The Observer begrudgingly traipsed back to the Plaza Ballroom for the umpteenth Wednesday night for yet another gala. This time around it was to honor civil rights pioneer and former chairman of the NAACP Julian Bond. We knew that honorary chairman of the affair, Bill Clinton, was too busy saving the world to attend, but a list of enticing notables was expected. How often to you get to have a Tanqueray and tonic with Wanda Sykes?
We surveyed the room, looking for a familiar face or journalistic prey. The affair was utter chaos: swarms of formally dressed patrons, many of them prominent members of the black American community, indulged on rich hors d’oeuvres and buzzed about. The Observer passed up some creamy puff treats for a glass of cabernet and wandered to a back room hidden behind a red curtain, where the VIP cocktail party was in full swing.
On the step-and-repeat we spotted Reverend Jesse Jackson showing off his iPad to a camera crew. Man of the hour Julian Bond beamed and granted interviews. Wanda Sykes entered in a metallic gown, her handlers acting as a blockade. She paced by her many admirers, shaking hands in a robotic yet hilarious daze.
After a refill from the bar, The Observer tried to chase down Dave Matthews with no luck.
“He’s here to perform some songs,” a publicist informed us.
“He’s the token white guy,” yelled a photographer.
Chris Tucker caused some commotion as he posed for fan photos, but the big storm came when Whoopi Goldberg graced the red carpet. All hell broke loose. Publicists hissed, eager journalists lurched and gala attendees crowded in for a closer look. Ms. Goldberg wore something French by way of Japan—Yohji Yamamoto meets Viktor & Rolf. It didn’t work.
The highlight of the evening was chatting up the statuesque Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, who just celebrated her tenth anniversary as an anchor on that morning show:
“Julian Bond. He is a leader. I love the fact that he was in the classroom for as long as he was [as a professor at University of Virginia]. I love the fact that he was on the front lines, so to speak—and that he has taught the lessons that he has learned,” raved Ms. Roberts.
“Did you see Whoopi?” we asked.
“Is Whoopi here?” Roberts shrieked turning her head sharply.
“Yes she was wearing this interesting structured, hammered silk cocoon wrap coat,” we said.
“See, if I tried to do that…”
“A little too wacky for your taste?” The Observer asked.
“Do you like my outfit and my belt? Is it too much?” Ms. Roberts questioned.
“No. We love it!” The Observer exclaimed.
Ms. Robins reported that she had been up since 3 a.m. and was preparing for an upcoming appearance on The Colbert Report. Mr. Bond himself has also appeared on the fake news show.
“I love when you can take the headlines and politics and find humor. But there is also the truth,” she said.
“We try to do that at The Observer. Do you read it?”
“I do. So you be very nice,” she warned with a finger wave.
We promised. “What do you do to keep your energy going with such early?” The Observer wanted to know.
“Namaste,” Ms. Roberts replied bowing.
“What kinda of yoga? Bikram?”
“No—you don’t wet my hair! Are you cray-cray!?” she yelled. “I’m not into low impact, I’m into no impact.”
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