The Reliable Source Live

Mar 12, 2014

Washington Post columnists Helena Andrews and Emily Heil were online to discuss your favorite gossip, celebrity sightings and their recent columns.

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Hey chatters, the weather's warm so let's jump right in. Here's what we've been following lately, "Freddy’s BBQ Joint’ from ‘House of Cards’ for sale" "Actor Woody Harrelson is now a local hotelier" and "Host of the CPAC hot tub party: ‘People were well-behaved!’"

How would you guys rate the president's performance on Between Two Ferns?

I thought the president was deadpan funny not funny funny, which is good. If he'd gone on and tried to hold his own with Zach Galifianakis it would have been a disaster. Instead he stuck to his joke note cards and even managed to get in a zing or two. We especially loved this one: "You know if I ran a third time, it would be sort of be like doing a third ‘Hangover’ movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?" Hilars. 

That CPAC party sounded crazy. Is that normal?

CPAC debauchery is pretty well-known. It's like spring break for conservatives -- a bunch of college kids from all over the country gathered in a hotel. So it only figures that things are gonna get crazy. 

But the one CPAC party I attended this year (a "speakeasy" sponsored by Breitbart News) was tame by comparison. Looots of talking, and the only congressman there -- Rep. Louie Gohmert -- definitely did not do shots with partygoers or offer money to people to jump in a hot tub! Though I did have the pleasure of hearing a guy actually attempt to pick a girl up with this line: "You are hotter than Sarah Palin." 

Seriously, that happened. 

Does the president really need to watch Game of Thrones before the rest of us? Where does he find the time?

I am a Game of Thrones fanatic. I've read alll the books and am not ashamed to say I toyed with the idea of re-naming my dog Hodor. Do not judge me! One thing I assume the pres doesn't have time for is DVR or even HBOGo. So instead he gets the DVDs of Season 4 early while the rest of us die hards have to wait until April 6th to see GoT. As long as there aren't any spoilers on @barackobama or then I'm cool with it. 

President Obama has said that he makes a point of having dinner with the fam every night at 6:30. And he's said that he watches "Modern Family and "Parks and Recreation" with his wife and daughters. So he does carve out some TV time after  long days. 

I'm struck by how dark his tastes are -- in addition to GoT, he's said he's a fan of "Homeland," "House of Cards" and "Mad Men," which aren't so sunny. And "The Wire," too. Guy likes some grit. 

Where can we buy that coffee table book?

The "Because of Them We Can" campaign was pretty cool wasn't it? Basically local photog Eunique Jones Gibson staged a bunch of wee ones as legends of African American history--like Colin Powell, Duke Ellington and even Beyonce-- in order to inspire young people during Black History month. Now she's got an image for every day of the year. The new coffee table book is available at

Why are surprised at that pick-up line at CPAC? What would be noteworthy is if somebody used a line like "you're hotter than Nancy Pelosi" or "you're hotter than Debbie Wasserman Schultz". Come to think of it, those would noteworthy even at a Democratic convention.

I wasn't surprised by that line, just struck by how completely perfect in context it was. It just seems textbook, you know? Like if I was writing a script for a pickup line at a conservative convention, I would write that! 

I enjoy your round-ups of celebvocates in town - they advicate for some interesting issues. Do you ever go their hearings or talks in person? Is there one advocate you would be particularly interested to hear?

I'm really interested in what a super mega star like Lady Gaga would have to say. or more importantly if she would show up on the Hill wearing her usual monster costume or would she pare it down for the congress folk? Doubtful. 

I've covered a number of cause celebs testifying on the Hill. It's pretty interesting -- not just to see how the Hollywood types do in the straitlaced milieu, but to watch the typically serious folk on the Hill go all fan-girl (and -boy) on the celebrities. 

So you all broke the news that Stevie Wonder would be at the Strathmore performing with Sting and Paul Simon. Do you get to go too?

Helena and I will both be there! Am super-excited to hear him perform. 

Stevie Wonder's scheduled "surprise" appearance at the Duke Ellington School of the Art's annual fundraising concert was probably the worst kept secret in Washington. Both Emily and I will be on hand tonight to give you guys the full scoop on what goes down. With Stin, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder all on one stage I'm just going to go out on a limb here and predict it'll be epic. 

Looks like you guys went to a lot of parties this past weekend. Is that the best part of your job?

Going to parties for work is fun! But it's still work -- I've got my pen and notebook at the ready and my phone ready to snap pics. I think a lot of the people who attend parties around town are working, too -- socializing is practically a job requirement in Washington. 

