The Republican National Convention is underway in New York, and PEOPLE is there, following the power players and stars.
TWINS PARTY ON: The balloons had practically just hit the Madison Square Garden floor, signaling the end of the Republican National Convention, when First Daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush joined the sons and daughters of the party’s faithful at the “Next Generation of Leaders” bash at Gotham Hall.
Barbara wore a mint green, low-cut sleeveless dress, while Jenna wore a more conservative black and silver number, both by Texas designer Lela Rose. Asked what they thought of their time in Convention City, Jenna replied, “We love New York.” Barbara added that they “hopefully” will spend more time here.
In the crowd: Emily Pataki, New York Gov. George Pataki’s eldest child; Emma Bloomberg, the eldest daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and Taylor Whitman, son of Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey.
Asked what they were looking forward to for the evening, Emily Pataki, a Columbia University law school student and Yale grad (like Barbara Bush and her father and grandfather), smiled and said, “Partying.”
KEEPING UP WITH THE SCHWARZENEGGERS: Maria Shriver and her two daughters with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Katherine, 14, and Christina, 13, took a break from the RNC this week for a little retail therapy: they were spotted at the Scoop store in SoHo. Meanwhile, the California Delegation’s lunch with Schwarzenegger at Times Square’s Planet Hollywood – in which he was one of the original investors – was the hottest ticket in town Thursday afternoon, with crowds filling the sidewalks hours before the Governator’s scheduled arrival.
With the Beach Boys tune “Surfin’ USA” cranked up to full volume, Schwarzenegger stepped from his SUV smiling and looking relaxed in a gray suit that set off his California tan. On his way into the restaurant for a roundtable discussion and lunch, he shook hands with the California delegates’ children, who had front-row seats on the red carpet. Though in a hurry to get inside he did make one stop in the greeting section to test out the biceps of a flexing junior delegate.
STICKING THE PLEDGE:Olympic gold-medal gymnasts Kerri Strug and Mary Lou Retton were on hand at the Convention Thursday night to lead delegates in saying the Pledge of Allegiance – only their performance wasn t quite a perfect 10. Chalk it up to the lights or the excitement, but Retton took a slight – but entirely visible – stumble on her way to the podium. Strug was there to break the fall and the duo ultimately “stuck” the Pledge.
IT’S GOOD TO BE KING: Spiky-haired fight promoter Don King was to the Republican Convention what Ben Affleck was to the Democratic: Everywhere. “I’m going to tell you privately,” King told PEOPLE Thursday amid a swarm of fans outside Madison Square Garden, “even the Democrats are glad George W. Bush is in office.” He declined to elaborate. On his way off the set of CNN’s “Crossfire,” King proudly said of his performance on the show, “I did great. I always do great.”
FRANKLY FRANKEN: Country star Darryl Worley really worked for his paycheck at Tavern on the Green Wednesday, singing for more than two hours at the California delegates’ party. Dressed in a red T-shirt and tight Wrangler jeans, Worley entertained guests with a steady flow of dance tunes.
Not dancing, but in the crowd to the surprise of many: liberal commentator Al Franken, who met Worley last December when they did a USO tour to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Franken described Worley as “a good friend of mine. He really cares about the troops. He has a great heart.”
The two friends also steer clear of certain topics. “We started to have one discussion (about who the next president should be) and realized we couldn’t do it,” says Franken, flashing his trademark wry smile. “We don’t talk politics.”
Franken minces no words about his dislike of the Republicans. “I hate the convention. I hate it,” he says.
• By SHARON COTLIAR, COURTNEY HAZLETT, LISA INGRASSIA, LINDA KRAMER, JOANNE FOWLER and SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL Thursday: Sopranos star Edie Falco meets and greets, Arnold advises kids
NO SOPRANO SOUR NOTE: Sopranos star Edie Falco hosted a reception in Tribeca for the group Mothers Opposing Bush – lingering over wine and cheese long after her anti-Bush TV ad was screened. Falco, who is not a mother herself (except to Labrador-Shepherd mixed breed, she noted), says in the spot that mothers always put their children first. “Mr. Bush, can you say the same?”
One day after Jenna and Barbara Bush received mixed reviews for their irreverent convention quips on the podium, what did Falco think about the performance of the president’s own children? “There are all kinds of snitty things I could say about the twins, but in an effort to become more like the person that I want to be, I will pass on that opportunity.”
TWIN WATCH: Speaking of the Bush daughters, an exception in New York City’s stringent anti-smoking laws was made for Jenna Bush and her friends Wednesday night, as they hit Avalon for a Recording Industry Association of America party in honor of House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Bush twins turned up with their usual entourage of a dozen pals after the program at Madison Square Garden, where they packed into the deejay booth to watch Kid Rock perform “Cocky.”
Jenna Bush, wearing a lacy white shirt draped over one shoulder, drank Miller Genuine Draft throughout the evening, swaying to the music and singing along to Kid Rock. As the evening lingered on, Jenna lit up and shared cigarettes with friends as she danced. Barbara, in a black silk dress and pearl necklace, clapped along to the tunes and chatted with girlfriends.
Even after the concert was over, the Bush daughters lingered in the deejay booth, until they were finally asked to leave by the venue’s employees who were shutting down for the night. Jenna, Barbara and their friends then jumped into their cars and brought the party home to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
ARNOLD’S ADVICE: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doled out some advice to students Wednesday morning at PS 129 in Harlem, telling them to read and study every day – just as he had to do, even when he didn’t feel like it. “My mother made me do it,” he said, “she whacked me with a yardstick over the head.”
Though many of the star students in the crowd took note, one young man seated directly behind the Governor took the opportunity to grab a mid-morning nap, dead asleep in the auditorium amid all of the cameras and applause. Nevertheless, Arnold stole the show, and afterwards a student confessed, “I’ve never liked action films, but now I’m gonna go watch all of his movies.”
McCAIN CAN DO: Sen. John McCain hoped to have a “fun evening” with fellow Republicans by hosting a party at Cipriani with the help of friends from Saturday Night Live: Darrell Hammond and alumnus Joe Piscopo.
But he probably didn’t imagine he’d ever do the Can-Can and sing “New York, New York.” Still, he gamely took the stage alongside Piscopo and admitted: “Now everyone found out that I can’t sing.”
Offstage, McCain expressed a little regret that his criticism of Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker Michael Moore distracted from his speech Monday night. He also said he didn’t realize that Moore was in the convention hall, “so when (those in the crowd) were all going crazy, I thought at first ‘Was there a protester?'”
POWER GERE: The liberal activist group People For the American Way Foundation sponsored a reading of the U.S. Constitution in the Great Hall at Cooper Union featuring Alec Baldwin, Richard Gere, Kathleen Turner, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, as well as Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and feminist icon Betty Friedan.
Gere garnered spirited applause – and a few screams from female fans – when he stepped onto the stage and read the first three sections of Article I. Audience members, many of whom sported John Kerry buttons, went wild when Gere reached the end of Section 2, which describes the House of Representatives’ power of presidential impeachment.
TRAVIS TREAT: Country music star Randy Travis played nonstop for more than an hour to seersucker-studded southern delegates at The Supper Club Wednesday night. The group of diehard fans let loose, dancing and twirling red, white and blue glow-sticks as Travis played a decidedly non-political set of such classics as “King of the Road” and took requests. In his only nod to the convention, Travis ended his show by playing “America Will Always Stand,” a song, he told the crowd, that was recorded “just days after 9/11.”
FRANKEN MERRY: Al Franken, who’s covering the convention for his radio show, minces no words about his dislike of Republican festivities. “I hate the convention. I hate it,” he says. “I thought tonight was disgusting. I thought (Democratic Sen.) Zell Miller was particularly disgusting. It was dishonest. It’s ugly. They’re lying about a lot of stuff.
“I thought the Vice President was ugly too,” he continued. “Not having his daughter come up (on stage) was a horrible signal.”
Not all the delegates embrace Franken’s presence at the convention, he says. “The first night I was there, I was on the Janeane Garofolo show (Majority Report on Air America Radio), and they had RNC goons following me around and blocking me from where I wanted to go,” he says. “It was weird. They wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t answer my questions. I wanted to interview a delegate and they wouldn’t let me. They wouldn’t move.”
The next night Franken tried to lighten the mood with humor. “I got a feather so I could tickle (the guards),” he says. “But they stopped blocking me. I don’t know why, maybe because I complained. But it was really intimidating and awful.”
