Drew Barrymore with her new fiancé, Will Kopelman, at the premiere of Big Miracle. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
The so-called “whale movie” came to town last night with a splashy screening and a Potomac waterfront after-party for some 1,400 people. Big Miracle is the film’s official name, and it has an interesting, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting local angle. First, you need to know the name Bonnie Mersinger Carroll.
It was 1988, and Carroll—then Bonnie Mersinger—was working at the White House as the executive assistant for Cabinet affairs. President Reagan stopped by her West Wing office to inquire about an incident that was unfolding in Alaska, where three whales (two adults and a baby) had become trapped in the Arctic Circle by rapidly forming ice. The drama was receiving national media attention. “He saw that the National Guard was involved,” says Carroll, “and he wondered what the White House could do to help. And that’s how I met Tom Carroll.”
Alice Cowie, Carolyn Jones, Doug Jones, Leslie Jones, Gouverneur Siegel, and Lauren Duffy. Photograph by Jeff Martin.
Even with 44 exhibitors offering antique wares for sale, probably the most talked-about item at the Washington Winter Show on opening night was a plate that’s not on even the market. The one-of-a-kind Lenox porcelain dish, white with a yolk yellow border, has a historic and intriguing backstory—had President Kennedy not been assassinated it could well have been the chosen pattern for the Kennedy White House china service.
Both JFK and First Lady Jackie Kennedy ate off the plate, taking turns, as they decided whether it should be their White House pattern. The legend is they liked it and wanted to go with it. But due to the President’s death in 1963, the full service was never made, and only this one plate remains.
Christopher Reiter, Juleanna Glover, Becca Glover, Pepper Watkins, Kristin Glover, and Elizabeth Glover. Photo by Erik Uecke.
Who: Juleanna Glover, Elizabeth Glover, Kristin Glover, Christopher Reiter, Pepper Watkins
What: The “night before the night before Christmas” cocktail party
Where: Juleanna Glover’s Kalorama townhouse
When: Friday, December 23, from 8 PM on
For better or for worse, I was a guest at more than 100 parties in 2011. Here are the top ten standouts:
1) The Washington Winter Show at the Katzen Arts Center (January 6)
An event that pulled together real Washington society—the elder cave dwellers and their younger counterparts—amid interesting (and a few affordable) decorative arts, good music, and good food.
2) The Tudor Place Garden Party (May 4)
It always seems to take place on the prettiest spring evening. Lush food, great drinks, sweeping lawn, beautiful flowers, women in hats, and much camaraderie among Georgetowners young and old. For anyone who wants to mingle with Georgetown, this is the party.
3) The “Wedding Belles” Exhibition Faux Wedding Reception on the Lawn at Hillwood Museum
Caterer Susan Gage re-created a post-wedding lawn party as though it were scripted by Marjorie Merriweather Post herself, including a many-tiered wedding cake. On a beautiful, softly warm evening, guests got to sip, dine, and tour the gardens and the mansion.
4) David and Katherine Bradley’s Pre-Party for the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner (April 30)
Essentially every party the Bradleys host is a winner. They have that gift. But they throw a doozy of a true foodie dinner the eve of the WHCA bash. The exclusive guest list is “A” all the way: corporate, political, media, social, and some Hollywood.
Characters from Alice in Wonderland stopped by BYT's Newseum Halloween Bash. Photograph by Kyle Gustafson
It’s been two years since the last Where’s Waldo? book was published and about 15 since its peripatetic protagonist was considered a personage of pop culture relevance. And yet, at least ten young someones at the Brightest Young Things Halloween party this past Friday donned his signature striped shirt, black-rimmed spectacles, and wool cap. Waldos popped up in bar lines amid bumblebees and German beer wenches; volleyed with flappers and trolls at Joola-sponsored Ping-Pong tables; and, outside, bummed cigarettes from LEGO people and Santa’s elves in skimpy, fur-lined skirts.
If the Opera Ball was hands down the most opulent event of the weekend, the third-annual Ball on the Mall Saturday was its younger, less exclusive, and arguably more fun counterpart. Roughly 750 of Washington's young and beautiful crowd showed up for a night of dancing, drinks, and optional dinner in a large double tent right smack dab in the middle of the Mall.
The L'Enfant Society-hosted ball raised approximately $515,000, according to a spokeswoman for the Trust for the National Mall, which combined with proceeds from the Trust's annual luncheon, adds up to a total of $1.8 million now earmarked for restoration projects aimed at making the National Mall "the best park in the world."
