Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Flashback to 2009 Huffington Post Inaugural Party in DC: No Party this Year


Most of what I remember about the 2009 Inaugural weekend is trying to get from Sundance to Washington DC in time for the big Huffington Post gala. There is no such thing this time around. But on January 20, 2009, Delta Airlines did everything they could think of to keep me from leaving Salt Lake City. I was six hours late. Since most of these people aren’t going this time around, here’s what I wrote:

It was supposed to be an intimate affair but Arianna Huffington‘s gala last night in Washington was a wildy overbooked media bash for thousands.
They came to celebrate the inauguraiton of Barack Obama, and so they did, greeting the chiming of the clock at midnight as if it were New Years Eve. Huffington’s peeps handed out a ton of New Years Eve tchochtkes like hats and horns to make the most noise when the clock struck midnight.
At that point Sting had just finished singing “Brand New Day” and “Every Breath You Take,” as well as joining in with will.i.am on his remake of “Englishman in New York.” The Black Eyed Peas leader also performed a couple of his own hits.
Among the stars we saw were Robert DeNiro, Ben Affleck, Josh Groban, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Norman Lear, Rosie Perez, Gerald Butler, Marisa Tomei, John Cusack, Kerry Washington, Leigh Taylor-Young and kind of an endless list of bold face names who must read The Huffington Post blog site, or at least just wanted to be seen. The stars had total access, and the result was a hot mix of Hollywood and politics that only Huffington could pull off.
Things were a little different this morning—Tuesday—as some stars made it in to the swearing in and some didn’t.
The crowds were so huge and the disorganization of security so massive that thousands of ticket holders were kept from seeing or hearing the Obama swearing in. I ran into actress and writer Anna Deveare Smith, an Obama supporter, who simply gave up rather than brave the bone chilling cold. Dana Delany hunkered down at a brunch where other luninaries watched ceremony in safety and warmth.
But plenty still made it, some with the Creative Coalition group, including Anne Hathaway, Tony Goldwyn, Tim Daly, Adrian Grenier, Barry Levinson, Matthew Modine, Gloria Reuben, Tamara Tunie, Lynn Whitfield, Giancarlo Esposito, and Rachel Leigh Cook.
More to come … stay tuned tonight as the A-list really rolls out the red carpet. But some are wondering why it’s Beyonce and not R&B legend Etta James who’s singing the Obamas’ favorite song, “At Last,” tonight to the First Couple. James is alive and well, and it’s her hit the Obamas have swooned to all these years.
The White House needs a director of music, I think—a new cabinet post!
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
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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