Nerd Prom Warm Up (and David Arquette Stalking)
At tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, D.C.’s media elite will mix and mingle with everyone from President Barack Obama to multiple Kardashians.
And while there’s a slew of pre-ceptions, after-parties and table-hopping to be done, the festivities began in earnest Friday night at a number of high-profile affairs. Your dedicated HOHs traipsed all around town to check out how Washington pregames.
Along the way, we rubbed elbows with legislative types, professional party planners and a celebrity or two.
Round 1: David Bradley’s house
Bradley, the owner of the Atlantic Media Company, entertained a who’s who of prominent Washingtonians at his swanky homestead. By far the ritziest engagement of the evening, guests were welcomed with an intoxicating smoked-honey champagne cocktail and trays full of tasty nibbles ranging from avocado fritters (yummy) to mouthwatering burger bites:
Yours truly, of course, gravitated toward the amazingly spacious kitchen:
While the other guests — including California Gov. Jerry Brown, former Obama aide Reggie Love, restaurateur José Andrés and “Sex in the City” scribe Darren Star — milled about, whetting their appetites for an epicurean feast orchestrated by chef Susan Gage, we decided to investigate how the Bradleys might eat on a non-gala night.
The family cookbook collection suggests they’re not above quickie meals (yep, Rachel Ray made the cut) but that they’re also not afraid to get their gastronomy on:
Most uttered phrase: “Can I borrow you for a sec?”
Round 2: The Hollywood Reporter/Google party
The consensus amongst our merry band of party hoppers was that this was the most happening scene of the night.
Two seconds after we strolled in, the name-dropping began.
“I used to work for Sen. [Richard] Burr [R-N.C.],” one social climber gushed to another.
A few more steps in, and we spotted former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.):
Funniest line of the night: “Hey baby! I mean, madam commissioner”
The greatest encounter had to be bumping into actor/producer David Arquette, who wandered over and introduced himself after overhearing a few of us talking about the King of All Media, Howard Stern.
Arquette, who famously split from his wife Courteney Cox, was refreshingly open about the burden of celebrity, his media-saturated breakup and his love for all things Stern.
“Part of my business is being a public figure. So a lot of that stuff is taken away from you as far as … what’s fair game for people to sort of talk about,” Arquette said of the constant scrutiny.
He said he emulates those who live their lives openly and honestly, citing Jack Nicholson as a prime example.
“There’s a few people out there that are really great at being themselves. And people accept them for that because they’re unapologetic about it. And that’s sort of how I try to live my life,” Arquette said. He conceded that, on occasion, perhaps he’s been guilty of TMI.
But to him, the alternative would simply be unbearable.
“I want people to know who I am,” Arquette asserted. “And, sure, some of the conversations will be embarrassing to my daughter [Coco] in the future when she reads them or whatever, but hopefully she’ll understand my honesty. “
Living honestly seems to be a big part of Arquette’s life. And that’s another reason he is an avowed Stern fan.
“I think his honesty, like the honesty that he’s brought to comedy, even though some of it’s juvenile — my comedy’s juvenile, too — I think it broke down a lot barriers,” he suggested, positing the radio host’s frank discussions about sex as cultural game changers.
“[Stern] bringing stuff out and putting it on a plate really did change the sort of dialogue of comedy and just, you know, freedom of expression. You wouldn’t have had ‘Family Guy’ without Howard Stern, in my opinion,” Arquette estimated.
His abiding respect for Stern and passion for the show motivated Arquette to reach out to the satellite radio kingpin a few years back. And the overture resulted in an open invitation for Arquette to “intern” on the show.
Their interviews are always great. But Arquette openly admitted that being in Studio 69 for the infamous Dave Lambert-led Sybian ride was a career highlight. “I was instantly part of a classical moment on the show,” Arquette said.
Round 3: Atlantic Media/Funny or Die “First Amendment Party”
This was probably the biggest bash of the night.
The space was cavernous. And eerily dark:
The theme was pop-up Vegas lounge, with food and drink supplied by Andrés (featuring items plucked from his China Poblano menu). Most folks seemed to be lapping up the signature ponche de cava (cava, cointreau, gin, simple syrup and orange zest; fruity and naughty):
“Ask for whatever’s in the punch bowl. It’s, like, mojito-y,” one fellow partygoer instructed her companion.
Others were a little more conscious of drinking too much. Or, at least, of letting their friends get totally plowed.
Woman 1: “Jill’s drinking liquor tonight?”
Woman 2: “Yes”
Woman 1: “She’s going to be Beelzebub”
Then there were those who were trying, rather desperately, to not commit the ultimate party foul: overdosing.
“Don’t take a pink one. That’s a Benadryl!” we overheard a recreational pill popper exclaim.