For Their Weddings, May We Suggest a Battle of the Bands?
By Lloyd Grove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 19, 2002; Page C03
After top AOL Time Warner executive David Colburn and his wife, Kathleen, hired the boy band 'N Sync to perform at their daughter Rachel's bat mitzvah in June 2000, we knew they had to do something really big for Rachel's little sister. They didn't disappoint.
On Saturday night at Washington's Union Station -- where the Colburns paid about $35,000 to rent much of the ground floor, and Rabbi Joel Tessler of Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac officiated at Jessica Colburn's religious coming-of-age -- the headliner was Dave Matthews. That's right, the top-of-the-charts rock star who normally appears with his band in stadiums, but this time he showed up as a solo act playing acoustic guitar.
We're told that Matthews didn't belt out "Hava Nagila," the traditional tune at such celebrations, but did perform a 45-minute set in which he sang such hits as "Crash Into Me," "Satellite," "I Did It," and a cover of the Otis Redding standard "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay."
The Colburns weren't giving out details of the party yesterday. "They would like to keep this a private, family-focused affair," AOL Time Warner spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg said. But a guest told us that among the 400 partygoers -- romping through a space that holds as many as 10,000 people -- was crazy-coiffed boxing promoter Don King. According to our witness, the theme was "Viva Jessica," and the eyepopping Las Vegas accessories included two dance stages, arcade games and a casino featuring fake $100 bills sporting the 12 1/2-year-old bat mitzvah girl's face. Among the party favors were high-end beauty products and bathrobes individually embroidered with guests' names. "It was just so much stuff -- it was insane," our witness said. "I wondered what it would be like to have that amount of money to do such extreme things."
David Colburn, who last year sold AOL Time Warner shares worth $7.5 million, according to Thomson Financial, apparently hasn't tightened his belt since June 2000 when AOL stock was selling for $57.50 a share compared with today's $26.80. The last time out, estimates for the cost of 'N Sync's bat mitzvah gig ran as high as $1 million. Dave Matthews spokesman Jim Merlis wouldn't tell us what Matthews was paid, but stressed "all proceeds earned by Matthews will be donated in their entirety to charity." As for the Colburns, it's two down, one to go: Son Jacob Colburn will be ready in a few years.