party lines

Cruise, Demi, and Portman at the WHCA Dinner

Our Jada Yuan was in Washington this weekend for the city’s once-a-year, promlike media and political event: the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. The speeches have been covered pretty comprehensively — as has the fashion — but here’s what she saw that C-SPAN’s cameras may have missed.

Vanity Fair guest Katie Holmes hiding from the crowds and talking to Graydon Carter and former Time editor Jim Kelly, while her husband Tom Cruise spent a good 30 minutes greeting fans and posing for photographs.
Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick arranging for one of said Cruise photos with his mother. “Her two favorite actors are Tom Cruise and Forest Whitaker, so I had to make sure she got her picture taken with them,” Ed explained. “She was so happy. It’s a pretty good present.”

• Val Kilmer, who was circulating among media types like Chuck Todd, David Gregory, Greta van Susteren, and John King at Tammy Haddad’s garden brunch, told New York the truth about his much-reported ambitions to run for governor of New Mexico. “Well, I’m running. I don’t know if it’s in circles or not,” he said, laughing. “No, I’m not.”
• Rahm Emanuel getting shoved aside so a photographer could snap a picture of Kerry Washington at the pre-dinner cocktail party, then later getting hugged by Eva Longoria. Rahmbo also was among the first to make a beeline for the dance floor at the Capitol File after-party.
• Julia Allison told Rachel Leigh Cook she looked just like that actress Rachel Leigh Cook (Cook gamely replied that people usually think she’s Christina Ricci, and are then disappointed).
Gossip Girl star Matthew Settle showed off his baby pictures to Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips, who himself was delighted to have met Barack Obama earlier in the day. They talked “about the Celtics, and about homework, which is very important to both of us,” Phillips explained. “Our daughter is very upset because she couldn’t meet the president. She has finals. Schoolwork comes first!”
• Meghan McCain, apparently calmed after her earlier evening tiff with security, boogying around the Capitol File party with no shoes on.
• After having given Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm the advice that they’d need to drink heavily to make it through the night, New York ran into the pair at the Vanity Fair-and-Bloomberg-hosted after-party at the French embassy. “We’ve been taking your advice all evening,” said Westfeldt.
• Elizabeth Banks had a coughing fit at the same event, in the lovely garden. “This pollen! I’m miserable!” she said. “A couple people saw me coughing and refused to shake my hand! So now I’m trying to cough into the left hand.”
• By the end of the night, Christopher Hitchens was of course the last man (barely) standing, and he had some choice words for the evening’s headlining comedian, Wanda Sykes. “The president should be squirming in his seat. Not smiling,” he said. “The black dyke got it wrong. No one told her the rules.”

Of course, our favorite part that Jada told us about afterwards was when Tom Cruise was pulled away from her by publicists. As she turned and headed for the exit, she felt two strong hands grab the sides of her head and a nose press into it. “I’m sorry. They just want to get me out of here before the crush starts again,” Tom Cruise whispered gently to her hair. “I just didn’t want you to think I was blowing you off.” Now that’s a party.

Obama’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner Speech [NYM]
Stars Play it Safe at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner [NYM]

Cruise, Demi, and Portman at the WHCA Dinner