Elsewhere in the city, there will be dinners honoring Sen. John McCain (Patti Labelle headlining), Vice-President-elect Joe Biden (Carole King performing) and Gen. Colin Powell (Faith Hill headlining). There will be concerts by Aretha Franklin (free at the Kennedy Center), Jay-Z, Sheryl Crow and the Beastie Boys. And some preinaugural parties will kick off Monday, including the Hip-Hop Ball, hosted by Russell Simmons and LL Cool J, and The Huffington Post Ball with performances by Sting and will.i.am and invitees Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Having a bold-faced name does not ensure a celebrity a spot at the swearing-in or, later, at the coveted 10 official balls where the president and vice president are guaranteed to show up. It helps to have a history with the campaign, as Underwood learned.
He campaigned for Obama in Virginia and Columbus, Ohio, which made getting a ticket to the official Western Ball not too difficult. "A great many of those people are on the official [inauguration] committee, and they've been good about not forgetting," Underwood said.
Beyonce and husband Jay-Z earned their stripes by campaigning for Obama just before the election in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. They will be headlining the ball where the Obamas are expected to have their first dance.
For the celebrities lucky enough to score tickets to the official balls, Roberts said, "that doesn't say a lot since a lot of the balls are really crappy. The official balls were never really good."
That makes the unofficial events -- and there are dozens of them this year -- the place to party.
Public relations executive Asal Masomi, who hosted several fundraisers during the campaign, has organized the Inaugural Purple Ball to honor diversity, bipartisanship and the troops. She has tapped celebrities Josh Lucas, Amy Brenneman, Patricia Arquette, Ed Harris, Kate Walsh and Ashley Judd to host. And she expects John Cusack, David Alan Grier, Edward Norton, Terrance Howard and Lisa Marie Presley to show.
Another celebrity-heavy ball will be the Creative Coalition 2009 Inaugural Ball, with Sting and Elvis Costello performing. Expected to attend are Spike Lee, Susan Sarandon, Ron Howard, Kerry Washington, Adrian Grenier, Marisa Tomei, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Underwood.
Winfrey's show will cover the event, but there's no confirmation of an appearance by the talk show queen. And the event location has reportedly been swept by Secret Service, which could mean an appearance by the real star of the inauguration, the new president.
"You have an embarrassment of riches," Roberts said. "Everybody is going to have a psychic stomachache."