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A star-spangled day

January 21, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Even if he isn't comfortable in a tux - and he did look a little stiff in his penguin suit - Val Kilmer could get used to this.

The actor, who's rumored to be interested in becoming the next governor of New Mexico, smiled broadly as he surveyed the celebrity scrum that was Arianna Huffington's pre-inauguration party.

"I was going to stay home, but my daughter said, 'Would you skip the Gettysburg Address?' " said Kilmer. "I'm really inspired and proud to be here."

But is the erstwhile Batman inspired enough to leave his 6,000-acre ranch and actually run for office? "There are a lot of actors who become politicians," he said, citing Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as examples. "And they always win, so I guess we'll see."

Hollywood was well-represented at the jam-packed Huffington Post party, which was held at the four-story Newseum. Many of the same big names who attended yesterday's swearing-in or last night's Creative Coalition bash were at the HuffPo party, among them Ben Affleck, Sharon Stone, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Sarah Silverman, David Arquette, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Brandon Routh, and "Desperate Housewives" Teri Hatcher and Dana Delany, who talked excitedly about seeing an IKEA chair being moved into the White House.

"I love that. I shop at IKEA," said Delany. "I also recommend West Elm."

By contrast, Rosie Perez looked a little fed up when she arrived on the red carpet. Because streets had been closed all around the Pennsylvania Avenue venue, the actress said she was forced to walk several bocks in 3 1/2-inch heels.

"I'm going to be at the inauguration in my Uggs, long johns, and jeans," she said. "And I'll be leaving the lip gloss at home."

The horde also included Jennifer Beals; Herbie Hancock; Jesse Jackson; Don King; designer Kenneth Cole; "Housewives" creator Marc Cherry; singer Demi Lovato; Joe, Nick, and Kevin Jonas; Shakira; John Mellencamp; Diane von Furstenberg; Jessica Alba; Gerard Butler; Larry David; Metallica's Lars Ulrich; Pete Wentz and the other fellas in Fall Out Boy; Rick Schroder; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; Tracey Edmonds; professor Cornel West and onetime nemesis Larry Summers; Charles Hotel owner Dick Friedman; Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry; and Josh Groban, who boasted to us that he's on Joe Biden's iPod.

"So that's pretty cool," he said. (The consensus among reporters was that it'd be cooler to be on Barack Obama's iPod.)

Almost as star-studded were the three bipartisan dinners preceding Monday's parties. Boston event planner Bryan Rafanelli set places for Jon Bon Jovi, Natalie Portman, Tori Birch, Tina Brown, Kate Walsh, Penny Pritzker, Roma Downey, Jeffrey Wright, Alan Solomont, and Governor Deval Patrick, who emceed the sit-down dinner at the Washington Hilton.

Sting, whose new brown beard makes him look like Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof," has been ubiquitous during the inaugural festivities. He performed "Brand New Day" with will.i.am's band after midnight at the HuffPo party and was on tap, along with Elvis Costello, to take the stage at last night's Creative Coalition Ball, hosted by Tim Daly and Tony Goldwyn. (Tickets cost a mere $5,000.)

Joked comedian Jeffrey Ross: "I couldn't afford tickets to the other big parties. I spent all my money buying a Senate seat."

Confirmed were Anne Hathaway, Ron Howard, Spike Lee, Tim Robbins, Marisa Tomei, Marcia Cross, Kerry Washington, Lisa Marie Presley, Vanessa Williams, Tobey Maguire, Trudie Styler, Jane Krakowski, Adrian Grenier, Ashley Judd, Cheryl Hines, Bradley Cooper, Alfre Woodard, Blair Underwood, Stevie Wonder, Kai Miller, Barry Levinson, Buzz Aldrin, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Wendie Malick, Josh Lucas, Matthew Modine, Rachael Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Connie Britton, Richard Schiff, Ellen Burstyn, Giancarlo Esposito, Gloria Reuben, Phillip Bloch, Tom Cavanagh, Lynn Whitfield, Tamara Tunie, Hill Harper, Tom Fontana, Kim Raver, and Boston's own Maura Tierney.

We spied Tracey Ullman, Anna Deavere Smith, actor Richard Schiff, and stylist Philip Block, who had only praise for Michelle Obama's inauguration attire. "Jackie O. would have been very proud of Michelle O," he said. Susan Sarandon was just celebrating her freedom on what she called "a historic day. It was a really great thing to be in DC and not get arrested," she said.

Before last night's big event, the Creative Coalition put on a dinner at Cha, chef Todd English's newest restaurant, located in the Donovan House. We're told 300 VIPs, a combination of celebs and elected officials, were invited to the deluxe dinner.

Among boldfacers who braved the cold yesterday to watch the inauguration were Raver, Hathaway, Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Sean "Diddy" Combs. While Combs was more than happy to chat with fans, Washington was focused intently on the ceremony and would not sign autographs. When asked by a Globe reporter how he felt about being there, the actor snapped, "no comment." Then he must have thought better. "I'm speechless," he added. "Talk is cheap. I'm looking for action now." (Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé stopped immediately afterward for an ice cream sandwich at the Russell Senate Office Building.) Also in the crowd were John Cusack, Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Caroline Kennedy, Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca, and C's guard Ray Allen. Of course, the local stars with the best seats were cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Gabriela Montero, who played during the inauguration.

There were a host of inaugural balls around the city last night: The Neighborhood Ball, which featured performances by Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Keys; the Youth Ball with Fall Out Boy, where we spotted Kanye West, Kid Rock, and Geraldo Rivera; and eight other parties representing different regions of the country. (James Taylor was enlisted to entertain the Dems at the New England Ball, and Jesse Jackson Jr. and comedian D.L. Hughley were spotted at Joe Biden's Home State Ball, where Common and Jack Johnson performed.) Ben Affleck was also spotted at the Google ball.

Event organizers hoped to avoid mishaps like the one at MoveOn.org's bash Monday, when vibrations from Santogold's beefy bass riffs caused recessed light bulbs to fall from the ceiling backstage and smash at the feet of celebrity hosts Heather Graham, Shepard Fairey, Rosario Dawson, and Michael Stipe. (The R.E.M. singer was sporting a knit cap and grey beard that made him look like Bill Murray's character in "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.") The light bulb problem was quickly solved when workers got a ladder and removed the rest of the bulbs.

Ben not a bailout fan

Ben Affleck, who's been popping up all over D.C., spoke his mind to Politico.com at the Huffington Post Ball Monday night. The actor was particularly peeved over Newsweek's coverage of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. "Newsweek, I feel like, is basically culpable for the first [$350 billion]" of the bailout plan, Affleck said. "They did like this hagiography on Paulson. They did that and they made it very difficult - it was one of many factors that made it difficult for people to say . . . hold on a second, what is the difference between now and a week from now? Why can't we examine this more closely? It's the same kind of fear and demagoging that was used to authorize the Iraq War, was resurrected to authorize a piece of legislation which then squandered a lot of our tax dollars - tax dollars, in fact, that we don't have."

'68 Olympians honored

Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith, who famously raised his black-gloved fist along with bronze medalist John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, was honored at the Celtics home game Monday night. Smith received a Heroes Among Us award during the team's Martin Luther King Jr. tribute and met with players; Carlos's wife, Charlene, picked up an award for her husband, who couldn't make it.

Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

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