Thursday, May 15, 2008

Washington Social Diary

The entrance to the 29th Anniversary Dinner of Refugees International.
Some Movie Star Glow for Refugees International
By Carol Joynt

It’s interesting how movie people comport themselves when they come to Washington. Some put on glasses, as if to telegraph their owlish, educated side. Others wear serious clothing, most likely to be taken seriously but possibly also to show respect for the purpose of their visit, whether it’s a Congressional hearing or an appearance for a good cause.

Ethel Kennedy, wearing her Obama 2008 pin
Some don’t smile, as if a big bright movie star smile would be too glamorous, too Hollywood.

Photographers have to goad them to get a modest grin. (With the possible exception of the White House Correspondents Association dinner.) What they may not realize is the denizens of Washington live with so much seriousness of purpose, so much beige and gray, that they get giddy in the company of actors for want of the very gloss and glimmer the visiting stars try to hide under a hat.

It’s historical: Washington loves Hollywood – even Hollywood via New York – for the chance to bask in the glow.

There was a little bit of that going on at the Italian Embassy late last week, when Matt Dillon, Mia Farrow and Sam Waterston contributed some of their considerable wattage to the 29th Anniversary Dinner of Refugees International.
The room at the Italian Embassy.
Even with a handful of Kennedys in the room, all eyes – and all cameras – were on the actors, who mingled comfortably with ambassadors, politicians, activists and members of the non-profit organization. But if anyone hoped to get a big Hollywood smile out of Matt Dillon – and many hoped for just that – he wasn’t going there.

Matt was in his best good cause mode, but sill the handsomest man in the room, as well as accessible and charming to all during the long pre-dinner cocktails. He’s a new member of the board of RI and gave their work his full focus. Waterston was more at ease, but then he has been a board member since 1986, when starring in the Vietnam-era film, “The Killing Fields,” got him interested in the struggle of refugees.
The table setting.
The first course - a trio of chilled soups.
A demure Mia Farrow and her charming son, Ronan Farrow, rarely without a camera flash in their faces, were principal honorees of the evening, for their work on behalf of refugees in Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and Darfur. Mia has traveled to the Darfur region eight times, often as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Ronan, too, has traveled extensively in Darfur and, as a freelance journalist, has written Op-Ed pieces on refugee issues for the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He also has testified at the United Nations and before Congress, helped to found the student Genocide Intervention Network, worked as a Special Assistant to Amb. Richard Holbrooke, and is about to graduate from Yale Law School. All that and he won’t be 21 until late this year.

Keep your eyes on Ronan. He claims a remarkable gene pool as the biological son of Farrow and Woody Allen (and was at the center of their ugly custody dispute in the early 90s), and was/is a prodigy who started college at age 11. He also has a knack for putting others at ease, is the happiest of conversationalists in a crowded party of much older people and does not hesitate to deliver a winning smile. Of all the celebs in the room, Ronan was the one who went up and introduced himself to strangers. He says his career path is human rights, but he has the gifts of a natural born politician.
Sen. Ted Kennedy, Mia Farrow and her son, Ronan Farrow
Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, and Matt Dillon
Of course, the sea of guests parted when Sen. Ted Kennedy arrived and made a beeline for a photo op with the Farrows, Dillon, and Waterston. He could not stay for dinner, even though he was one of two senators to be honored with RI’s “Congressional Leadership Award.” The other was Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, who attended with his wife, Sharon. Shortly after Teddy’s arrival, Ethel Kennedy appeared, sporting a glittering “Obama 2008” pin on her left shoulder. She was happy to pose for a picture showing it off. Certain members of the Kennedy clan have been among Barack Obama’s earliest and most ardent supporters. Also at the party was Teddy’s daughter, Kara Kennedy and Ethel’s daughter, Courtney Kennedy.

Refugees International is a global group, but is based in Washington with a strong Washington core in management and supporters. The president is Kenneth Bacon, who came to RI after several years as Pentagon spokesman in the Clinton Administration. He was in fifteen places at once at the dinner and had only one second to stand still for a photo.

Some of RI’s chief movers and shakers are or were Washington based – Jim Kimsey, Eileen Shields-West, H.M. Queen Noor, Elizabeth Bagley, and Trish Malloch Brown, who moved away from Washington a few years ago and is now Lady Malloch Brown, living in London with her husband, Mark Malloch Brown, or Baron Malloch Brown, who is a minister of state in the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The Italian Embassy.
Even with their airy titles, many in Georgetown remember the Malloch Brown’s P Street years, when Mark was with the World Bank, and neighborhood friends would gather in their garden in t-shirts, shorts and sandals for the Sunday papers and beverages while many little children rode wagons and tricycles up and down the driveway, often crashing in giggles or tears. At last year’s dinner, RI honored the Malloch Browns for their long-term dedication to refugee issues.

A quick note about the setting of the dinner. The Italian Embassy is a stunning piece of architecture on a short street off Massachusetts Avenue, and sits just a few “houses” down the block from the home of Sen. Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, and in close proximity to the Brazilians, the British and the Vice President’s residence.
Dinner is served.
You can imagine the security gridlock in that neighborhood, especially when everybody’s at home. So the valet parking was a bit of an issue – both coming and going – with heavy rain outside and not enough umbrellas. But inside, Event Chairs Mariella and Michael Trager put on a dinner that kept everyone happy, entertained, informed and well-fed, though it was notable that the wine served was Spanish rather than Italian. (Does the Embassy of Spain serve Italian wine?)

At the tables each lady sat down to a small black and gold gift box. Inside was a pretty precious stone bracelet from Ann Hand Jewelers. “I strung them all myself,” said Ann’s grand-daughter, Ashley Taylor.

Tickets for the dinner were $300, and, according to organizers, the evening raised $480,000 for Refugees International. That’s worth a Hollywood smile.
Mariela Trager
Sen. Gordon Smith and his wife, Sharon
Ted Kennedy
Matt Dillon, Jim Kimsey and Sam Waterston
Reza and Yasmine Pahlavi
Mia Farrow, David Rubinstein, Mohamed A. Yahya, and Ronan Farrow
Robin West and Eileen Shields-West
Michael Trager and Dick Jacobson
Megan Morris, Jennifer Manna, and Theresa Hughlett
Dawn Calabia and Shrin Tahir-Kheli
Sean Garcia and Andrea Laria
Kara Kennedy and Linda Donovan
Adriana Gluski, Cynthia Howar, and Mariella Trager
Mark Malan, Mike Doyle, Melanie Teff, and Vanessa Parra
Lauren Mason and Ashley Taylor
Carly Fiorina and Deborah Bowker
Matt Brown and Matt Dillon
Cocktails for all
Refugees International president Kenneth Bacon
Photographer Tony Powell with daughter Leah, who were on their way to the ballet as soon as daddy was done working.
Emily Valentine and Rachel Pearson
Farhad and Beli Nasseri
Frederica Valanos, Fran Kenworthy, Alison Kenworthy, and George Valanos
Ethel Kennedy and Bobbi Smith
Paula Carreiro, head of the Beauvoir School with her husband, Peter Branch, head of the Georgetown Day School
Megan Fowler and Sam Waterston
Michael Trager, Matt Dillon, Kara Kennedy, and Mariella Trager
Caroline Croft with Brad Dockser
Megan Gabriel, Sissy Yates, and Reg Stettinius
Alison Kenworthy of ABC News with John Scanlon
The guests included Reza and Jasmine Pahlavi, Richard Holbrooke, Saroush Shehabi, Chris Matthews, Sen. Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman, Robert and Elena Allbritton, Debbie and Donald Sigmund, Peter Branch and Paula Carreiro, Gay Cioffi, Braun Jones, Beli and Farhad Nasseri, Anthony and Isabel Lanier, Amb. Aziz Mekouar of Morocco, Patrice and Herb Miller, Ed Mathias, RI Board Chair Farooq Kathwari, Kathryn and Michael Hanley, Tam Nguyen, Fariba and Reza Jahanbani, Smith Bagley, David Rubenstein, Fran and Alison Kenworthy, Bobbi Smith, Joe and Reg Stettinius, Emad and Bahareh Sharghi, Erika Weingarten Cupples, Amb. Arturo Sarukhan of Mexico, Cynthia Howar, Erica and Billy Moorhead, Jim and Mai Abdo, Ina Trager and Philip Trager, and Dale Overmyer.
A street that's not much more than one block long, in the shadow of the Capitol.
Where the Supers meet
By Carol Joynt

The conventional wisdom is that the Democratic primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will come to an end soon. Obama has targeted next Tuesday, when Oregon and Kentucky vote. Hillary says she’s in through Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota, which puts it at June 3. For now, though, the conversation is heavily about those fabled super delegates.

You may read about Hillary Clinton visiting the Democratic National Committee to lobby uncommitted “supers.” Or, about pairs and groups of “supers” getting together to mull their decision over beers at the National Democratic Club.  The wheeling and dealing goes on in other locations as well, the floors of the House and Senate chambers, for example, but these two “off campus” spots are prime for the superdelegate discourse.
All who enter here best be the party faithful.
Washington Social Diary feels obligated to give you a visual on the two locations because like so much in Washington, the reality is not exactly the way Hollywood would dress the set. In the movie version, the DNC and the NDC would be in neoclassical buildings with columns and domes to match the Capitol, or perhaps something gothic, with gargoyles and arches. In truth, and despite the power within, they are humdrum in appearance. Remember, once upon a time the DNC was in the Watergate office building, a standout of unremarkable architecture. 