The 'p' and the 'b' aren't even close to each other.

You're apsolutely right. 

You said some were recycled. Don't all these guys go to the same parties every year and hear the same jokes. You'd think they could come up with something original.

One reason for recycled material is that it's so hard for politicians to strike the right note of being funny without being crass or mean or weird -- all pitfalls of humor.

For proof of just how hard it is, check out Rep. Donna Edwards bombing at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner:

The pre-used jokes at the Gridiron had the benefit of being funny and SAFE.

How in the world could the president have flubbed that line during the White House' "Women of Soul" concert? Were the lights too bring or something.

I'm going to assume that he was nervous. I met Aretha Franklin at the BET Honors last month and she said something about my dress being pretty and I almost fainted. Now the president has a lot more experience introducing and talking to stars and, you know, kings and queens. But the Queen of Soul is something different. That lady's all class. Even her "statement" absolving the pres was classy: “I’m sure the President had much on his agenda and was just a little tired. However, spelling and giving it, is a huge difference. The President and I are mutual when it comes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

If the CPAC hot tub party were held AFTER David Jolly's election in Florida, then it probably would have been much livelier than it was actually was. But, in any event, were you "working" the CPAC party that you attended as invited Post reporters or were you "undercover" so to speak for your column? Just curious.

Perhaps the Jolly win would have put partygoers in an even more festive mood? Who knows -- sounds like they were having plenty of fun. 

And yes, I was working at the CPAC party. I don't go "undercover," in the sense that I never misrepresent myself, and I tell anyone I interview that I'm a Post reporter. I'm guessing my taking-notes-at-a-party habit usually kind of gives me away:) 

Have you spotted any party crashers yet, the way Former Sourcette Amy Argetsinger did the Salahis at a State Dinner? I'm really looking forward to one or the other of you finding one.

It was former Reliable Source columnist Roxanne Roberts who spotted the Salahis crashing the State Dinner and so far I haven't seen anything remotely Salahi-esque. Security has gotten a lot tighter in recent years. 

Security is suuper tight at state dinners, but there are often party-crashers at other parties that aren't guarded by Secret Service. Young and broke Hill staffers can practically live on reception food (and open bars!). 

Do you think he'll hang around?

Yep. The guy who played your local dimwitted bartender on 'Cheers' is actually a pretty savvy businesman and very eco-concious. The hotel Harrelson is now co-owner of, The Inn at the Black Olive, focuses on sustainability. Harrelson's wife, Laura, was the one who actually picked the Inn at the Black Olive as Harrelson HQ during the 2011 filming of HBO's "Game Change," in which Harrelson played real-life Republican strategist Steve Schmidt. The Inn's former owner and continuing manager told us that he hopes Woody will hang around the emerging Fell's Point neighborhood in Baltimore more seeing as how he now has skin in the game. "Hunger Games" fans might want to head there. 

Umm the CPAC hot tub party? I missed this. Go on...

Oh, it is not to be missed. A party at the big conservative confab last weekend featured a congressman, Rep. Steve Stockman, drinking heartily and daring people to jump into the hotel suite's hot tub. 

All of which sounds pretty over-the-top, but when I interviewed one  of the hosts, he said the bash was a little tamer than one might think. There was no nudity, for instance, and he swears that the guests who helped clean up actually seperated the recycling! 

Who do we think bought that $18.6 million house?

The home we're talking about, "The River View Estate," was originally a part of George Washington's Mount Vernon and was formerly owned by Tyson's Corner developer Jerry Halpin. We chatted with the good folks at Sotheby's International Realty, who, of course, remained tight lipped about who bought the sprawling estate just 10 minutes or so outside of D.C. I'm guessing someone with money to burn, obvs, or perhaps a huge history buff who wants to cache of living there. 

Sen. Markey ready "The Lorax" on the Senate Floor. What's your Dr. Seuss fav?

"Oh the Places You'll Go" is hands down my favorite book ever. 

I'm actually more intrigued by Dr. Seuss's lesser known works -- apparently, he had a couple of "adult" titles. Kinda like Roald Dahl, who everyone knows for his kids' stuff, actually wrote some really racy books, too. That's versatility, people. 

Alright, alright, alright -- seems this week's chat has come to a close. Happy gossiping, peeps, and send us your VIP sightings (bonus points for pics!) and tips to See you next week! 

In This Chat
Helena Andrews
Helena Andrews is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews.
Emily Heil
Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen. Follow her on Twitter @emilyaheil,
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