So what if Bill Clinton tied New York traffic in knots just over a month ago with the Clinton Global Initiative Conference? And who really cares that his real birthday was more than two months ago?
Ready or not, he’s back.
This weekend, the former President will be dining and drinking to 60 years with some of world’s deepest-pocketed donors at a series of glamorous events around Manhattan, beginning Friday evening and ending with a cocktail party on Gramercy Park in the wee hours Sunday night.
The price of entry for the weekend’s festivities is a gaudy reminder of slushier times in the 1990’s. With money going toward a growing endowment for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, donors will have to cough up $60,000 if they want to want to see Mick Jagger sing at the Beacon Theatre and at least $100,000 for poached eggs and mimosas with Bill and Hillary at Pastis.
The exclusive list of event “hosts” includes the names of historically top-ranked Democratic donors like longtime Clinton contributor Ron Burkle and S. Daniel Abraham, the former owner of Slim Fast Foods, who was ranked in 2000 as the No. 1 donor to the Democratic Party.
Steve Bing, the real-estate heir and film producer who is the father of Elizabeth Hurley’s son, is listed as a co-host. As is Haim Saban, the former owner of the Fox Family Network and a former member of Mr. Clinton’s export council.
Also attending will be Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner; Lebanese businessman Gilbert Chagoury; Alison Lawton and gold tycoon Frank Giustra; Gateway founder Ted Waitt; West Coast entertainment executive Casey Wasserman and his wife, Laura; and longtime Clinton friends Susan and Mark Weiner.
The hefty price tag will have the effect of shutting out some of the New York political types normally seen at Clinton events.
“There are such big fish in their camp, I don’t really count for much,” one longtime Democratic and Clinton donor told The Observer.
Not that all of them are exactly clamoring for entry.
“They’ve overdone things in September and October,” said another Clinton contributor who was invited to take part in the weekend of activities. “I think it’s a lot of out-of-towners who are coming to this, anyway. I don’t play golf and I don’t go to Rolling Stones concerts, so I’ll just go to one of the dinners.”
Others, citing a planned $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser on Oct. 26 for Hillary Clinton at Tavern on the Green, are complaining of a form of Clinton fatigue.
“I’m on Clinton overload,” said one contributor. “I’m not really wanting to do this. I’ve been tight with the Clintons for many years, but I’m beginning to feel used.”
All of the weekend’s invitees received letters from either Chelsea Clinton or Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
The wording of the two invitations is largely the same, with small tweaks. In Chelsea’s version, the party honors a “very special person” who needs donations to “advance the work he has done throughout his life—solving problems, empowering people and even saving lives.” Mr. McAuliffe’s letter says that Mr. Clinton is a “truly extraordinary person” and that a donation is needed to “advance the principles he has stood for all his life—solving problems, saving lives and empowering people.”
Exactly who is taking credit for the weekend?. Mr. McAuliffe says the weekend-long celebration will be co-hosted by “Chelsea and I”; Chelsea wrote, “My mother and I are planning” the events.
Chelsea’s invite is heavy on policy and statistics, while Mr. McAuliffe’s tone is more emotive, writing that the weekend will celebrate all baby boomers and the two “greatest products of that generation: Bill Clinton and the legendary Rolling Stones.”
Those coming to the weekend birthday extravaganza will take over reserved blocs of rooms at both the Gramercy Park Hotel and the St. Regis.
The partying kicks off on Friday evening at the Gramercy Park Hotel with cocktails and a reception. The hotel’s event planners wouldn’t confirm where the event on Friday is taking place or which prized chef will serve dinner (their menu list includes Tom Colicchio of Craft, Mario Batali of Babbo, Geoffrey Zakarian of Country, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson of Balthazar, Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill, and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa of Nobu.)
On Saturday morning, starting at 10 a.m., the Clintons will have brunch at Pastis, the downtown French eatery. Only donors who offer more than $100,000 and raise $250,000 will be invited, with four seats reserved for each at the bistro.
On Saturday night, there will be a reception and dinner from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History. All of the donors will be invited to this—but again, there will be distinctions made between big donors and really big donors. The $100,000-level supporters will be given four tickets to the dinner at the museum and “platinum” seating, as opposed to “gold seats”—the up-market Clinton version of the nosebleed section at Madison Square Garden.
Sunday morning, there will be a round at the Bayonne Golf Club, a Scottish-style links course located on a former PSE&G industrial-waste site in New Jersey, but equipped with a floating dock, a helicopter landing pad and a winning view of lower Manhattan. Those who contribute $500,000 or raise $250,000 will be allowed to bring one player.
In the afternoon, the Clintons will head to Central Park for cocktails and dinner at the far more plebian and very exposed Boathouse restaurant at East 72nd Street. The menu is a secret. (The catering director, Peter Bishof, said that at “an event of this variety, these people deserve their privacy.”)
And then, Sunday night, the biggest party of all: the Rolling Stones concert at the 2,800-seat Beacon Theater. All donors will be invited to the concert, but a gift of more than $500,000 includes a “backstage pass” for dinner and a photograph with Mr. Clinton.
In addition, as advertised in Chelsea’s invitation, donors should “please note that this performance will be taped for an upcoming Martin Scorsese film.” The film is reportedly a documentary on the Rolling Stones, and Mr. Scorsese will be filming the band all weekend.
After the concert, sometime past midnight, the whirlwind weekend will conclude with an after-party at the Gramercy Park Hotel.
And then it’s over.