updated 05/05/2004 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/05/2004 AT 9:00 AM ET
Hollywood all-stars made nice with Washington power players last weekend at the bipartisan White House Correspondents Party and its attendant receptions, PEOPLE’s D.C. bureau reports.
At PEOPLE’s cocktail party, Serena Williams went hunting for American Idol judge Randy Jackson, while also getting to meet Bachelor Jesse Palmer. The pair then ran into each other again on the way into a VIP after-party hosted by Bloomberg News Service.
Despite the nature of the surroundings, Palmer was reluctant to comment on politics. “I’m Canadian,” he said. He did admit to an interest in being introduced to Condoleezza Rice, because, “I heard she’s a big football fan.”
The Apprentice winner Bill Rancic lingered by Meg Ryan, hoping to meet her, and said he has no plans to ever contact high-profile fellow contestant Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. “I’m done talking to her,” he said.
Ben Affleck expressed particular pleasure at being placed next to the Secretary of State at the ABC table. “I was looking forward to meeting Colin Powell,” he said. “I think he’s an extraordinary man, and I had the pleasure of sitting at his table, and enjoying his company – it was well worth it.”
Backstage at the dinner, former POWs Jessica Lynch and Shoshana Johnson met President and Mrs. Bush for the first time.
The president, having just finished dinner, headed to his waiting motorcade and appeared not to recognize the glammed-up pair as he gave them a hurried handshake.
But Mrs. Bush lingered with the young women, holding Jessica’s hand and telling her and Shoshana, “I’ve been sending you lots of love and prayers. I think of you often.”
By Amanda Orr, Lisa Ingrassia, Makeba Scott Hunter, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall and Stephen M. Silverman