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On Martha's Vineyard with Obama...and Bill Murray

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          Peter Farrelly, David Ginsberg, and Larry David at P-A Club (Peter Simon photos)  

MARTHA’S VINEYARD – While the media is busy playing a game of peek-a-boo with President Obama, the rest of the Rock is having a grand old time, unbothered by the hoopla surrounding the first family’s vacation.

Our fun-filled weekend began Friday at the home of financier Gwen Adams and her husband Peter Norton, the multimillionaire software publisher and philanthropist. As they do each year, couple invited friends and family to watch the Oak Bluffs fireworks from the grounds of their meticulously-restored Queen Anne home overlooking Ocean Park. (Unbelievably, Norton originally refurbished the house in 1994, but had to rebuild again in 2001 when the place burned to the ground in an electrical fire.)

Enjoying a lavish spread of swordfish steaks, sausage, and couscous was a crowd that included Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, “Precious” screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher and his parents, venture capitalist Jeff McCormick and his wife Christine, Art Buchwald’s daughter-in-law Tamara, and “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, whose new movie, “Fair Game,” stars Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame, the CIA agent allegedly outed by the Bush White House in 2003.

Liman told us the film, which comes out Nov. 5 and co-stars Sean Penn as Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson, took three years to finish because it’s not based on a single book, but on a series of interviews. (Liman knows a little bit about politics: His dad, Arthur, was chief counsel for the Senate during the Iran-Contra affair.)

Though a longtime islander and a hardcore Democrat, Liman doesn’t think it’s a good idea, politically, for Obama to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

“He should be in the Gulf, or somewhere not so public,” said the director. “Bush spent twice as much time on vacation, but he was in Crawford so nobody cared.”

From there it was off to the Portugese-American Club, where folks usually go to play cards, shoot pool, or watch TV. But Friday, the unremarkable, one-story shingled building was the scene of a fabulous party thrown by “Fever Pitch” filmmaker Peter Farrelly for his famous and not-so-famous island friends. Local band, the Boogies, played full-tilt dance covers for a crowd that included Patrick Lyons and wife Kristina, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” creator Larry David, designer Kenneth Cole, ex-News Corp. president Peter Chernin, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, hotelier Dick Friedman and his son, Alex, Sox vice chairman David Ginsberg and his fiancé Laura, and Trader Fred Mascolo, who showed up with three boxes of expensive cigars for guests. (In honor of the party’s host, the young women tending bar wore their bangs in the style of Cameron Diaz’s character in “There’s Something About Mary.”) 

“This isn’t the Hamptons,” Lyons said as he surveyed the mad scene on the dance floor. “This is a little Vineyard throwdown.”

We were just about to leave when, out of the darkness, Bill Murray ambled down the driveway with two friends. Looking a little sleepy but bemused, Murray stood on tiptoes and peered in the window. The inscrutable actor, who worked with the Farrellys on their 1996 bowling classic “Kingpin,” hung around chatting outside before finally venturing in. 

“Hi there,” we said as he wandered past.

Murray stopped and almost smiled.

“Hello to you,” he said before heading into the noisy room.

The evening ended on a high note, as Murray joined the band on a smokin’ version of Van Morrison's “Gloria,” bringing the house down in a way Nick the Lounge Singer never did on “Saturday Night Live.".

Obama made things very simple for the media Saturday by making zero public appearances. During the day, he had a picnic with wife, Michelle, and the couple’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, on a super-exclusive stretch of beach in Edgartown, and then skipped that night’s $500-a-person fundraiser for Governor Deval Patrick.

Hosted by Friedman at his sprawling Edgartown estate – yes, the one Bill Clinton used as the summer White House during his presidency – the Patrick fundraiser was an informal affair. There were familiar faces aplenty, including Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, syndicated columnist and CNN commentator Roland Martin, BET Holdings CEO Debra Lee, UPTOWN magazine’s Keija Minor, Harvard professors Charles Ogletree and Henry Louis Gates Jr., attorney Wayne Budd, John Hancock’s Carol Fulp, MIT chancellor Phil Clay, Duane and Deborah Jackson, who hosted a Patrick fundraiser at their Oak Bluffs abode last summer, Cousen Rose Gallery owner Zita Cousens, attorney Fletcher “Flash” Wiley and wife Bennie, Ron Homer of Access Capital Strategies, and Kim McLaurin, the Suffolk Law professor who helped organize the event.

Who wasn’t there? We’re told that celebrated director and Vineyard resident Spike Lee was a no-show even though he was one of the chairmen of the event, having collected or contributed more than $6,000 for Patrick’s campaign coffers.

Yesterday, it was back to the links for the commander-in-chief. He played at the private Vineyard Golf Course in a foursome that included White House trip director Marvin Nicholson – a former caddy for Senator John Kerry, we’re told – Vineyard vacationer Bill Lewis, and Dr. Eric Whitaker, a friend from Chicago who was rumored during the campaign to be in the running for surgeon general or director of the Centers for Disease Control.

Meanwhile, we’re told a fancy crowd gathered yesterday at the to-die-for home of Terri and Lloyd Trotter, the former CEO of GE Industrial who’s a director of PepsiCo. Try as we might, we couldn’t swing an invite to the brunch-time event, which was a fundraiser for The Studio Museum, a contemporary art museum in Harlem that is devoted to the work of African-American artists.

Sitting with his kids on the porch at Alley’s General Store over the weekend, Lawrence Biondio smiled as he looked at a State Police car idling conspicuously across the street.

“I came to the Vineyard here to get away from that,” said Biondio, an officer with the New York Police Department who’s here on vacation with his family. “But, all in all, it’s been pretty low key, so it’s OK. I don’t care, but my wife and kids are excited.”


About this blog

This blog features the latest local and national celebrity news from The Boston Globe's Names column team. Check back for the latest updates.
Mark Shanahan joined The Boston Globe in 2003, having worked previously at the Portland Press Herald, where he covered City Hall, and the Lewiston Sun-Journal, where he was the education reporter. A Northampton native and graduate of Bates College, Shanahan enjoys the usual - books, music, movies, etc. - as well as the unusual.
Follow on Twitter: @GlobeNames, @MarkAShanahan
Meredith Goldstein has worked for the Globe since 2003, covering everything from nightlife to New Kids. She keeps her eyes peeled for celebrity juice, and also writes Love Letters, a Boston.com blog for hopeful (and hopeless) romantics. Meredith chats about love problems every Wednesday at 1 p.m. If you see Justin Timberlake or someone like him at a local eatery, please e-mail her immediately. mgoldstein@globe.com
Follow on Twitter: @GlobeNames, @MeredithGoldste

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