Robert Griffin III was the perfect guest at the Vanity Fair/Bloomberg party Saturday: Charming, relaxed, willing to pose for a photo with anyone who asked. The Redskins’ star quarterback lingered for more than two hours, leaving the ultra-exclusive bash with team owner Dan Snyder just before 2 a.m.
Which makes what happened earlier that night so surprising: RGIII apparently blew off not just the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — where he was to be the guest of NBC — but a private pre-dinner reception with President Obama as well.
Media organizations spend months wrangling VIP guests for the annual event, vying for the buzziest names. While many are touted in advance, others are kept secret until the big night. That was NBC’s strategy with their quarterback guest, though they did alert dinner organizers that he was expected. We’re told that Griffin was one of the elite cadre of dinner VIPs whose name was submitted a couple weeks earlier for clearance into the most exclusive reception of the entire weekend — a backstage meet-and-greet with the president and the first lady. Nicole Kidman, Bradley Cooper, and dinner entertainer Conan O’Brien joined WHCA President Ed Henry and other select guests on that elite list.
But RGIII never turned up.
When, exactly, NBC’s dream date fell apart (as happens with celeb guests now and then) is unclear. His absence was first noted in a tweet from Daily Beast media writer Howard Kurtz about an hour into the meal. A rep for the network didn’t return our calls for comment. A Redskins spokesman, Tony Wyllie confirmed that, yes, Griffin had agreed to attend with NBC but backed out “well in advance” of the dinner. Why? “Something came up and he couldn’t go,” said Wyllie. He wouldn’t elaborate. We do know that Griffin greeted fans at a Redskins draft party at FedEx field Saturday afternoon — and that he and his fiancee later joined the Snyders for a highly visible dinner at Cafe Milano.
Moving on to the after-party at the French ambassador’s residence, the foursome found a friendly room, with Hollywood folks clamoring to meet the football star.
Lesson of the night: Don’t call Griffin by his initials in front of his boss. Snapped Snyder to one party guest: “It’s Robert.”
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