Thursday, January 30, 2014

Michelle Obama Dishes On Valentine's Day Plans, White House Life, And Binge-Watching 'Scandal'

The First Lady in Seacrest's Los Angeles studio
In California for a three-day fundraising swing, First Lady reveals intimate details during interview with Ryan Seacrest...
Washington, DC  - President Barack Obama is still quite the romantic after more than two decades of marriage, First Lady Michelle Obama told American Idol host Ryan Seacrest during a radio interview that aired Thursday on his On Air With Ryan Seacrest show. 

"We have been married for 21 years and he never forgets a Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, a birthday," Mrs. Obama said.  "He’s really good at that kind of stuff."

The First Lady taped the interview on Wednesday after arriving in Los Angeles, CA for a three-day Democratic fundraising swing.  But Seacrest told his listeners on Thursday that it was a live segment, going so far as to have one of his staffers phoning in to the show, pretending to be stationed outside the studio watching for Mrs. Obama's arrival in her motorcade.  

Ostensibly doing the interview to discuss the Let's Move! campaign and encourage young adults to enroll for Affordable Care Act insurance coverage, Mrs. Obama dished aplenty about White House life and matrimonial romance, and revealed her new-found affection for the hit TV show Scandal.  

She binge-watched every episode during a long flight aboard Air Force One at Christmas time, Mrs. Obama said. 

But first:  The romance.  Valentine's Day will be "low key" this year, Mrs. Obama said, thanks to the extended festivities for her milestone 50th birthday on Jan. 17th.

"I’ve had this big birthday celebration—my husband really celebrated me so well—he did a great job," Mrs. Obama said.  

"I had a great couple of weeks, so I think we’re going to low-key it for Valentine’s Day."

Part of the President's birthday gift to Mrs. Obama was an extended stay in Hawaii after he and their daughters ended their Christmas vacation and returned to DC.  Mrs. Obama spent a week with girlfriends at Oprah Winfrey's Maui estate, which was followed by a big birthday bash with a VIP guest list at the White House.  Beyoncé Knowles-Carter headlined the late-night dance party, where Stevie Wonder and John Legend also performed.  

For previous Valentine's Days, President Obama has escorted his wife to a fancy dinner at a DC restaurant.  Last year they dined at the exclusive, intimate minibar restaurant in Penn Quarter, which has a seating capacity of twelve.

Keeping on the romance theme, Seacrest asked if Mr. Obama ever jaunts out to a DC florist to buy his wife flowers, as happened in the 1995 film The American President, where the fictional Commander in Chief was confused about how to use a credit card.

Mrs. Obama pointed out the silliness of the scene.

"This is the thing about that movie,” Mrs. Obama said.  "Once you live in the White House, you know there’s a florist in the White House. It’s like, they have really good flowers right downstairs, so why is he out there with his credit card?  That would never happen!"

But the First Lady had no such criticism for the wildly unlikely story lines in Scandal, which also features a fictional President and White House.  

The hourlong ABC soap/drama stars actress Kerry Washington, who plays political fixer "Olivia Pope."  The ultra-chic Pope is not only embroiled every week in a new, clandestine, dangerous operation, she's also having an ongoing affair with the President, whose election she rigged to get him into office.

Mrs. Obama said she binge-watched all the Scandal episodes aboard Air Force One during the long flight to Hawaii for vacation this year; the air time between DC and the tropical paradise is about ten hours.

"We had a long flight...I watched all the seasons...I loooove Kerry Washington," Mrs. Obama said.  "She is amazing, so it makes the show fun."

Washington is a fairly close friend, and serves on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.  She has joined Mrs. Obama at White House events.

Of course Seacrest had to plug American Idol, which has been plummeting in the ratings lately.  He asked Mrs. Obama what song she would sing if she were auditioning, and Mrs. Obama said Stevie Wonder's You Are The Sunshine of My Life.

