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POTUS won’t be the only famous face absent from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Members in the past have filled their tables with the stars of such D.C.-centered shows as Scandal, Veep and House of Cards, but this year CNN and HuffPost will host student journalists, while Wall Street Journal staffers are bringing family. “We’re treating this event the way it was originally intended: for journalists, by journalists,” says Dow Jones communications director Steve Severinghaus.
Reuters’ Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, says the group “decided to focus the dinner even more so than in previous years on our core mission: the importance of the First Amendment and good journalism.” While headliner Hasan Minhaj won’t be “roasting the president in absentia,” Mason adds, he promises a lively and fun event with “some other surprises.” There will be no speaker added to fill the president’s customary slot (Barack Obama delivered half-hour stand-up sets during his two terms in office), but Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein will address the sold-out crowd as they present the annual WHCA journalism awards.
“Our dinner showcases the fact that even though there is inevitable tension between the press and any administration it’s covering, we can still come together for a night of levity and common understanding about the importance of the freedom of the press,” Mason says. “It’s too bad we’ll do that this year without the participation of the administration, but we will proceed regardless.”
And while there won’t be the usual A-list presence at the so-called “nerd prom,” Hollywood and media stars will shmooze at plenty of other events around town.
Bytes & Bylines D.C. doyenne-entrepreneur Susanna Quinn and Layer3 TV’s Eric Kuhn (formerly of UTA) are among the hosts of this media/tech event (chef Jose Andres and Sophia Bush have attended), this year sponsored by D.C.-favored secure messaging app Confide, whose investors include Billy Bush and Doug Ellin.
David Bradley Welcome Dinner VIPs kick off the weekend at this intimate seated affair for about 150 at the home of Atlantic Media’s chairman — if White House staffers, who’ve shunned the WHCD along with their commander-in-chief, were to turn up at any of the weekend’s events, this would be the one.
UTA Look for such agency clients as Anderson Cooper and Norah O’Donnell at this soiree co-hosted by UTA’s Jay Sures and Mediaite’s Dan Abrams at onetime Obama date-night eatery Fiola Mare.
Right to Bear Arts The Creative Coalition president Tim Daly, Keegan-Michael Key and Kathrine Herzer (daughter of former Sumner Redstone companion Manuela) are among those attending its gala at Georgetown’s Flavio Restaurant.
White House Correspondents’ Jam Billy Bob Thornton’s band will take the stage at this concert emceed by CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
Tammy Haddad and friends’ Garden Brunch Sparkling in 2016 with the likes of Helen Mirren, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Kelly in attendance, along with journos Wolf Blitzer and April Ryan, D.C. superconnector Haddad’s day-of gathering (at a private Georgetown home) also will be somewhat more modest this year.
Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Bee films in the afternoon at DAR Constitution Hall (TBS airs it at 10 p.m.), with NBC News’ Katy Tur, CNN’s Van Jones, Jessica Williams, Gloria Steinem, Rachel Bloom and Damon Lindelof and many more Hollywood insiders in attendance; Valerie Jarrett and The Blacklist‘s Megan Boone will sit at the Planned Parenthood table.
White House Correspondents’ Dinner Network talent and execs will dutifully join D.C. bigwigs at the main event (Bill Hemmer, Bret Baier at Fox’s table; Rep. Devin Nunes, author James Patterson and Washington Nationals player Ryan Zimmerman at CBS’; Madeleine Albright and Sophia Bush at USA Today‘s), but the buzz is centered on Samantha Bee’s same-day special.
BuzzFeed Red White & Banned This cheeky soiree dedicated to WHCD skippers, at the bar Brixton, will feature specialty cocktails, including a Sean “Spicey” Margarita and a Moscow Mole, and an “Alternative Factland” on the top floor where monitors will display an (inflated) attendance tally.
Afterparties NBC News, MSNBC and Comcast’s reliably rowdy fete is at the Organization of American States; CBS offers a “nightcap” at Sette Osteria; and Bee’s crowd will head to the W Hotel rooftop, where Elvis Costello and his band The Imposters will perfom.
CNN Political Hangover Brunch Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, “all the CNN personalities are there having Bloody Marys with Wolf [Blitzer],” says one insider of the “laid-back” morning-after mingle at Longview Gallery.
A version of this story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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