Root Ball Could Draw Them All: Obamas, Oprah and...
Ah-hah! So now we know - or so we're told - where Oprah Winfrey will be celebrating the inauguration of her favorite president-elect. At least one of the nights while she's in town.
She's widely expected to attend The Root Inaugural Ball, being co-hosted by her dear friend, Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr., editor-in-chief of The Root, the daily online magazine owned by the Washington Post Company written from an African-American perspective.
The Root ball, which will be held Sunday Jan. 18 at the National Museum of American History, is drawing an impressive roster of A-list celebrities and renowned academics and will surely be one of the hottest tickets of the entire five-day inaugural celebration.
Besides Winfrey, the hosts of the party have extended an invitation to President-elect Obama and his wife, Michelle, who will become first lady in just 13 days. No word yet on whether the Obamas will attend.
The Root's managing editor, Lynette Clemetson, who rebuffed all our attempts to confirm Winfrey's attendance, makes a great case why the Obamas should attend The Root ball, of all the many unofficial balls out there.
She describes Obama's inauguration as "historic for all Americans, but it's especially poignant and emotional for readers of The Root."
Noting that The Root launched last January just after Obama's big victory in the South Carolina primary, Clemetson says, "Over the year, our readers came to trust us for black perspectives on the campaign. And the Web site had a tremendous first year in large part because of President-elect Obama's campaign. So we're really thrilled to help our guests celebrate this once in a lifetime."
While Winfrey is all the buzz surrounding the ball, organizers of The Root celebration won't comment on whether the richest woman in entertainment will attend. They have, however, confirmed Spike Lee, director John Singleton, actor Chris Tucker and Sarah Jessica Parker will be there. (And apparently Tina Brown, who recently founded the Daily Beast web site, will be bringing her own bevy of celebrities to the Sunday night ball.)
Biz Markie, the DJ and self-declared class clown of rap (he's as much a comedian as he is a DJ and rapper) will be the headline entertainment, according to the invitation.
In addition to Gates and Clemetson, the ball is being hosted by Donald Graham, CEO and chairman of the board of The Washington Post Company, Donna Byrd, publisher of The Root, and Brent Glass, director of the National Museum of American History.
Another big - or small - celebrity expected to attend the Sunday night ball is 10-year-old Damon Weaver, America's most adorable TV reporter, a 5th grader from Florida, who has been trying desperately to score an interview with Obama for his elementary school's television news program.
The Root has even taken up Weaver's cause, writing an editorial to Obama's transition team appealing for Obama to grant the kid an interview. Weaver, who's already a polished pro at TV reporting despite a speech impediment, will be chaperoned by his speech coach.
Something tells us Weaver may just get that interview after all.
Mary Ann Akers
January 8, 2009; 4:45 PM ET
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