"I love Stevie Wonder," Mrs. Obama said.  "He is my all-time favorite.  I would sing You Are The Sunshine Of My Life and someone would press a button and kick me out."

There was also dishing on family life.  With daughters Malia and Sasha now 15 and 12 respectively, Seacrest wanted to know how their father will respond when they begin dating:  "Will the President interrogate these boys?"

“I don’t know what his strategy is," Mrs. Obama said, laughing.  "I don’t know what his approach will be. We haven’t really talked about it, we will cross that bridge."

Perhaps the Obamas will discuss over dinner:  Mrs. Obama said that despite the President's busy travel schedule, family dinners are a regular event. 

"We eat dinner together every night and we rarely miss that, even with his schedule, and we spend a lot of time talking about the issues of the day, but we talk about what we’re eating and why we’re eating it," Mrs. Obama said.  "We have a lot of ‘Finish your vegetables’ conversations."

There's an effort to keep the girls' life "normal," Mrs. Obama said.  

"Barack and I strive to make sure Malia and Sasha can lead as normal a life as possible and even though we are in this crazy bubble, they do things that normal kids do,” Mrs. Obama said. "They go to sleepovers, they go to concerts, they go to dances."

As for her own "normal" habits:  Mrs. Obama said she eats three meals a day and a snack, too.  Her favorite lunchtime meal is Italian Wedding Soup with turkey, kale and vegetables.

But: "I fall off the wagon many a time," Mrs. Obama said.  "There were cookies in the Green Room." 

That's not really a problem: She works out for an hour-and-a-half "every single day," Mrs. Obama said, which includes "45 minutes of cardio."

The interview was Mrs. Obama's first done in-studio with Seacrest, though she has done phone interviews with him before.  Ahead of airing the interview on Thursday, Seacrest played big the faux fact that Mrs. Obama was joining him live in studio: "I'm so nervous," Seacrest told his listeners more than once, and noted that he and his co-host would have to "put on our coats" when the First Lady arrived.

Just before Mrs. Obama's segment aired, Seacrest advised listeners that Secret Service were now in the studio, "taping up" water bottles and making other security arrangements.  "I could never be First Lady," Seacrest said, noting that the security is complicated.  

"Write a big fat check," First Lady tells supporters...
On Wednesday afternoon after taping her interview with Seacrest, Mrs. Obama headlined a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Los Angeles hosted by Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal and his actress-wife Monica Horan at their lavish Spanish hacienda-style home in the Hancock Park neighborhood.  

Guests included Barbra Streisand and partner James Brolin, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.  About 200 people attended, with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $32,400, the maximum legal limit.

Guests enjoyed flutes of champagne and catering from Pizzeria Mozza as they listened to Mrs. Obama tout her husband's plans for the next three years.  She asked them to support Democratic candidates in next Fall's midterm elections:  "Let’s be clear, Barack cannot do this alone sitting by himself in the Oval Office," Mrs. Obama said.

Supporters need to be "even more passionate and more hungry," than in '08 and '12, Mrs. Obama said, "because these races will be even harder and even closer than those presidential elections."

"Write a big fat check," Mrs. Obama said.  "Write the biggest check you can possibly write."

The First Lady is in San Francisco today, where she will headline two more DNC fundraisers.  

On Friday, Mrs. Obama will speak at a women's luncheon to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  The event at the Fairmont Hotel will be hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  

Tickets range from $500 per guest up to Chair level, $32,400 per couple, according to the invite, which includes a table of 10 at the event along with two tickets to the VIP reception and a photo with Mrs. Obama. It is the first fundraiser Mrs. Obama has done during this election cycle for the DCCC. Tickets range from $500 per guest up to Chair level, $32,400 per couple, according to the invite, which includes a table of 10 at the event along with two tickets to the VIP reception and a photo with Mrs. Obama.

Mrs. Obama's trip was rescheduled from last October, when the partial federal government shutdown froze all fundraising activity.  She will return to Washington, DC, on Friday, according to the White House.


*Photo from On Air With Ryan Seacrest