• By IVORY CLINTON, SHARON COTLIAR, COURTNEY HAZLETT, COLLEEN DeBAISE, LISA INGRASSIA, LINDA KRAMER, JOANNE FOWLER and SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL Wednesday: Bush twins meet Real World, Arnold searches for his wife
GETTING REAL: After speaking about their father at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, Jenna and Barbara Bush gathered their entourage of friends and headed to the Gran Fiesta Hispana, where the Latino Coalition honored 15 influential Hispanic figures. The twins watched the ceremony – emceed by The Real World: San Francisco‘s Rachel Campos and actor Carlos Ponce – from the staircase in the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center.
Beforehand, in the VIP room, Jenna sat with six of her girlfriends and munched on guacamole and chips, while Barbara sipped on a glass of white wine. When camera crews got word of the girls’ attendance and showed up to stake out Barbara, a swarm of five male friends protectively created a barrier around her to block any camera angles. The girls departed shortly after the shuffle– and skipped out on the invitation to join other partygoers in the poker room.
MARIA M.I.A.: Arnold Schwarzenegger, still elated from the crowd’s response to his convention speech Wednesday, greeted party goers later that night at the Central Park Boathouse, where the California governor, who is a member of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, was feted by the Motion Picture Association and Recording Industry Association of America. Only problem: He could not find his wife.
“I don’t know where she is, but I was going to say a big thank you to my wife, Maria Shriver, who is the greatest wife in the world,” he said, calling her a “good sport” for coming to the Republican Convention. He had joked during his speech at Madison Square Garden about her being a member of the Democratic Kennedy clan, and he said of his decision to become a Republican: “Trust me, in my wife’s family that’s no small achievement.”
BUSH DYNASTY: Is former President Bush already stumping for the next generation? “I can’t say enough good things about George P.,” the senior Bush said of his grandson after the 28-year-old lawyer introduced him at a Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute reception.
“Today I have to follow one of what PEOPLE magazine calls the sexiest men alive. Life is not fair,” he joked as the crowd applauded loudly. (The son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was featured in PEOPLE’s annual sexiest men issue in 2000).
George P. Bush, who recently wed his law school sweetheart at the Bush family compound in Maine, is the grandson of the 41st president and the nephew of the 43rd. Speaking of the former president, George P. said: “Some of you know him as 41. I call him abuelito,” using the Spanish word for grandpa.
He told the room of Hispanic supporters that his grandfather not only showed him how to fish and play baseball, but also showed him the importance of public service. “And maybe one day I’ll follow in his footsteps,” said the grandson, sending the crowd into a burst of supportive cheers at the prospect of a still another Bush in the White House.
ANGIE ARGUES: Bush supporters Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn stopped in to the French Connection store in SoHo to show their support for the bipartisan “Rock the Vote” group. Said Harmon: “Do I agree with everything George Bush says? No. I don’t agree with everything my husband says. You know what I mean? It’s not realistic. You don’t agree with anyone in everything they say. It just doesn’t happen.”
Sehorn said his big issue is “safety. First and foremost. I just want to make sure our country is safe, I just want to make sure my child has the same opportunity that I have in this country in 20 years.”
CAUSE CELEB: The tony Bergdorf Goodman department store, a Fifth Avenue fashion institution, played host to a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, founded in 1982 by Nancy Goodman Brinker in honor of her late sister Komen, who died of breast cancer. Bo Derek, dressed in a conservatively stylish pantsuit, arrived without boyfriend John Corbett (Sex and the City, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), who did not travel with her to New York.
Another guest, Jonathan Lipnicki, best known as the cute kid from Jerry Maguire, said that eight years after his breakthrough role he is still recognized by strangers. The bespectacled actor, who turns 14 in October, said, “I find it interesting because I’ve grown a lot and I look a bit different. It’s still pretty wild.” He will next appear in the indie family drama When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, set for release early next year.
RUNNING STRONG: The St. Regis Hotel is home this week to Vice President Dick Cheney and the mixed-marriage couple of Mary Matalin (Republican Cheney adviser) and James Carville (Democrat Kerry supporter). On Tuesday afternoon, not long after Carville headed toward Central Park in a T-shirt and running shorts, a satirical band of “Billionaires for Bush” demonstrators marched down 55th Street in front of the hotel shouting “Welcome to New York! Now, go the (expletive) home!!”
