Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Head Table At State Dinner For Hollande Has Seating For 21, Solving An Awkward Problem...

Hollande was seated between the Obamas
Seating arrangements for the French President's big party were still being "worked out" on Monday, according to the White House, in an effort to avoid more drama...
Washington, DC - The White House on Tuesday evening announced the hastily-arranged seating plan for the Head Table for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's State Dinner honoring President François Hollande of France.   

The Guest of Honor arrived in Washington solo on Monday after announcing his split from his longtime girlfriend and acting First Lady of France on Jan. 25th.  He will sit between his hosts at the Head Table in the dinner pavilion on the South Lawn.  The unusually large rectangular table will seat a total of 21 guests. 

The arrangement was still being "worked out" on Monday afternoon, a Senior Administration Official told reporters during the press preview for the gala.  Guests at the dinner--including the Presidents and Mrs. Obama--would be seated at round and rectangular tables for ten, reporters were told.  But the table size more than doubled in the ensuing 24 hours.

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, will sit on the other side of President Obama, and comic Stephen Colbert will be seated on Mrs. Obama's other side.  Golden's husband, designer Duro Olowu, will also be at the Head Table, as will Colbert's wife Evie Colbert.

Also sitting with the Presidents and Mrs. Obama will be Rachel Robinson, widow of baseball great Jackie Robinson, and Eliseo Medina, labor leader and immigration activist.  The Obamas met him over the holidays as he led an immigration sit-in on Capitol Hill with the group Fast for Families, living in a tent pitched on the National Mall and drinking only water to protest the US House not taking up immigration reform legislation.  

There will be two business giants at the Head Table: President and CEO of Viacom Philippe Pierre Dauman and his wife Debbie, and AT&T Inc. Chair and CEO Randall Stephenson and his wife Lenise Stephenson.

Margaret Russell, Editor in Chief of Architectural Digest, Robert Kaplan, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and British writer and comedian Frank Skinner will also sit at the Head Table.

R&B star Mary J. Blige will sit at a table with other guests before performing after the dinner.  Hollywood stars (Bradley Cooper, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Cicely Tyson, Mindy Kaling), Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress and the French Parliament, major Democratic donors, journalists and business leaders are among the 352 people filling the eclectic guest list this evening.

Acting First Lady of France Valérie Trierweiler had been formally invited to accompany Mr. Hollande for his State Visit, the White House said, when announcing the event last November.   CLICK here for all posts about Hollande's State Visit.

The seating list for the Head Table list as released by the White House:

Mr. Caleb Ballew
Mrs. Lenise Stephenson
Mr. Norman Seigel
Ms. Jennifer Bado-Aleman
Ms. Thelma Golden
President of the United States
President Hollande
First Lady of the United States
Stephen Colbert
Ms. Arcelia Saenz
Mrs. Kourtney Ballew
Mr. Duro Olowu
Ms. Evie Colbert
Mr. Eliseo Medina
Mr. Phillipe Dauman
Ms. Margaret Russell
Mr. Randall Stephenson
Mrs. Rachel Robinson
Mr. Robert Kaplan
Mrs. Deborah Dauman
Mr. Frank Skinner

*CLICK HERE for all details about the four-course dinner menu.