The private National Democratic Club is a social hub for all ardent Democrats, but particularly past and present members of Congress and others seeking or wielding influence. It started after President Harry S Truman left office, when party faithful sought a place to gather together to drink and whine about the GOP, and over the years it has had many homes. Now it is on the short block of Ivy Street, SE, in the shadow of the Capitol and next door to the DNC. 
If not for the rain, the plastic tables and chairs might be occupied by undecided superdelegates.
A note tacked on the door advises of upcoming Nancy Pelosi event, but on other nights the National Democratic Club offers "karaoke."
We photographed it on a rainy day, with no action outside except for a few people hidden under umbrellas. But when the sun is out it’s not unusual to see actual Congress people sitting at the plastic tables, no doubt discussing their committed, uncommitted or wobbly Obama or Clinton vote, while sipping a drink or smoking a cigar. You see, we no longer have smoke filled rooms in Washington.  It’s the smoke filled great outdoors instead.

And, on the off chance you are in town and hanging with a member, please note the NDC hosts occasional “karaoke” nights. Wouldn’t that be a sweet way to watch some superdelegates decide one way or the other?
Special to New York Social Diary

Silk banners and candlelit lanterns in the Haupt Garden led the way for partygoers to the huge white and gold tent in front of the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington last week. The museums celebrated the opening of the Mughal Miniatures exhibition from the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

The guest of honor, His Highness Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Marwan-Jodhpur, looking splendid indeed, was greeted by large gold elephants, silk cushions and exotic flowers.

Dame Jillian Sackler and the Maharaji cut the ribbon to open the exhibition and celebrate: “The year of India.”

Director Dr. Julian Raby and gala chair, Grace Bender, welcomed the sizeable crowd and thanked the Chester Beatty Library and curator, Dr. Deborah Diamond.
Katie Ziglar and the Javeri Family.
Among the committee members were Alexandra de Borchgrave in a sumptuous pink and gold sari, Aniko Schott in an oriental gown by St. Laurent with a marvelous train and Ann Nitze in a red bejeweled kurta and shawl straight from the Hot Pink boutique in Jaipur. Bill Nitze appeared in an impressive red turban.

The ladies were all given “bindis” or jewels to put on their foreheads.

Other notables included: Ambassador Ronen Sen of India; former U.S. Ambassador to India, Frank Wisner; Italian Ambassdor and Mrs. Giovanni Castellaneta; U.S. Chief of Protocol, Nancy Brinker; Huda and Samia Farouki; Hilda and Arturo Brillembourg; ever gorgeous, Jan Cafritz and her husband, Calvin; Kevin Chaffee; Ambassador and Mrs. Richard Fairbanks; Diane Morris; Mary LaClair; Howard Cox; Pam and Mike Peabody; Caroline and John Macomber.

After dinner, the guests were treated to dancing, champagne, and exotic sweets in the Freer Galleries and courtyard. It was, all in all, a beautiful evening and the most glamorous event of Washington’s spring season.
Dr. Julian Raby (Director Freer Sackler Galleries), His Excellency Ronen Sen, and Dr. Michael Ryan (Director The Chester Beatty Library Dublin)
Miss. Sahel Assar and His Highness Gaj Singh II the Maharaja of Marwar Jodhpur
David Good, Kunwar Karni Singh Jasol, Dame Jillian Sackler, His Highness Gaj Singh II, The Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur, Mrs. Kalpana Sen, and His Excellency Ronen Sen (The Ambassador of India)
Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta and his wife Lila Castellaneta
Gwen Holiday and Arturo Brillembourg
Kunwar Karni Singh Jasol and Aniko Schott
Dame Jillian Sackler and Ambassador Brandon Grove
Chief of Protocol Nancy Brinker, His Highness Gaj Singh II the Maharaja of Marwar Jodhpur, and Marlene Malek
William Nitze, Mary Le Clair, and Mr. Ranvir Trehan
Caroline Macomber and Mr. Thompson
His Highness Gaj Singh II the Maharaja of Marwar Jodhpur and Pamela Peabody
Ambassador Richard Fairbanks, Samia Farouki, Shannon Fairbanks, and Huda Farouki
Howard Cox and Diane Morris
Ambassador Stuart Holiday and Hilda Brillembourg
Mrs. Marina Lourdes M. Salcedo, His Highness Gaj Singh II the Maharaja of Marwar Jodhpur, and Arnaud De Borchgrave
Ann Nitze and Richard Danziger
Elaine Wright (Curator Chester Beatty Library Dublin) and Dr. Julian Raby (Director Freer and Sackler Galleries)
Jane Cafritz, The Ambassador of Singapore, and Aniko Schott
Diane Morris
His Highness Gaj Singh II the Maharaja of Marwar Jodhpur and Grace Bender
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol Joynt is the host of The Q&A Cafe, a talk show at Nathans Restaurant in Washington, D.C.