On the Town with Shinan: Doing D.C. with Lupita, Robin and more

By Shinan Govani

Greetings, Hello! reader. Welcome to the first of what will be a regular column, as I take you inside star-studded parties and exclusive dinners. Having been on the celebrity and social beat for many years, it’s my privilege to appear now in this space. While we meander across a variety of different scenes together, you'll be able to count on context, scoop and, yes, fun.

Best, Shinan

The Stars Descend on Washington

Robin Wright drifted into the room, a hallowed, faraway look on her face, the House of Cards star in a kind of beautiful trance.

The president of the United States strolled in not long afterwards – no, not that guy, but a beaming Tony Goldwyn, who plays the somewhat emo commander-in-chief on Scandal (the Romeo to Kerry Washington’s Juliet).

“Hey, isn't that whatshisname on Veep?” a voice went up behind me.

Amid this mix-up of real Washington and proto-Washington – TV culture being strangely saturated with D.C.-themed hits these days – I rabbit-holed, making the scene at the United States Institute of Peace. Netflix and Google had teamed up to host the bash, one of several big-deal pre- and post-parties pivoting around the big-deal Washington Correspondents’ Dinner.

If L.A. has the Oscars and New York the Met Ball, Washington has this weekend: a special combo-platter of showbiz specimens and political animals. I had only just set eyes on the GIF booth setup at the event (regular photo booths are so 2013, don't you know) when I spotted – ta-dah! Lupita Nyong'o.

The ingenue – and 2014 party must-have – was gamely chatting with admirers when the man who helped her win an Academy Award – director Steve McQueen – came tumbling into the scene. “Most beautiful!” he hollered as they embraced. (In real life, Lupita is probably more magnificent than even in photos, with a smile that is genuine, and to-die-for bone structure.)

Onward, to the liquid-nitrogen ice-cream station at this fine institute located in the shadows of Abe Lincoln, and his memorial, ’round the corner. Four score and seven years ago, indeed, I thought as I happened upon this American dream of dairy. “Engineer Your Own Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream,” read a sign, as a woman beside me – possibly a lobbyist, quite slinky – muttered something to another woman about “face time.”

In D.C., I've found, they’re always talking about “face-time.” Getting it. Proving it. The ultimate measure of power, especially during an annual weekend that’s been described as the city’s “version of the High Holidays, minus the fasting or spiritual nourishment.”

As the futuristic atrium filled up with even more celebrities – OMG, there’s Scott Foley with a shirt on! And, hey, isn't that “Bobby Ewing” from Dallas?! – there was also a further peppering of lawmakers, Silicon Valley and pundit boldface. Indeed, when I asked a certain power player what brought him to this particular party, he boomed, “It was either this – or stay home and watch Netflix.”

Gehry’s Big Night

An architect so famous he's been immortalized on The Simpsons: reason enough to get some of Canada's most powerful out to New York City. Honoured (alongside Jacqueline Desmarais) with the first-ever Distinguished Contributions to the Arts in Canada award, Frank Gehry was feted by a swirl of illustrious names – including Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his Mila, social mainstays Galen and Hilary Weston, CBC powerhouse Amanda Lang and Seagram heiress Phyllis Lambert – at the Metropolitan Club, near 5th Avenue. Among some of the additional names out for the Big Apple do, organized by the Council for Canadian American relations: former diplomat Ken Taylor, designer Dee Dee Eustace and stage producer David Mirvish. And did I mention there were Mounties? Singing Mounties! (Watch for photos in Amoryn’s Diary of the Week column.)

Meanwhile in Toronto…

* Jessica Chastain, working on the Guillermo del Toro film Crimson Peak, went Spanish at hot spot Patria the other night.

* 50 Cent, spotted chumming with Drake at a Raptors game last week, made some potential investor-stops on Bay Street for his new line of headphones, I hear.

* Molly Ringwald got her books fill at Type, on Queen Street West, while whisking through town on one of her jazz gigs.

Check out Shinan's column in this week's print issue of HELLO!, where he goes ONE-ON-ONE with screen legend Jane Fonda.

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