White House Correspondents “Nerd Party” features bank-robber-dressed deejays and patriotic cupcakes.
By Sarah Valerio
There are few times in one’s life where you wish you spent more time watching TMZ or reading celebrity gossip magazines. White House Correspondents Dinner weekend is one of those times. So inundated does D.C. get with Hollywood celebrities, politicians and political talking heads, that for weeks ahead of time, attendees should make People Magazine their Bible.
The weekend has been lovingly dubbed “nerd prom,” with even C-SPAN running #nerdprom on the ticker during its WHCD live coverage. When even C-SPAN calls you a nerd, you can just take your seat at the nerd table for life. And it is in that spirit that I say, in the voice of “The Simpsons” Comic Book Guy: Best. Weekend. Ever.
On Thursday, NeuProfile and FinePoint PR teamed up with Rock the Vote to kick off the weekend with The Spin Room party at Heist. Hosts Jessica Hoy, founder of NeuProfile, and Meredith Fineman, founder of FinePoint PR, were in attendance and treated guests, including “Hawaii Five-O” and “Lost”‘s Daniel Dae Kim and Howard Fineman, editorial director for the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, to patriotic red, white, and blue cupcakes and wristwatch party favors.
On Friday, as is annual tradition, David Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media Company, and his wife Katherine opened their home on the eve of the dinner to throw a feast of their own for the Hollywood weekend transplants and D.C.’s rich and famous; a smaller scale sample of the one to come the following night.
Afterward, the Bradleys’ guests who didn’t feel the need to rest up made their way to Georgetown, joining other party-goers at the the Making News Party thrown by The Atlantic, National Journal and OurTime.org. Here, I feel the need to invoke Saturday Night Live Weekend Update’s Stefon to sufficiently explain this event:
D.C.’s hottest new spot is the Powerhouse, a re-purposed, historic paper mill making its social debut. This party had everything; a red carpet, a VIP balcony, a waffle bar, Las Vegas Cosmopolitan Hotel’s the Bumby‘s dressed as DJ bank-robbers with sunglasses, wigs, headphones and scarves obscuring half their faces and giving guests “A Fair & Honest Appraisal of Your Appearance” typed on electric typewriters. And who’s that!? It’s Oprah’s BFF, co-anchor of CBS This Morning and editor-at-large for O magaine, Gayle King, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, ABC News’ Deputy Political Director Michael Falcone, Politico’s Peter Cherukuri, ABC 7 sports reporter Britt McHenry, and Nev Schulman and Max Joseph of MTV’s “Catfish”!
Just when you thought the weekend couldn’t get any more star-studded, exclusive and fabulous, Saturday rolls around. Prior to the official White House Correspondents Dinner at the Washington Hilton featuring the comedic stylings of President Barack Obama and Conan O’Brien, CBS News, The Atlantic, and National Journal teamed up to throw a pre-dinner reception under chandeliers hung in billowing white tents in the Hilton courtyard. Guests included CBS legend Bob Schieffer, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Helms (who had a full set of teeth despite his role playing Stu in “The Hangover”), Claire Danes, South Korean rapper Psy, co-anchor of CBS This Morning Norah O’Donnell, Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Hugh Dancy, Geoff Tracy, Chef José Andrés, Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic Steve Clemons, and National Journal managing editor of politics Josh Kraushaar.
As the Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World (surprisingly not in attendance) says, “The after party is the one you want to attend.” This is certainly true of Correspondents’ weekend and two of the after party goliaths were Vanity Fair / Bloomberg and the MSNBC after party.
The Vanity Fair/Bloomberg party at the French Ambassador’s residence took on a distinctly ethereal quality thanks to multicolored, glass-like lit flowers in front. The French ambassador’s wife, Sophie Helias-Delattre, looked stunning in white, and charmed the crowd despite a foot injury that forced her to use crutches. Christopher Hitchens’ widow Carol Blue was there, and seemingly with her, the spirit of her late husband, whom many fondly remembered holding court into the wee hours of the evening in past years.
A mixture of D.C., New York City and Los Angeles heavyweights dined on an assortment of creative food presentations catered by Design Cuisine which included tuna tacos and lobster rolls. Bartenders wore multicolored, hipster glasses in the style of Design Cuisine owner Bill Homan.
Attendees included New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Nicole Kidman, Barbara Streisand, Sofia Vergara, Amy Poehler, Kevin Spacey, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Jason Sudeikis and wife Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, MC Hammer, Jeremy Renner, Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Olivia Munn, Piers Morgan, Chris Matthews, NBC Meet the Press’ David Gregory, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, assistant for intergovernmental affairs and public liaison for Vice President Joe Biden Evan Ryan, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Eric Holder, ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, NBC’s Willie Geist, Politico‘s John Harris and Jim VandeHei, White House social secretary Jeremy Bernard, Harvey Weinstein, Steven Rattner, Ken Sunshine, Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder, Vanity Fair‘s Maureen Orth, former Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, Mark Ein, Peter Mirijanian, Franco Nuschese, and “Mad Men”’s Jessica Paré. Many lingered until 4 a.m.
I can only imagine the swag bag at an event such as this is a Porsche filled with diamonds and a pony.
MSNBC party attendees at the Italian Embassy featured Eric Stonestreet, Sir Ian McKellan, Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, Gayle King, Josh Gad, John Oliver, A.J. McLean, Elijah Cummings, Connecticut Gov. Daniel Molloy, ‘NSync’s J.C. Chasez, “Glee” stars Kevin McHale and Darren Kriss, along with Michael Ian Black and Christine O’Donnell. MSNBC’s own talent was also on hand including: Tamron Hall, Chris Hayes, Rev. Al Sharpton, Andrea Mitchell, Alex Wagner, Willie Geist, Martin Bashir, Touré, Krystal Ball, S.E. Cupp, Thomas Roberts, Richard Engel and Al Roker. Guests enjoyed a cigar bar and Ben and Jerry’s mini sundaes.
There was no shortage of unique, specialty bars and custom features for guests at any of the weekend’s events. At another party, Entertainment Software Association built a lounge featuring a photo booth and interactive video games including MLB 13 The Show for PlayStation 3, Forza Horizon for Xbox 360, and Epic Mickey 2 for Nintendo Wii, while guests at the Newsweek/Daily Beast pre-party got a kick out of creating their own photographic flip book.
Of all the commentary on this celebrated weekend of D.C.-meets-Hollywood, Fox News contributor Sally Kohn summed it up best to me at the CBS reception, “If I ever get tired of this or think this isn’t so cool — slap me.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect guest list for the MSNBC after party.