Attendees ranged from lawyers and public affairs professionals to real estate developers and Hill staffers. We'd estimate the average age of the crowd was about 28, an unusually young gathering for such a charitable event of this size. Spotted cutting a rug: Venturehouse Group CEO (and Washington Kastles owner) Mark Ein, former Mitt Romney spokesman Kevin Madden, and not-quite reality star Katherine Kennedy. With dance music ranging from the Jackson 5 to Miley Cyrus to early '90s radio hits (the DJ certainly knew his audience), the ball was legitimately jumpin' by about 9:30 PM.
His Excellency the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China Zhang Yesui and Madame Chen Naiqing, Susan E. Lehrman, Plácido Domingo and his wife, Marta Ornelas. Photograph by Kyle Gustasfson.In just a few short years, ball chair Susan E. Lehrman has transformed the annual spring Opera Ball into the city’s most extravagant and must-attend event of the year. Saturday’s event at the Chinese Embassy was no exception, with town cars, BMWs, and Mercedes wrapped around the block in Van Ness as black tie-clad guest spilled forth for an evening of exotic entertainment. Lehrman, who underwrites the full cost of the event (estimated in the mid-six figures) to maximize the nearly $1,000-a-head event’s benefit to the Opera, has had luck encouraging embassies not known for their openness—Russia last year, China this year—to allow her to transform their public spaces into foreign worlds filled with food, decorations, copious amounts of high-end alcohol, and a general, care-free Fin de siècle escapism.
The drinks are strong, the lines are long, and fashion takes a surprising turn for the fierce. This year’s Artini event at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which took place Saturday night, challenged 12 area bartenders to create a beverage experience worthy of the artworks—all currently hanging in the museum—that inspired it. A list of participating restaurants and the cocktails they created follows after the jump.
Last night was the WKYS-sponsored Takers premiere—a heist film set to come out August 27— at the AMC Georgetown. The film stars Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, R&B artist Chris Brown, and rapper T.I.
Elba and T.I. were there to promote the film, along with former Wizards star Caron Butler, current Wizards primadonna Andray Blatche, and—for whatever reason—Chris Brown’s mom. Here’s what I learned at the premiere.
1. Don’t attend these things without a camera. I missed out on some great photo ops.
2. Stringer Bell, Elba’s drug-dealer character in HBO’s The Wire, is a better criminal than Gordon Jennings, his character—a bank robber—in Takers. “Stringer is multifaceted and smarter,” Elba said. “He can do more than one crime. In Takers, the guys focus on just one heist.”
3. T.I. isn’t quite sure what’s going on with Virgin Mobile’s FreeFest. I asked him if he was excited to be headlining the festival, and he said, “I’m very excited. It’s a surprise location [Merriweather Post Pavilion] and date [September 25]. I’m just trying to come back with authority.” The tickets went on sale three weeks ago, and the date and location were announced July 2.
Miss the party? Check out photos from the event here.
June’s just halfway over, but it’s already been a terrific month for Washington pride. Stephen Strasburg brought a Nationals crowd to its feet in a standing ovation with his electrifying pitching debut on June 8. And last night, a similar phenomenon on a smaller scale occurred when watchers jammed Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s Capitol Hill burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery, to cheer on local contestants in the premiere of the seventh season of Bravo’s Top Chef at a party sponsored by Good Stuff and Washingtonian. They may not have gotten what they hoped for on television—Washington-native cheftestant Timothy Dean was in the bottom four, though he avoided elimination—but as Chef Spike tested new milkshake flavors and recipes for his soon-to-open pizzeria, the audiences weren’t left hungry as they watched the cooking on screen.
Mendelsohn worked the counter and circulated sample pies from We, The Pizza, set to open next door to Good Stuff Eatery on July 12. The slice I tasted was more New York than Neopolitan, with a solid crust necessary to hold up the load of olives, cheese, tomatoes, and peppers. His staff passed around some sample milkshake flavors, too, including a surprisingly tangy apple-maple concoction. And Mendelsohn visited with Carla Hall, the season-five runner-up who now runs Alchemy Caterers, and won, at least for the evening, Washingtonian’s prize for best celebrity guest at a party by showing up with a basketful of cookies and posing for multiple pictures with smitten and adorably jittery fans.