White House Press Dinner: Washington Goes Glam for Annual 'Prom'

Washington competes with Hollywood for glitz, glamour and celebrity star power

ByABC News
April 29, 2010, 4:17 PM

April 30, 2010 -- What do actress Elisabeth Shue, tween sensation Justin Bieber, Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow and ubiquitous television personality Ryan Seacrest all have in common this weekend?

They are just some of the A-list celebrities who will jet into Washington this weekend to attend the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, the premiere black tie event in the nation's capital.

It is the one weekend a year when stodgy Washington can compete with Hollywood for glitz, glamour and celebrity star power.

Other celebrities reportedly attending Saturday's dinner include "Sex and the City's" Kristin Davis, actress Scarlett Johansson, Golden Girl Betty White, new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and "30 Rock's" Alec Baldwin.

The annual event brings together Cabinet members, political staffers, movie stars, athletes and journalists for an evening of comedy, digital picture snapping, and plenty of schmoozing.

E! executive news editor Ken Baker put the weekend in context for ABC News.

"It's not quite the Oscars, it's not even really the Golden Globes and it's not really the Grammys or MTV Movie Awards, but it's cool," he said. "It's a good event."

And the reason why it is such a hot ticket for celebrities who have been to those types of events countless times over the years?

"Two words – the president," Baker said. "Barack Obama is the biggest celebrity in the world."

"When you're a Hollywood celebrity, unless you're paying a lot of money to go to a fundraiser that the president is going to attend, you don't really get to have time with the president," Baker said. "That's a real status symbol and a cool life experience."

Baker, a veteran celebrity journalist, said that Hollywood does not have an event quite like the correspondents' dinner, with the president and "all these movers and shakers, truly important people unlike fake important people like everyone out here in Hollywood."

Late-night comedian Jay Leno will be the featured entertainment at the dinner.

This year's dinner will have an eco-friendly theme. The White House Correspondents Association partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental organization, to reduce the ecological footprint of the event.

"This will be the most eco-friendly dinner ever hosted by the association,'' said White House Correspondents' Association president Ed Chen of Bloomberg News, who served as a senior communications adviser to the NRDC in 2006. "And we encourage our members and guests to join in that effort, such as by car-pooling, using hybrid vehicles and, for long-distance travelers to Washington, buying carbon-offsets."