Hollywood Moves In on Washington Press Prom Parties
It was early this morning at the French ambassador's home when Eva Longoria Parker, deep in conversation with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, noticed the reporter's notebook. "Don't put in I'm smoking," the "Desperate Housewives" star casually ordered us, before resuming her tete-a-tete with the smoldering Irish actor.
Parker had come to Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association dinner -- our city's biggest media conclave -- somehow expecting all those reporters to ignore the cigarette in her hand ... because she said so. So adorably Hollywood of her.
The annual Washington press prom -- complete with a full weekend of pre and post-parties -- brought in a record number of A-listers surfing the Obama wave. "I was invited a couple years ago, but I didn't want to go," Rhys Meyers told us. There were so many that the whole dynamic of the press-administration schmoozathon was almost overshadowed by Oscar-night-style rubbernecking: Tom and Katie! Sting! Stevie Wonder! Bon Jovi! Tyra Banks! Ludacris! Steven Spielberg! George Lucas! Glenn Close and ... darn, what's-his-name -- Denis Leary? Or Matthew Modine? Who knows, they were both there!
As always, the night started early, with a series of receptions in the mazelike interior of the Hilton Washington. At the glittery Newsweek party, Natalie Portman had a long chat with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) until Newt Gingrich cut in. Mike Myers, surprisingly shy, ventured into the room, felt overwhelmed and beat a retreat through the kitchen. Upstairs, fresh-faced designer Jason Wu, a favorite of first lady Michelle Obama, got carded by a bartender at a Wall Street Journal fete.
And then -- four hours and many speeches and countless bottles of chardonnay/cabernet over dinner later -- more parties. Vanity Fair and Bloomberg joined forces for what turned out to be the most coveted after-party ticket at the French ambassador's residence -- a glittering affair for some 300 very very important people and only the savviest gate-crashers. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ambled through the mansion without a single celebrity asking him about, say, tort reform or David Souter's replacement. "Nah, they don't know who I am," he said with a grin. "But that's okay. I don't know who they are, either."
Captain Richard Phillips, the man kidnapped by pirates, was fully enjoying his moment in the spotlight -- even if some people still had a hard time placing him. He told us about being at a Celtics game and meeting a fan who gushed: "You're my hero! The way you came into the Hudson." Yeee-ah. That would be captainChesley Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed the US Airways jet and the other super-popular hero-guest of the night. Sullenberger also made the scene at the inauguration, the Super Bowl, the Oscars -- so how did this compare? "Are we off the record?" he asked. "I have to be off the record." (Guys, we're reporters!)
Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore were stuck in a corner talking political activism with some D.C. types. She: tinier than you expect; he: taller, more gravitas than you expect, with a bow tie so big it seemed to dwarf his head. A guy in a clip-on asked him what the secret was to tying those things; Kutcher told him he has to consult an instructional video on YouTube every time.
There was Jason Bateman in line for the men's room. How'd he manage to capture the quintessential sleaze of a certain kind of D.C. lawyer/PR type in "State of Play"? "From growing up in L.A.," he said. Oh, you have them there, too?
Two miles away, Capitol File magazine threw a larger after-party for about 600 at the Corcoran -- a hotter ticket than usual owing to the other party's virtual shutout of anyone sub-B-list. It was the first stop of the night for Desirée Rogers and Valerie Jarrett, the cover girls of the new issue, before they sprinted up the road to the more elite Bloomberg/Vanity Fair bash. Qatar Airways was a sponsor of the Corcoran party, and a princely gentleman -- HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, we're told -- was getting a lot of attention from skinny party girls. Political guys in rented tuxes made feeble attempts to dance to house music so blaringly loud that oldsters like Rahm Emanuel fled up the museum's marble staircase to talk. Christian Slater was mobbed by star-struck gals. "He's cuter than I thought!" whispered one.
Back at Vanity Fair/Bloomberg, Rhys Meyers (the horny King Henry VIII of "The Tudors") had unbuttoned his shirt to mid-torso. He greeted women on the wide stone balcony, kissing hands, saying "M'lady." Owen Wilson perched on a railing, huddled in deep banter with two young women, new friends by the looks of it, one with a Swarovski crystal peace sign on her upper arm. And then they were gone. The place was emptying out. We got the hint.
A final after-after party, at the Dupont rowhouse of political consultant Mike Feldman, filled with cute, young Hollywood people (Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford) and new administration folks, average age roughly 17, from the looks of them. And one last moment of that political-celebrity convergence everyone gets excited about: speechwriter Jon Favreau and actress Rashida Jones, on the back porch at 3 a.m., standing close and talking. It looked like something, maybe, not that we could ask. But, in different ways, they're about equally famous now. It could work.
For more photos from the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner and after-parties, click here.
The Reliable Source
May 10, 2009; 6:52 PM ET
Categories: Parties , White House Correspondents' Association Dinner
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