By Adele Chapin & Walter Nicholls Posted May 12, 2009, 8:00 AM EDT
WASHINGTON, D.C. As in years past, parties of every kind and color—from movie screenings to exhibit openings to hangover brunches—surrounded this year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Here’s a wrap-up of the weekend's attractions:
Bloomberg and Vanity Fair's After-Party
Capitol File may have hosted the weekend's biggest party, but the most exclusive honors went to Bloomberg LP and Vanity Fair, who hosted an impossible-to-get-into shindig for 250 on Saturday night. Taking over French ambassador Pierre Vimont's turn-of-the-century home in Kalorama, the party drew big names from politics and Hollywood, among them Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Glenn Close, Eva Longoria, David Axelrod, Desiree Rogers, and the ubiquitous Captains Chesley Sullenberger and Richard Phillips. The party took over the mansion's interior rooms with bars and buffets, and spilled out into the backyard, where the many trees were uplit in blue, pink, and green.
David Bradley's Private Dinner
On Friday night, Atlantic Media owner David Bradley and his wife, Katherine Brittain Bradley, hosted an indoor cocktail reception followed by an outdoor seated dinner at their Embassy Row home. Sponsored by Toyota and Robert Mondavi Winery, the annual event was twice as large as last year, thus requiring for the first time a 40- by 40-foot HDO Productions tent, which Frost Lighting technicians draped with white rope lights.
For the most part, the 135 guests were Atlantic Media’s key clients and advertisers, with the notable exception of actor Rick Schroder, who found a quiet spot in the garden during most of the cocktail hour. The “Mexican and Modern” dinner, narrated by The Atlantic food writer Corby Kummer and prepared by Susan Gage Caterers, brought together alternating courses of traditional (toasted tortilla soup) and progressive (liquefied popcorn with caramel foam) Mexican dishes inspired by Chicago chefs Rick Bayless and Grant Achatz (who are reportedly favorites of President Barack Obama). The Bradleys scheduled the event to end at 10, still guests lingered until 11 p.m.
DC Mag's Issue Release/Exhibit Opening Party
A quick walk from Atlantic’s dinner, the Embassy of Finland was home to DC Magazine and international PR firm the Brunswick Group's cocktail party, which celebrated the release of the magazine’s May/June travel issue and the opening of “MyHelsinki,” the current embassy exhibition. The inter-active show, which opened May 2, follows the travels of 12 noted Washingtonians (among them organic food pioneer Nora Pouillon and architect Travis Price) who visited Finland for a cross-cultural exchange. Some 200 guests, including White House staffers and area artists, mingled alongside a series of tree-shaped Plexiglas and wood installations covered with travel memorabilia, digital frames, and video projections. RSVP Catering provided six passed hors d’oeuvres, including lamb and hazelnut baklava, desserts of assorted macaroons and brownie lollipops, and to wash all that down, sweet peach and berry martinis.
Capitol File's Documentary Screening
Over at the Naval Heritage Center on Pennsylvania Avenue, also on Friday night, Capitol File magazine and the Creative Coalition hosted the D.C. premiere of Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson's film PoliWood, a documentary about the intersection of celebrity, politics, and media. The evening kicked off with a reception and red carpet photo ops for celebrities such as Matthew Settle from Gossip Girl and Kerry Washington. About 240 guests munched on fresh popcorn while screening the movie in the Center’s heavily air-conditioned Burke Theater. Actors featured in the film, including Dana Delany, Matthew Modine, and Rachael Leigh Cook, tackled questions during the post-film Q&A session. Embassy Row Catering by Café Milano provided desserts such as chocolate-covered strawberries and puff pastries at the mini after-party, which wrapped up at 10:30 p.m.
People & Time's Cocktail Party
Blocks away, also on Friday night, Time Inc. publications Time and People jointly hosted a cocktail reception for 300 on the Astor Terrace of the St. Regis. Guests Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Kevin Bacon dined on bar snacks of sun- and air-dried exotic fruits and cupcakes.
Tammy Haddad's Saturday Brunch
At Haddad Media president Tammy Haddad's Saturday afternoon brunch, a step-and-repeat for the new White House Correspondents' Insider Web site greeted the day's 500 guests—as did a dozen 9- to 12-year-old girls who volunteered to line the home's driveway, representing the nonprofit Mothers Day Every Day Campaign. Threatening skies cleared early on for the 12th annual event, which filled three connecting tents with media A-listers standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Heads turned for actor Christian Slater and equally so for Todd Palin, who never strayed far from Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. NBC Today show anchor Ann Curry gave brief remarks in support of the Mothers Day Campaign for healthy childbirth. Haddad cohosted the event this year with Ted Greenberg, Hilary Rosen, Alex Castellanos, Michael Feldman, Ann Walker Merchant, Steve McMahon, Ellen Ratner, Chip Smith, David Sutphen, and BizBash C.E.O. David Adler. Classic Affairs Catering prepared the brunch menu that included Caesar salad, smoked salmon, and shrimp cocktail.
McLaughlin's Morning-After Brunch
For those who still needed another round of schmooze after Saturday night’s W.H.C.A. dinner and round of parties, John McLaughlin hosted his fifth annual morning-after brunch for 190 guests at Teatro Goldoni restaurant, a change of venue from the Hay-Adams Hotel rooftop, where the event has been held for the past three years. “Last year the weather was cold and people weren’t staying long,” said The McLaughlin Group assistant producer Briana Pashcow. “We brought it inside so everyone is a lot more comfortable.” Between conversations that inevitably mentioned the crush of the crowd at the W.H.C.A. dinner, guests dined off a buffet of 25 Italian dishes, including spinach cannelloni and octopus salad, and sipped virgin and full-strength bloody Marys.