Party animals

Variety Editorial

The Golden Globes were held Sunday; the presidential inauguration will be held Thursday.

On the surface, these glitzy spectacles bear a sharp resemblance to each other: Tuxedo-clad A-listers (in Hollywood and Washington, respectively) mingling at parties, basking in the attention of the international media, reveling in their own success.

But the two towns have rarely seemed so far apart.

President Bush thumbed his nose at Hollywood when he took office four years ago. His relationship with the entertainment biz is no more chummy today.

Under Bush’s first term, the FCC clamped down on media companies, sending broadcasters into a panic over indecency fines.

Few Hollywood luminaries have visited the Lincoln bedroom in the last four years. Instead, liberal stars like Michael Moore, Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio were regularly skewered by Bush’s re-election campaign. Bush even gained political currency by scoffing that John Kerry thought you could find “the heart and soul of America in Hollywood.”

Bush’s inaugural committee is working hard to camouflage that rift.

Invited guests including Hilary Duff, Ruben Studdard, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Gary Sinise, Buzz Aldrin and Don King have been carefully selected to project an image of diversity and solidarity.

Big media companies are throwing inaugural parties, beginning with an NBC Universal lunch Wednesday.

The theme of the inauguration is “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service.” Partisanship and controversy will be airbrushed from the lineup of black-tie balls, concerts and candlelight dinners.

President Bush has been criticized for the lavish nature of the inauguration. That criticism is misguided. Like a big Hollywood awards show, the inauguration is a necessary event, a festive ritual marking the end of one political cycle and the start of the next.

But the show of unity is misleading. Political divisions within the country run deep, and those divisions are most visible in the bad attitudes that persist between Hollywood and Washington.