With Hollywood A-listers from WME’s Ari Emanuel, UTA’s Jay Sures, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra, Shonda Rhimes and cast members of Scandal and House of Cards in attendance, President Barack Obama’s final White House Correspondents Dinner is kicking off in D.C right now.
POTUS and the First Lady aren’t expected to show up at the Washington Hilton for the 2,700-guest strong Larry Wilmore-hosted nerd prom for about another hour, but the red carpet has already seen the likes of Aretha Franklin, Independence Day Resurgence’s Jeff Goldblum, Dame Helen Mirren (sporting a Prince tattoo), Billions‘ Damian Lewis, MPAA chief Chris Dodd, All The Way’s LBJ Bryan Cranston and Keanu‘s Keegan-Michael Key heading into the ballroom along with Emanuel and Sures (seen above with CNN’s Don Lemon). Last year, Key joined the President onstage in his role as Luther, Obama’s official Anger Translator. Blindspot star Jaime Alexander is a guest of NBC News and is on her way to the event:
— Jaimie Alexander (@JaimieAlexander) April 30, 2016
A couple of fictional Presidents will be there too in the form of Deep Impact’s Morgan Freeman, Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn and ID 2‘s Sela Ward as well as Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders. Neither Hillary Clinton nor GOP frontrunner Donald Trump are going this year though the ex-Apprentice host has been insisting of late that his absence has nothing to do with the verbal lambasting he received from Obama back in 2011.
It has long been rumored that the humiliation the President heaped on Trump was one of the reasons the Donald decided to actually run for the White House himself this election. Still, while candidate Trump isn’t there, the clan is represented by his son Donald Jr. and Eric are in attendance. The former Secretary of State has her Number #1 aide Huma Abedin flying her flag.
No matter how good tonight is or isn’t and if Wilmore bombs or soars, that 2011 Seth Meyers hosted WHCD will likely go down as the most notable of the Obama Era. Less so, of course, for the roasting of Trump and more because as the quips were flying fast and furious at the WHCA event, final plans were in motion for the Presidential order mission that would result in the death of Osama bin Laden. A joke by Meyers that April 30 night five years ago about bin Laden being dead or just regularly appearing on the TV dead zone of C-SPAN now seems both very awkward and prescient. Seemingly hiding in Pakistan, the 9/11 mastermind was taken down by a Navy Seal team two days later.
As for what Obama has planned for his WHCD swan song tonight, sources say he received more than a little help with his remarks from some late night scribes as well as in-house WH speechwriters. At Friday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (a name you couldn’t make up) would only say “I know that the President will certainly poke a little fun at himself, and I suspect a little good-natured ribbing of his friends will occur as well.” However, as in past years, some sort of video is certainly in the offering, as WH pool reports have been noting for weeks a special camera following POTUS for just such footage.
After his usual Saturday of golf, the President is scheduled to speak at the WHCD around 5 PM PT with The Nightly Show host to follow soon afterwards. We’ll be covering the remarks of both and anything else big that goes down.