John Kelly's Washington

Hollywood heartthrobs come to dinner (now if they would only leave)

Hollywood turns out for the 2010 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Below, a front-row seat for the red carpet arrivals...
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh, goodie. Another White House Correspondents' Association dinner, when official Washington seeks approval from Scarlett Johansson.

As I have done every year, I boycotted this year's event, which was Saturday. This is fairly easy to do, since I've never been invited. But that's just the way I like it. The annual grip-and-grinfest offends the true Washingtonian.

It reminds me of the Metrobus after a big snowstorm. I ride the bus fairly frequently, and after a big snowstorm, I find it crowded with people I've never seen -- people who usually drive to work and resort to public transportation only in extreme circumstances.

So, too, with Hollywood celebrities, who come to Washington only when they want to flog their movie-of-the-week disease or pick up a patina of seriousness by slumming with the wonks. Oh, how I wish Scarlett and her friends would stay in Beverly Hills or Malibu or wherever it is they keep their hyperbaric chambers.

As a journalist, I find it embarrassing to watch news organizations scramble to see who can get the most outrageous guests to sit at their tables. Remember a few years back, when the Wall Street Journal expended two of its 10 precious spots on Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner with the shattered leg? The poor horse just stood there, uncomfortable in his tuxedo, as Ryan Seacrest and Dana Delany compared placental anti-wrinkle creams.

This year, we had hairocephalic teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. What does he have to do with Washington? What does he have to do with anything?

Of course, part of this is envy on my part. I wish I could talk Greek financial reform with Kim Kardashian. But my jealousy runs deeper than that. In a lot of American newsrooms, you're not really taken seriously until you've written a story with the dateline "Aboard Air Force One." The most exotic dateline I'll ever write is "Aboard the Green Line."

But apparently there's some good news: Washington is cool! The New York Times magazine said so in a story Sunday about all the attractive young things who've moved to D.C. to work for Obama. There's a scene in the article in which Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau waits patiently for a beer at a Logan Circle house party only to be met with a dwindling trickle of foam.

"The keg was kicked" reads the denouement.

That line was as poignant in its own way as when the dog gets shot in "Old Yeller" or the fish gets eaten by sharks in "The Old Man and the Sea." (Spoiler alert: The dog gets shot in "Old Yeller" and the fish gets eaten by sharks in "The Old Man and the Sea.")

I don't know whether Jon ever got his beer. All I could think was, "Jon Favreau? That guy from 'Swingers'? 'You're so money'?"

That's another Hollywood reference.

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