By Betsy Rothstein - 08/27/08 10:06 PM EDT
He isn’t Oprah — yet — but Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-Ohio) celebrity stock may be rising to the level of, say, a Brad Pitt.
To be in a public setting with him and his wife, Elizabeth Kucinich, is something like being with a movie star — at least in Denver.
A walk with the couple that should take five minutes takes 45 because of all who stop to thank him or say hello.
Strangers and old friends and acquaintances can’t stop touching, hugging and kissing him. He can’t move an inch without a fan moving in for an embrace. With reporters clamoring to interview him, Dennis can’t eat his oatmeal with blueberries on top until Elizabeth, elegantly dressed in a long cream sundress with red roses, politely asks those in his vicinity to allow him to finish breakfast.
This was much the scene Tuesday morning on the rooftop of The Curtis, the hotel that housed Ohio’s state and congressional Democratic delegations.
But Kucinich is the first to say he is not a celebrity, despite having been asked this week alone to go on just about everything broadcast, including “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Daily Show,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Russian TV, CBS, BBC radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Channel and at least six different Fox News spots.
In fact, he has little desire to talk about how well-known he is. Instead, he wants first to discuss the 80-year-old man in Denver whom he said police mistook for an anarchist and attacked and arrested.
“Some of the security is overboard,” Kucinich said. “It feels like some kind of military camp.”
Other than that, “It’s good to be here. Running into people I’ve known for years, that’s fun.”
Kucinich seems surprised by how nationally known he is. “For some reason, people have a continued interest in speaking to me,” he says.
Elizabeth interjects, “He’s well-known and well-loved. Celebrity is about straight recognition. There is a celebrity level and a depth level.”
And Elizabeth says knowingly, “Everyone is like family.”
Barack’s chili and Bill’s banana cream pie take off at hotel
Chili is not typically a summer food. But put the name Obama in front of it and suddenly it’s all the rage this week in downtown Denver’s famous Brown Palace Hotel in the Ship Tavern restaurant.
Executive sous-chef Curtis Lincoln developed Obama’s turkey chili, which the senator has been making since college, from a recipe he found on the Internet. He says the recipe online is missing ingredients and he thinks it’s the presidential hopeful’s way of keeping his recipe at least partially secret. Those missing ingredients include: fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper and water.
The restaurant’s pastry chef, James Gallo, created the Bill Clinton Banana Cream Pie by consulting a former White House pastry chef and learning that aside from McDonald’s, Clinton loves bananas and pie.
Of course, since Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is staying in the hotel, she can try them both.
Susan Sarandon rejects that Clinton’s female supporters won’t now back Obama
There was plenty of estrogen in the room at the Creative Coalition’s Wednesday morning reception to highlight “14 Women,” a documentary about female senators. The reception was also to honor actress Annette Bening (husband Warren Beatty was not by her side).
The talk of the event, besides the film, was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) speech the evening before.
“I thought she did an excellent job,” said actress Susan Sarandon.
As for reports that women may not vote for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sarandon said: “I think that’s talk.” The longtime Obama supporter also blamed the media for that kind of speculation. It’s “drama for newspaper articles,” she said.
And there was much agreement among the women there.
“I can’t even imagine voting for Sen. McCain, as a woman,” remarked actress Dana Delany.
The “Desperate Housewives” cast member is a longtime Clinton supporter who now backs Obama. But she didn’t express disappointment that Obama didn’t pick Clinton as a running mate. “I hope he uses her in other ways,” she said.
Delany is attending her first political convention, although she did introduce Clinton at an event in 1991. As to whether the New York senator has changed since then, Delany noted: “She’s gotten better.”
The title of the documentary comes from the fact that there were 14 female senators when the film was made. There are 16 women currently in the upper chamber.
The film turned out to be a family affair. It was directed by Mary Lambert, Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) older sister. Nicole Boxer, daughter of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), was one of the producers.
Both Lincoln and Boxer were on hand to praise the project.
“She was my first contributor,” Lincoln said of her sister. Lambert, in turn, said, “I made this movie because I was inspired and empowered by my sister, Sen. Blanche Lincoln.”
Sen. Boxer noted the film was four years in the making. “If you don’t believe it, just look at my hair color change,” she said.
Also on hand was Bening, who narrates “14 Women.” She expressed her admiration for the women of the Senate. “I am very grateful to be able to say thank you for what they do every day,” she said.
Several other female celebrities came to show their support. Spotted in the crowd were actresses Anne Hathaway, Gloria Reuben, Ellen Burstyn, Kerry Washington and Rachel Leigh Cook. Joining them from the political side were Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D).
Reporters blocked from celebrities at diabetes event
Hollywood types, like most, are not crazy about reporters, or so it seemed at Panzano Restaurant in Denver on Tuesday.
A gaggle of stars sat patiently through a heart-wrenching documentary short about a young Thai girl with diabetes (who got help from the drug maker Eli Lilly & Co., a co-sponsor of the luncheon), after which they hung around briefly before being ushered into a private room.
Eli Lilly and the Creative Coalition hosted the event to promote a program that provides diabetes medicine to the needy. They also provided ravioli, fish and mashed potatoes to the celebs and gawkers at the restaurant inside the Hotel Monaco.
But then things took an unusual turn as event staffers formed a human wall to separate the famous from the no-names in the restaurant.
Among those on the scene: Hathaway, Delany, Josh Lucas, Sarandon, Burstyn, Zooey Deschanel, Tim Daly, Giancarlo Esposito and U.S. Olympic skier (and diabetes patient and Eli Lilly spokesman) Kris Freeman, who gave a nice speech. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) was there, too, but she left early.
The human wall notwithstanding, Matthew Modine chatted up an attractive female reporter about Obama and the elections for a solid 10 minutes.