3 Months Till the White House Correspondents' Weekend

Polson Kanneth of ABC News and International superstar Aamir Kahn

Polson Kanneth of ABC News and International superstar Aamir Kahn

The booking competition begins! Which media organization will win the White House Correspondents’ Weekend guest sweepstakes and land the biggest, most engaging stars for the weekend. It’s big business for the news organizations to bring together their best clients and important friends for a weekend of star-gazing and conversation with Washington’s top players.

Vanity Fair and Bloomberg are at the top of the list but Christian Broadcasting and Politico always deliver interesting guests. At White House Correspondents Insider we will follow all the action. To get you in the mood here is last year’s White House Correspondents Garden Brunch video.

Darren Criss Took Over Bloomberg/Vanity Fair Afterparty In True Glee Fashion


Daily Beast Bipartisan Brunch
Every year after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, folks wait around at their various after-parties for ‘that’ to happen. Sometimes it’s a wardrobe malfunction, other times griping about long lines or how traffic slows to a crawl between the Hilton and Embassy Row. But this year during the Bloomberg/Vanity Fair soiree at the French ambassador’s residence it involved “Glee,” a piano and a collection of A-list musical talent standing nearby.

As the party went on with guests like Barbra Streisand, Katy Perry, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the cast of House of Cards and Morena Baccarin we’re told people noticed a piano off to the side. Soon Glee’s Darren Criss sat down and played an impromtu and acoustic set of whatever happened to tickle his fancy on the ivories. Guests standing around joined him on a few tunes and it established the sort of urban legends that the White House Correspondents Weekend is famous for having.

White House Correspondents' Dinner 2013 Celebrities and Tom Brokaw's Spite?


The Sunday after the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Tom Brokaw attacked his former Washington colleagues for frolicking with Hollywood stars like Kim Kardashian. Appearing on Meet The Press and in later interviews he criticized the culture of Washington journalism, but what does he think about the students who benefit from the journalism scholarships presented at the dinner? Let’s hope we hear from him on Morning Joe this week in the countdown to the dinner.

Here is The Wrap’s take:
“As Conan O’Brien readies for a second performance as host of the festivities, oft called the “Nerd Ball,” this year’s guest list includes Harvey Weinstein, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Nicole Kidman, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd and Michael J. Fox.

Once again, this year’s dinner will cement Washington’s annual turn as Tinseltown on the Potomac, the main event in a weekend of social activities that includes not only the dinner itself, but cocktail parties, lunches, brunches and related dinners. The dinner will feature not only a funny speech by a top comedian, but a funny one by the President of the United States. This year the correspondents’ dinner will be televised on both MSNBC and C-SPAN.

In recent years the dinner, which raises money for journalism scholarships, has grown from a one-night event into a weekend that represents the height of the Washington social season and combines the crème of the Washington political set with Hollywood.

Vanity Fair and Bloomberg sponsor one after dinner party, while Atlantic owner David and Katherine Bradley sponsor a Friday night dinner in just a few of the events.

As before the stars will be plentiful this year.

Tina Brown is bringing Weinstein and Kidman on behalf of Newsweek and the Daily Beast. Her other Hollywood-oriented guests include Barry Diller, “The Newsroom’s” Olivia Munn and Joel Kinnaman of “The Killing.”

Time and Fortune are bringing Spielberg and Katzenberg as well as Julia Louis-Dreyfus and husband Brad Hall, and Olympics gymnast Gabby Douglas.

CNN, meanwhile, is hosting Banks, Rudd, Navid Negahban and Justin Bartha as well as University of Louisville guard Kevin Ware, who broke his foot in the March Madness college basketball finals.

Also read: Conan O’Brien Returns As Host of White House Correspondents Dinner

Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post/AOL guests include Jon Bon Jovi, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Shaquille O’Neal, M.C. Hammer and super angel investor Ron Conway.

