[EDITOR'S NOTE: Sure, the media world shuts down in late August — and our Lunch At Michael's column takes a breather to regroup — but we wouldn't let those of you chained to your desks down. This week and next we're running favorite columns from the past year, handpicked by our LaM scribe, Diane Clehane.]
If you felt the earthquake-like tremors at 55th and Fifth around lunchtime today, you’re weren’t imagining it. Manhattan nearly buckled under the weight of the sheer star power that converged on Michael’s today. We, who pride ourselves on our ability to discreetly stargaze, were positively awestruck at the cross section of celebrity — those of the big and small screen — we spotted in addition to the usual power brokers we’ve come to expect on our weekly dates. And we weren’t the only ones. An SRO crowd of holiday revelers two deep at the bar took turns sneaking glimpses of the glitterati.
The truly breathtaking holiday decorations (evergreens festooned every corner and poinsettias sat cheerfully atop tables) served as the perfect backdrop for a “Holiday” lunch hosted by Peggy Siegal in honor of Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet (who star in the Nancy Meyer‘s film of the same name premiering tonight at the Ziegfield). The PR diva, who looked like Santa’s chicest elf in a sleek black suit trimmed in black fox, presided over every detail while air-kissing those nearby diners that looked on in awe. One long table (which, for today, replaced tables 12, 15 & 16) was set in scarlet — apropos of the haute crowd. (What was in that adorable looking goodie bag that hung behind the chairs?) Siegal put her legendary Rolodex to good use for today’s gathering that included Barbara Walters with her View co-host Joy Behar, Diane Sawyer (who looked stunning in black — and we want the name of your colorist!), her Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, Oprah’s best pal Gayle King, Lesley Stahl, Today twins Natalie Morales and Campbell Brown and Martha Nelson, editor of the People Group. The almost unrecognizable Ms. Diaz (she’s brunette now, you know) strode in surrounded by a coterie of handlers and was quickly swallowed up by the crowd. Alas, Ms. Winslet, we’re told, was held up somewhere in Manhattan. Sorry you had to miss out on all the fun, Kate. We wanted to tell you we loved you in Little Children.
As if that wasn’t enough, here’s a rundown on the best of the rest:
1. Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization, presiding over a very chummy crowd of pals.
2. Peter Brown and Ralph Lauren’s Nancy Murray.
3. Mayor Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko. We love that these charismatic guys always take time to chat with us. After catching up with today’s lunchtime chronicler, Diane Clehane, about, among other things, their favorite movies of late (Joe and Diane loved Helen Mirren‘s sure to be Oscar-nominated performance in The Queen and Dave said he was looking forward to tonight’s Holiday premiere) they chatted up neighboring diner Phyllis George (our favorite Miss America) and Lesley Stahl. We also a noticed a flurry of business cards being exchanged between them via Dave’s Today Show pal Natalie Morales and someone (Cameron, perhaps?) at the star-studded party table.
4. Gerry Byrne and guests
5. Irv Winkler
6. A positively glowing Phyllis George looking gorgeous in a red sweater and black beaded necklace. What’s your secret?
7. Vogue’s Andr&eaute; Leon Talley, resplendent in pinstripes with Manolo Blahnik’s president George Malkemus channeling his inner Ward Cleaver in a yellow cardigan.
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with advertising guru Peter Rogers and Debbie Bancroft. We spotted DPC discretely taking a few snap shots of today’s glittering and glam ladies who lunched for his Web site. For those of you dying to see how Cameron looks as a brunette (you know you’re curious), log on and see!
9. Our own Laurel Touby and Hachette’s Jack Kliger.
10. Atoosa 2.0: Ms. Rubenstein, the exiting editor of Seventeen, in deep discussion with journo Jesse Kornbluth. About???
11. Über agent Esther Newberg
14. Henry Schlieff, newly-minted CEO of the Hallmark Channel, and three female guests.
17. Nick Simineck, husband of our friend Terry Allen Kramer, and guest.
18. Jack Myers and MTV’s John Sykes.
19. The gorgeous holiday decorations blocked our view.
20. The early show: NBC’s Jonathan Wald. Then, arriving at 1:30 for the second shift, cosmetic industry icon Evelyn Lauder who greeted her guest Zoe Baird by giving her a goodie bag filled with cosmetics. If Ms. Baird’s name rings a bell, you’re probably remembering her headline-making episode as Bill Clinton’s ill-fated nominee as attorney general. She ultimately withdrew her nomination over a Nannygate flap. See and you thought we only knew the scoop
about those glossy fashion and entertainment types!
21. Nathan Kramer and guests.
22. PR maven Elizabeth Harrison and friends.
23. Steve Scheffen.
24. Tiffany’s Fernando Kellogg.
25. J.P Morgan’s Dana Ardi.
26. Too much greenery blocking our view to see.
27. A few lucky “civilians” who made their reservation long ago.
28. Time Inc’s Eric Pooley and Media Industry’s Newsletter Steve Cohn.
29. Paul Healy.
In the Garden Room: a private “media” lunch promoting an exhibition on King Tut, currently on view in Chicago due to make its next stop in Philadelphia some time soon. Just thought you’d like to know.
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro DOT com & Lunch AT mediabistro DOT com.
Map of Michael’s