not to be present for cocktails and the awards ceremony at the White House. And Democratic trustees were complaining that they'd been assigned lousy seats for the show at the Kennedy Center.

We imagine longtime lefty Robert Redford, who famously brought down a reviled Republican leader in All the President's Men, had a particularly hard time keeping a smile on his face as Bush placed the medal around his neck. Still, it's hard for a celebrated actor with decades of award party conditioning to turn down any shiny object with their name on it, regardless of who's handing them out.