The Washington Post's Beltway gossip Lloyd Grove gets ready for his new gig at the Daily News by going heavy on the D.C. screening circuit today. First, he leads with a screening of The Passion, with director Mel Gibson present, for insiders to quell rumors. The invitees skewed to the conservative: Matt Drudge, Peggy Noonan, Cal Thomas and Kate O'Beirne; conservative essayist Michael Novak; President Bush's abortive nominee for labor secretary, Linda Chavez; staff director Mark Rodgers of the Senate Republican conference chaired by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); former Republican House member Mark Siljander of Michigan; and White House staffer David Kuo. Jack Valenti seemed to be the only liberal, but as he's the head of the annoying MPAA and kiss up to Mel, Gothamist is not surprised that he told audience members, "I don't see what the controversy is all about. This is a compelling piece of art. I just called Kirk Douglas and told him that this is the movie to beat." Gothamist dies a little as another spin machine starts. [Via nw]

Seabiscuit; Photo - Universal/DreamworksThe second item states how Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Tobey Maguire and William H. Macy screened Seabiscuit for the Bushes last night. Gothamist also saw Seabiscuit last night, albeit in NY. Thoughts: Gorgeously photographed (expect cinematographer John Schwartzman to be nominated, either by the Academy or the ASC), well-acted (Macy is great fun), touching then exciting and back again, but a little too long and a bit self-important. The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt accurately notes that film's "narration delivered by historian David McCullough," gives the "'little guy' subtext" but makes it "sound like a PBS docu."