From its humble beginnings as a one night affair, the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner has grown into a nearly week long celebration of press, power players, celebrities and parties. A Politico reporter, Patrick Gavin, quits his job interviewing some of Washington’s top policymakers and exposes a private world of excess and extravagance that is like nothing you’d ever imagine.
It’s a cruel irony: During a time in which Americans’ approval of their representatives and reporters in Washington stands at embarrassing lows, the single biggest event in the United States’ capital each year is not one filled with civic-mindedness and public service. Instead, it is an unadulterated self-celebration known as the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner. What began in 1921 as a one night dinner affair has escalated into a five day celebration each spring that consists of nearly two dozen parties, and the dinner and these parties represent the hottest and most sought after tickets in town as well as the single most important opportunity for those trying to influence Washington’s power players. While the Association attempts to frame the weekend as being about the important and increasingly difficult work of White House correspondents, the festivities have taken on an entirely different purpose.
For ten years, reporter Patrick Gavin covered and observed the weekend for Politico and such other top news organizations as mediabistro.com and the Washington Examiner, and he watched the event grow in scope, star power and scrutiny. After becoming frustrated and disillusioned with the superficial and submissive way the event was being covered by most Washington reporters (himself included), Gavin left Politico just days before the 2014 dinner to see if there was a more meaningful story to be told. The result is the first documentary about the White House Correspondents’ Associations’ annual dinner and the surrounding hoopla. Using a blend of acumen and amusement, “Nerd Prom: Inside Washington’s Wildest Week” goes behind the scenes with party planners, celebrities, members of the White House Correspondents’ Association, celebrity paparazzi, gossip columnists and White House correspondents to show viewers what goes into the most notable and action-packed weekend in Washington each year.