Grumpiness prevails at White House dinner | Adweek Grumpiness prevails at White House dinner | Adweek
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Grumpiness prevails at White House dinner

Sanjaya_2 Given the mess in Iraq and the massacre at Virginia Tech, the politicians and press who mingled at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night were sorely in need of some escape from reality. They didn’t get any. The first sign of trouble AdFreak noticed was the low celebrity quotient at the pre-dinner cocktail events. The best Hollywood could muster that attracted any interest was American Idol reject Sanjaya Malakar. You would think that all those weeks in front of television cameras would have robbed Sanjaya of that deer-in-the-headlights look. Not this shy 17-year-old. “I am really thankful for this opportunity,” he said breathlessly when we caught up with him at the People magazine reception. We wondered what opportunity he referred to, but security whisked him away before we could ask. Probably just as well.
  Somber George W. did nothing to lighten the mood. After telling the packed audience how “we have to learn how to laugh in this town,” the weary-looking president said that given recent events, “I have decided not to be funny [tonight].” And his boorish staff wasn’t either. 

  What could Karl Rove have been thinking when he overreacted to Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David and singer Sheryl Crow after they asked him to take a new look at global warming? David was quoted as saying, “He went zero to 100 with me—I’ve never had anyone be so rude.” Rove told the press: “She came over to insult me, and she succeeded.” At a black-tie event featuring the cream of Washington society, shouldn’t our politicians care about manners and diplomacy? Thank the ladies for their comments, and invite them to lunch at the White House to discuss the issue with some lower-level functionaries. Who are you, Imus?
  We had little hope that comedian Rich Little—yeah, try to remember him if you can—would pull us out of our funk. He had already told Sam Donaldson in an interview published in Capitol File magazine that his presidential impressions were a safer choice after the dinner organizers were embarrassed by Stephen Colbert’s more direct approach last year. “I am not here to make any political point,” Little told the dinner guests.
  As he droned on mimicking dead presidents, we snuck out early to attend the after-parties. Even that scene was more chaotic and competitive than ever. Three parties this year, not counting the drinks Reuters was serving to special friends at the Four Seasons in Georgetown.
  We hit the Capitol File party at the Colombian ambassador’s residence first, since nothing is more depressing than standing in that dreadful Bloomberg line and watching people get shunted aside if they are not on the list. (The Washington Post reported that this year, the unfortunate ones were made to wait in a “roped-off penalty box.” Yuck.) The atmosphere at the Capitol File event was elegant, and the food plentiful. Actress Kerry Washington planted herself by a table and was ever the gracious hostess. “This is my party, and this is the most important one,” she told us. Would she go to the Bloomberg party later? “Maybe.”
  The resurrection of the Vanity Fair bash at the home of writer Christopher Hitchens left other party hosts scrambling to make their shindigs appear even more exclusive. (Bloomberg cut its guest list to about 500.) Actor and possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson was spotted there, as was World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz. Now that had the potential for some light cocktail conversation along the lines of: Just why did you arrange a pay raise for your girlfriend?
  At Bloomberg, the desserts were yummy, and good-looking staffers dressed in robes served small champagne bottles from a bathtub. But the star power was hardly high-wattage. Morgan Fairchild, Valerie Bertinelli, James Denton of Desperate Housewives. (Fairchild and Denton were repeats from last year).
  Things began to look up when AdFreak spotted the comfy slippers the Bloomberg folks gave out as favors.
  Welcome relief!

—Posted by Wendy Melillo

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