Saturday, April 13, 2024

Leno Bombs, Obama Kills, Katie Couric Coos


Jay Leno‘s comedy routine at last night White House Correspondents dinner was indeed a bomb. You can see it all over the internet, but there was nothing like hearing the silence in the ballroom at the Washington Hilton. Leno was just really off his usual rhythm.  

Meantime, President Obama had all the right stuff. He even went after Leno. And that was the problem. Obama’s material–largely written and shaped by Jon Favreau (the speechwriter not the actor/director) and David Axelrod-– was so good and comprehensive that it left Leno with no place to go. You could sense that he sort of it knew it, too. He was not happy when he reached the podium.  

Anyway,  Leno will be forgiven. (Except for Conan, but that’s another story.)  

Meanwhile, the WHCA dinner was notable for its flood of celebs. As one insider said, during the Bush administration you had to beg people to come. Last night, and all weekend, we were tripping over bold face names.  

The big “get” at Jason Binn‘s after party for Niche Media and Microsoft Bing, I thought, was actor Ewan MacGregor. Very cool. The party was at the Mayflower Hotel, where disco music pounded from one end. The place was filled with attractive young people who read Jason’s “Capitol File” magazine. He also managed to land both Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews, plus Ashley Judd, Kim Kardashian, Tory Burch and Lyor Cohen, Ben Silverman, Chris Tucker, and so on. Mike Zimet did a bang up job with security, considering so many official Washington types showed up–many bedecked in military awards…This was the the heavy DC crowd…  

Meantime, Vanity Fair set up shop at the French Embassy on spectacular Kalorama Road, a sort of astounding mansion built in the early 1900s and set on a little hill. It was quite magnificent. There was no sign of Leno or Obama, but plenty of A listers to keep the night rolling well past 2am.  

Just in the grand marble foyer, we saw Katie Couric sitting on a cushioned bench, her shoeless legs extended and being massage by…Morgan Freeman.  

Jimmy Fallon, hanging out a few feet (get it?) away, with producer wife Nancy Juvonen, exclaimed, “That’s Morgan Freeman!” He was filling in for the President. “I don’t think he has any idea who I am,” Jimmy said sheepishly.  

Freeman did, in fact. And he overheard us discussing a recent brilliant Fallon show–which will go out for Emmy consideration–in which Jimmy did charades with Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, and Tina Fey. It was a sublime, Jack Paar-like effort. Fallon’s show is outstanding.  

But back to Morgan Freeman: Katie cooed and wiggled her toes. It had been a long night of standing.  

And then, as we left the Fallons and Katie and Morgan and headed inside, they all came whirling around:  

Michael Douglas, Jon and Dorothea Bon Jovi, Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, likely Tony Award nominee Scarlett Johansson, Dee Dee Myers and Todd Purdum, the Oscar gang from ’10–Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, Jeremy Renner, Gaby Sidibe from “Precious,” as well as Mariska Hargitay–who had Tim Daly and Steven Weber–the Wings brothers–fighting for her attention (husband Peter Hermann was home in New York); George Stephanopolous and Ali Wentworth (she is very funny even in person), my buddy Joy Behar and her great producer Todd Polkes,  plus Julianna Margulies, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba and Cash Warren, Brad Cooper and Zach Galifianakis, Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni, Kristen Davis, Jeremy Renner, the Jonas Brothers, Jessica Simpson and manager dad Joe; Chelsea Handler, Senator Chris Dodd, and so on…  

I mean, it was very hard to get through this gang quickly. Everyone had a good story. Of course, it was also well after midnight…  

Later the Vanity Fair publicist asked me, “So what did you think? Was it all right?”  

I ean, like, yeah. And in typical VF style, they featured micro mini hamburgers and tater tots among the gourmet food. You gotta love it…  

Wait, more! Christiane Amanpour, John and Elaine Mellencamp (John using a gold knobbed walking stick to very classy effect), T Bone Burnett and Callie Khouri (“Thelma and Louise”), Paris Match’s Dany Jucaud with New York florist to the stars Olivier Guigni, and of course the hosts–French Ambassador Pierre Vimont and his wife, our old friend from the French Embassy in New York, the elegant Catherine Verret.  

Keep reading this week as I will sprinkle in a few bon mots from this eclectic, electric crowd…Also thanks to WireImage. They took my picture with the Ambassador. I think this was just as I was threatening to move in! 

And PS: everyone loves Vanity Fair publisher Ed Menicheschi. Not that Graydon Carter isn’t a standout at all events, but Mr. Mensicheschi was getting a lot of attention on one of the grand outside staircases from admiring guests…He’s kept VF awash in ads during the worst period in magazine publishing history.. 

Roger Friedman and The Ambassador of

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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