Hoda Kotb of the Today show and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Photograph by Tony Powell
What: Susan G. Komen for the Cure Honoring the Promise Gala
Where: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
When: Friday, October 28, 8 PM to midnight
Why: To honor the year-round efforts of women who take action to fight breast cancer and raise money for the Komen foundation.
Who: Hollywood celebrities descended on Washington for the gala, including Flashdance star Jennifer Beals, actress Kerry Washington, Donald Faison of ABC’s Scrubs, and breast cancer survivor Vanessa Bell Calloway.
The Beltway establishment was also well represented, including Representative John Dingell and his wife, Debbie Dingell; former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff; ambassador to Denmark Stuart Bernstein; philanthropist Annie Totah; Gail Huff, TV reporter and wife of Senator Scott Brown; and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who announced her breast cancer diagnosis this summer. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer even mingled with attendees at the post-performance dinner.
Scene: At a glitzy preprogram reception in the Jazz Club, Washington VIPs sipped wine and chatted with media personalities including Jennifer Griffin of Fox News, Mitchell, and the evening’s emcee, Hoda Kotb of the Today show. Kotb told the inspiring story of her experience with breast cancer, which she said gave her the courage to ask for her job on the Today show.
Attendees then filed into the very pink Eisenhower theater for the program—which was, thankfully, shorter than last year’s. Opera singer Denyce Graves-Montgomery sang while aerial artist Amanda Topaz spun, flipped, twirled and did at least 100 splits in midair, suspended from the ceiling by a silk strip. Aforementioned celebrity attendees presented awards; Faison got applause for correctly pronouncing “metastatic.” A tearful Susan Ford Bales accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of her mother, the late Betty Ford, for her courage in shattering the stigma of breast cancer after she publicly announced her diagnosis in 1974. “Back then, you didn’t say ‘cancer,’ let alone ‘breast,’” said Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein. The charming Natasha Bedingfield performed her two biggest hits, “Pockeful of Sunshine” and “Unwritten.” The most surprising act was that of Grammy Award–winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, which was a furious, energetic solo set to a background track you might hear in a dance club.
Food and drink: Hors d’oeuvres were fancy and light: VIPs had only chicken skewers and carrot sticks, bell peppers, and green beans arranged in a shot glass with ranch dressing to hold them over until the late dinner. The dinner was decidedly good for a buffet, but a buffet nonetheless. Offerings included Caesar salad, roasted vegetables, chicken, salmon, and a mean pasta dish. Dessert options were dry mini cupcakes, delicious cake pops, and a mini milkshake served in a shot glass. The drinks were pretty standard—think Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and Dewar’s Scotch.
Boldface names: 4.5 out of 5
Swankiness: 4.5 out of 5
Food and drink: 4 out of 5
Overall Exclusivity: 4 out of 5
Total: 17 out of 20