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Lunch at Michael’s: Joan Rivers, Deepak Chopra & The Today Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The scene at 55th & Fifth was more subdued than usual today with most of the regulars nowhere to be seen. With an unusually high number of “civilians” milling about, it seemed unlikely we’d get our weekly boldfaced name fix this go round. Imagine our delight when Joan Rivers arrived — party hats and Payard cake in hand — and told us she was hosting a surprise party for Today show producer Amy Rosenblum (she gave the birthday girl her first job in television) and was expecting Matt, Ann and the gang at any minute. While Ms. Curry, Mr. Lauer, Marc Victor and Jonathan Tisch exchanged hellos, I chatted with Today‘s executive producer Jim Bell to get his take on why Katie Couric decided to tell all to New York Magazine for this week’s explosive cover story. “It’s fascinating,” said Jim. “I think it was an honest assessment of what’s going on — but very interesting given the sensitive nature of it all.” Jim says he and his former colleague have a lunch date on the calendar which left us wondering exactly what Katie’s next move in this intriguing saga will be. Stay tuned …

Here’s the rundown on the rest of the crowd:

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and another gentleman we didn’t recognize. The newly installed CBS newsman, who left CNN earlier this year, had his first piece for the network air this weekend. “I’m glad to be busy!” he enthused. Greenfield’s take on the Couric saga: “It’s a hard road back. Everybody here is just trying to do the best newscast we can.” The always affable newsman then offered this telling bon mot before dashing back to his table: “I don’t know — it’s above my pay grade!”

2. Rubenstein & Associates’ Caroline Mirenbeger, so we’re told.

3. Joely Hunt (loved the shoes!) and a very stylish gal pal.

4. Radical Thinking’s Bob Friedman with Deepak Chopra (in red Nikes!) and, we’re told, his son.

5. Peter Price and guest.

6. The Today gang and guests (who also took over tables 12 & 16).

7. Not sure …

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia — looking summery in seersucker — with Alice Mason.


9. Civilians.

11. Linda Janklow and Casey Ribicoff.

14. James Wolfson of the World Bank and Alan Patricoff.

15. HBO’s Steven Scheffer — so we’re told.

17. Songmaster’s Jennifer Cohen.

18. Nick Verbitsky of United Stations Radio Networks (Glad to make your acquaintance!)

19. We couldn’t see …

20. Chanel’s Barbara Cirkva and the company’s former honcho, Ari Kopelman.

21. Beauty Fashion‘s George Leeds.

22. More civilians.

23. Ditto.

24. Martin Puris.

25. Designer-turned-fundraiser Steven Stolman and editor Signe Bergstrom. The former favorite of the Palm Beach and Southampton crowd is now toiling as director of development for Foundcare. Thanks for letting us know!

26. The tropical arrangement blocked our view.

27. Some folks from the Food Network.

28. The lush summer greenery blocked our view …

29. Ditto.

On a more serious note: Our condolences to the family and friends of Joel Siegel. We spoke to Good Morning America’s beloved movie critic on many occasions during our visits to Michael’s. Joel was always good natured and gracious about answering our questions about movies and moviemakers. He will be missed.

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

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