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Lunch at Michael’s: Ivanka, Ovitz, ALT, Deeda, Dash, David Granger, More

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe’re in too much of a hurry today to give you much of a lead-in to the names, which are what you come here for anyway. Let’s just get on with it:

Table 1: We assumed the gathering of editorial firepower at this table was some sort of ASME adjunct meeting. Three of the table’s five members included ASME president and Glamour editor Cindi Leive, Esquire editor David Granger, CondeNet editorial director Jamie Pallot, and Runner’s World editor David Willey. (There was another pair of women we couldn’t identify.) Granger came by to say hello before heading to his table, and we told him what a great hire he’d made in luring Eric Gillin from Maxim to relaunch (We worked there briefly nearly seven years ago, and the site’s look-and-feel hasn’t changed much since then.) “He’s great,” Granger said. “Why do you like him?” Because he’s manic. “Yes,” Granger replied, nodding in way to signify that this was a very good thing indeed.

2. Peter Brown, as always, although we couldn’t identify his lunch date.

3. Joe Armstrong, as always, and we had the chance to ask him who his date was when he came over to say hello. “Deeda Blair,” he said, referring to the repatriated Washington D.C. socialite who landed on the board of the NIH and thus became one of the biggest players in biotech. She’s apparently a “connector” of the first order, to dip into “The Tipping Point.” According to Brian Alexander’s book “Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion,” She is still the one person in the world who can sit next to the catwalks of Paris during the spring shows, put the arm on a few of the 500 or so women who regularly support couture by purchasing dresses priced about the same as a BMW, and come back with a quarter of a million dollars for a new DNA sequencing machine for somebody’s lab.” That’s it; we’re convinced Joe always has the most interesting guests.

4. Perilously empty in the early going, the corner table was finally filled by Jann Wenner and his posse, with the ringleader looking more impishly bear-like than usual. No clue about his companions, however.

5. Allen & Co.’s top media guy, Stanley Shuman, and guest.

6. Terry Allen Kramer settled here after pirouetting around the room to say hello to everyone. She was joined by a round gentleman we didn’t know.

7. We were minding our business in the waiting nook when the astoundingly beautiful Rachel Roy (identifiable despite her wraparound sunglasses) sat down across from us. Her presence was explained a few minutes later, when her husband Damon Dash bounded in with a grey-flanneled mountain named Andre Leon Talley. We were talking to Joe when they arrived, and he immediately shook hands with ALT to say hello. “That’s a beautiful bag,” Joe said, point to his enormous burgundy leather Chanel bag. “This is just my gym bag,” he said dismissively. “That’s your gym bag?” Dash asked a minute later, still disbelieving. As for Dash and his wife had time for lunch today, well, we read someone that he has a lot of time on his hands these days.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Eisner, Zucker, Glazer, Susan Lyne And A Few Magazine Folks For Good Measure

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe had our blinders on during the short walk to Michael’s, as we typically do, when a snippet of conversation from the ladies strolling ahead floated back to us. “…and this site called ‘Fishbowl’ is there on Wednesdays and posts a huge list of everyone who was there,” Alexandra Trower was telling her lunchdate, whom we gathered from further research was a Wall Street Journal reporter in town from Atlanta. “How weird!” her companion replied, and we can’t bring ourselves to disagree. Here’s today’s installment, Alexandra. We hope you enjoy it.

Table 1: Michael Eisner was holding court in the bay window with what looked to be a table for five or six, most of which was comprised of bespectacled men in sober suits. He still has enough clout, it seems, that John Huey made it a point to drop by a say hello. [Update:] He was with USA Today’s David Lieberman and Laura Petrecca, along with Dan Klores publicist Robert Zimmerman.

2. Time managing editor Rick Stengel, lunching with uber-regular Peter Brown.

3. The Mayor’s table, as always. Joe Armstrong’s guest today was Men’s Health editor Dave Zinczenko, who must have felt right at home with the high TV turnout today.

4. No Perelman + Michael Eisner – Eisner’s large party = low heat at Table 4. Just William Morris agent Owen Laster and what looked to be his friends and possibly family.

5. And you shall spot them by their hair (or lack thereof): balding NBC Universal Television Group chief Jeff Zucker with reliably spiky-haired super-producer Brian Glazer, who upon his arrival confessed his amazement at how quickly and how smoothly the service at Michael’s moves.

