London: The White House covered up a Halloween party, hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, fearing it might give a wrong impression among many jobless Americans during the recession, says a new book.
According to the book, titled 'The Obamas', the Alice in Wonderland-themed Halloween party was staged by Hollywood film director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp in 2009 – the US First Family's first Halloween in office.
Depp greeted guests in the costume he had worn in a film version of the Lewis Carroll story released around the same time by Burton, who was given carte blanche to transform the state dining room into a Mad Hatter's tea party in "his signature creepy-comic style".
A long table was "set with antique-looking linens, enormous stuffed animals in chairs, and tiered serving plates with treats like bone-shaped meringue cookies", 'The Daily Telegraph' quoted author Jodi Kantor as saying in her book.
Fruit punch was served in blood vials at the bar, says Kantor, a 'The New York Times' reporter.
George Lucas sent Chewbacca from Star Wars to mingle with invited guests, who included the Obamas' two daughters -- Malia and Sasha -- and their friends, the children of White House staff members and military families, the book claims.
The White House press corps was allowed to report on more modest festivities earlier that day for Washington-area school children, but did not release details of the more glamorous festivities that occurred later, according to the book.
The only images released showed the first couple greeting children outside the dining room, with Michelle Obama in a leopard fancy dress costume. Presidential aides decided the party would send the wrong message at a time when the Tea Party was on the rise with its message against Washington's excesses and unemployment had risen sharply to 10 percent.
"White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton's and Depp's contributions went unacknowledged," the author says in her book.
The White House has called the book an "over-dramatisation of old news" and emphasised that the first couple did not speak to the author, who last interviewed them for a magazine piece in 2009.
First Published: Monday, January 09, 2012, 16:31