Trump White House’s First State Dinner High on Pomp, Low on Star Wattage
Donald Trump’s first state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte will include 120 guests, a cream and gold color scheme, rack of spring lamb for the main course and white floral centerpieces of sweet peas and white lilacs.
What it won’t have is Hollywood glamour.
Celebrities have long been a staple of Washington state dinners. But unlike, say, the Obama years, which featured the likes of Beyoncé, Steven Spielberg and James Taylor, this year’s event is low on star wattage, with the Washington National Opera serving as the featured entertainment.
Except for Melania Trump’s broad-brimmed white hat earlier in the day, which drew immediate comparisons to “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope, perhaps the only other Hollywood connection at the state dinner was movie-financier-turned-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Among the non-politics celebs who arrived at the Mount Vernon dinner were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Rupert Murdoch and his wife Jerry Hall, Olympic curler John Shuster, and women’s hockey player Meghan Duggan. On the politics side, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, Chief Justice John Roberts, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, aide Stephen Miller, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Henry Kissinger, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were there.
The lone Democrat invited was Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose office confirmed to TheWrap he and his wife will be attending.
In contrast, the Obama’s first state dinner for then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur in 2009 was held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House. The dinner included 400 guests, including Steven Spielberg, Katie Couric and actors Blair Underwood and Alfre Woodard.
It was also the year when a couple of party crashers made headlines: Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The Washington socialites were filming “Real Housewives of D.C.,” and made an entrance even though their names were not on the list.
The Obamas’ list of Hollywood celebs famously included Beyoncé, who headlined the 2010 state dinner for Mexico’s then-President Felipe Calderón and his wife, Margarita Zavala. Angela Merkel had a friend in James Taylor during her state dinner in 2011. British Prime Minister David Cameron got to enjoy some John Legend and Mumford and Sons in 2012. And Mary J. Blige had gave some real love to Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande during his state dinner in 2014.
The Obama’s last state dinner, for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini in 2016, featured a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers. Gwen Stefani, former racing driver Mario Andretti, fashion designer Georgio Armani, celebrity chef Mario Batali, Disney lobbyist Richard Bates, and actor Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for 1999’s “Life Is Beautiful” were among the dinner guests.
Republican presidents typically have a harder time wrangling A-listers for their dinners.
First lady Laura Bush’s first state dinner was an intimate dinner honoring then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife, Martha Sahagun de Fox in 2001. The guest list included tenor Placido Domingo, Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, after-dinner entertainment soprano Dawn Upshaw and the lone Hollywood representative, Clint Eastwood.
Other celebrities attending state dinners during the Bush years include country crooner Kenny Chesney in 2006, famed violinist Itzhak Perlman in 2007 and the Broadway production of “The Lion King” in 2008.