Time to get over your Hillary hangover, fellow citizens of Bantermerica, and join your humble correspondent for our weekly trip inside the narrow strip of Washington, D.C. that we sometimes call home. Last Thursday marked not one, but two, auspicious debuts for this publication’s political newshound, and we’ve got all the behind-the-scenes action for you.
As I mentioned last week, my favorite and best White House source is leaving the White House, and so my first order of business Thursday was to head over there to say goodbye. The president was in Jamaica, so there were no other events to cover that day, but when I got to Pennsylvania Avenue, the street was closed due to an impending unidentified motorcade. Unfortunately, my schedule was too tight to wait it out, so I had to settle for a heartfelt phone call of thanks.
From there, it was off to One America News Network’s Washington studios for my first panel hit on the conservative outlet’s Rick Amato Show, a portion of which you’ve seen on these pages already. Our pal Randy Foreman made the introduction, and in short order, I was scheduled for three panel segments Thursday night. Here’s a little video of my brief trip to the White House, and a few-second glimpse of the OANN green room, produced using iMovie:
This was a remote studio, which is a strange experience, because you can’t see the host or the other guests. There’s no video monitor. My fellow guests were Breitbart reporter Michelle Moons and activist Ernie White from Citizens Against Agenda 21. Some of you wondered, in the comments, why a liberal would want to engage with conservative media, a sentiment which I have never understood. I love doing one-on-one segments with Thom Hartmann, or Bill Press, but my interactions with conservatives are so much more interesting. What am I ever going to gain by zinging a fellow liberal?
More than that, though, there is always a chance that you are going to reach someone who doesn’t already agree with you, perhaps just in some small way. We debated a variety of topics on Thursday, and one thing I’ll say for Amato, he presented a fair playing field, so if you can do a better job getting your message across, you can chip away at the misinformation a little bit. There may be one or two conservatives, for example, who look at Walter Scott and Ferguson a little differently after this:
Or not. In any case, when you’re working in media, it’s absurd to turn down any opportunity to promote your outlet.
After the taping, I headed over to Southwest D.C. to pick up my wing-woman for the Nerd Prom premiere, Sally Albright. She’s the force of nature who is single-handedly going to turn Southwest into the next big thing in D.C. We met when she was part of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 advance team, and she’s the absolute perfect date for a D.C. social event because she’s got the personality of a friendly line of cocaine. She gets talking, and she gets people talking.
If you haven’t yet, check out my review of Nerd Prom (available now on a variety of platforms and at select screenings nationwide), which includes a little behind-the-scenes color, but know that I saved most of it for you. As always, here are this week’s photos.
The best part of the screening was getting to see Ann Compton, followed by the chance to see several of my other colleagues. That’s current WHCA President Christi Parsons in those blurry pre-screening shots. Betsy Rothstein was there (I found out later), and has a pretty thorough rundown of the attendees.
The second-best part of the premiere was getting to see myself on a real movie screen. Even though this is my third movie, it’s the first one I managed to make it out to, and it was a surreal kick to watch myself onscreen, then be stopped by moviegoers who recognized me in the popcorn line.
Here’s a bit of video featuring our entrance into the premiere, and director Patrick Gavin’s opening remarks before the film:
After the screening, Bill Press moderated a Q&A session with Gavin, some of which I posted on Friday, but most of which I saved exclusively for you. Of particular interest are an exchange between Gavin and former WHCA President Steve Thomma, as well as a few other White House reporters, and an entertaining appearance by the Prayer at the Pump Movement‘s Rocky Twyman. You can see those clips, in order, at the end of this post.
One of the many surprises in the film was the opening theme by Lissy Rosemont and the Junior League Band, which Gavin talked up in his intro, but which I thought was just him being polite. When I heard it, I wished I’d paid more attention to Gavin’s intro, but luckily, Rosemont was among the attendees who retired to Chef Geoff‘s afterward for an impromptu afterparty. Not so luckily, all I’d eaten all day was a Kellogg’s cereal bar in the OANN green room, so that first martini hit me hard. Here’s some footage I shot at the restaurant (photos here), including my real-time discovery of Rosemont’s website info, my horrible mangling of Neil Grace’s name, and some final thoughts from Gavin:
Here’s a little background on that Neil Grace clip: I am an asshole. More specifically, I’m the kind of asshole I really hate, the kind who has trouble remembering certain people and names no matter how many times I meet them. It’s a tendency that I really hate about myself, because it makes me seem like a kind of asshole that I’m really not. This happens to me all the time, especially at the correspondents’ dinner, where I will introduce myself to someone, and they’ll be like, “I know, we’ve met several times before,” and it is completely fucking mortifying. It makes me seem like I think I’m too important to remember anyone’s name, but that’s not how I am.
So it was that I wound up telling Neil Grace (who is, apparently, one of D.C.’s 50 Most Beautiful People) that it was noce to meet him, even though I’d met him at the 2014 dinner, and then immediately forgetting and getting his name wrong. I wish I could blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol, but the truth is, I don’t drink very often, and rarely very much. I think the effect of my weird memory is also amplified by the stress of so badly wanting to not be that way.
Nikki Schwab, the film’s straight-talking hair-and-makeup chair Greek chorus, was also at the restaurant, but I missed the chance to get her on camera. I also missed Christi Parsons after the screening, but she did provide a statement via email.
On our way out of the theater, Sally noticed a Rocky Horror poster hanging in the lobby, and said she’d always wanted to go, but never had. I haven’t been to a Rocky Horror screening since I was a teenager, but it made me think of the parallel between that film and the subject of Gavin’s movie, and I could see the people who complain about the dinner showing up to midnight screenings of Nerd Prom to yell insults at the screen and throw toast at it. As much as people like to complain about the dinner, they keep showing up, and they keep watching.
In this metaphor, I’m in the unique position of being in the audience and on the screen. My favorite part of Nerd Prom is when Gavin asks asshole celebrities who their favorite White House correspondent is, and they give asshole answers, because several of them were actually assholes to me in person. They are the most annoying part of the proceedings, but they also give it the glam, the desperate Frank N. Furter spectacle that makes it fun. For me, the dinner has always served as a sort of adult version of summer camp, where you get to catch up with people you haven’t seen since the last thing you were at, and shout stories to each other over really loud club music. I’d still enjoy it even if I didn’t also get to meet Dave Chappelle, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Here’s the video of Patrick Gavin’s Q&A, in chronological order: