Ten days out, and we can already start counting the inaugural ball casualties: Both Luke Russert and MTV are backing away from much-hyped party plans.
First up, Russert. The NBC correspondent, 23, drew blogger wrath this week with news of a Jan. 19 "Inaugural Party Hosted by Luke Russert" at semi-private preppy nightclub the Rookery: $95 cover, open bar till 1, jacket required. The invitation was cheesy enough (Luke as Uncle Sam in the "I Want You" pose), but what about the ethics of journalist as pitchman?
"Clearly this is not an NBC event," network spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski told us. She said Russert, now on vacation overseas, assumed he had signed on to a private event, with proceeds to charity, and didn't realize the fliers would get wide circulation. "We've asked that Luke's name and photo be removed, and the bar has agreed." On the bright side: Russert's still going! (Cash bar from 1 to 4 a.m.)
And whither MTV? Once it was the hottest ticket in town -- one of the rare "unofficial" balls to merit a visit by Bill Clinton on his big night in 1993. In November, the cable giant announced plans for its Jan. 20 "Be the Change Inaugural Ball" at the Reagan Building, featuring "several leading artists, celebrities and government officials (to be named later)" along with lots of youngsters. But now, we've learned, the party's off -- at least that party.
"We did give up our space" at the Reagan Building, said spokeswoman Jeannie Kedas. But MTV will "have a presence" that night, broadcasting from one of the official inaugural balls (which one, it won't yet say). Why the change? "The intent of our show has always been to showcase youth activism." Whatever -- one fewer stop on that crazy, busy night.
The Reliable Source
January 9, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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