Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld took a break from his real-life war duties Tuesday night to attend the Washington premiere of Black Hawk Down, the fictional re-creation of a deadly U.S. firefight in Somalia.
Dozens of men and women in uniform joined Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce, for the invitation-only screening at the Uptown Theater in Northwest Washington. Also stepping across the red carpet were Iran-Contra figure Oliver North and Tipper Gore, wife of the former vice president.
But the crowd behind the rope saved their squeals for two of the film's stars, Josh Hartnett and William Fichtner.
Before the showing, Rumsfeld posed for pictures with Black Hawk director Ridley Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Sony Corp. chief executive Howard Stringer and Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Scott previously directed Gladiator and Hannibal. Bruckheimer's credits include Pearl Harbor and Remember the Titans.
Based on a book by Mark Bowden, who also attended the premiere, the story chronicles a three-day mission in Mogadishu in 1993 that resulted in the downing of two Black Hawk helicopters and the deaths of 18 Americans.
The film's release was pushed forward in anticipation of heightened public interest because of the Afghanistan campaign. Screenings were held in both New York and Los Angeles in late December.
Several weeks ago, the Motion Picture Association of America held a private screening of the movie for senior White House advisers, including President Bush's top political strategist and history buff, Karl Rove.