WHC Group Brunches With McLaughlin

John McLaughlin began the post-WHCA Dinner Sunday brunch tradition, and this year was no different with the Thomson Reuters McLaughlin brunch.

Making a grand return to the rooftop of the Hay-Adams Hotel, with one of the most beautiful views of the White House, McLaughlin gathered notables like T. Boone Pickens, Dennis Quaid, and Wolf Blitzer. Georgette Mosbacher has been attending since 1988.

Previous brunch guests have included Vice President Dick Cheney, Tom Selleck, and Robert De Niro (while prepping for his role in “Wag the Dog”).

Boone and Madeleine Pickens with John McLaughlin

Boone and Madeleine Pickens with John McLaughlin

Eleanor Clift

Dennis Quaid and Rebecca Cooper

Junior Prom or Memorable Moment: The Radio Television Correspondents Association Dinner

Just because some in the Washington press corps refer to it as “Junior Prom” doesn’t mean the Radio & Television Correspondents Association Dinner hasn’t had its share of memorable moments.

Washington Honors Media At Radio And Television Correspondents Dinner

President George Bush at 2008 RTCA Dinner

In 2008, even its entertainer/host Mo Rocca dissed the RTCA dinner, calling it the Nicky (Hilton) to the White House Correspondent Dinner’s Paris. And indeed the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (aka “Senior Prom”) in recent years has bigger celebrities (the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Pamela Anderson, Ben Affleck and Mariska Hargitay), more of them and more-buzzed about pre- and post-parties.  Check out some of the pics from last year here.

The RTCA dinner is now in its 65th year. It’s Hollywood quotient in the last decade was mostly limited to activist actors Ron Silver and Al Franken and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, although Jon Voight and Fran Drescher also put in appearances. But it has a recent history of making headlines from the stage; highlights (lowlights?) include entertainer Don Imus’ raunchy jokes about President Bill Clinton’s personal life in 1996, a major PR gaffe by President George W. Bush in 2004, and, in 2007, a bizarre rappin’ “MC [Karl] Rove.” And unlike the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner, the RTCA’s, which in recent years has been held at the Washington Hilton, is open to TV cameras.

Once upon a time, the tables were switched: Radio and television correspondents worked for richer news organizations and were better paid than their print colleagues and many were glamorous stars in their own right, giving their dinner the higher profile of the two. In 1987, however, the Baltimore Sun’s Michael Kelly started inviting the likes of Fawn Hall and Donna Rice to the White House Correspondents’ dinner and the competition was on.

The Washington Post’s Kim Masters called Mr. Imus’ appearance in 1996 “a roast that turned into an inferno.” The radio shock jock, as President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton sat just feet away, joked that: “When Cal Ripkin broke Lou Gherig’s consecutive game record, the president was at Camden Yards doin’ play by play in the radio with John Miller. Bobby Bonilla hit a double, we all heard the President in his obvious excitement holler ‘Go Baby!’ I remember commenting at the time, I bet that’s not the first time he’s said that. Remember the Astroturf in the pickup?”

He also poked fun at ABC News’ Peter Jennings (who wasn’t there) and CBS News’ Dan Rather (who was.)

Don Imus Appears On Al Sharpton Radio Show

Don Imus

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McLaughlin Group Gathers For Traditional "Morning After" Brunch


Patricia Duff, Mort Zuckerman and host John McLaughlin at his traditional "Morning After" Brunch

Patricia Duff, Mort Zuckerman and host John McLaughlin at his traditional "Morning After" Brunch

The Father of the Modern Political Panel Talk Show, John McLaughlin, came to national prominence as President Nixon’s priest who defended him so well on television after his fall. But for many in Washington, he’s almost as well known for his Sunday brunch on the White House Correspondents Dinner weekend.  One of the great traditions for A-listers (local and Hollywood based) is to wake up and head on over for more people watching. “The McLaughlin Group” is the first panel political show to put opinions and humor into Sunday morning political talk.  From the beginning McLaughlin captured and advanced the conversation with original panelists like Robert Novak, Jack Germond and Mort Kondracke to the omnipresent Patrick Buchanan.  The long suffering Eleanor Clift still holds her own, while Moynihan “hottie” Lawrence O’Donnell has brought in a new audience to this Washington staple.  McLaughlin owns his show which is both on NBC and syndicated on PBS stations around the country. Others have tried and failed to compete with his original delivery and thought provoking banter.  He is the ringmaster and makes politics more accessible to audiences that would not watch a cable show.

His unique place in the political conversation has made his brunch just as thought provoking.  When Robert DeNiro was prepping for “Wag The Dog” he was McLaughlin’s guest for the WHCD.  The double takes as DeNiro talked to Laura Ingraham and Janet Langhart was a classic McLaughlin brunch moment.  The occasional appearance of Tom Selleck, as well as VP Cheney and other cabinet officials of both parties, caused an incredible fight for an invitation.  The brunch, then in McLaughlin’s Woodland Drive home, has become another weekend tradition.

This year’s Brunch at Teatro Goldoni, the first to coincide with Mother’s Day, brought out a crowd that included, Tivo Chairman Tom Rogers, Nancy Bagley, Soroush Shehabi, Nicole Bagley, former Sec. of Defense Bill Cohen, Beth and Ron Dozoretz, Fred and Marlene Malik, Buzz Aldrin, Debbie and John Dingell, Amb. Ivonne A-BakiSusan Hurley, Tandy and Wyatt Dickerson, Pat Buchanan and wife Shelley, Ali and Mark Russell, Spike and Tina Karalikis, Jim Kimsey, former Md. Cong. Tom McMillen, Judith Czelusniak, PR worldwide Bloomberg, and Dr. Christine Warnke among others.

More pictures of today’s brunch after the jump. [Read more…]

Memorable Moments of Dinners Past

If there’s a single instance in the recent history that encapsulates what the White House Correspondents’ Dinner has become in staid, old Washington, it would have to be the “Ozzy moment.” The year was 2002 and the unified spirit that enveloped Washington in the wake of the 9/11 attacks still lingered as the elite masses gathered at the Washington Hilton hotel for the annual dinner. President Bush was on hand, riding a wave of political popularity. Cabinet members like Colin Powell were also present, as well as the upper echelons of official Washington.

Comedian Drew Carey was the featured entertainment (after the president, of course), and the requisite celebrities were on hand as well – Harrison Ford, Christie Brinkley, etc. But it was heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne (invited by Fox News host Greta Van Susteren) everyone was clamoring to see. His MTV reality show “The Osbournes” had become a cultural phenomenon and the muttering poster boy of rock ‘n roll excess was more famous than he had ever been in his head-banging heyday. Even the president couldn’t resist the pull of America’s sudden and most unlikely celebrity. “The thing about Ozzy is he’s made a lot of big hit recordings,” Bush said as he gave the singer a shout-out during his remarks. “’Party With Animals,’ ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,’ ‘Face in Hell,’ ‘Black Skies’ and ‘Bloodbath in Paradise’ … Ozzy, mom loves your stuff.” Osbourne responded by standing on his chair, arms raised and shouting as the audience howled and applauded.

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