For years, the Newseum has served as a hub for a certain kind of insidery DC shindig. It was the sort of place where Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg would celebrate the world premiere of The Post, or where Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein might be spotted bantering in the men’s room at a party for HBO’s Ben Bradlee documentary.
But with the Newseum leaving its Penn Quarter digs at the end of 2019 for an uncertain future, where will those red-carpet soirees head next? One possibility: the Motion Picture Association of America’s revamped headquarters near the White House. When it opens this year, it will feature a huge new event space and, naturally, a state-of-the-art private movie theater.
In a signal of what the MPAA could be planning, it recently hired longtime PR exec Emily Lenzner, formerly of Atlantic Media and ABC News, to run its communications department. Lenzner’s work on the increasingly influential Atlantic Festival could translate nicely to an effort to make the MPAA a major player in the event-hosting game. “DC is a hard city for venues, and we often struggle to find the right fit for our events,” says Atlantic Live president Margaret Low (who used to work with Lenzner). “The whole idea that there’s a beautiful, cool new venue opening up in the city is great news. We’re eager to see what’s possible.”
For now, the MPAA won’t comment on its plans. But if you want to know how this all works out, keep your eye on Playbook’s “Spotted” section. We’re guessing you’ll start to see the new building pop up there pretty often.
This article appears in the September 2019 issue of Washingtonian.