After the Correspondents' Dinner, Rain Didn't Dampen All the Fun
Monday, April 28, 2008
Digital camera in hand, a slightly drunk guest at the Bloomberg party teetered by us early Sunday and stopped short. "I'm taking a picture of Pamela Anderson," she announced to her date.
"Get the boobs," he said.
Which, when it comes down to it, is what the after-parties -- and Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association dinner itself -- have come to: A-, B- and C-listers brandishing their talents, figuratively and literally, at Washington's press prom. Anderson showed up in a wisp of cheesy white fabric, thigh-high slit and plunging neckline screaming for attention. Mobbed all night, and let's just admit it: Wouldn't you have been secretly disappointed if she wore something demure for her big night in D.C.?
Poor Marcia Cross displayed no cleavage -- and what did it get her? Nada. The "Desperate Housewives" co-star arrived at the Costa Rican Embassy in the pouring rain and immediately left rather than brave Bloomberg security who, she heard, had rudely dismissed Colin Firth because the velvet-rope man didn't recognize the British actor. (Darcy!) Even the VIP electronic fast-passes proved hopeless. Unlike hundreds of media types who waited up to an hour in the endless line, Firth and his soaked wife gave up.
So many questions: Was it a bad thing when reporters and sources got drunk and pretended to not hate each other? Do half-naked actresses enhance the First Amendment debate? Would it be wrong to ask Rob Lowe -- who worked the Hilton ballroom like an old pol -- about his nanny issue? Should we care what British actor Rupert Everett (taller than you expect) thinks about the dinner?
"Hideous," he said flatly. "One of the most hideous events I've ever been to."
Everett was leaning against a massive two-sided bar in the midst of what looked like a white Shaker/Roman amphitheater. Donatella Versace (smaller than you'd expect, except for those inflated lips) stood nearby posing for pictures. At one end of the room: A bleacher of benches, from which CIA Director Michael Hayden stared at Versace staring at the Jonas Brothers. On the tippy-top row, smack in the middle, Meghan McCain, a blond beacon in turquoise.
Open bar, waiters passing sensual little morsels and yet . . . the makeshift roof leaked. We sloshed past plastic buckets and sodden carpet into another room decked out like a Victorian bordello lounge. Internet gossip Perez Hilton (the other one: blond but no sex tape or little dog) was sharing his passion for politics when we were body-slammed by a 20-something with no time and fewer manners. "Can I get one picture?" she demanded. "I'm blogging."
A gaggle of models in blond wigs and porn-stewardess costumes floated by Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman Bob Hormats talking Iraqi economic development with Lt. Gen. Bill Caldwell, shadowed by an aide in full uniform carrying a briefcase. Also: Will.I.Am, Mexico's "Brad Pitt" Eduardo Verastequi (adorable) and "American Idol" voted-off contestant Michael Johns (also adorable), who said Condi Rice told him: "You're a great singer. You got robbed." Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt of "The Hills" wandered past, adding another chapter to their reality-life existence; frenemy Lauren Conrad (awesome bangs, by the way) was somewhere in the crowd but no catfight. Darn.
Weird? Totally. Same thing over at Capitol File's party at the Newseum, where fancy lamb chops, cute snacks (jelly beans, chocolate-covered pretzels), champagne and wrist-wrenching swag bags could not mask the fact that the place was filled mostly with pretty party people -- non-media, non-political types with no connection to the dinner -- and damp stragglers from Bloomberg.
On the Jumbotron's red carpet before being spirited away into the VIP zone: Gorgeous Rosario Dawson (gamely grooving to the DJ's hip-hop), actor Tim Daly, CF publisher Jason Binn, that guy Andy from "The Bachelor" a year ago, local salon guru Erwin Gomez, and Craig Ferguson -- the dinner's entertainer and CF cover boy, whose publicist pried him away from Morgan Fairchild for a quick quote or three.
Loved the New York Times joke! Ferguson grinned sheepishly. The newspaper, the comic told the dinner's 2,500 guests, skipped the festivities because it felt the event undercut the credibility of the press. "Funny, I thought that Jayson Blair and Judy Miller took care of that." Oh, and he called the Times "sanctimonious whining jerks." We probably would have loved his other jokes, too -- but the sound system and his thick Scottish accent rendered most of his act unintelligible.
Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy frontman and fiance of Ashlee Simpson, took the stage as guest DJ, shouting out thanks to the champagne that got him "wasted" and his girl's private parts for something we couldn't quite make out. "The party's just getting started!" Binn screamed from the stage.
Back at Bloomberg, the porn-stewardesses were doing a kitschy bump-and-grind routine to a brass band and Johns told us, with a big ingratiating smile, "I'm tired of talking about American Idol!" Time to mosey over to the Vanity Fair soiree at the apartment of the magazine's Christopher Hitchens.
By this point, a clutch of about 50 die-hard wonk/intellectuals/poli-sci groupies remained: Patricia Duff, Georgette Mosbacher, Tucker Carlson, Ron Silver, Michael Beschloss, Ana Marie Cox, Grover Norquist.
Near the fireplace, Daly -- who managed to attend every single party that night -- was so utterly charming we felt guilty about not watching his latest hot doctor show.
A good night? Not so different from all those Hollywood bashes, he said. "For me, it's like, 'Same zoo, different animals.' I'm like the albino panda bear, and everyone else is some exotic creature in my eyes."
VIDEO ON THE WEB Watch celebrities on the red carpet at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner at washingtonpost.com/style.