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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Hollywood glamour swept back into Washington on Tuesday night at President Obama’s first State Dinner, held in a chandelier-filled party tent on the White House lawn. Movie stars and producers turned out in force for the black-tie affair. Beautifully tanned gay couples strolled past the press line, and the first lady arrived looking camera ready—and more than a little like an Oscar statuette—in a shimmering strapless gold gown. The party was allegedly a diplomatic event, something Michelle Obama called a 'really neat dinner' at a walk-through press preview earlier in the day. But who cares about all that when there are snubs to tally (where were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and incoming World News anchor Diane Sawyer?) and curious inclusions to dissect (Tom Friedman? Really?). 'This is a big time to call in your chits,' said Washington doyenne Sally Quinn, wife of former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee. Ipso facto, anyone who didn’t show Tuesday night either didn’t have enough chits to call (Rep. Eric Cantor) or so many they thought it wouldn’t matter (cable queen Oprah Winfrey, who sent a gold-bedecked Gayle King in her stead)." (Rebecca Dana/TheDailyBeast)



"David Chu, who made a fortune turning Nautica into a top sportswear brand, bought a townhouse on East 22nd Street a few years ago. But his wife prefers apartment buildings with doormen, so they never moved in. He turned the six-story mansion into a showroom and headquarters for his custom-made clothing business, David Chu Bespoke. To drum up customers, British charmer Euan Rellie has been hosting black-tie, men-only dinners, featuring cigars and Macallan sin gle malt whiskey. The other night, Rellie, who is also the 'brand ambassador' for Vertu cellphones, hosted the likes of Allen & Co. heir Nathaniel Kramer, Le Sportsac entrepreneur Tim Schifter, Deutsche Bank oil analyst Paul Sankey, Delphi board member Sean Mahoney and Alex Jackson, who co-founded Polygon Investment Partners, a hedge fund with $6 billion in assets, and retired at age 43 to try to break the trans-Atlantic sailing record." (PageSix)



"The parade of VIPs had the sweet but awkward quality of teens dressing up for prom: posing for pictures, rushing along (Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kalpen Modi), afraid of making any mistakes of etiquette. The most curious and unexpected sighting: Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The notorious Fauquier County vineyard socialites, who are filming 'Real Housewives of D.C.,' swanned in, even though their names did not appear on the official guest list. But soon a trickle of nervous guests turned into a steady flow of colorful gowns and dashing tuxedos. The women enlivened the dark night with traditional saris in shades of claret, fuchsia and daffodil yellow. White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers silently declared the evening a full-wattage fashion moment in a pale peach Comme des Garçons gown -- so very avant-garde -- with pearls shimmering between layers of transparent tulle. CBS's Katie Couric arrived in a sari-inspired amethyst gown by Carmen Marc Valvo. And Semonti Stephens, the first lady's deputy press secretary, practically sprinted past the photographers, but still they managed to capture her in a luxurious sari, one purchased in Calcutta and originally worn at her wedding in May. The first lady, however, was the star of the show." (WashPo)



"Mercedes Bass had an unusual predicament as she did the seating for a recent dinner party -- too many gentlemen. 'Usually hostesses have to find extra men,' laughed one social. 'How do you seat a dinner when it's all men?' Sources say the guests included Picasso biographer John Richardson -- who brought Chris Ely, Brooke Astor's butler who testified against Anthony Marshall -- and David Rockefeller, 93, who brought along a male friend and a bodyguard. They must have had plenty to talk about. It was Rockefeller and Astor's other close friend, Annette de la Renta, who triggered the case against Marshall when they learned she was being mistreated by her son." (PageSix)



"CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta attended the state dinner at the White House yesterday, and tweeted out some great photos from inside .. you might spot a familiar face." (TvNewser)



"Shoppers at the Limited pop-up shop on Spring Street got to do a bit of early holiday shopping for a good cause last night when Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones hosted a benefit for Peace Games, a non-profit that teaches kids to resolve classroom conflicts without violence. Jones, who described Peace Games as 'the missing piece in education,' told us she got involved with the program after a friend introduced her to founder Eric Dawson, with whom she attended Harvard but didn't know because, 'he was busy being awesome and creating Peace Games and I don't know what I was doing.'" (Papermag)



"I will spend Thanksgiving with guru dharam Singh Khalsa, who does shamanic practice, Tibetan medicine and kundalini. I love having pockets of people in my life that I wouldn't dream of telling I working in fashion." (Elise Øverland/ Fashionweekdaily)



"With Kirsten Gillibrand struggling to connect with voters, and Rudy Giuliani inciting more confusion than excitement about his own candidacy, the rumor mill keeps churning out big-name potential challengers. Today, Theodore Roosevelt IV is out, and Harold Ford, Jr. is--for the moment, at least--in. Mr. Roosevelt, a self-described 'liberal Republican,' was reportedly encouraged to investigate a potential run by former Governor George Pataki and Texas Senator John Cornyn, but ultimately the great grandson of T.R. decided it was too much of a commitment for the potential payoff of years as an impactless junior senator. Mr. Ford, a Democrat, may feel otherwise." (Observer)



"What should we make of the kerfuffle over the Indian Prime Minister's state visit to Washington today? Manmohan Singh's summit with President Obama, scheduled in part to offset the president's unfortunate decision not to visit India on his first Asian tour, has been plagued by disappointment in Delhi. India does not enjoy the pride of place in America's foreign policy agenda granted it by President Bush and even by President Clinton in the last years of his administration. Why not? -This U.S. administration, unlike its predecessor, appears to disfavor values-based cooperation as an organizing principle of American foreign policy, diminishing policymakers' appreciation of India as the world's largest democracy and subjecting cooperation with both India and China to an unsentimental cost-benefit calculation as to whether Asia's largest democracy or soon-to-be-largest economy should be Washington's privileged partner on any given issue. Yet this interest-based calculus itself reflects a misreading of the many congruent national objectives and ambitions between Washington and New Delhi. Even an Obama-esque judgment of American interests over the coming decade -- one that is cool, hard-headed, and dispassionate -- argues in favor of elevating India to the top tier of American partners in Asia and the world." (ForeignPolicy)

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