Time 100: The Most Influential People in the Room

Where to begin, where to begin? As Stephen Colbert said at one point last night during the Time 100 gala at Lincoln Center — his first “public” appearance since the now-infamous White House Correspondents dinner speech — “This is cool … It’s the 100 most influential people hanging out and influencing each other.”

From a media event standpoint, it doesn’t get much buzzier. From the multiple red-carpet entrance that included no less than three layers of organized paparazzi (we rode a Mavericks-sized wave of flashbulbs just in front of J.Lo and Mark Anthony) to Katie Couric‘s toast of Edward R. Murrow, the boldfaced names flowed all night, from all angles: Scandal-touched authors (Dan Brown), scandal-touched Time faces (Matthew Cooper, Norm Pearlstine), titans of leftist satire (Colbert and Al Franken) and their right-bent enemies (Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter), one-time presidential hopefuls (John McCain, Ralph Nader), current members (Condoleeza Rice), music moguls with major posses (Diddy), money honies (Maria Bartiromo), domestic divas old (Martha Stewart) and new (Rachael Ray), gold medalists (Joey Cheek), big-time directors (George Lucas, Jerry Bruckheimer) and actors (Isabella Rossellini, Will Smith), ubiquitous Marsalises (Wynton) and one very forgiving political blogger-cum-author (Ana Marie Cox). A fun, surreal evening.

FishbowlNY notes from the cocktail hour:

  • We chatted with Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, who says he’s gearing up for the Cannes premiere of the film adaptation, but that he’s not planning on doing any press for the film.
  • Ex-Time Inc. editorial director Norm Pearlstine told us his book about the Valerie Plame saga is coming along fine, but that it has very little to do with him. “It’s not about me,” he said.
  • Ann Coulter was very understanding of us when we told her we bought her last book at a Super Stop & Shop $1 community donation stand. (We figured it was a solid “icebreaker.”)
  • J. Lo chatted with one of the Weinsteins.
  • Diddy‘s entourage is big and apparently includes his mom.
  • Anderson Cooper.
  • Blink author and New Yorker columnist Malcolm Gladwell told us he’s blogging “every couple of weeks.”
  • We witnessed a perfectly awkward dousing of ex-Wonkette Ana Marie Cox with wine (hers) courtesy of an ill-timed hand gesture (ours). We spent most of the evening apologizing.

    FishbowlNY notes from the dinner presentation:

  • Stephen Colbert pointed out that fellow Time 100-er Oprah Winfrey led a revolution by “tearing James Frey a new one on national TV.” Some might say Mr. Colbert performed a similar act on President Bush, only his was on YouTube.

  • The Dixie Chicks are still around, and play Time 100 parties.
  • Wynton Marsalis gave an eloquent toast on behalf of New Orleans.
  • Latecomer Katie Couric skipped cocktails and arrived at 10:00 p.m. just before accepting her inclusion on the Time 100. She prefaced her remarks by saying “I’m worthless without a teleprompter” before toasting Edward R. Murrow as having the greatest influence on her. “We were all reminded [this year of how] he was such a journalistic giant.”
  • Lauren Bush (with David Lauren) exchanged pleasantries and (we assume) contact info with Ralph Nader, who was sitting at their table during Paul Simon‘s set.
  • Simon intentionally slurred the Newsweek line in “Me And Julio Down By the Schoolyard,” delighting managing editor Jim Kelly.