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Lunch: Carl Bernstein: Bush ‘Straight Talk’ Book Would Sell

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Reports of the death of the power lunch are, by the looks of things at Michael’s today, most definitely premature. It will be a sure sign of the apocalypse when the regulars at 55th & Fifth stop showing up to cook up their next big move over burgers and Cobb salads. By the looks of today’s crowd, there was plenty of business being done between bites as media machers, fashion mavens and a few authors of note were deep in conversation. And, reports Michael McCarty, the joint is also jumping after dark. Leonard Lauder took over the Garden Room for a chic soiree last night, and the place is booked with plenty of parties throughout the month. “We’re very fortunate,” says Michael. “We have a very diverse and loyal clientele.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Police commissioner Ray Kelly and Tom Kelly. No one was quite sure if these two imposing looking fellows were related, but I’m guessing not since I spotted Tom scribbling furiously in his notebook during lunch…

2. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive. With all the gloom and doom that abounds and the scarcity of holiday fetes around town, I asked them what they were planning to do for their staffs to brighten spirits. Both said they were planning “very low key” get-togethers somewhere in town. “There’s going to be a pool table and bottles of beer involved,” promises Cindi. Dave also reports that Rodale will be hosting two parties — one here at the New York offices and the other at the company’s Emmaus, Pa. headquarters. No Scrooges here! I just had to ask Cindi what she thought of this morning’s item in The New York Post that she (and Linda Wells) might be in line for the top spot at Vogue should those pesky rumors (denied by Si Newhouse) that Anna Wintour is on the way out. Or, maybe her pal Dave has lured her away for the top spot at Women’s Health. (An announcement about the job is expected any day.) “I’m perfectly happy where I am,” Cindi told me.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Carl Bernstein. I told Carl that I caught All the President’s Men (which he co-wrote with Bob Woodward on the heels of their game-changing coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post all those many years ago) on TMC the other night. “How does it hold up?” he asked me. Pretty well, I told him. “It’s been years since I’ve seen it,” says Carl. I had to ask him what he thought of the reports that the soon to be ex-president wouldn’t exactly incite a bidding war for his memoirs in the months following him leaving office. Carl dismisses the notion that their would be no takers for the book. “Presidents never have difficulty getting their memoirs published,” he told me. Earlier this week, Bush told ABC News’ Charles Gibson that he was “unprepared for war” and said his “biggest regret” was the mistaken claims regarding weapons of mass that lead to the war in Iraq. So does that mean that Bush’s prospective tome might offer some introspection? “Forget introspection,” says Carl. “If he was more forthcoming about his presidency given the amount of withholding of information and level of mendacity, a little straight talk would be good.”

4. Tommy Mottola and an unidentified older gentleman


5. Herb Siegel

6. Dan Abrams with Melissa Zukerman and Paul Pflug of Principal Communications Group, an L.A.-based PR firm. A little birdie told me the group was discussing an interesting partnership idea… Dan tells me his new media-strategy firm, Abrams Research is going great guns with “over 850″ media experts in his data base. So take that, all you naysayers!

8. Mary Lou Luther and Isaac Mizrahi. Mary Lou (who has known Michael since she started going to his Santa Monica restaurant in the 70s) is the super busy and highly respected editor of the International Fashion Syndicate and the creative director of The Fashion Group International (Full disclosure: She and I both serve on the creative committee of FGI’s Night of Stars) She was thrilled to be lunching with her old pal Isaac, who is riding high these days having gotten high marks from fashion industry insiders for his plans to reinvigorate the Liz Claiborne brand. Just this morning, his sketch of potential inauguration dresses for Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha made page one of WWD. Congrats!

9. Reader’s Digest‘s Mary Berner

11. Steven Swid

12. Our favorite fashion maven Fern Mallis and a handsome gent we didn’t know

14. Jim Abernathy

15. Daniel Glass and Universal Records’ Jim Urie

16. My good pal Chris Madden, lifestyle guru and business powerhouse, celebrating the season (good for you!) with her husband Kevin Madden, Barbara Marx, Mary Loving (who oversees the publicity for Chris’ fab product lines for J.C. Penney) and Brad Davis.

17. Judy Price

18. Tina Brown and CNBC’s Jonathan Wald talking about The Daily Beast, no doubt …

20. Pamela Keogh (loved the mini!) and Joseph Montebello

21. Chris Meigher with, we’re told, Chuck Whittingham

22. Designer Anait Bian

23. Don Epstein

24. Lucille Sitra

25. Larry Hamden

26. Chanel’s Barbara Cirkva and Kate Betts

In memoriam: We were saddened to hear of the passing of Gerald Schoenfeld. The Broadway titan, who helped bring so many hits including A Chorus Line and Cats to the Great White Way, died of a heart attack on Tuesday. “He lived a great life,” says Beverly Cahme, who told us she saw him holding court at the premiere of Australia the night before his passing. We were always utterly charmed by our exchanges at Michael’s. Our sincere condolences to his family.

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

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