Toast a Book, Write a Book

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Toast a Book, Write a Book

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From left: Arianna Huffington, Jacob Weisberg and Deborah Needleman; Adrian Grenier

When Arianna Huffington throws one of her many parties at her Brentwood home, she is usually a very engaged hostess. The sort who, when she spots a guest standing alone, will strike up a conversation for just long enough to reel in another guest, make introductions and then politely excuse herself when the two have become fast friends.

Few of her guests probably noticed, but she seemed slightly preoccupied on Tuesday night, when she hosted a fete for Slate.com editor Jacob Weisberg for his newly published book, The Bush Tragedy.  Arianna, as usual, started the night at the door giving each and every guest who arrived a kiss on the cheek. And from her living room, she toasted Weisberg, mentioning how he had been so welcoming of “the new kid on the block” when she launched Huffingtonpost.com.

Weisberg returned the compliment, telling me, “She generates this atmosphere that makes people want to be around her. The crowd comes to her.”

But afterwards, as guests—including Tracey Ullman (who does a spot-on Arianna impersonation in her upcoming Showtime series), novelist Bruce Wagner, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan with his wife Minnie Mortimer, Entourage star Adrian Grenier, producer Lawrence Bender, and Huffington Post editor-at-large Willow Bay—milled about the party, Arianna kept disappearing into her office.

I found her surrounded by a clutch of personal assistants, one of whom had handed her a mocked-up copy of her next book, Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America. A bit embarrassed to be found out of the party mix, she explained, “Today is my deadline!”  Knopf, which will publish the book in April, had sent her galleys on Friday and wanted her corrections back first thing after the long Presidents’ Day weekend. “You know how it is,” she said. “You think  you have so much time until Monday.” Arianna had sent the first half back before the party. Then, she says, “I got an email from my editor: What time are you getting the second half back?” So here she was, ably juggling throwing a party for one book while putting the finishing touches on her own.

Photos by Tyler Boye