6. Sitting with her back to Eisner (which is generally not a wise move), was Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO Susan Lyne, along with author Kati Marton, who bided her time before Lyne’s arrival performing a little grassroots PR work for her new book, “The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler And Changed The World.”

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Lunch at Michael’s: John Huey Is Ready For His Closeup; Pauley & Gumbel Together Again and More

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIt turns out they miss Laurel at Michael’s, and by “they” I mean just about everybody. The staff seemed cheerier than usual, and while we tried to unobtrusively take notes in the waiting nook, she started a traffic jam of regulars — Steven Rubenstein, Keith Kelly, Joe Armstrong, Chris Meigher, Eric Pooley and so on — until Time Inc. editor-in-chief John Huey, who was trying to give an interview to the Financial Times, asked to be moved away from the entrance. Sorry about that. Here’s where everyone ended up sitting:

Table 1: A full gaggle of ladies-who-lunch, led by Charlene Nederlander, the matriarch of Broadway’s Nederlander clan and a producer in her own right.

2: Regular Peter Brown lunching with a striking brunette.

3. The Mayor of these parts, Joe Armstrong, with a member of his “Texas Mafia,” Phyllis George. She’s “the most beautiful Miss America ever,” Joe effused, and she’s also a former CBS Morning News anchor, the former First Lady of Kentucky, and a former Mrs. Robert Evans. (We weren’t sure where to start.) She’s also due to be honored at the Alzheimer Association’s annual Rita Hayworth Gala on November 14 at the Waldorf-Astoria. And she hugged us when we promised to print that.

4. Ron Perelman, with his boys Howard Gittis and Gerry Ford. Perelman was in fine glad-handing form, giving a bear hug to Norman Lear before darting into the back to say hello to those Gastineau girls.

5. A small group of gentlemen were hobnobbing with the junior senator from North Dakota, Democrat Byron Dorgan.

6. Another table full of ladies-who-were-lunching, including TV producer Joan Gelman,, radio broadcaster Joan Hamburg, Broadway producer Susan Gallin (Spamlot. Angels in America) and more.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Brad Grey, Ron Perelman, and Perelman’s Ex-Wife (One Of Them, Anyway)

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIn case you haven’t heard, we’re working on an oral history of Michael’s for an upcoming issue of Quest. (It’s true that we kid David Patrick Columbia because we love, and don’t worry, you’ll see it on Mediabistro eventually.) We mention it because it gave us an excuse to reminisce about past lunches with Joe Armstrong and Tony Hoyt today, even though we were afraid that a meta-media vortex would open up in the lobby and swallow us all. Not that anyone would look up from their Cobb Salads. In any case, on with the roll call:

Table 1: Liz Smith, lunching with Paramount chief (but for how long?) Brad Grey. Grey’s been hanging out at Michael’s a lot for someone who presumably lives and works in Los Angeles. Lloyd Grove spotted him here yesterday breaking bread with his new boss (and Sumner Redstone arch-crony) Phillipe Dauman. By the way, why isn’t lunch at Michael’s on Tom Freston’s to-do list? After all, he has the time

2. So this is where the money saved by the hiring freeze is going: Hachette Filipacchi CEO Jack Kliger was eating here with William Morris chief Jim Wyatt. Hopefully Wyatt paid for lunch.

3. The Mayor, Joe Armstrong was here today with Karenna Gore Schiff. We didn’t get a chance to ask how it feels to have a father who’s hanging with a younger crowd than she is these days.

4. On the early shift: Ron Perelman, with his boys and vice-chairmen Howard Gettis and Donald Drapkin. On the second shift: the forever-young Lisa Birnbach celebrating her “35th birthday” (again) with her husband and son. “We’re celebrating every Wednesday this month,” she sad. We’re sorry it had to end.

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Truman Show: Culture & Travel Launch Party


Are magazine launch parties back? After last week’s Good blowout, two more notables were held in opposite corners of Manhattan last night. While the not-a-Harvard-magazine Harvard magazine 02138 was busting up the Core Club, we snuck away in the opposite direction, toward the glass house of Louise T. Blouin MacBain, who was feteing the launch of her own magazine, Culture & Travel. The party was held in her magnificent duplex apartment at 165 Charles St., which is better known as the least prestigious and most expensive of the three white towers Richard Meier has tossed up on West St. (She’s taken a similar approach, an uncharitable guest suggested, in buying herself a spot in the city’s media firmament.)

