Two very different inaugural brunches on Sunday, similar only in that they were hosted by media companies and attracted the A-list power in powertown. One was a sardine can and the other had room to breathe, but those facts did not detract from either. The supremely crowded brunch was the earlier of the two, held at Cafe Milano and hosted collectively by Tina Brown and the Daily Beast, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, actress Eva Longoria, political consultant Mark McKinnon, and Pamela Thomas-Graham of Credit Suisse. Tina Brown parties are required to be moshy and buzzy—and she pulls it off every time—and so no one seemed to mind the cheek-by-jowl coziness.
On the other hand, the ABC News brunch, on the rooftop of the Hay-Adams Hotel, had almost an air of serenity to it, accented by sounds of a pianist tinkling the keys with Sunday afternoon brunch-type tunes. It seemed many of the same people who had been at Cafe Milano—including Arianna Huffington, Bob Barnett, and Fred Ryan—migrated to the Hay-Adams, joining a roster of ABC News stars: George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Martha Raddatz, Josh Elliott, George Will, and David Muir, among others. Even Tony Kornheiser was there, noting that technically he’s an ABC employee because ESPN, host of his show, PTI, is part of ABC. He said he had a ticket for the swearing-in on Monday but would instead be hosting his ESPN 980 radio show.
Sports were on the mind of ABC News president Bob Sherwood, who welcomed his guests with brief remarks. He said ABC expected a special surprise guest: Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o, who is mired in drama surrounding a fake dead girlfriend. “But,” Sherwood remarked, “he said he got duped and ended up at the Romney inauguration.” When he closed, though, Sherwood did make reference to the earlier swearing-in of President Obama for a second term, and the inauguration overall. When inaugurations happen, he said, “we all suspend disbelief and think about the possibilities.”
A memorable part of the Daily Beast party was not only how packed it was, but also a large round table, empty and placed smack in the middle of the fray. On it were two signs. One said “Reserved,” and the other said “Harvey Weinstein.” It occupied some serious real estate, though no one sat there, at least not during the hour or so we were at the brunch. In fact, Weinstein, in a gray sweater, was in a secluded back corner of the room, talking on his cell phone. When told about the Weinstein table at the ABC party, a DC player said, “Oh, that’s bad. We don’t do that in Washington.” Regardless, we don’t think Harvey cared.