Hosts Gear Up for White House Correspondents Weekend Parties

By Walter Nicholls May 5, 2009, 1:47 PM EDT

With the approval rating high for the new administration, it appears that a tsunami of V.I.P.s will be in town for this weekend’s line up of brunches, cocktail receptions, dinners, and after-parties surrounding Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Association dinner at the Hilton Washington. (The only big name not mentioned, thus far, appears to be British reality TV sensation Susan Boyle.)

The once-sleepy insider’s dinner and joke fest, traditionally attended by the President of the United States, has never been the same since that day in 1987 when Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Kelly escorted the Iran-Contra scandal’s Fawn Hall. One hot guest still in the paddock is Sir Elton John, reportedly in town this weekend attending the Land Rover America’s Polo Cup, according to the Washington Times.

Few details have emerged ahead of Friday night’s Time Inc. joint party for Time and People at the Astor Terrace of the St. Regis or the joint fete Bloomberg News and Vanity Fair are teaming up to host Saturday night for 300 guests at the residence of French Ambassador Pierre Vimont. Other media organizations, however, are sharing details.

Atlantic Media owner David Bradley is hosting a seated dinner on Friday night at his Embassy Row home for 135 guests, twice as many as last year, thus requiring a backyard tent for the first time. Susan Gage Caterers is preparing the dinner, which has a “Mexican and Modern” theme and will be narrated by The Atlantic food writer Corby Kummer as guests dine.

The following evening, the crowd invited to the National Journal Group, The Atlantic, and ABC's cocktail reception at the Hilton Washington exhibit hall concourse prior to the WHCA dinner will be 200 fewer than last year, clocking in at 400. (Outdoor construction at the hotel has closed the patio where the event has been held in previous years.) Catered by the Hilton, the event's decor will include large Warhol-esque photos of President Barack Obama and other administration officials. In a first at this year’s reception, Atlantic Media partnered with ABC for “help in terms of drawing more interesting guests and celebrities. There was no effort to scale back,” said Atlantic Media vice president Elizabeth Baker Keffer, who has organized the event for the past eight years.

A quick walk from Atlantic’s Friday night dinner, DC Magazine and international PR firm the Brunswick Group are hosting a cocktail party for 200 guests at the Embassy of Finland (best known for its modern architecture and spacious sauna). The 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. party, catered by RSVP Catering, celebrates the release of the magazine’s May/June travel issue and the opening of MyHelsinki, the current exhibition at the embassy.  

In the same time slot, Niche Media’s Capitol File magazine and the Creative Coalition will host a reception and screening of PoliWood (the documentary by director Barry Levinson) Friday evening at the United States Navy Memorial Heritage Center. Embassy Row Catering by Café Milano will serve eight Italian canapés, such as breaded and fried veal-stuffed olives. For the mag's annual Saturday night after-party, this year kicking off at the Corcoran Gallery of Art at 10 p.m., the arriving 600 guests will walk the “Qatar Airlines Runway Red Carpet” before sampling Occasions Caterer’s savory and sweet buffets and passed hors d'oeuvres, many made with a shot from sponsor Maker's Mark. Events by André Wells is providing decor, with DJ D Nice spinning for the night. Special guests include White House social secretary Desirée Rogers and White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who together will appear on Capitol File’s summer issue cover.

More than 500 guests are expected on Saturday for the 12th annual garden brunch at the Palisades home of Haddad Media president Tammy Haddad, who is cohosting 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 will prepare the Mediterranean menu for the event, which is benefiting the nonprofit Mothers Day Every Day Campaign.

Wrapping up the weekend, The McLaughlin Group host John McLaughlin will host his annual Sunday brunch, this year at Teatro Goldoni restaurant.

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