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Jimmy Buffett, Dr. Ruth and the Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Those corporate bean counters that put a crimp in expense accounts all over town must be loosening up a bit, because it was SRO today at Michael’s. A slew of magazine folks (See, print isn’t dead after all!), media mavens and the requisite flock of social swans were packed into the dining room. Jimmy Buffett showed up half way through lunch, and the place was so crowded I couldn’t even make out where he landed.

I had a dishy lunch today with MarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman. (Sorry, but most of the good stuff was off the record). Jon, who has toiled for USA Today, BusinessWeek, and Bloomberg, has been writing an online media column since 2005 that’s a must-read for the Michael’s crowd. These days he churns out an average of three columns a week. His recent piece on whether Brian Williams is the new Walter Cronkite generated plenty of buzz and sent HuffPost commenters into overdrive. Jon’s take: Williams is fascinating because, even after getting “the job of a lifetime,” he’s “the rarest case of success because he’s still ambitious.” We both agreed that Brian really came into his own once he loosened up a little off the set and let audiences in on his dry sense of humor and self-deprecating wit through appearances on The Tonight Show and SNL. “A classic!” says Jon.

Earlier this year, Jon launched a weekly online broadcast of Media Matters where he talks shop with media bigwigs. Hearst’s Cathie Black is scheduled for the June 21 broadcast. We’re tuning in.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer. (Jeff Greenfield was absent.) I stopped by their table to chat with the guys about the fun piece in the Times‘ Style section last week covering their legendary lunches in the dining room. “It was great,” said the good doctor, who emerged as the star of the piece with some nice plugs for his latest book, Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted. Give that publicist a raise!

2. Peter Brown

3. Nick Simuneck (Terry Allen Kramer‘s hubby, in case you didn’t know)

4. The New York Observer‘s Jared Kushner


5. Hollywood on the Hudson: Stanley Jaffe and Sherry Lansing. These two longtime friends and producing partners were responsible for iconic films like Fatal Attraction, for which they both got Oscar noms, and Indecent Proposal. I was thrilled to get the chance to chat with Sherry before Stanley arrived, because up until today, we’d only ‘met’ over the phone. I profiled her for Variety a few years back when she was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards. At the time, I was wowed by her plan to start a foundation to encourage the sixty-something set in Los Angeles to re-energize their lives through volunteerism in public schools. “It’s going great,” Sherry told me of the progress she’s made with PrimeTime LAUSD. “This is an incredibly rewarding time of life. There are so many things you can do if you want to.” Especially if you’ve got Sherry’s never say die attitude. You go, girl!

6. Richard Rubenstein with a table of folks including two tattooed young men sporting Yankee caps. No one seemed to know the names of the casually clad chaps, but a little birdie told me one was a BMX champ.

7. Felicia Taylor who, we have to say, is a welcome new addition to CNN’s lineup, with some elegant blonde pals and one gent.

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia (love the yellow socks!)

9. My pal, public relations maven Catherine Saxton and Dr. Ruth Westheimer

10. Jon Friedman and your truly

11. Avenue‘s Judy Price

12. Time Inc. Style & Entertainment Group’s head Martha Nelson, presiding over a table of unidentified movers and shakers.

14. Attorney Alan Grubman

15. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko and Duncan Edwards

16. My good pal and Blackbird PR’s managing director Diana Biederman with two handsome, well dressed gents: politico Robert Zimmerman and another fellow I didn’t get to meet.

17. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower

18. Accessories maven Mickey Ateyeh

19. People‘s Joanne Fowler (Long time, no see!)

20. The lovely Pat Schoenfeld

21. Abernathy & McGregor’s Jim Abernathy

22. Gerry Byrne

23. Mort Hamburg (Joan’s hubby)

24. Stephen Swid

25. Peter Price

26. Cablevision’s Lisa Rosenblum

27. Fashionista Harriet Weintraub

28. Scott Singer and newspaperman Paul Healy

29. Vidicom CEO Christy Ferer

Faces in the crowd: ‘The Bar-ettes’ Kira Semler and Vi Huse, enjoying a bit of the bubbly over their monthly lunch at the bar … Former InStyle editrix Charla Lawhon, looking smashing and toting a Tiffany shopping bag.

Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.

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