Political TV Takes the Spotlight at Garden Brunch

D.C.-Based Shows Take Spotlight at Garden Brunch
White House Correspondents Insider

WASHINGTON — The showbiz presence for White House Correspondents Assn. weekend is less visible this year — in favor of stars who have some connection to D.C.

The reasons for this have varied. The novelty of hobnobbing with members of President Obama’s administration has worn off, and the event has become enough of a crush of people that some have decided to take a pass.

Not so, though, for Michael Kelly, who plays Doug Stamper on “House of Cards.”

“Talking to the most interesting people in the world, it’s great,” he said, after posing for yet another selfie before heading in to the Garden Brunch, one of the longer-lasting traditions of the weekend.

“I am so grateful,” he said, when asked if he’s getting tired of the selfie requests. “It’s an opportunity to meet and talk to people that you don’t normally get to talk to.”

That’s certainly true at the brunch, where media figures like Katie Couric, Chris Matthews and Jake Tapper were in the mix with political and legal figures like attorney Ted Olson and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler or showbiz figures like Norman Reedus, Sophie Turner and Alfre Woodard.

Started with just about a half-dozen people in the backyard of producer Tammy Haddad’s home more than two decades ago, the brunch has grown into an event now held at the historic Washington-Beall House, a 19th century Georgetown estate once owned by Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham. Colder weather kept many people inside the home or a giant white tent, as monitors tried to control the flow of the crowd at the entrance.

Jim Obergefell, named plaintiff in one of the same-sex marriage cases coming before the Supreme Court for oral arguments on Tuesday, was there, as was Tim Daly of “Madam Secretary” and Timothy Simons of “Veep.”

“Everybody seems enamored of the people coming from the other side,” said Haley Joel Osment of Amazon’s “Alpha House.” “I’m excited to see politicians, and they are certainly excited to see us, I guess.”

Woodard, who plays the president on “State of Affairs,” said that she actually finds the D.C. atmosphere of the weekend “very celebratory and happy” — certainly not the way the city is often portrayed on screen — even if she notes that “here people don’t bust loose as much as we do out West.”

Kelly says “House of Cards” may have benefited from shooting in the region — outside of Baltimore — as it is enough away from major entertainment media to help keep a secret about his character’s survival into season three.

“To actually lie to people’s faces is not something I do well,” he says. “But we did it. We were able to pull that off. That to me was unbelievable.”