No Dessert for Obama at White House Correspondents Dinner

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By: Joe Strupp

Would you invite President Barack Obama to dinner and not serve him dessert? The White House Correspondents Association has.

Attendees at Saturday’s annual WHCA dinner will get no dessert, the funds being given instead to a local homeless shelter.

In addition, the WHCA, which holds the event to raise money for scholarships and other needs, is giving away its largest scholarship amount ever, at $130,000, according to Steve Scully of C-SPAN, a WHCA board member.

“Because of the economy, we are cognizant of the situation in every industry, we are all dealing with the current economic climate,” said Scully. “We want the dinner to reflect that.”

But despite the financial realities, the star-studded event still retains the glamour of both Washington power elite and Hollywood red carpet with the likes of Demi Moore, Tyra Banks, Sting, Jon Bon Jovi, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Ben Affleck, and hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger among the guests. (A longer list is posted below.)

The $200-per-ticket price tag remains the same as last year and demand for tickets is as high as ever, Scully said. “Last year, we had to give back [payments for] 500 tickets. This year it is more than that.”

The New York Times, which instituted a policy several years ago of declining the dinner, will again not attend, Scully said. He had no information on other groups that have pulled out, but said many have reduced their ticket amounts to save money. The annual Bloomberg after-party, in the past the most exclusive ticket, is being scaled back.

Scully said the money saved from the lack of dessert will be part of a $23,000 donation from the association to the So Others May Eat, or SOME, organization of Washington, D.C., which offers food, shelter and other services to the homeless.

Wanda Sykes, following in the footsteps of Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson and Rich Little, is the entertainer.

But Obama’s remarks and any surprise presentations he might have planned for his first WHCA gathering remain “the best-kept secret in Washington,” according to Scully. In the past, surprises involving the president have ranged from George W. Bush appearing with an impersonator to his wife, Laura Bush, shoving him aside and taking the mic, much to the delight of the crowd.

The event, which begins at 8 p.m., will be broadcast on C-SPAN. More information and video clips from past dinners can be found at the WHCA site, www.whca.net.

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The list of celerity guests for the WHCA Dinner for several news outlets is below:

CNN: Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Val Kilmer, Kyra Sedgwick, Brad Cooper, Tyra Banks, Janet Napolitano.

ABC News: David and Susan Axelrod; Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff; Peter Orszag, Director, Office of Management and Budget; Valerie Jarrett, senior presidential advisor; Jackie Norris, First Lady’s Chief of Staff; Leon Panetta, CIA Director; Susan Rice, UN Ambassador; Justice Antonin Scalia; Meghan McCain; Jon and Dorothea Bon Jovi; Kate Walsh; Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel.

NY Daily News: Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

Fortune: George Lucas and Glenn Close.

People: Sting and Trudie Styler, Miranda Cosgrove, Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Jon Hamm, Eva Longoria Parker, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Brooke Shields

Glamour: Narciso Rodriguez, Alicia Keys, Kenneth Cole, Kerry Washington and White House social secretary Desiree Rogers.

USA TODAY: Tim Daly, Justin Long, Richard Belzer, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Michelle Obama staffer Jocelyn Frye.

Atlantic Magazine: Ed Westick (Gossip Girl), Newt Gingrich.

Newsweek: Lally Weymouth, Donald Graham, Jon Meacham, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder. R. Todd Bradley, Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group, Hewlett Packard; David Brennan, CEO, AstraZeneca; Representative Eric and Diana Cantor (R-VA).; Fmr. Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig; Amb. Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner; Amb. Richard Holbrooke, Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Ms. Kati Marton; Attorney General Eric Holder; Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD); Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post; Jeffrey Kindler, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer, Inc., and Ms. Sharon Sullivan; Michael Kives, Creative Artists Agency; Martin Nesbitt, President and CEO, PRG Parking Management; Natalie Portman; Sir Nigel and Lady Julia Sheinwald, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the US; Puneet Talwar, National Security Council, Iraq and Afghanistan Affairs; Dr. Eric Whitaker, University of Chicago Medical Center; Owen Wilson; James Berkus, United Talent Agency.

NBC: Colin Firth, Jimmy Fallon and Mariska Hargitay to Mike Myers and William H. Macy. Jason Bateman, Natasha Bedingfeld, Connie Britton, Warren Buffett, Kyle Chandler, John Cusack, Ari Emanuel, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Colin Firth, Whoopi Goldberg, Mariska Hargitay, Rep. Jane Harmon, Felicity Huffman, Samuel L. Jackson, Jim Jones, Sen. Amy Klobucher, Denis Leary, John Lewis, William H. Macy, Cheryl Mills, Mike Myers, B.J. Novak, Gov. Ed Rendell, Wilbur Ross. Jeff Zucker, Steve Capus and Phil Griffin will attend, along with high-profile talent: Brian Williams, David Gregory, Al Roker, Ann Curry, Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb, Amy Robach, Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie, Luke Russert, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz,Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinkski , Norah O’Donnell, David Shuster, Contessa Brewer, Carlos Watson, Tamron Hall, Jim Cramer, Maria Bartiromo and Erin Burnett.

CBS: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Brad Hall; Mayor Adrian Fenty; Sen. Lindsey Graham; Gov. Jon Corzine, Amb. Hector Timerman; Colin Powell; Stephanie Cutter; Tom Donilon; Arne Duncan; Michele Flournoy; Lisa Jackson; David Jacobson; Katie Johnson; Bob Schieffer; recording artist Brad Paisley.


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