We haven’t done much more than flip through the handsomely designed magazine yet, courtesy of former Travel + Leisure creative director Emily Crawford, as we feel the need to give it our full attention — it signifies the return, after all, of James Truman to magazine publishing after his one-sided falling out with Condé Nast and short-lived sabbatical. But enough about the magazine, we want to talk about the apartment.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Manolo Blahnik, Regis Philbin and a Maria Bartiromo-Jane Pauley Tag-Team

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe’re in a rush today — to the tents, to fashion shows, to scribble down our observations of said shows — so this won’t be much of an intro, but where do the fashion flock eat during Fashion Week? Do they scarf power bars in their Town Cars between shows? Do they send assistants to order $15 salads from Bryant Park’s ‘Wichcraft kiosks? All the fashion world had to show for itself was Manolo Blahnik, which will have to be enough.

Table 1: It was all-William Morris all-the-time today, with CEO Jim Wiatt and a deputy holding down the table for the entire lunch hour in order to have lunch — separately — with CNBC”s Maria Bartiromo (fresh off her Success party last night — when does she find time to work?) and Jane Pauley. Are they both clients? Well, it was a bit too public of a place to be poaching, wasn’t it? And besides, Pauley has publicly said she has no plans to go back on the air… which, come to think of it, might have been the point of that meeting.

2: Time Warner corporate PR chief Ed Adler with Marketwatch media columnist Jon Friedman. Did Friedman call for an emergency lunch in light of yesterday’s announcement that Time Inc. would sell off most of its niche-ier titles? Nope. He just got lucky — this was their regular meet-aand-greet. They dropped by the bar afterward (where we were lunching with the Rosen Group’s Zachary Hooper) to help us scout the rest of the room.

3. Joe Armstrong, lunching with a woman whose back was to us the entire afternoon.

4. Holding down the corner table today was Hearst Magzines president Cathie Black (they missed you at the Bill Blass show yesterday, Cathie) and a woman who was identified as a college friend, i.e. a civilian.

5. Is Henry Schleiff at last planning his post-Court TV career move? He was here with both Regis Philbin and legendary TV producer (and legendarily bad NBC chief) Fred Silverman.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Barbara Walters, Allen Grubman, and Why Is Gil Schwartz Smiling?

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIt’s the first Wednesday after Labor Day, and we have put away our seersucker and broken out the wool accordingly. One might have thought that Michael’s would draw a more fashionable crowd than usual today, what with Fashion Week starting Friday (and with Fashion Week parties having already begun). We even invited our stylist friend Georgia Alexandra Davis to spot them, but no such luck. “It’s not much of a fashion crowd as much as it is a power crowd,” said GM Steve Millington, which is to say it was the usual crowd. The roll call:

1. Howard Rubenstein and the Milken Institute’s Betsy Perry were the headliners of the group occupying the bay window table today.

2. Peter Brown — who fools us every time into thinking that Gore Vidal has at last made it to Michael’s — lunching at his usual table.

3. It’s good to know we’re as much of a mascot for Joe Armstrong as the Mayor of Michael’s is for us. He slapped us on the back as we were leaving and declared “The Dynamic Duo!” (And here we were thinking we were unobtrusively taking notes.) He was having lunch with House Beautiful’s style editor, Steven Wagner.

4. It was good to see that Barbara Walters is a woman who can still make the men in a room stand up when she enters. They stood and said their hellos as she made her way across the floor to the corner table, where the doyenne of television news lunched with a redheaded woman of unknown provenance.

5. Speaking of dynamic duos, Arnold Scassi and Parker Ladd sat here with an unidentified third.

6. A ladies-who-lunch table today, led by Terry Allen Kramer (has Beth Ostrosky moved out of her Hamptons home yet, we wonder?) and Claire McCurry (who happens to be Billy Joel’s manager, among others).

