If the press corps is in a funk over the loss of gossip trigger par excellence Bill Clinton, they put on a brave face for George W. Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner at the Washington Hilton last week.
Admen John Wren and Tom Messner were among those in attendance—the latter holding court at the pre-party with insights into New Jersey politics. Inside, the Hollywood feel of recent years was muted, and the ad references rare—save for yet another Bob Dole Pepsi gag. His review of the offbeat cuisine in a comic Survivor parody video: "Mmmm, monkey brains. Goes well with a Pepsi."
Bush delivered a slide show, revisiting his all-A's grammar-school report card ("Don't peak too early") and the 2000 election. "Some people have asked me if the vote recount left any hard feelings between my brother Jeb and me," he said. "Not a bit. In fact, here's a picture of the governor of Florida"—as a naked 5-year-old.
Bloomberg's after-party at the Russian Trade Ministry saw Bo Derek, Donald Trump, Julia Stiles and a number of West Wing-ers grooving to Reagan-era tunes as silent performers on stilts—one lavishly done up as a tree—lurked in corners and lumbered from room to room. Partygoers kept an eye on them, intrigued by the sight but wondering if they weren't a bit of an extravagance. If the scene struck Shoptalk as a metaphor for some clients' view of advertising in today's climate, it surely was unintentional.