Brody, Brokaw turn out for 'Character Project' reception

Actor Adrien Brody was off-limits at the chic USA Network reception for the “Character Project” Thursday night at a Chinatown gallery. But his mother, Sylvia Plachy, who shot a collection of photographs in the project, was not.

While organizers steered everyone clear of Brody at Pepco's Edison Place Gallery, he kept close to his mother’s side. Eventually she parted ways with him to talk to The Hill while he admired her photographs.

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“I’m very happy to be part of this project and travel the South and photograph all these amazing people,” said Plachy, who lives in Manhattan and has worked as a photographer for some 40 years, for such publications as The Village Voice and The New Yorker.

The seven-city tour for the Character Project first kicked off in Manhattan on March 12. Next it heads to Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In conjunction with Vanity Fair, the intention of the project was for 11 photographers to capture the character of  of America with more than 125 photographs from the hardcover book, American Character: A Photographic Journey.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who penned the introduction for the project’s coffee table book of photographs, emerged from a black Town Car at about 6:30 p.m.

Dressed in a navy blazer and khaki pants, he wasn’t as formally attired as the many guests decked out in fancy suits and black dresses inside. But he looked and sounded as he typically does, with an air of folksiness.

“I have a lot of character,” Brokaw said before approaching the flashbulbs and makeshift red carpet, “and I am a character, so I feel good about being associated with it [the project]."

Plachy said Brody is only her occasional party companion.

“He doesn’t come all the time because he gets barraged,” she explained of her famous son.

Thanks to security personnel with ear wires, Brody wasn’t getting mobbed. He wore a black suit, white shirt and had a camera hanging around his neck. He spoke to no one except his mother, whom he could be seen laughing with, and an old female friend of his mother’s who briefly joined them.

Plachy seemed overjoyed to be at the reception.

“It’s wonderful to be here at this time, this spring, for this new awakening, this new administration,” she said, smiling and acknowledging that she’s a huge fan of President Obama.

The photographer said she always loved photography but “hated being photographed.” She said she believes she was drawn to it because “I loved the idea of going out into the world and having an excuse to talk to people.”

Other faces scheduled to show up for the evening affair included Tatyana Ali ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), Dominique Dawes (gold-medal Olympic gymnast) and Luke Russert.

A host of lawmakers had been expected to attend, but as votes ceased for the Easter recess many canceled.

“We’re crossing our fingers that they’ll come,” said one male event organizer from USA Network who would not be quoted on the record.

Alexandra Shapiro, senior vice president of brand marketing for USA Network, said the tagline for the network, “Characters Welcome,” says it all. “It’s really an outreach of our brand,” she said, “that we’re a celebration of characters. We thought we could give our call letters some meaning.”

As for Brokaw hosting the event and being chosen for the introduction, Shapiro said the network couldn’t think of anyone more fitting.

“He is someone who has spent his life documenting the American story,” she said. “We thought there was no one better to put this in its historical perspective.”