ABC News’ guests include “Modern Family” stars Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen; “Nashville’s” Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and Charles Esten; and Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn of “Scandal.”

At CBS News, the guests include Claire Danes from Showtime’s “Homeland” and Daniel Dae Kim from “Hawaii Five-0.” Ryan Zimmerman of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals and celebrity chef José Andrés.

NBC News is bringing Michael Douglas (who voices the introduction of NBC’s “Nightly News”), Fox (who will star in an NBC comedy series next year loosely about his life), his wife Tracy Pollan and Matthew Perry, star of the network’s “Go On” series.

USA Today is bringing Courtney Cox, Kristin Chenoweth, Kate Walsh and Josh Gad.

The media outlets inviting Hollywood guests bring them to compliment more traditional Washington and their business guests.

CBS for instance is bringing several congressmen and retired Admiral Mike Mullet, former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. NBC’s other guests include members of the Federal Communications Commission, several senators and congressmen and several present and former White House officials.

Even as the event attracts glamor, it regularly attracts two kinds of criticism. Some question whether it replaces the picture of an adversarial and always questioning Fourth Estate with one in which reporters appear too chummy with the public officials they cover. Other critics point to the dinner’s Hollywood element and question whether raising reporters’ celebrity quotient hurts the press’s image with the public.

Last year The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column called the event, “decadent and depraved. It is elitist and shallow, smug and insidery, a three-day orgy of corporate preening and celebrity suck-up so far removed from its earnest D.C. journalism roots as to be completely meaningless.”

The column immediately dismissed its own criticism, suggesting the event was unchangeable, “so make the best of it.”

Other critics have been less sanguine. Jay Rosen, commenting on a decline in public confidence in the press showcased in a Gallup poll last year, called the dinner “ground zero” of concerns that the press is becoming part of the power structure.

“The glamorization of journalism after Watergate, combined with the influence of celebrity within the news tribe, plus the growing concentration of media ownership in a few large companies that themselves seek influence, [has] made mockery of the journalist as a courageous truthteller standing outside the halls of power,” Rosen wrote, saying all those concerns are on “vivid display” at the correspondents’ dinner.

Brokaw raised his concerns immediately after last year’s dinner. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, he suggested the celebrities’ glamour disserves the media — increasing concerns the public has about “mainstream media” not fulfilling its traditional independent role.

“If there’s ever an event that separates the press from the people that they are supposed to serve, symbolically, it is that one,” said Brokaw. “It is time to rethink it.”

“I think George Clooney is a great guy. I would like to meet Charlize Theron. I don’t think the big press event in Washington should be that kind of glittering event where the whole talk is about Cristal champagne, taking over the Italian embassy, who had the best party, who got to meet the most people.

“That’s another separation between what we’re supposed to be doing and what the people expect us to be doing, and I think the Washington press corps has to look at that. It’s gone beyond what it needs to be,” Brokaw added.

Defenders of the dinner dismiss the criticisms suggesting that Washington reporters oft fierce and skeptical questioning of public officials hardly belies a press that has become part of the power structure. Instead they picture the dinner as a one night truce between the parties in 364 ¾ days of sustained conflict, a truce to raise money for a worthy cause.

Brokaw’s comments got an immediate push back last year from the correspondents’ group president Ed Henry, who noted in a radio interview that the event raised $100,000 for scholarships and that the Italian embassy event Brokaw mentioned was sponsored by Brokaw’s own MSNBC, not the correspondents association.

“I do think that there are challenges … that it sometimes looks too much like a celebrity fest and we have to do things to make sure that that doesn’t overshadow it, but we give a lot of money to needy students who are the next generation of journalists so there is a balance there,” said Henry.

White House Correspondents Weekend Parties Start To Roll Out

Kerry Washington and Hilary Rosen

The annual land-grab for talent and venues has officially, or at least publicly, begun for the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner Weekend. Yeas and Nays found out that on April 25 that Marie Claire will host their first party in the 99 years of the Correspondents Dinner. Indeed there’s a certain type of magic to be found during the WHCD Weekend. Where else can you find, like last year, Kerry Washington and Hilary Rosenside-by-side on a Grin-and-Grip?

