An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the editor of the Virginia Tech student newspaper. Her name is Amie Steele.
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At This Dinner, A Dollop of Vitriol
The impressions (of John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Carson, Andy Rooney) and jokes (Viagra, Smurfs, hemorrhoids) were comfortably middle-of-the-road. After one of them veered into the beakdown lane, Little riffed, "and you thought Colbert was bad!"
The dinner is an event that has ruffled plenty of feathers in recent years, what with the perceived aura of coziness between journalists and their sources. Last year's routine by Stephen Colbert became a national flashpoint for a routine blasted by some for its rudeness to Bush and cheered by others as brave truth-telling.
Association President Steve Scully urged the crowd to set politics aside for one night. "An adversary is not the same thing as an enemy," he said in his opening remarks, "and an evening of civility does not mean we are selling out."
Two poignant moments early on quieted and united the raucous room. Tony Snow made his first public appearance since he announced the recurrence of his cancer, and received a standing ovation when he was introduced. Amie Steele, editor of the Virginia Tech student newspaper, took the podium to lead the room in a call-and-response of "Let's go Hokies!"
- CBS Evening News executive producer Rick Kaplan climbing on top of chairs to reach Jane Fonda across the crowded ballroom. ("Oh God, am I going to get written up?")
- Georgette Mosbacher wearing not hot pants but black leggings.
- New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush sporting diamond studs the size of headlights. Four karats? we asked. No, five. On each ear.
- Rudy Giuliani in an intense tete-a-tete with Rupert Murdoch. Was the former New York mayor and possible GOP presidential candidate making any headway with the media baron? "I'm working on it," Giuliani said.
Like weddings these days, the dinner has morphed into a three-day affair -- from Friday receptions for the favored out-of-towners, to the actual event Saturday, followed by Sunday hangover brunches (John McLaughlin hosts the most prominent).
At People magazine's Friday cocktail party at Indebleu, journalists and staffers sidled up to "Project Runway" eminence Tim Gunn and "High School Musical" star Zac Efron, the first of People's zeitgeisty guests to land in D.C. (Sanjaya was not expected until yesterday; Valerie Bertinelli was stuck on jury duty in L.A.) Efron wore Beatle bangs and a skinny tie. Adorable. How old is he? "Nineteen," People's bureau chief Sandra Sobieraj Westfall said quickly. "That's a virgin mojito. I got it for him."
Across town at the Park Hyatt, a couple hundred semi-drunk political and business types vied for a seat at the Creative Coalition's "celebrity invitational" poker tournament and a moment or two with Hollywood eye candy such as actress Kerry Washington ("I Think I Love My Wife"). Tim Daly ("Wings," "The Sopranos"), the last actor eliminated in the four-hour game, divulged his mishap at a White House luncheon the day before: "My fly broke." Really? A smitten fan interrupted: "That's Tim Daly. He's my future ex-husband."
Yesterday, the crowds jammed a narrow street in the Palisades for the annual power brunch co-hosted by MSNBC producer Tammy Haddad and lobbyist-turned-entrepreneur Hilary Rosen. "Go meet Tiki Barber -- he's adorable," Haddad said, waving to some place under the vast tent in her back yard, where 300-plus guests gulped mimosas and tenderloin: Morgan Fairchild, in gold lame and heels, chatting up Chris Matthews, in a baseball hat and jeans; Norah O'Donnell showing off her hugely pregnant tummy to another mom-to-be. "I thought I was being invited to a little backyard party," Ann Curry of NBC's "Today" show told us. "I had no idea. I have to say I'm overstimulated and confused."