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Los Angeles investment adviser Brad Freeman, a close friend of George W. Bush and his parents, turned up in Washington this month in a surprising capacity — as Elizabeth Taylor’s escort at the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala. (“The Kennedy Center Honors” airs at 9 p.m. on Friday.)

But Freeman didn’t accompany Taylor all the way from California.

This story first appeared in the December 24, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I just flew in from duck shooting in Stuttgart, Ark., with Sen. Bill Frist,’’ he said, referring to the Tennessee Republican chosen on Monday as the new Senate majority leader.

Taylor, meanwhile, gave Secretary of State Colin Powell a chance to set down some rules of etiquette for dining with movie stars.

“She’ll be late because she’s Elizabeth Taylor. But I won’t miss my dinner because she’s late. We may sit down without her,’’ said Powell, who along with celebrants and honorees James Levine, Chita Rivera, James Earl Jones and Paul Simon was just sitting down to eat when Taylor arrived.

As for her escort, ambassador to the Netherlands Stuart Bernstein joked, “This is the first date Brad’s had who’s over 19 years old.”

While guests basked in the limelight, Alma Powell talked about hosting a low-key wedding in November for her daughter Anne, a former producer on ABC’s “Nightline.’’

“We just invited family and very close friends,’’ said Powell, including pals Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder in that group.

A few nights later, First Lady Laura Bush took her turn in the limelight at the Congressional Ball, looking festive in a chocolate brown gown designed by Carolina Herrera.

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