The where, when and how are TBD even by party co-hosts Meredith Fineman and Jessica Hoy. Hoy, however, talks up a few more potential parties at her entry on Examiner–no relation to the Yeas and Nays’ own Washington Examiner–when it comes to break-ups and strange sponsor bedfellows:

  • Time and People will be back at the St. Regis, despite recent news that Time titles into publicly traded companies.
  • The Atlantic ditched Funny or Die for Our Time as a co-partner and chose Jessica Alba and Warren Cash as their co-hosts. Hopefully they’ll be doing it for free since The Atlantic doesn’t have the funds to pay anyone these days.
  • Bloomberg/Vanity Fair, Capitol File, Google, Allbritton and Washingtonian all are going to do something Saturday or Sunday. This news is as shocking as the Metro being broken down or Conan O’Brien being tall.

    And that’s it. Invitations are still secretly being rolled out as Washington media elites struggle to keep their guest wants out of prying eyes. We’ll wait and see what other parties or confirmed info happens to come out now that we’re just about 46 days away from the “nerd prom” that’s become popular with the Outer Beltway folks not used to the magic of the Hinckley Hilton.

  • Presenting the First Annual WHC Weekend Insider Awards

    WHC Insider presents the first annual WHC Weekend Insider Awards to highlight the great deeds of the famous and infamous who came to Washington to party, schmooze, and most importantly – be seen – at the events surrounding the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

    It’s the biggest weekend in Washington, second only perhaps to Inauguration, which you clever kids know from civics class only comes once every four years (and without as many brunches).

    So, here it is, the best of the fetes, as we scour the tables at the Washington Hilton to find someone not represented by Bob Barnett.


    Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. No one walks in LA, but apparently Hollywood hottie and “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier was making his way on foot to the Bloomberg/Vanity Fair after party when he was spotted by none other than Rahm Emanuel. The White House Chief of Staff’s brother, Ari Emanuel, was the inspiration for the high-strung, heavyweight agent portrayed by Jeremy Piven on the hit HBO show “Entourage.”

    Rahm immediately had his motorcade pull over and Adrian hopped in. Now that’s taking it to the people!

    [Read more…]

    Inside The 2009 Bloomberg | Vanity Fair After Party

    After the tour de force from President Obama, it didn’t seem like the night could be any more magical. But as guests walked up the circular drive for the Bloomberg | Vanity Fair after party at the French Ambassador’s residence, the magic continued. It was the ultimate insiders affair: no red carpet or paparazzi gauntlet, just Owen Wilson lounging near the front door talking quietly to a few Washington admirers.

    With Donald Rumsfeld, who lives down the street, stopping by for a drink, it was a night, a location, and a crowd where anything could happen. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter, joining party forces this year, welcomed the exclusive guests.

    The brave captain of the Maresk Alabama, who offered his life in exchange for his mates, was Bloomberg’s special guest for the weekend. That followed getting the keys to New York City from Mayor Bloomberg the day before. Captain Richard Phillips shrugged off the compliments of celebrities (Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore) and politicos who lined up to shake his hand, but he did pose proudly with another real-life Captain America, Chesley Sullenberger, who safely piloted a US Airways jet onto the Hudson River.

    Earlier in the day, Phillips and his wife, Andrea, met with President Obama in the Oval Office, after a private tour of the White House. The unflappable captain told Bloomberg it was an “honor to meet the President. He’s a very amazing man and he’s a very down-to-earth man.” His wife agreed, “It was very overwhelming, surreal to actually, be inside the Oval Office … I was so deeply excited to have met the President like that.”

    After being introduced to the Commander-in-chief, Phillips admitted it was hard to get excited about meeting anyone else after being introduced to the Commander-in-Chief.
    [Read more…]