Why This Story Is Not Entirely About Channing Tatum (A Cautionary Tale)

Or, the time my purse got stolen after the “White House Down” premiere.

By: Tanya Pai

Maggie Gyllenhaal. Photograph by Tanya Pai.

Working for Washingtonian has certain perks. There’s always free food at the office, we work right by a Nordstrom Rack—and sometimes we get invited to cover local premieres of movies starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. I was invited to such a premiere on Friday—a screening of White House Down at the AMC Theatre in Georgetown—and arrived to witness hordes of fans lined up behind police barricades, gawkers crowded together across the street, and double-decker buses driving by with tourists screaming from the top floor, all hoping to catch a glimpse of Tatum. You could tell when he hit the “red carpet” by the solid wall of screams that rose up from the onlookers. I jostled with other reporters and photographers for a spot along the step-and-repeat, where celebrity wranglers hustled their clients down the row of media. (The exception was 13-year-old Joey King, who plays Tatum’s daughter in the movie; her handler brought her up to reporters and requested they ask her questions. She is, for the record, very well-spoken for someone so young.) Foxx, Tatum, director Roland Emmerich, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, in black Alexander McQueen, gamely fielded inquiries about their favorite places in DC (Gyllenhaal said she was surprised at how patriotic she felt) and whether they thought President Obama might catch the movie (“I hope he sees it,” said Tatum)—all of which I dutifully recorded with my iPhone recorder in one hand while taking photos on my digital camera with the other. And I was all set to write a great story about a star-studded Washington movie premiere.

And then my purse got stolen.

Someone snatched my giant, overstuffed work bag right off the floor of an H Street bar—I put it down for one minute, then turned around and it was gone. Adios, iPhone. Adios, new digital camera. Adios, Channing Tatum interview. It’s not entirely a surprise, I guess—crime happens in Washington all the time, and leaving your purse on the ground, even for a minute, is unsafe. But it’s still a shock. It makes you feel vulnerable. Victimized. Stupid. Especially when the police officers who report to the scene tell you they’ve had to deal with two stabbings and a shooting already that night, so your pilfered purse is hovering somewhere near the bottom of their priority list.

So I’m sorry I can’t tell you exactly what Channing Tatum said about being in a movie about saving the President of the United States. But I did learn two important lessons: One, he looks very nice in a navy suit. And two, the day you get the chance to meet movie stars, make sure to hold onto your purse.