From L To R: Steven Weber, Andrea Bowen, Rachel Leigh Cook, Wilder Valderrama, Robin Bronk, CQ Press First Street’s President John Jenkins and Gloria Reuben

The White Van

Valderrama was ready for his closeup.

Last night journalists were confronted with a couple of things at CQ Press’ First Street launch party at Art and Soul. First off: The stars were late. This left a dense pack of photographers, reporters and event handlers full of anticipation on the edges of a shrunken red carpet for a good while. Secondly: When the Creative Coalition showed up to the restaurant in a nondescript white van about an hour after they were due to arrive, eager fans rushed the van in a quest for autographs. This jangled the already frayed nerves of handlers who snapped and rolled their eyes at the autograph seekers and caused the red carpet procession to be more of a scrambling chaotic frenzy than it already is.

“Each one is worse than the next,” remarked Steven Weber, an actor dispatched by the Creative Coalition to red carpet events like these. He was talking about the red carpet portion of the evening only. Some might know him from NBC’s “Wings” or ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters.” Regardless, he looks familiar and people were chattering about how nice he is.

Valderrama was seen talking quietly and patiently with journalists in attendance. Despite the harried handlers, he methodically signed a slew of autographs on his way inside.

The purpose of the evening was to launch CQ Press First Street, which is owned by Sage, a worldwide publishing house, not The Economist Group. First Street aims to be a one-stop shop for journalists, lawyers and Joe Q. Public to navigate Washington’s lobbying industry. They’ve 30 employees with more hires on the way. So far AP has signed on, but Jenkins is staying silent on who else is. He doesn’t want the competition getting wind of internal info. The cost is $3,750 per year with discounts and scholarships to those who need them. “It’ll open up the transparency and help us better understand what lobbyists are doing,” Jenkins told FishbowlDC, mentioning those scholarships. “We understand journalists would love to have this and money is tight.”

Jenkins says the best part of First Street is that journalists will be able to do in a “millisecond” what would ordinarily take a week of research.

Weber, meanwhile, used his star power to praise CQ Press’ First Street, saying it’s going to be “invaluable.” He said, “It’s going to be a great way to find out who’s paying who off. It’ll be a good tool, a good way to ensure there’s disclosure.”

Once everyone barreled inside, the rest of the evening went off smoothly with speeches, booze flowing, big fried cheese balls and delicious miniature cupcakes with bright Pepto pink frosting for dessert. Journos mixed and mingled and dissected who all the stars were and in what movies or TV shows they’ve appeared. There was also chatter about Rep. Aaron Schock‘s (R-Ill.) shocking abfest on the cover of Men’s Health.

Find out who was there and see more photographs after the jump…

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