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FILLING THE SEATS: The White House Correspondents’ dinner is in a few weeks and reporters will be relieved to find that some live, breathing megacelebrities will indeed be in the building. Dread was mounting that the dinner would suffer from second-term malaise. Instead, media outlets have corralled a few marquee name actors, while Conan O’Brien will emcee, President Obama will pretend to tolerate reporters, and jokes will be made about “House of Cards” and sequestration.
Not everyone has confirmed yet, so this is the most up-to-date list of the “cool” guests. Leave it to two of the media world’s best networkers to seat the tables with the most star power. Tina Brown, editor in chief of the Daily Beast and Newsweek (RIP), hasn’t lost her knack for high-low pairings, seating at her table Lawrence D. Nicholson, the general leading the American coalition in Afghanistan, and actresses Nicole Kidman and Olivia Munn. Nearby will be Harvey Weinstein; Barry Diller; former congresswoman Jane Harman, wife of the late Newsweek owner Sidney Harman; senator — and Twitter phenom — Claire McCaskill, and Jon Favreau, the former Obama speechwriter turned Daily Beast columnist.
Arianna Huffington is bringing Jersey to the White House — Jon Bon Jovi and Gov. Chris Christie — and Shaquille O’Neal. Scarlett Johansson ought to prepare for a night of riveting conversation about highways as she’ll be seated next to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Sitting with managing editor Gerard Baker and Dow Jones chief executive officer Lex Fenwick at The Wall Street Journal’s table will be what passes for heartthrobs in the nation’s capital: Republican instigator congressman Eric Cantor, who was also the Journal’s guest two years ago; newish Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Washington Nationals owner Ed Cohen.
ABC’s table will look much like its prime-time lineup: a little bit of “Modern Family” (Sofia Vergara and other cast-members); a little “Nashville” (Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere), and “Scandal,” the show, which stars Kerry Washington as a Capitol fixer who’s having an affair with the president.
Glamour has so far secured confirmations from Catherine St-Laurent, a communications executive at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Sally Painter, a veteran public relations power broker. New York congressman Steve Israel is coming as a guest of newspaper The Hill. Hearst Corp. will have two tables — Hearst Newspapers is the member of the correspondents’ association — but has not yet confirmed its guests beyond Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles and Magazines president David Carey. Buzzfeed may be known for its cute corgi listicles, but now that it has crack political editor Ben Smith as its editor in chief, it’s also got a seat at the dinner with all the other grown-ups, though it wasn’t yet ready to reveal its guests.
There are other parts of the weekend’s rituals that the locals consider unmissable. On Friday, David and Katherine Bradley call on the power players from politics and business for a dinner at their home. Early Saturday, Tammy Haddad has her annual brunch, this year cohosted by a handful of political insiders, like Kevin Sheekey, Michael Bloomberg’s consigliere, and Hilary Rosen, the political pundit and former lobbyist, at the Beall-Washington House in Georgetown, Katherine Graham’s former home. And that night, after the correspondents’ dinner at the White House, panicked members of the Washington press corps will try to call in favors in futile attempts to score invites to the Vanity Fair and Bloomberg party at the residence of French ambassador François Delattre.