• By IVORY CLINTON, SHARON COTLIAR, COLLEEN DeBAISE, LISA INGRASSIA, LINDA KRAMER and SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL Tuesday: Angie Harmon turns heads and Rudy lights up
STARS IN HARMON-Y: High celebrity wattage may be the domain of the Democrats, but the GOP, so far, can claim Angie Harmon and born-again Republican Stephen Baldwin among their ranks. When Harmon’s attendance was announced at a Monday afternoon forum on women’s issues, Lynne Cheney leaned over to her daughter, Liz, and whispered, “Wow! She’s here?!” As for Baldwin, he was the one guy in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom that women were eager to have their picture taken with, despite his being dressed down in a black T-shirt, disheveled hair and tattoos running down his left forearm.
Later Monday, at Lifetime TV’s late-night party at The Pressure Lounge, actor Federico Castelluccio (who dared to romance Carmela Soprano on The Sopranos) skipped the VIP room (and the likes of Florida Rep. Katherine Harris, of 2000 Florida Recount fame) in favor of the spot where the regulars hung out – the hot hors d’oeuvres buffet table.
RUDY ROOTERS: Fresh from his primetime speech at the Republican National Convention Monday night, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani headed to a private reception in his honor at the Grand Havana Room in Midtown Manhattan, where guests were given Dominican cigars with an inscription commemorating his speech.
Giuliani and his wife, Judith, spent the evening celebrating with longtime supporters, including many members of Giuliani’s former administration. Among the well-wishers at the party sponsored by Ernst & Young and Monster Worldwide were Angie Harmon, this time accompanied by her husband, former New York Giants defensive back Jason Sehorn.
Giuliani, a cigar aficionado, told supporters in the smoke-filled, penthouse club, “I was thinking before the speech how I couldn’t wait to have a cigar,” he said. Then he added jokingly, “It’s a good thing I didn’t have a Scotch, or I would have told you what I really think of John Kerry.”
Harmon, fashion-forward in a silver-and-cream sleeveless dress by Louis Vuitton and silver strapped Manolos, said she planned to call it a night after the former mayor’s party. But she said she was looking forward to doing some quality shopping while in New York.
“I plan on hitting Gucci, Louis Vuitton and H&M,” she said.
SEX PARTY: Planned Parenthood joined forces with Republicans for Choice for a “Stand Up for Choice” party, because, as president Gloria Feldt pointed out, “Sex is bipartisan for goodness sake.” While Moby and Lou Reed performed a cover of “For What It’s Worth,” Public Enemy’s Chuck D took the microphone to do backup vocals. A visibly pregnant Joan Osborne performed clutching her belly. And when a photographer outside prophesized she would have a boy, she replied, “Well you’re wrong,” adding that she was expecting a girl.
Across the street, Kathleen Turner made an early departure from the afterparty – attended by Patricia Clarkson, Cynthia Nixon and Lewis Black – though the actress almost was convinced to stick around when she heard Michael Moore was on the way. Ultimately, she split. “Tell him he’s late,” she said.
BEN STEIN’S GOODIES: Al Franken spotted conservative Ben Stein and leapt out of his chair – so Stein came over to give him a hug. Stein told PEOPLE that the free stuff at the convention thus far just didn’t quite measure up to the Grammy goody bags. “The only free thing I’ve gotten is a cookie when I checked into my hotel,” he said, “and that upset my stomach.” What’s more, Stein wasn’t granted an exception at security – and he had his umbrella confiscated on the way into Madison Square Garden.
COUNTRY SENSE: Travis Tritt says he originally planned to spend all day Sunday and Monday in New York, but decided at the last minute just to fly in on a private jet, perform at General Motors’ convention bash, and then fly home to Atlanta. “There are a lot of security concerns and I’ve got three small children at home,” said the country star. “It takes a lot of courage for everyone who comes here.”
Tritt says he hopes both Republicans and Democrats will listen to the single “What Say You” on his new album, Honky Tonk History. “It basically says I have my own opinions and they are very strong, but I’m not so arrogant about my opinions that I’m not willing to listen to someone else’s. … People in this country are very tired of how ugly politics has become. People just want to come together and try to find some common ground.”
PARTY TIMES: The New York Times threw a welcoming gala for attendees of the Republican National Convention at the home of the “Jazz at the Lincoln Center” concert series. Famous faces at the party included New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, former New York City mayor Ed Koch, and Gayle King, O magazine’s editor-at-large and a longtime friend of Oprah Winfrey’s.
