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Big White House do mixes celebs, political money
WASHINGTON (AP) - Wednesday’s giant state dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife _ the biggest ever thrown by Barack and Michelle Obama _ dished up a potent mix of celebrity glam, corporate heft and political money under an enormous party tent on the South Lawn. It is an election year, after all.
The entertainment lineup also included a little something special for both couples: The Obamas are big admirers of Grammy-winner John Legend, and David and Samantha Cameron are huge fans of Mumford & Sons, a British folk rock band that warmed up the crowd for Legend.
Obama, for his part, also is a big fan of “Homeland” actor Damian Lewis, who said on his way in that he planned to ask the president how he ever finds time to watch TV.
Among the 360 people who scored golden tickets to the dinner were actor George Clooney, billionaire Warren Buffett, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, businessman Richard Branson, Apple’s Jony Ive and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, a big fundraiser for Obama’s re-election campaign.
In fact, more than 30 of the biggest financial backers of Obama’s bid for a second term made the cut, according to an Associated Press review of the guest list.
Others who made the list: Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, both of “Downton Abbey” fame, and Rory McIlroy, the new world No. 1 golfer. In advance of the big night, the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland was so excited he tweeted a photo of himself being fitted for his dinner suit.
One anticipated guest _ at least by the Camerons _ was just not to be, a possible mix-up caused by what George Bernard Shaw called two nations separated by a common language.
David Cameron revealed at a luncheon that his wife was thrilled to learn that her favorite movie star was coming.
“I said, `Is it Ben Kingsley from `Gandhi’ or Peter O’Toole from `Lawrence of Arabia?’” Cameron said.
“No, it’s Chevy Chase from `Caddyshack,’” Cameron said his wife had told him.
But it turned out the only Chevy Chase on the invitation list was the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Md. _ the home address of one invitee.
Apparently, a memo went out that blues were the color of the night. Both first ladies and a healthy share of their guests turned up in the color.
Mrs. Obama wore Marchesa, to the delight of Weinstein and his wife, Georgina Chapman, the designer of the first lady’s gown. Both pronounced themselves surprised when reporters told them what the first lady was wearing.
“I’m knocked out,” Weinstein enthused.
Obama gave the Camerons a sartorial thumbs-up as they arrived, declaring, “They look better than us.”
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
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