Tourists and teenagers outside the Time Warner Center last night clutched digital cameras, all hoping to get their very own photograph of John Mayer or America Ferrara as they arrived to celebrate the Time 100—the Most Influential People in the World! (One assumed that crowd was less interested in arrivals such as Dr. Henry Kissinger.) Inside, the scene was more of the same: dozens of professional photographers jockeying for position, a crowd of onlookers. It seemed appropriate that the Time Warner Center is just a big mall. The scene could have been one that gets played out in Tallahassee and Des Moines and Houston every time Miss USA comes to town. We took tourist-photos too, with Nikola Tamindzic, who has even more.
Once upstairs, and past a third red carpet—one which featured Joel Stein, grasping a Time 100 microphone, interviewing luminaries (including his boss, Time managing editor Rick Stengel, who had Cate Blanchett on his arm) for the Time website (for the young people!)—one entered the main room. Someone told a story about Matt Lauer—who was there with his once-rumored-to-be-estranged wife—making a beeline for Craigslist's Craig Newmark, who seemed confused that he was worthy of Matt Lauer's attention. Queen Rania of Jordan posed gamely for the cameras, and was saved by Mayor Bloomberg. Arianna Huffington told us that the Huffington Post's new comedy website, 23/6, was "going into beta" in the next couple of weeks.
We cornered Mr. Stengel and asked him about the quote he gave New York Magazine about Joel Stein, in which he referred to Mr. Stein as a "god to people in their 20s and 30s."
"People love him," Mr. Stengel assured us. "They search for him. He's his own brand!" Mr. Stein wrote a piece called the "Alt-Time 100" for the issue, in which he brought together Xzibit; Hugh Hefner girlfriend Bridget Marquardt; Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Eddie Sanchez; krumper Tommy the Clown; Shear Genius contestant Dr. Boogie; "spray tanner" Jimmy Jimmy Coco; and party planner Glenda Borden for a lunch, and asked them who the people that mattered over the past year were. Later, Mr. Stein told us that he had asked 60 to 70 people to lunch, and these seven were the only ones who could make it.
Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, told us he was not granting interviews. We heard that Julia Allison approached Martha Stewart and told her, "You've always been one of my role models." Mr. Newmark's girlfriend, who works in design for Banana Republic, told us that her dress was a sample.
At dinner, we were seated way up in the third tier, at Table 35 (out of 36), along with a producer from CNN, a Canadian gossip columnist, an American gossip columnist (ah, "media reporter"), a TimeWarner lawyer, and, in perhaps the most surprising turn of events of the evening, the director Whit Stillman. We pressed him for information about what had become of the actors from his 1990 film Metropolitan. The last he had heard of one, he told us sorrowfully, was that he had ended up giving guided tours of Toronto. As we ate the lobster tail appetizer, Mr. Stillman told us about his upcoming projects: a film set in early 1960s Jamaica, and an adaptation of the Christopher Buckley novel Little Green Men.
Mr. Stengel stood up to welcome the crowd, and said, "Is there a better place to be tonight? I don't think so!" As Youssou N'Dour sang, a video of images of Africa played on the large screens set up around the room. (Africa: Still hot.) Mr. Stengel said that the magazine had many discussions about "who is going to write about who." "Whom," hissed Mr. Stillman. "Who is going to write about whom."