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Lunch: Diane Sawyer, Star Jones & a Shy Carl Bernstein

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The scene at 55th & Fifth was bustling as always (although it just wasn’t the same without general manager Steve Millington who has been home sick all week — Get well soon!). We’ve become accustomed to the clubby vibe that has the usual suspects and random celebrity air-kissing and table-hopping between courses in the front room, so it’s always intriguing when a bold-faced name opts out of the media circus for a low profile table in the back. Early arrival Carl Bernstein — looking quite scholarly in a cardigan sweater and tie — sequestered himself in the Garden Room, and he made a quick getaway after lunch (so we didn’t get a chance to ask him about last night’s primary results and what his take on Hillary‘s chances are now.) The taciturn politico did chat up Michael McCarty when he was making his meet and greet rounds. The best selling author even plunked down some dough to buy Michael’s book Welcome to Michael‘s.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Nick E. Rubinstein celebrating his 30th birthday — again! (“I do this around this time every year”) with a whole slew of revelers who donned party hats and came bearing gifts and balloons. On the guest list: Nick’s Jennison Associates colleagues Ben Bryan, Bea Lui and Chris Pelinsky, Bear Stearn’s Leslie Perkins and Olivia Tomaselli, J.P Morgan’s Shari Gluckman, UBS’ Stephanie Plavnik and Angie Dalton, Amy Raskin from Alliance Bernstein and Deutsche Bank’s Jay Nakahara. Best wishes …

2. Michael J. Wolf and a mystery gal.

3. Former New York City council president Andrew Stein and a host of imposing looking gents.

4. Peter Brown.


5. Über producer Irwin Winkler and Kevin Kline who was sporting long white hair (for a role, we hope) and a leather jacket.

6. Esther Newberg and a trio of pals.

7. Pamela Keogh, who introduced me to her guests, Victoria and Alex Haas. Here’s a fun fact: Victoria and Alex’s father, the renowned photographer Ernst Haas, shot many iconic photographs including several of Audrey Hepburn. Pamela, of course, is the author of the international best seller Audrey Style (HarperCollins). Just thought you’d like to know.

8 Jack Rovner and John Legend (yes, that John Legend).

9. Fashionista Candy Pratts Price.

11. Diane Sawyer and Star Jones. I stopped by the table for a chat and at first, when I asked Star if she had any good dish for today’s column, she didn’t seem very chatty. I wasn’t interested in rehashing the by now old news about the cancellation of her low rated truTV show — but I did want to talk to her about her open letter to Bill O’Reilly on Huffington Post that she penned as an editorial in the wake of the incendiary comments he made on his radio show about Michelle Obama where he spoke of a “lynching party.” Once I asked her about that, she was off to the races. Diane hadn’t heard about the dust-up, so Star filled her in on the details. Still clearly enraged by O’Reilly’s comments, Star recounted the Fox commentator’s words that he didn’t “want to go on a lynching party unless there was evidence” that Mrs. Obama felt that “America is a bad country.” If that proved “legit,” said O’Reilly, then “We’ll track it down.” Her war of words with the Fox star resulted, she said, in one of the most viewed articles ever posted on blackvoices.com. O’Reilly issued “a half-assed apology” saying his comments were “taken out of context” but Star says she hasn’t had a personal response from O’Reilly on her letter. “Not a word,” she said. “And I don’t expect to.” We’re a long way from November, so stay tuned …

12. Countess Lucanne Delesseps and Bobby Zarem.

14. Early shift: Rob Wisenthal; Second seating: Luke Janklow, who settled in for a late lunch beer in hand with a pal.

15. Peter Price.

16. Jaqui Lividini, Beth Brenner and two other fashionable folks.

17. Richard Rubenstein and Cygalle Diaz.

18. The table where we’d most liked to have been a fly on the wall today: beauty mogul Leonard Lauder and tabloid queen AMI’s editorial director Bonnie Fuller. Can’t you just image the sales pitch she’s cooked up to try to lure Leonard to advertise upscale Estee Lauder in Star? Somehow, we just can’t see that happening — especially with those pesky headlines in The National Enquirer every time Liz Hurley leaves the house …

20. Jerry Inzerillo.

21. Publishing powerhouses Tony Hoyt and Quest‘s Chris Meigher.

23. Jordan Ringel.

24. Walter Sabo and a trio of lovely ladies: Lynn White, Penny Crone and Caitlin Hill.

25. Tom Goodman.

26. Yours truly and Beet TV’s Andy Plesser (who ordered — what else? — the beet salad). Andy is celebrating is his second year of success with his fledgling Internet company. Congrats! The tireless entrepreneur once toiled as a pitchman for such tony accounts as Gourmet, Travel + Leisure and Michael’s still helms his PR firm Plesser-Holland and says Beet TV is working on a full plate of interesting projects including a recently completed series of video documentaries for The New York Times about their new building.

27. Chuck Pfeifer of Langford Films and a table full of casually dressed gents (LA types, you know) engaged in an animated chat. Overheard from the din at the table: “My wife thinks it’s great — and I’ve been married to the same lady for 45 years!” Quite the endorsement.

27. Sandi Mendelson.

28. Joan Parker.

Faces in the crowd: Giorgio Armani’s Christian Leone with Jimmy Choo’s Caroline Berthet and WWD’s Emily Holt.

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

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