Mags Get Glam in Secure Waldorf

February 5, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

For the cocktail reception preceding the Magazine Publishers of America's Henry Johnson Fisher awards dinner, Floralia decorated the hall leading to the Waldorf=Astoria's Starlight Roof with candles floating in large vases filled with red liquid.

Henry Johnson Fisher awards Waldorf=Astoria Wednesday, 01.30.02, 6:30 onward
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The Magazine Publishers of America's Henry Johnson Fisher awards ceremony got a small jolt of excitement--and an event planning challenge--this year, as the event took place at the Waldorf=Astoria on the night before the huge World Economic Forum started. Diane Cremin, the MPA's vice president of professional development and events, told us she found out that the high-powered conference was moving to the hotel from Davos, Switzerland, just two days after her invitations went out. Instead of rescheduling, she and her staff endured the extra hassles of working around the big conference and its extensive security.

The MPA emailed guests two pages of instructions telling them what to expect--street closings, identification checkpoints, metal detectors--but the extra hoopla didn't seem to faze the members of the chattering class who showed up for the black-tie dinner. Instead, it gave them a story to tell at the office the next day, and a glimpse at where Bono and Bill Gates would hobnob in mere hours.

This year's event also got a more glam look than last year's pretty traditional-looking event. The forum bumped the cocktail reception from its traditional location in the Astor and Jade rooms to the hotel's recently refurbished Starlight Roof, where Floralia arranged large candles floating in large vases filled with red liquid. Red lights highlighted two large buffet tables filled with breads, cheeses and vegetables and topped with giant flower arrangements.

Another nice touch was a set of red fabric banners (from Innovision Promotions) printed with the names of past Henry Johnson Fisher award recipients, so guests were reminded of the evening's purpose while mingling through the chatty crowd. (“They say you invented sex,” one well-wisher told award recipient and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and then gestured to past Fisher winner Helen Gurley Brown. “But she invented sex!")

For dinner, guests shuttled in elevators down to the grand ballroom, where they found tables decorated with elegant red rose centerpieces, and a large screen showed the event's logo and broadcast the proceedings. The Hank Lane Orchestra played as event-goers nibbled a Mediterranean vegetable and mushroom tart to start, followed by sliced filet of beef with cauliflower au gratin and grilled.phparagus, plus a chocolate mille-feuille with vanilla creme anglaise and fresh .phpberries for dessert.

For the program, MPA president and CEO Nina Link and chairman Dan Brewster (CEO of G&J USA) made brief remarks, and Wasington Post Company president and CEO Donald Graham presented an award to Newsweek chairman and editor in chief Richard Smith. Playboy Enterprises chairman and CEO Christie Hefner presented an award to her father (who was also honored at the latest Friars Club roast). Both Graham and Smith made classy speeches, and Christie Hefner made warm comments about her dad, and then queued a video with the standard shots of blond bunnies, Hef in his pajamas, and even a topless shot of Marilyn Monroe (but, thankfully, no Viagra references). Upon receiving his Steuben crystal urn, Hef, who got out of his PJs long enough to put on a tux, delivered a surprisingly short speech.

--Chad Kaydo

Read our coverage of last year's event...

Read our coverage of the MPA's National Magazine awards...

Read our coverage of the Friars Club party for Hefner...

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