Heard on the Hill

Hopping Through White House Correspondents' Dinner Parties

Washington's media, politicians and politically minded celebrities mix and mingle

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, center, and CNN's Wolf Blitzer mingle with guests at the Atlantic/CBS News party on Saturday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner brought together celebrities, politicians and journalists for a star-studded weekend of parties, parties and more parties.  

From waiting in the rain for an hour to get into The Onion's Joe Biden-themed party to seeing Helen Mirren in her purple dress paying tribute to Prince , here's a glimpse of the weekend:

Friday

Washington Post 

A red carpet to spot who was in town the day before the dinner. 6:09 p.m:  Spotted Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Allison Janney from "The West Wing."  

The Native Makers perform at the White House Correspondents'’ Jam II party during a weekend of festivities for the White House Corespondents' Dinner in Washington on Friday. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
The Native Makers perform at the White House Correspondents'’ Jam II party during a weekend of festivities for the White House Corespondents' Dinner in Washington on Friday. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

White House Correspondents' Jam II

Perfect for Friday night — a low-key jam session that journalists and guests could show up to whenever they wanted. A full sushi bar for attendees. This event automatically wins for best food.

Saturday

Crowds and more crowds in the Hilton, the site of the dinner. 6:04 p.m: Arrived at the Hilton. Got out of the Uber on Connecticut Avenue once it ran into flashing lights and black Suburbans. Walked into crowds yelling for Savannah Guthrie.  

Spotted on the red carpet: Guthrie, actress Helen Mirren, Bellamy Young ("Scandal").

Yahoo/ ABC

Eric Trump, center, son of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, talks with Jonathan Karl of ABC News outside the Yahoo/ABC News party on Saturday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Eric Trump, center, son of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, talks with Jonathan Karl of ABC News outside the Yahoo/ABC News party on Saturday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The first party, so a first stop for most people, but it felt like everyone was just acclimating themselves. 6:21 p.m:  Spotted DJ Steve Aoki and comedian Keegan-Michael Key hanging out together.  

See Slideshow of Big Event 6:37 p.m.:  Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner asked for his invitation at the entrance. Who is going to get in trouble for this one — someone on Warner's staff or the Yahoo PR person who didn't recognize the senator?  

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner outside the Yahoo/ABC News party on Saturday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner outside the Yahoo/ABC News party on Saturday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reuters

A lot of trying to navigate to an empty space at this party but Reuters did provide a live stream of the red carpet outside to see which celebrities showed up. 6:39 p.m:  Way too crowded. There is an at least 10-minute line for the bar.  

6:40 p.m: Three girls who looked under 20 tried to cut in the bar line.  

6:41 p.m: The line is inching forward. Wondering if I can box out the under-20 girls.  

6:42 p.m: Successfully boxed them out.  

6:59 p.m: Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter spotted.  

7:03 p.m:  Michael Kelly from "House of Cards" spotted.  

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California speaks with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, right, and her husband, Paul, at an Atlantic / CBS News pre-party on Saturday. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California speaks with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, right, and her husband, Paul, at an Atlantic / CBS News pre-party on Saturday. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Atlantic/CBS

Great venue at the Hilton — this party was in a tent outside so way more space than Reuters. Spotted:  Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Mark Warner of Virginia, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.  

7:10 p.m:  Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Snapchatted with Roll Call photographer Al Drago.  

7:16 p.m: Spotted Bob Schieffer of CBS News.  

7:21 p.m:  A conversation with Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders: I say, "Hi, Senator." He responds, "Hey, how are you?"  

7:25 p.m: Spoke to Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the National Confectioners Association. He tells Heard on the Hill that the organization has a Snapchat filter for the night in Washington.  

"Celebrities love Snapchat," he said. "There's such a crowded media market. You have to get creative to get your message out and create some buzz about your issue set."  

7:27 p.m: Spotted Gayle King from "CBS This Morning."  

7:34 p.m:  Spotted a very casual-looking Jay Carney, former White House press secretary, wearing glasses and very scruffy facial hair.  

7:43 p.m: A chaotic shuffle begins to get the dinner attendees downstairs.

The Onion

Every 20-something journalist is here for this Joe Biden-themed party. Although it takes an hour to get through the line to get inside (an hour and a half at one point), the Biden jokes make it worth waiting for. 9:06 p.m: Line looping around the back of the Newseum already.  

9:26 p.m: Man who lives in the Newseum Residences apartments asks what the line is for and how to get in.  

9:57 p.m:  Inside, but quite wet from standing in the rain.  

10:04 p.m: Spotted signs welcoming guests into the party "written" by Biden, in what looks like a 12-year-old boy's handwriting.  

10:09 p.m: Spotted cardboard cutouts of fake photographs of Biden, including a photoshopped shirtless one, for attendees to take pictures with.  

10:14 p.m:  The TVs inside the bar show a stream of photos of the vice president in classic Onion fashion — in a bar, a casino and with a red party cup hanging from his mouth at the State of the Union.  

11:05 p.m: Spotted mints and condoms in a bucket in the bathroom with fake lines from Biden: "Meet me at number one Observatory Circle for some hot and heavy action."  

12:25 a.m: Overhear an Onion employee saying celebrities, including JC Chasez from NYSNC, don't want to be the only famous person here so they're not showing up.

Sunday

Reuters Brunch

 Another very crowded party, but Top Chef dishes made up for it. 1 2:03 p.m:  Arrived at the Hay-Adams top floor to another insanely crowded party. Told by the check-in man that I looked “very brunch.”  

12:05 p.m:  Spotted Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”)  

12:09 p.m:  Overheard conversation: “How are you doing?” “Hungover, but good.”  

12:18 p.m:  Gave up on waiting in line for the bar to attempt the food line.  

12:31 p.m:  Gave up on the food line, although it did look good. Included a spread of smoked salmon, bagels, croissants, muffins and quiche.  

12:32 p.m:  Found the Top Chef food stations to try their dishes. Celebrity chefs Kwame Onwuachi made a chili-glazed lamb belly with caramelized eggplant puree, and Jennifer Carroll served up baby heirloom carrots with toasted almonds. Onwuachi said his political inspiration is Sanders, and Carroll said she is inspired by Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski.  

12:49 p.m:  Overheard, “they wanted it buzzing,” referring to how Reuters purposely wanted a crowded party.  

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