Radio/TV Dinner Wrap-Up

pic2.jpgLast night’s Radio-Television Correspondents Association 62nd Annual Dinner brought together the usual crowd of media types, Washington figures and even some quasi-celebrities. Neither Fishbowler spotted ever-present Ron Silver, but according to the handy-dandy 48-page guide/guest list distributed to every seat, he was there. Then, this morning, we got this email, “Ron Silver was seated at my NewsHour with Jim Lehrer table last night, taking the seat of one of our other staffers… was someone missing their invited guest? He shelled out $40 for an additional bottle of red wine. He enjoyed the comedian very much.” But Silver didn’t garner nearly as much “Who is that…?” buzz as the Daily Show’s Ed Helms.

The dinner brought together nearly 2300 black tied people at the Washington Hilton (including a roll call of Washington correspondents/anchors/reporters and some of the guests we mentioned yesterday). According to many quests, the food–mustard-rubbed filet mignon and mizo glazed tilapia–was among the worst in memory, and NBC News’ Michael Viquiera, the chair of the dinner, certainly enjoyed his microphone for the night.

On the plus side, the speaking program were better than normal, with a video tribute to Peter Jennings, Dick Cheney‘s slideshow, and a hilarious performance by comedian/Bush impersonator Frank Caliendo. The night’s two big awards went to Capital News Connection’s Chad Pergram (recipient of the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy broadcasting) and ABC News’ Bob Woodruff, who during a moving presentation from David Bloom‘s young daughters, received the David Bloom Award for excellence in enterprise reporting. Woodruff, who is still recovering from his Iraq wounds, had a statement prepared that Martha Raddatz read. CNN’s Jeanne Meserve received a special recognition as part of the Bloom Awards too.

The after-party scene was radically different this year too. Normally Fox and CNN attempt to beat each other with the after-parties, but this year Fox, which was the target of serveral jokes through the night, left the Hilton to CNN and ushered its chosen guests off to an secret off-site after-party. The Eyebar soiree was a mixed success–perhaps a little bit too exclusive.

CNN’s “Club CNN” theme ended up with a packed party and hotel security folks ended up making people wait in line to enter the tropical-themed party with dance floor, sushi, ice cream, and cocktails. The “club” seemed to be filled with an overabundance of twenty-somethings who probably didn’t land a ticket to the actual dinner–which is why it was nearly packed as soon as the dinner let out) but who were eager to rub elbows with network anchors and the like (“Oooo…is that John Roberts?”). What had to be hired dancers led the way on the dance floor with their swing and salsa, but it still took a while to convince others to get jiggy with it. After all, it’s much more difficult keeping your attention focused on Martin Bashir when you’re bumping and grinding Caribbean-style.

The hundreds of people who couldn’t make it into the pounding CNN party wandered over to the more staid NBC Universal party down the hall. Even Ed Helms ended up at the overflow party when the line at the CNN party proved too daunting.