Friday, February 04, 2005

Even More on Partygate!

As the day has gone along, there seems to be scant evidence so far of the wild parties that purportedly went on at Jenny Lee's former Washington loft, as alleged in her landlord's lawsuit. Five people who attended her parties have told me as much, but most are reluctant to speak on the record because of the ongoing litigation.

Mark Ambinger, a producer at ABC news, who attended a half dozen parties at Lee's loft, told me that "they were always fun but staid affairs." He adds: "I saw nothing objectionable."

Julian Barnes, a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report, says he attended a number of Jenny Lee's parties, and while they were lively affairs in a city where most people go to bed notoriously early, they were more similar to "your average Washington cocktail party than a frat party in college."

Another person who attended the parties told me that they were "wine and dumpling affairs... Maybe she had wild parties at other times-- they must have been the times I wasn't there. But that doesn't seem to be the Jenny that I know."

A profile of Jenny Lee in the New York Sun, published in February of last year, and headlined "Meet D.C.'s Hostess of the Mostest" said that Lee "fashioned a high-powered and occasionally raucous social circuit around the brunches and barbecues, dinner parties and poker nights, holiday soirees, and intimate concerts she hosts on a nearly weekly basis in her penthouse loft". But the story hardly portrayed raucous parties: "As a host, she's a fretter, rolling her homemade dumplings or picking up plastic cups behind her guests rather than mingling; more likely to wear baggy drawstring pants than form-fitting French connection ensembles; frugally catering her parties with supplies from Costco."

The article rather portrayed someone both extraordinarily friendly and extroverted:

"As testament to Ms. Lee's friendliness, a friend recalls that the reporter struck up a conversation with a take-out delivery person who dropping off an order at her hotel while she was on assignment in Defiance, Ohio. Ms. Lee, on the spot, ended up inviting the delivery woman, a Taiwanese-American college student who was majoring in journalism, to share a hotel room with her and other reporters at an Asian-American Journalists Association convention in San Diego a few months later."

The article, however, confirmed at least once instance of bad behavior at one of her parties, which is virtually identical to one of the allegations in Solomon's lawsuit: "Hundreds showed up at her Halloween party, which featured a smoke machine and a crystal ball reader she found through the Harvard grapevine. There was some unplanned entertainment as well: A few impatient guests decided to relieve themselves off her balcony early in the morning. Ms. Lee's apartment has only one bathroom."

Lee herself said in a brief telephone conversation-- her lunch interrupted by my call-- that there was little she could say because of the ongoing litigation other than she wished her former landlord well, and that she was not much of a party girl: "I guess I kind of see myself as a frumpy girl who doesn't drink."

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