This is how most visiting celebrities, CEOs, top-tier journalists, and well-connected PR mavens in town pre-game for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: a bloody Mary bar and a mingle that takes so much energy, everyone can just skip their SoulCycle session this week.
Just navigating though the throngs under the tents at the annual “Garden Brunch” hosted by a growing list of Washington power players feel like a workout. “This is a little overwhelming,” says actress Lisa Edelstein to a male companion, as she prepares to enter the fray.
And even the social interactions look like cardio workouts: Former White House protocol chief Capricia Marshall and “House of Cards” actress Constance Zimmer gesture vigorously to one another as they talk over the din, and everyone in the room is rubbernecking, trying to get a visual on Oscar winner Helen Mirren, who is somewhere there, allegedly looking fabulous. “She looks like Anita Dunn,” says one political staffer.
The crowd is all over the map: top White House aide Valerie Jarrett is at what seems like the eighteenth party of the weekend (posing for a quick snapshot with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons), half the cast of “Scandal” is sidling up to the coffee bar, and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer is working the room. Philanthropic types are pressed against fashionistas, like Cosmo editor Joanna Coles. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) seems to have figured out a way to defy the laws of physics and is everywhere at once.
Media mogul Arianna Huffington is introducing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to anyone who walks by. Not weird at all — Huffington was just named to the driver-service’s board of directors, to no small reaction from media watchers and her staff.
Blame the eclectic makeup of the host committee for the variety: media consultant Tammy Haddad; Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen; Bloomberg government affairs chief Kevin Sheekey; former Obama White House communications director Anita Dunn; media strategist Bill Knapp; BizBash CEO David Adler; restaurateur Franco Nuchese; pharmaceutical exec and real estate baroness Sachiko Kuno, Microsoft government affairs veep Fred Humphries, and uber-Dem donor and real estate developer Constance Milstein.
Each seemed to invite their entire contact list to the fete, at the historic Beall-Washington House in Georgetown, the former home of Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham that’s now owned by businessman Mark Ein and his wife, Sally — both also among the endless co-host roster, naturally.