The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Worlds collide at the pre-correspondents’ dinner ‘garden brunch’

Placeholder while article actions load

One of the best things about the annual pre-White House correspondents’ dinner “garden brunch,” hosted by a handful of Washington power brokers, is the chance to witness the unlikely mashups that come from packing Hollywood celebs, denizens of Official Washington and corporate titans into heated tents in a stunning Georgetown backyard.

So there’s “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio deep in convo with former agriculture secretary Dan Glickman. And Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), looking neighborhood-barbeque casual in an ensemble accessorized by a Memphis Grizzlies ball cap and a Bloody Mary, sidling up to “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner for a picture.

And ahead of you in the line for the mimosa bar — it’s Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, chatting amicably with a blonde we’re assured is a top Comcast lobbyist. Ooh, wait… needle scratch. Didn’t his agency just scuttle the cable giant’s proposed merger?

All seems forgotten under the tents at the historic Beall-Washington House, the former home of Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham that’s now owned by businessman Mark Ein and his wife, Sally.

The Eins are two of the party’s hosts, along with media consultant Tammy Haddad; Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen; AOL co-founder Steve Case and his wife, Jean; Bloomberg government affairs chief Kevin Sheekey; former Obama White House communications director Anita Dunn; media strategist Bill Knapp; BizBash CEO David Adler; and restaurateur Franco Nuchese.

When we said “mashups,” we meant that quite literally. The crowd was so dense that one barely had time to register the VIPs among the cheek-to-jowl throngs. Spotted in the mob: “Scandal” actress Darby Stanchfield, top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, Tim Daly of “Madam Secretary,” outgoing White House social secretary Jeremy Bernard, CBS “This Morning” co-host Gayle King and “Veep” actor Timothy Simons.

Most attendees had, by Saturday afternoon, been to at least a few warm-up parties leading up to the main event Saturday night. And things were starting to feel pretty meta, with many conversations revolving around whether the dinner and surrounding parties — with all their corporate sponsors, hangers-on, and celebrity focus, were just a little too too much.

“It just feels a little too decadent,” one partygoer lamented (though, in fairness, she could just have been referring to the buttery mini-French toasts).

Not everyone was having that. “It’s just a dinner,” Glickman said. “Can’t we all just have a little fun?”

Read more Reliable Source coverage of the White House correspondents’ dinner:

They don’t make People-Time WHCD swag bags like they used to

From Susan Rice to Lena Dunham, New Yorker’s WHCD cocktail party brings out the stars

Has Hollywood finally gotten the WHCD memo? Washingtonians outshine celebs at Capitol File party.

‘Scandal’s’ Darby Stanchfield gets her gladiator on at the Creative Coalition WHCD party

– A Rolling Stones member and a U.S. senator prove Washington friendships are weird at WHCD pre-party

Can we nominate Larry Wilmore for next year’s WHCD headliner?

The VIPs attending the 2015 White House correspondents’ dinner