Three-hundred eighty-two guests are attending Tuesday night’s Italian state dinner — the last of the Obama administration’s and, understandably, one of the biggest. The celeb names were both surprising and somewhat logical.
Among them: Chicago-native Chance the Rapper and his dad Kenneth Bennett, a adviser to Rahm Emmanuel. Singer-songwriter Frank Ocean, a favorite of the first couple. Funnyman Jerry Seinfeld, who the president chatted and cruised around with for “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Italian-American actor John Turturro, who stars in the recent HBO hit “The Night Of” but also was a central character in “Do the Right Thing,” the movie the Obamas’ famously watched on their now beatified first date.
But more intriguing than the famous faces on the list (the night’s entertainer Gwen Stefani and her beau Blake Shelton) were the names that are a only recognizable inside the walls of the White House. That other VIP list read like first lady Michelle Obama’s personal Christmas card list.
There’s the White House interior designer Michael Smith and Mrs. Obama’s former “chief of stuff” Kristen Jarvis. We imagine the first lady’s entire glam squad will rush downstairs from the residence to the cocktail reception just moments before the first couple make their grand entrance. Represented from that intimate crew are the first lady’s hair stylist Johnny Wright, her colorist Yene Damtew, her make up artist Carl Ray, her stylist Meredith Koop, and even her personal trainer Cornell McClellan. This is the last state dinner, after all, and the Obamas highly value (and reward) loyalty.
Rounding out the list, of course, are the usual Washington types for whom a state dinner is hardly a once-in-a-lifetime affair. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be there as will U.S. Ambassador to Italy John Phillips. The Cabinet will be well-represented.
But the guest list is missing the one thing we’ve come to expect from these glittery affairs — wow factor. Who wouldn’t have wanted to see Madonna sashay down the grand corridor or watch John Travolta expertly butcher some dignitary’s name live on C-SPAN? That’ll have to wait until after Jan, 20, 2017.