Asked what brought him to the event, Cuomo responded sarcastically, “the invitation” and smiled. The former governor (a Democrat) also denounced the negative attitude rampant in the city – which has been the site of many anti-Republican protests this week.
“I think it’s foolish to say, ‘How dare the Republicans descend on us!'” he said. “We solicited the Republicans. We’re glad to have them because they compliment us by coming. And if you don’t like what they stand for, then you vote against them.”
• By IVORY CLINTON, SHARON COTLIAR, LISA INGRASSIA, LINDA KRAMER and SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL Monday: The Bush Twins arrive, and Chevy raises the voting age
READY TO PARTY: Jenna and Barbara Bush, in hot-rollered long curls, designer jeans and sparkly blouses (“Rebecca Taylor!” Jenna announced to clamoring paparazzi), made their red-carpet debut outside Sunday’s big bash, “R: The Party,” at Roseland Ballroom, arriving in two separate SUVs along with about 20 of their friends.
The red carpet was rolled up after the First Twins made their beeline for the party’s upstairs VIP room – leaving latecomers Bo Derek and Bush cousin George P. Bush to enter on bare pavement. (Actor Stephen Baldwin, the Republican black sheep among the Democratic Baldwin boys, arrived unfashionably early.) Once upstairs, rather than mingling with former Bachelor Aaron Buerge, Don King and White House staffers in the regular VIP space, the sisters spent the evening in a sectioned-off VIP room behind a velvet curtain.
PROMOTING PEACE: Earlier in the day at an Israel Project Stop Terror Teach Peace rally, Evan and Jaron performed a song they wrote to promote peace in Israel, donning matching necklaces that Evan designed. The Common Ground necklace dangles a tiny vial of dirt from Israel. Evan told PEOPLE that not only did he, his wife and brother sport the necklaces, but that Jaron’s sweetheart Lara Flynn Boyle wore one, too.
CHASING THE VOTE: While New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki greeted Republican revelers at the Time Warner Media Welcome uptown, journalists at the Imagine ’04 Festival Unofficial Media Welcome in the meatpacking district were greeted by Chevy Chase, Rosie Perez and a naked partygoer sporting nothing but a backpack. Chase faced the crowd sporting something that resembled a fisherman’s vest and, after confessing that his sister had dragged him to the event, told the crowd to “tell everyone who has reached 21 to go out and vote.” (Seems that the comedian confused voting with drinking – the voting age is 18.)
Perez, meanwhile, was having a wishy-washy evening. Though she did find herself in the midst of a Planned Parenthood rally on the Brooklyn Bridge, she said she was not part of the rally– and was just stuck in their traffic. Likewise, she was indecisive about the influx of GOP members to the city. “I don’t have a problem with the Republican National Convention,” she said, “I just don’t agree with the candidate they chose. I don’t necessarily welcome it, but I don’t necessarily say they have to leave.”
CELEB SHORTAGE? At the Qorvis party in midtown, there was debate over whether the Bush twins actually showed up. One partygoer, asked if Jenna and Barbara enjoyed themselves, responded: “Don’t they always?” But bartenders and security guards insisted there had been no sign of them. Either way, it’s becoming clear that the ubiquitous Bush twins will be the Ben Affleck of this convention.
Speaking of Affleck… where are all the A-listers? Possibly for reasons of security or the just plain fear of being linked to one side, not as many celebs are expected in New York this week, as opposed to the scene at the Democratic Convention in Boston.
Though Ricky Martin performed at the 2000 Republican Convention, he has steered clear of becoming involved this year. Vocal Republican Kelsey Grammer is awaiting the birth of his second child through a surrogate mother, due on Sept. 4. Bruce Willis, though a somewhat vocal Republican, won’t be making any public appearances. Tom Selleck, contrary to belief that he is Republican, turns out to be a registered Independent. Brown Bunny auteur Vincent Gallo told The New York Times that he is a Republican but would not be speaking at the convention because he hadn’t been invited.
Though Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears have both acknowledged past support of President Bush, they are also New York no-shows. Russell Simmons and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network – which typically draws such hip-hop stars as Fonzworth Bentley, Lloyd Banks and Wyclef Jean – has withdrawn from its participation in Monday’s rally with the Still We Rise coalition due to increased security measures and Sunday night’s Video Music Awards in Miami.
• By LISA INGRASSIA, LINDA KRAMER and SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL