Monday, November 23, 2009

Washington Social Diary

A view from the terrace into the British Ambassador's residence at a party in honor of Sir Harold Evans and his new memoir, “My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times.”
by Carol Joynt

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell may not be much in the news these days but that does not mean he’s without strong opinions, particularly about getting his picture taken. “Every time I turn around there’s someone aiming a little camera at me. With these phone cameras, you can’t get away from it.” His exasperation was expressed in the midst of a cocktail party at the British Embassy, where I tried gamely to take his photo with my little Sony Cybershot while he tried gamely to avoid the lens.

Each time I aimed my camera, Gen. Powell gave me his back. When I moved with him to catch the front of him, he turned again. We went round like this until I mentioned the Embassy gave the media permission to bring cameras. “Oh, then that’s different,” he said, “if you’re media.” Well, yes, new media perhaps, but still media. The friend with whom he was chatting, Ken Duberstein, courteously spoke up on NYSD’s behalf and then all was well and Powell happily and generously posed. Still, he ranted, “You can’t go anywhere anymore that people don’t have cameras.” I didn’t dare bring up TMZ or X17.
Clockwise from top left: At the ready for the arrival of guests; Canapes; Sushi and toast points at the British Embassy; Shrimp and dip.
There were lots of cameras at the Embassy because the party was in honor of a media notable, Sir Harold Evans, and his new memoir, “My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times.” With Harry you also get his wife, Tina Brown, and with Harry and Tina you get a Washington media A list: Christopher Hitchens and Carol Blue over here, Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee over there, Bob Woodward there, Howard Kurtz, James Hoagland and Jane Stanton Hitchcock there, and Jonathan Capehart, David Frum, Tammy Haddad, Christopher Buckley, Tucker Carlson, Shelby Coffey, John Harris, as well as Gwen Ifill, Jackie and Sidney Blumenthal, Danielle Crittenden, Dee Dee Myers, James Strodes, Joan Tobin and on and on.

The party was hosted by British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald and Lady Sheinwald with The Week magazine, where Sir Harry is editor-at-large. The champagne flowed, but there was also a full bar and plenty of passed trays of smoked salmon, pate, meatballs, mini-quiche and other canapés. No one departed thirsty or hungry.
Sir Harold Evans proposes a toast to the guests: "Let's drink to reporting."
Lady Sheinwald, Harold Evans, Tina Brown, and Ambassador Sheinwald.
Colin Powell, Bob Woodward, Jane Stanton Hitchcock, and Joan Tobin.
I arrived early and was able to enjoy the finesse of the Embassy’s legendary social secretary, Amanda Downes, as she deftly moved in five different directions at once to get the stage set. Ambassadors come and go, but Amanda has remained for almost twenty years, making the social obligations of a major diplomatic post seem so effortless. The job title, “Social Secretary,” belies the smarts, hard work and quiet power that ride with this particular job in this particular town.

Tina stood in the entry hall with the Ambassador and his wife to greet guests while Harry anchored the large main salon, circulating among friends, happy in the spotlight – literally, there was a TV crew or two amongst the still cameras – and eager to have a word with every last individual. At the podium under the Warhol of Queen Elizabeth, Ambassador Sheinwald introduced the guest of honor as the man his colleagues named “the greatest living editor of all time.”
"My Paper Chase" by Harold Evans. A car waits for Sir Harold Evans and wife Tina Brown.
Sir Harry reminisced about his years running London’s The Sunday Times. “People of my generation who got interested in politics often did because of The Times.” He said the party “should be a celebration. Not of me, but of reporting. My book is a celebration of what journalism can achieve. Really good reporting is being squeezed out of existence. We have to keep reminding people that journalism is not dead.”

Harry, an American citizen since 1993, took a moment to make an important if sentimental point: “It’s always good to come back to Britain, which is where we are, as this is British territory.” The ambassador beamed.
A force in motion: British Embassy Social Secretary Amanda Downes. Standing still for one second: Amanda Downes.
Tammy Haddad, Howard Kurtz, and Tina Brown. Carol Blue, Tina Brown, and Christopher Hitchens.
Mark Whitaker of NBC News. Deborah Nelson and Chad Tragakis.
Ben Bradlee. Colin Powell's smiling front, with Ken Duberstein.
Lady Sheinwald and Christopher Hitchens. Tucker Carlson and friends.
Michael Kinsley and Ralph Nader. Ken and Jackie Duberstein.
Evans signs the book for fans, including Christopher Buckley in the gray suit. Tina Brown, Christopher Buckley, and Howard Kurtz.
.Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sally Quinn, Colin Powell, and Bob Woodward. A pair of editors: Ben Bradlee and Sir Harold Evans.

The Washington Performing Arts Society’s Fall Celebration may have been smaller than previous years, but the pre-dinner entertainment was huge.

The bountiful flowers.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa gave an almost two-hour performance, taking only two small intermissions and otherwise commanding the stage and the audience in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall.

The patrons who give generously to the WPAS were feted after in the rooftop Atrium with salad, chicken braised with figs, honey and apple cider, pecan tart with cinnamon ice cream, wine, flowers, candlelight and a few speeches.

Te Kanawa did not make it to dinner, but did greet a few patrons privately in a small room off the Atrium. She looked stunning, happy, but said she was tired from the performance.

The New Zealand ambassador, Roy Neil Ferguson, praised Te Kanawa, a native of Gisborne, and co-chairs Rachel Tinsley Pearson and Arturo Brillembourg thanked the sponsors and board, particularly President Neale Perl.

A special thank you was made to Perl’s predecessor, Douglas H. Wheeler, a renowned Washington arts patron, who was described as the “ideal cultural citizen.”
Just before dinner is served in the Kennedy Center's rooftop Atrium.
New Zealand Ambassador Roy Neil Ferguson. Doug Wheeler.
Conversation before dinner.
Guests included Morgan Delaney and Osborne Mackie, Jeff Dufour and Jayne Sandman, James and Marjorie Freston, Natwar Ghandi, Jay Hammer, Keith Harley, Debra Harrison, Isabel Ernst, Edison Dick, Carol Bogash, Robert Ames, John Arundel, Gillis Attard, Polly Badt, Pedrio Mario Burelli, John Mason, Albert Small, Kathryn Rand, Elizabeth Mullin, Davis Reinnes, Reggie Van Lee, Arturo and Veronica Sarukhan, Tom Portman, Yann Auzoux, Rohini Talalla, Diana Hossack, Dave Ferguson, Barbara Gordon, Hubert Schlosberg, Daren Thomas, Chris Ricchi, Olivia Ricchi, Annie Totah, Nina Totenberg, Eileen Shields-West, Robert Zeiss, Stephanie Green, Lee Leak, Daniel Levinas, Jerome Libin, Caroline Kitidis, Allen Lassinger, Richard Thompson, Rafat Mahmoud, Shirley Marcus-Allen, Bibhuti and Lopa Mishra, Jacqueline Badger Mars and Annie Cleland, Hugh Smith, Christine Stanley, Paul Stern, Irwin Stelzer, Lena Scott and Lennart Lundh.
Rachel Tinsley Pearson and Arturo Brillembourg review their notes before addressing the WPAS supporters. Dinner co-chairs Rachel Tinsley Pearson and Arturo Brillembourg.
Judy and Rebecca Pearson. Alexine Clement Jackson, Reginald Van Lee, and Shirley Marcus Allen.
Jayne Sandman, Daren Thomas, and Jeff Dufour. DC's tax chief, Natwar Ghandi.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa greets a WPAS patron. Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, Rachel Tinsley Pearson, and Reggie Van Lee.
Karen and Neale Perl. Ochoa and Arturo Brillembourg. Lena Scott and WPAS Board Chairman Jay Hammer.
Rachel Tinsley Pearson and Neale Perl. Annie Totah, Arturo Brillembourg, Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan, Arturo Sarukhan, and .
Jay Hammer, Barbara Gordon, and Catherine Wheeler. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and New Zealand Ambassador Roy Neil Ferguson.
Photographs by Carol Joynt (Evans & WPAS); Daniel Cima (WPAS); Neshan H. Naltchayan (Evans). Carol is the host of The Q&A Cafe in Washington, D.C. Visit her at: