Red carpet pandemonium — packed on both sides of the velvet ropes — photographers and reporters on one side, faced fans and star gazers on the other. Glenn Close,”It’s completely crazy!” Screams and shouts for arriving VIPs: aplusk (Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher), Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Bon Jovi, and Stevie Wonder.
Asked by WHCInside whether she would hold back anything for her monologue tonight, comedian Wanda Sykes said, “I don’t think so.”
During the steady stream of red carpet arrivals at the Washington Hilton, screams and yells from star-gazers behind the velvet ropes often bewildered some of the guests. Sykes even looked taken aback at times, but made her way on into the ballroom.
Early estimates for the turnout at the Pre-WHCD Garden Brunch exceed 500, probably more, as a capacity crowd mingled and mixed in anticipation of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner tonight. The weather — always an issue in D.C. — cooperated, serving up a sunny, if slightly humid afternoon.
Guests included actors Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, Matthew Modine and Dana Delaney; Capt. Richard Phillips of the Alabama Maersk and his wife Andrea; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; former Clinton administration official Donna Shalala; David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell and Ann Curry of NBC News, and many others.
The party ran from Noon until 3:00 p.m., when guests started leaving to prepare for tonight’s big event.
Rapper and actor Ludacris says he’s looking forward to the big correspondents’ dinner tonight, and, noting that he’s been a longtime fan of Wanda Sykes (tonight’s entertainer), adds that she shouldn’t “hold back… there’s too much seriousness in this town.”
Ludarcis attended the 2006 WHCD, when Stephen Colbert was the evening’s entertainment, and said he’s taking his mom tonight,”kind of an early Mother’s Day present.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the White House press corps “serves a function” and that getting rid of it, as some have suggested, “would be wrong.” Napolitano was at the Pre-Dinner Garden Brunch.
Captain Richard Phillips and his wife Andrea met with President Obama in Oval Office today. The president said that “in these hard times (Phillips) inspires us.” They talked basketball, the importance of homework and about the WHCD tonight.
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Jeff Zucker, NBC’s chief executive who’s not known for throwing high-profile bashes, will host a VIP reception before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner tonight on an upper floor of the Washington Hilton, above the mostly ground-floor receptions.
Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly talks with MSNBC host Keith Olbermann about what kind of speech we might hear from President Obama at tonight’s WHCD, Hollywood’s “return” to the dinner, and suspects “there could be some controversy” about the edgy Wanda Sykes’s performance.
Both People and DC Modern Luxury magazine threw pre-WHCD receptions tonight, the eve of the big dinner itself tomorrow night. At the St. Regis Hotel, just blocks away from the White House, the old world elegance of the venue provided a warm atmosphere for the People bash, which was packed nearly wall-to-wall. Hotel staff in tuxes passed drinks and hors d’oeuvres among the several hundred guests, who included actor Kevin Bacon and musician Ludacris. TV news personalities also filled the room, such as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, ABC News’ Ann Compton, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell and Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. The mood was relaxed and festive.
A couple miles away, on Washington’s famed Embassy Row, DC Modern Luxury magazine hosted a reception in the extremely modern digs of the Finnish Embassy. Pale wood and glass and steel abounded as a capacity crowd of mostly younger guests mixed and mingled. Spotted among the faces was CNN’s Ed Henry and Suzanne Malvaux. A DJ played a mix of house music for dancers, whose numbers increased as the evening grew later.