Surviving White House prom weekend

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • May 02, 2006

by Karen Feld


Looking back at the past weekend — referred to among insiders as the White House press corps’ annual prom weekend — the most interesting parties were the Saturday outdoor brunch at MSNBC producer Tammy Haddad’s house in the Palisades and John and Christina McLaughlin’s Sunday brunch on the Hay-Adams roof, overlooking the White House.

Guests, parties and jokes passable

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner itself was a crush of media and their guests checking out the room for photo ops. Some star-struck journalists even enlisted the assistance of Secret Service agents to snap their photos with rapper Ludacris (who went to nearby Centreville High School), George Clooney, Morgan Fairchild and other lesser-known TV stars. Others just wanted to get an up-close glimpse of the slim, blonde CIA agent Valerie Plame. President Bush’s clever presentation with Steve Bridges as his “id” was a tough act to follow for faux talk show host Stephen Colbert. Many, including the president, thought the comedian’s jokes were too edgy and in bad taste. The Bloomberg party was for young “amateurs” and clearly did not have its usual clout — not to mention that they cut way back on cost. Reuters, providing transportation to lure guests to a K Street club, was successful in getting a young rocker crowd as well as author Chris Buckley. Clooney had his own after-party complete with strobes at Blue Gin, and across the way, Capitol File magazine got into the fray as well with the best of the four at Café Milano. Many of the guests were restaurant regulars — D.C. Council Member Jack Evans, Joe Robert, Mark Plotkin and Tom McMillan. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa arrived at around 1 a.m., talking on his cell phone to aides convincing them that holding a news conference to say that he believes “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be in English was the way to go.

Heard at Haddad’s lunch

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, talking to anyone who would listen: “The guys I came in [to Congress] with in ’94 don’t have a clue what they stand for.” … Gossiper Lloyd Grove, whose New York Daily News contract has not been renewed, desperately looking for a job back in D.C. … Tucker Carlson was pleased that “The Situation” will move to D.C. from MSNBC in New Jersey in two months … Bob Bennett looking sporty in a lavender shirt and tie … Chris Matthews holding court in his baseball cap … Rita Cosby enjoying her gig at MSNBC … Capricia Marshall, who was first lady Hillary Clinton’s efficient and gracious social secretary, is now Sen. Clinton’s finance director … Former first lady Barbara Bush’s press secretary Anna Perez, who also worked in the current Bush White House, now executive VP of communications for Universal, is moving from New York to San Francisco … Bob Shrum and Mary Louise Oates in from New York on “a day pass.” Both are happily teaching at NYU … Actor Joey Pantoliano wearing his signature baseball cap and in town with the Creative Coalition talking TV with “ER’s” Maura Tierney and ABC’s Jake Tapper. “A break in a series for the actor is like doing a movie sequel,” Pantoliano said.

Snippets of conversation

Ludacris, with perfect cornrows in his hair, didn’t talk much, but Isaiah Washington from “Grey’s Anatomy” made up for that talking about his trade mission supported by the NAACP and his documentary “Mende in LA.” After taking a DNA test, he discovered that he shared an ancestor on his mother’s side in Mende. “I want to use my celebrity to do good. I have an ancestral obligation like Clooney,” Washington said. … Speaking of George Clooney, Lally Weymouth was holding onto him at the pre-dinner Newsweek reception.

Voted out, but still in

That was “American Idol’s” Ace Young, wearing a red vest on his first visit to Washington. The Colorado native snapped photos of everyone. “My fear is how people treat me when you get out of the ‘American Idol’ bubble,” he told me. He was surprised that “everyone here is giving me love.” Young, awed by the power crowd, said, “I’m just being myself. I’m impressed that everyone respects what I do.”

The Sunday after at the McLaughlins’

Tommy Lasorda, at the brunch with L.A. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, talked about — what else? — baseball. “Bud [Selig] was smart to buy the [Washington Nationals] when he did. It’s a bonus for the new owners.” And some wannabe owners were at the brunch as well — Fred Malek and Jim Kimsey.

On hand, with open agendas

The Rev. Al Sharpton came out of his tent to stop by in his Navy blues, saying he came down to march against genocide and for Sunday’s Darfur rally … Former Ecuador Ambassador Ivonne A-Baki talked about free trade negotiations that take her back and forth from Quito to New York and D.C.

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