Democratic Convention, Celebrity Heaven

BOSTON—Looking very much like presidential candidates at an informal debate, a group of celebrities got together this afternoon at the Schubert Theater, and to a packed audience filled with its own share of luminaries—Mark Green and Terry McAuliffe—gave a star's view of the election.

Ben Affleck brought the megawatts; as a candidate, he looked presentable, passionate—and he's clearly very popular. But he kept joking about his personal problems, and in a tight race, it might mean points. Al Franken, clearly sharpened by his radio experience, would be anybody's choice for secretary of state, or some other close advisory position. When Alec Baldwin veered off color/message—talking about the Americans who live in "flyover country," for instance—it was Franken who brought the conversation back to earth, scolding Baldwin in the process. Rob Reiner ran strong in the VP slot, dutifully spitting out his water after a Baldwin gag.

Then there was NYPD Blue's Esai Morales, who, after retracting a statement that George W. Bush is a nice guy (under pressure from Franken), started in on his own conspiracy theory about September 11, before Reiner cut him off (as any good VP would do).

With a half hour before showtime at the FleetCenter—where John Edwards was the night's big draw—Carlos Silva, Karen Lopez, and Kevin Gutierrez stole a moment from their gigs delivering food to the high rollers in the luxury suites. Gutierrez, who is too young to vote, said they're making between $8 and $12 an hour. "I've seen Jerry Springer and Gwen Stefanos," he said. Gwen Stefani? "No, the anchor from Channel 25. And Bentley." He meant Maria Stephanos.

"I saw Russell Simmons and that guy who did Fahrenheit 9/11," said Silva. Silva and Lopez are cousins, from Cape Verde and Nicaragua, respectively. They can't vote either. "There are a bunch of rules," said Gutierrez. "We can't carry cameras, and we can't ask for autographs." The three said they work from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m., with only a 20-minute break.

"A lot of the music they play is old-people music," he said. "And they drink a lot. It's something different, though. More people. More action. Famous people."

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