WASHINGTON - This weekend, Washington's usual crowd of journalists, media personalities and political wonks will mix with a different crowd -- the celebrities they cover.
The annual White House Correspondents' Dinner will be held Saturday. And what started off as just a dinner to recognize and honor Washington's journalists has become one of the area's biggest celebrations.
"It's sort of blown up into this almost week-long affair of parties and pre- parties and after-parties," says Politico reporter Patrick Gavin, who adds that about 2,700 people attend Saturday's main dinner at the Washington Hilton.
This year, the E! network is providing live red-carpet coverage of the dinner. "You usually expect (E!) at the Oscars or the Grammys or Golden Globes, but they're now coming here," says Gavin. "The list every year gets bigger and bigger, and for better or for worse it's now the matter of who's not coming here. You pretty much get all of the big stars."
According to Gavin, the celebrity allure began in the ‘90s, when journalist Michael Kelly brought Fawn Hall to the dinner. Since then, the dinner has attracted more and more celebrities each year.
"That raised a lot of eyebrows back then because typically you brought sources," he says. "But once celebrities started attending, then the competition became about what celebrity you could bring."
The recent publicity surrounding the event has also helped fuel its popularity with people other than journalists.
So who's coming this year?
Gavin says the expected celebrities include Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron, among others.
Injured Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware will also be in attendance as a guest of CNN.
"Hopefully he'll be the big eye-catcher this year," Gavin says, who adds that the best possible places to spot a celebrity will be in Georgetown or by the White House.
While the dinner is the main focus of the weekend, the parties surrounding the main event attract a lot of attention as well.
The celebration carries on throughout the weekend with cocktail parties on Friday evening, to the Vanity Fair and Bloomberg after-parties and Politico's brunch on Sunday.
"Really, starting Friday night and not ending until Sunday afternoon, there are going to be little pockets of 800 people partying throughout the city," Gavin says.
Some of the events, however, are not disclosed to the public until after the weekend is over.
"There are always one or two very, very private parties that you don't really hear about until after the fact," Gavin says. "Michael Feldman is a consultant who works at the Glover Park Group, and he would always host an after party at his home that would just be excellent and very small and very intimate. But you would get these celebrities performing a live acoustic set in front of 30 of their closest friends."
Those who don't have an exclusive invite to the celebrity-laden parties can check out Politico's list of other White House Correspondents' Dinner events this weekend.
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