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At Lunch With Food & Wine

foodandwine_tour.jpgAs much I as enjoy Lunch at Michael’s on a weekly basis, one has to admit that the menu — which once pioneered the now-ubiqitous “california cuisine” along with Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse — is haute comfort food for moguls these days. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted Food & Wine‘s invitation to accompany editor Dana Cowin on a “trendspotting tour” that amounted to three meals in three hours. (I started reading up on Frank Bruni’s diet tips when I finally got home.) The tour, of course, was an outtreach effort on behalf of the magazine to meta-media journalists like myself and fellow tourists Irin Carmon of Women’s Wear Daily, and freelancers Amy Cortese and Kelly Carter.

The full tour report:

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Lunch at Michael’s: Step Right Up To Meet Penelope Cruz

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIt was the rainy, dreary Wednesday before Labor Day at Michael’s, and the regulars picked at their Cobb salads with neither the anxiety of pressing matters nor much enthusiasm.

And then Penelope Cruz walked in.

She arrived late, clad in the celebrity mufti of a black baseball cap. Before long, the receiving line of well-wishers inside mirrored the growing pack of paparazzi waiting on the sidewalk. We slipped out while the line was still forming, and informed the photographers outside that they had a two-fer waiting for them inside — Cruz and the newly out and proud Lance Bass (although he was sansboyfriend Reichen Lehmkuhl). One response: “Is Sumner Redstone inside, too? Or Katie Couric?” Not to ruin the suspense for anyone, but, um, no. Sorry. On with the roll call:

Table 1: He ain’t Sumner, but he’s the next best thing: CBS CEO Les Moonves, eating with PR chief Gil Schwartz. (And no, Les did not need to ask Sumner for permission, either.)

2: Sony Records’s A&R chief David Massey appeared to have been stood up today. He was still sitting alone when we left, looking a little forlorn and pecking away at his Blackberry.

3. The Mayor of Michael’s returned after a long summer absence (at least on Wednesdays). Joe Armstrong held down his usual table wiith Freud Communications CEO Matthew Hiltzik.

4. Ron Perelman was back as well, with crony Howard Gettis (he’s a Revlon director and Perelman’s partner) and a third lunchmate.

5. Jack Myers and an unidentified guest.

6. Robert Goldstein, president of the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, accompanied by his wife Sheryl, their teenage daughter Courtney, and one of her friends.

7. David Patrick Columbia with one of his favorites, Hill & Knowlton’s Jonathan Capehart.

8. We should have known who Bobby Shriver’s lunchdate would be, but neither of us — that would be myself and managing editor Dylan Stableford — had kept up to date on Penelope Cruz’s love life. As for what Shriver himself is up to these days, well, he has a Wikipedia page for that.

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Lunch at Michael’s: ASME Editors, Portfolio’s Publisher And Chris Meigher Promises To Get To The Bottom Of This

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIn case you’ve ever wondered whether the regulars at Michael’s read their own press (and yes, we would be that press), then you should have heard BizBash president David Adler on his way out the door today. “It’s like the school cafeteria!” he exclaimed, although he’s not quite correct. It’s actually more like Heathers.

Magazine people were the metaphorical Heathers today, with ASME’s editorial firepower on display in the bay window and with David Carey, Richard Beckman, and other publishers wandering around. We were at the bar with the HuffPo’s/Eat The Press’ Rachel Sklar. (And despite what you may have heard about my finances today, lunch was still on Laurel.) The roll call:

Table 1: The regular ASME editors luncheon, chaired by ASME president/Glamour editor Cindi Leive, with VP/Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith and Self’s Lucy Danziger. There was another editor hiding somewhere in the bay window, but we didn’t recognize her on sight.

2. Court TV’s (can we still call him that?) Henry Schleiff with an unidentified guest.

3. Time Inc. editor-in-chief John Huey lunching with Time Warner’s top flack, Ed Adler, whose manner toward media reporters, from all accounts, is similar to the grumpy neighbor we lived next door to growing up. (Damn kids! Get off my lawn!)

4. William Morris literary agent Owen Laster with his former colleague Joni Evans, who went solo back in January. Gossip’s doyenne, Liz Smith, pulled up a chair for a while, but she eventually retreated to Table 5…

5. …where she lunched with her editor from Good Housekeeping.

6. There were a gaggle of young women at this table, which we discovered later were the charges of Marie Claire publisher Susan Plagemann, enjoying a morale-boosting team lunch.

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