— DIANE CLEHANE
The joint was jumping today as media mavens, television titans and many of the usual suspects returned to the fold after a few somewhat sleepy weeks at 55th & Fifth. Michael McCarty was in town to do his usual meet and greet fresh off a weekend of hosting Henry Kissinger‘s grandson’s bar mitzvah at his Santa Monica locale. (Just thought you’d like to know). Michael says the regular folks (limo drivers and the like) on that other coast are pretty devastated by the effects of writer’s strike (no Globes!) but his clients aren’t worried. Let’s revisit that come an Oscar-less season and things might be a bit different. Back in the dining room, my pal, the always affable Victor Neufeld, who I met at Michael’s book party last fall, introduced me to his lunch date William Morris Agency’s Wayne Kabak. I told Wayne that I had speculated in this very column a while back on what he and Kitty Kelley, who is hard at work on her latest book which dares to deconstruct Oprah Winfrey‘s life story, might have been discussing during the authoress’ last visit to Michael’s. “I’m not going to tell you,” joked Wayne who said Kitty’s due back next week. They will certainly have lots to talk about for the next lunch with this morning’s announcement that we’re in for all Oprah, all the time, when the queen of all media launches her own television network, OWN with Discovery Communication next year. As for the omniscient sounding name of Oprah’s latest venture, Wayne offered: “She might want to think about calling something else.” Oprah TV? Omigod?
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Gerry Imber and the gang.
2. Victor Neufeld and Wayne Kabak.
3. John Sykes.
4. Mike Ovitz and Nantucket Nectar co- founder Tom Scott talking about something juicy, no doubt. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself)
5. CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz.
6. Henry Schleiff and a table full of gents.
7. Producer Beverly Camhe and author extraordinaire Gail Sheehy. Having written Beverly’s name many times in this column I was pleased to officially make her acquaintance today. Seems that Beverly and Gail have been “commissioned” to do a theatrical project based on Gail’s research. Sounds interesting… The interesting twosome didn’t want to say much more about it — but promise more details when the time is right. Instead, we had a lively chat with about the fascinating goings-on among the democratic candidates and last night’s ‘make nice debate.’ Having written the 1999 best seller, Hillary’s Choice, Gail thought the former first lady acquitted herself nicely up against Barack Obama and third wheel John Edwards. And, like a lot of other political junkies felt Hillary’s over-analyzed tears were “genuine” explaining that she was “no actress” and said the sniping over the sniffling had a clear sexist bent. “Bill Clinton teared up constantly, George Bush cries all the time — real tears! No one writes about that.” In the middle of our discussion of the fates of Hillary and Obama, CBS’s Jeff Greenfield happened by. Eager for his take on things, Beverly floated the idea of the possibility of a Hillary-Obama ticket. No way, says this veteran political commentator. Says Jeff: “Strip away the race and gender issues, and it’s a senator from New York and a senator from Illinois. Senators pick governors (for their running mates) and governors pick senators. They can’t win with that. It’s two blue states.” But, this being an expectations defying race so far Jeff conceded, “I’m just trying to figure out what’s going to happen next week.” Isn’t everybody? Beverly also found time to chat with Mary Wilson (who was ushered to the back because her party neglected to mention they were dining with that Mary Wilson). The tireless Beverly is working on a one woman show the legendary singer.
8. Maureen Reidy.
9. Phoebe Eaton.
11. Bob Friedman.
12. Don Epstein.
14. Jesse Kornbluth & Wendy Goldberg.
15. Peter Price.
16. John Jacobson.
17. Andrew Heyward.
18. Today’s main man Jim Bell (sporting the beginnings of a beard) and Al Roker. I complemented Jim on the two — count ‘em two — segments with ‘unauthorized’ Tom Cruise biographer Andrew Morton. (“There were waffles in the green room so we got him to stick around,” quipped Al) Despite looming lawsuits — although none have been filed yet — and the wrath of Scientologists everywhere, not to mention what the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard must be cooking up, Mr. Morton seemed completely at ease. Perhaps it’s because he’s hit the mother lode. Having written runaway best sellers on Princess Diana and Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Morton’s timing taking on Tom couldn’t have been better if he tried. Have you seen that truly frightening but equally entertaining video of Major Tom espousing the virtues of Scientology making the rounds on the Internet? It must be seen to be believed. I’m guessing if Morton’s tome on Tom was poised to be a modest success, this eight minutes of video will help rocket it right to the top of the best-seller list.
20. Glamour‘s editrix Cindi Leive looking killer all in black (loved the skinny pants and stilettos!)
21. Pamela Van Zandt.
22. Jason Rapp.
23. New York‘s Larry Burnstein.
26. Pamela Keogh and good pal Liz Aiello who once toiled at Chanel 7 Eyewitness News and is now the News Director of Martha Steward Radio at Sirius.
28. Joannie Danielides & Chris Taylor.
Faces in the crowd: Alison Rogers, Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen celebrating the success of “Office Mate.”
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.