Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Washington Social Diary

The rooftop of Tudor Place mansion in the background, but why is everyone clustered under the tent on such a beautiful evening in Georgetown?
MEMO TO BRAVO: Real Housewives of DC? Show me
by Carol Joynt

Right up top I will confess my TV guilty pleasure is all those “Real Housewives” broadcasts on Bravo, which are the most improbable and compelling variations on “reality.” Or maybe it’s possible that women with implants and French manicures and vain husbands find themselves and flock together like birds of a feather. That could be. I’m open to every outrageous thing that happens on “Housewives,” whether it’s the New York, Atlanta, Orange County or New Jersey editions.

Yesterday Bravo confirmed the rumor that his been not so secret here for the past month – they will air a “Real Housewives of Washington, DC.” Good luck, Bravo, you’ll need it. Not that you won’t find women here who will gladly expose their private lives on national television. That’s easy. I can give you a dozen names and numbers. But will they be “real” housewives of Washington, DC?
The Real Housewives of New York.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
No “real” housewife of Washington, DC, will ever go on national television and drink white wine all the long day, wave around a black card, let cameras follow her to the Botox salon, fire verbal bitch slaps at her supposed “best friends” and risk the kind of embarrassment that is guaranteed by the exposure. Honestly, in most instances here discretion is key to marital and professional success. After all, unlike the other casts, most of the husbands here – those who are the real deal – live off the public dollar in one way or another.

Another thing, and it seems important to the shows: there’s precious little cleavage here, and you’ll find none of it among White House, Congressional, Supreme Court, State Department, Pentagon or diplomatic wives, and forget entirely about CIA wives. Ha! Cleavage. Since when did J. Crew and St. John’s do cleaveage? You’ll have to resort to lawyer, lobbyist and developer wives for the outsized ... personalities, in which case you may as well change the name to “Real Housewives of Potomac and McLean.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
If you want to do an authentic broadcast, one that’s not just a group of publicity hungry social climbers, but a slice of real Washington housewifery, may I suggest a priority read of C. David Heymann’s “The Georgetown Ladies Social Club.” It will give you some helpful insight into how this town really works. Except for Sally Quinn, all the women profiled (Katharine Graham, Evangeline Bruce, Lorraine Cooper, Pamela Harriman) have gone to God’s reality show, but the game here has stayed much the same: power; get it, wield it, but don’t show it off.

You want “real” Washington housewives? Here’s a sample cast: Sally Quinn, of course. Wife of Ben Bradlee. She’s your dramatic center. Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Washington Post, the granddaughter of Katharine Graham, daughter of Lally Weymouth; young, smart, attractive, a mother, and divorced, since you like to have a single girl in the mix. Rima Al-Sabah, wife of the Kuwaiti Ambassador. She’s the town’s reigning social and diplomatic hostess, artfully turned out, and wickedly clever, young and a mother of little ones. Novelist Jane Stanton Hitchcock. Bethenny Frankel’s tart tongue is no match for the sharp observations Jane can let fly, and she’s married to a real syndicated columnist, James Hoagland. To finish the cast, Ann Jordan, wife of Vernon – generous, committed, activist, social, powerful, and treasured friend to true power, meaning presidents – past and present.
Katharine Weymouth. Ann and Vernon Jordan. Jane Stanton Hitchcock.
Ambassador Al-Sabah and Rima Al-Sabah. Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee.
Important details: they’ve all been here for a while, know the town blindfolded, and if the men died tomorrow they could keep the trains running on time, and, most of all, they reside in actual Washington, DC.

Good luck, Bravo. I’ll be watching.
The table where invited guests checked in for the Tudor Place garden party.
By Carol Joynt

As one might expect of any storied neighborhood whose colorful residents include statesmen, politicians, artists, raconteurs, scoundrels, merchants, old money, new money, media stars, social climbers, grand dames, gents and party girls, Georgetown has more than a few faces. It’s a relatively small community and many people know each other, either well or in passing.

They stop n’chat on the bricked sidewalks, meet for lunch or dinner at Café Milano, Martin’s and La Chaumiere, drop off the dry cleaning at New York Cleaners, line up for morning coffee at Marvelous Market and Patisserie Poupon, still call PNC Bank by the name “Riggs,” meet for pancakes or a club sandwich at Furin’s Coffee Shop, walk their dogs at Montrose, get them groomed at Chichies, line up for produce at the Wednesday farmer’s market, stand in line together for movies at the Loews and, not to put a downer on it, often as not end up buried next to each other at the village’s very own Oak Hill Cemetery.
Arriving at the mansion. Looking through the front entrance and the main hall.
Beautiful flowers, from their own gardens, are a staple of the Tudor Place party.
They also, once a year, show up for the annual Spring lawn party at Tudor Place Mansion. If ever anybody wanted to capture Georgetown at its most concentrated, the very essence of its hard core and permanent community, this is the place and the occasion. It draws the young and the old, the cave dwellers and the flamboyant, men in boaters, ladies in pretty hats, and even the Mayor.

There are several bars and the drinks are huge. I mean, seriously, wine glasses the size of small gold fish bowls, and rocks glasses that could hold a baci ball. Plus, the buffet still includes beautiful tenderloin, a contrast to so many post-crash parties that have made a staple of chicken and polenta.
The buffet at the Tudor Place garden party.
The beautiful tenderloin.
Georgetown likes to get jolly: wine glasses the size of small goldfish bowls. The music.
The Tudor Place gathering, which is a fundraiser for the circa 1816 museum house that was built for Martha Washington’s granddaughter, is both an end and a beginning. It marks the end of the spring party season and the beginning of summer. Now in its 17th year, it has grown from something small to a large and lavish lawn party that is a fixture of the Georgetown social calendar.

Still, this year’s party showed some indications of the recession with a smaller turnout and flower arrangements that, while beautiful, were more modest than in years past. A few things remained the same, though: people came early and stayed late, the jazz band played from beginning to end, and the speeches were quick and few. Also, the guests were generous. The party raised about $122,000.
Ruth Buchanan pulls Kevin Chaffee closer to tell him what, we'll never know.
There were bars under the tent and out on the lawn.
Guests included Austin Kiplinger, Timothy and Jane Matz, Katherine and Jeffrey Baker, Kate Chartner, Carrington Tarr, Amy Bondurant and David Dunn, George and Frederica Valanos, Michael and Elizabetth Cantacuzene, Alan and Nancy Taylor Bubes, Deb Johns, Jeannie Rutherford, Harold Keshisian, Diana and Fred Prince, Dory and Chad Clark, Susan and Chuck Pilchard, Betsy Rea, Marie Gilson, Nina Straight, Megan and Bob Gabriel, Ellen Claire Dreyer, Rep. Roy Blunt and Abby Blunt, Nancy Jacobsen, Nancy and David Rolls, Kevin Chaffee, Ruth Buchanan, Jacqueline and Marc Leland, Elizabeth and Jeff Powell, Janice and Wiley Buchanan, Edgar and Janet Brenner, Heather Bartlow, Fran Kenworthy, Page and Howard Smith, Abby Pfisterer, Betsy and Charles Rackley, Dick Pearson and Jan Holderness, Julio Heurtematte, Bill Starrells, Lee Childs, Betty Monkman, Bob and Niente Smith, Davis Kennedy, Helgi Walker and Malwin Drummond, Beverly Jost, Edith Schaefer, Ned Brown, John Irelan, David and Kathy Melrod.
S. Allen Chambers, President of the Tudor Place Board of Trustees, and Leslie Buhler, its Executive Director. Ellen Charles and Robert Berendt.
The gents: John Irelan, George Valanos, and Kevin Chaffee. Always smiling: Patton Boggs law partners Graham Wisner and David Dunn.
David and Kathy Melrod. Tim Matz with Ilona and Bill Savage.
Tim and Jany Matz. Nancy Taylor Bubes. Frederica Valanos.
Mayor Adrian Fenty and DC Councilman Jack Evans, who was the party's honoree. Mayor Fenty greets a constituent. Mayor Fenty talks with the party's chair, Kate Chartner.
Good friends: Mayor Fenty, CRJ, and Councilman Jack Evans. Edgar and Janet Brenner.
Malwin Drummond, Helgi Walker, and Bob Smith. Niente and Bob Smith.
Rania and Graham Wisner. David Dunn and Amy Bondurant.
Dressed for a lawn party. Ned Brown with Elizabeth and Jeff Powell.

Refugees International held their 30th annual gala recently and made it a tribute to a man of many parts – Ted Turner. The part of the mogul-philanthropist-sportsman that RI honored was his role as humanitarian and founder of Cable News Network. Turner said, “I’ve always believed that if people have good information, they’ll usually make good choices. And my objective was to put as much good information out there as we possibly could...and maybe it would change the world.”

RI gave Turner the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award during the black-tie dinner for 450 people at the Italian Embassy. RI president Kenneth Bacon said the evening raised almost $700,000. The main event of the dinner program was an interview of Turner by CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Amanpour, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Yasmine Pahlavi, dinner chairs Michael and Mariella Trager and a few dozen other invited guests arrived early for a VIP reception, where Turner stayed in close contact with his date, Sally Ranney.
The table settings for the Refugees International dinner. The cocktails at the VIP reception for Ted Turner.
Cocktail music.
The evening's program. The menu.
Others at the RI dinner included Lisa Barry, Kara Kennedy, Matt Dillon, Andrea Lari, Sam Waterston, Shamim Jawad, Hadassah Lieberman, Eileen West, Rebecca Fishman, Katherine Kennedy, Smith and Elizabeth Bagley, Farooq Kathwari, Francesca Craig, Gay Cioffi, Rep. Nita Lowey, Joseph Reitman, Annie Duke, Lionel Rosenblatt, Annie Totah, Stanley Weiss, and Sen. Sam Brownback, who was another honoree.
Sally Ranney and Ted Turner. Michael Trager, Kenneth Bacon, and Mariella Trager.
Jacqueline and Marc Leland. Ted Turner and Christian Amanpour.
Sen. Joe Lieberman. Diana Prince. Betsy Rackley.
Annie Totah and Yasmine Pahlavi. Francesca Craig and Gay Cioffi.
All photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol is the host of The Q&A Cafe, a talk show at Nathans Restaurant in Washington, D.C.