Allison Janney Is Looking for Meryl

10/13/2003 01:00AM

Allison Janney may have wanted to pull a Madonna and Britney, only geography was against her.

The "West Wing" double Emmy winner, 42, who last year played Meryl Streep's girlfriend on the big screen in "The Hours," honored the author of the novel on which the film was based, Michael Cunningham, at Saturday night's Human Rights Campaign's annual gala in Washington, D.C., reports PEOPLE.

"Meryl Streep originally hoped to join me tonight to recreate our kiss -- I mean, to acknowledge Michael Cunningham for his powerful story telling and literary genius," Janney told the black-tie crowd.

But Streep, 54, sent her tribute to the author by videotape instead. "You portray gay men and women as people who grapple with the same universal themes every human being must face. I'm so proud to have gotten to know you on 'The Hours,' because you are a great artist and you're a very good soul," said the double Oscar winner.

Among the attendees were three of the Fab Five from TV's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." "It's really great to be here working with people who are also fighting the same cause, whether it be social injustice or ugly shoes. We understand," fashion guru Carson Kressley, accompanied by grooming expert Kyan Douglas and designer Thom Filicia, told the audience.

Janney, along with castmate John Spencer, also accepted an award on behalf of "The West Wing."

Other participants included the Dixie Chick Martie Maguire, former Vice President Al Gore and "Will and Grace" creator Max Mutchnick.

Via videotape, Ellen DeGeneres, 45, and Melissa Etheridge, 42, were among those paying their respects to outgoing HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch.

"Maybe you'll decide to not leave, after all," quipped DeGeneres. "I mean, this is a pretty big tribute, I would say. You got to feel guilty leaving now."

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