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Lunch: Elvis Costello, Dominick Dunne & Tina Brown

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? It was quite the scene at 55th & Fifth today as moguls, media mavens and musicians (Elvis Costello is in the house!) mixed it up and plotted their next big move. Everyone was talking about how dreary this year’s Oscars were and how glad many perennial party goers like my pal Dominick Dunne were that they sat this one out.

Speaking of Nick (as he’s known to his closest pals), he showed up with today’s most intriguing lunch guest — none other than Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana‘s former private secretary.

I was enjoying catching up with my old pal Andy Amill, publisher of Weight Watchers magazine who joined me for lunch today at the bar, when I spied Patrick from across the room. I had to go over and get his take on the bombshell video obtained by The Sun in the UK that shows Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell sipping champagne while flippantly admitting “I was very naughty” in misleading investigators in the inquiry surrounding Diana’s death. While this hasn’t registered as big news here, across the pond there’s talk of Scotland Yard now getting involved in the case and the man Diana once called ‘her rock’ may find himself under a pile of them if he’s found guilty of perjury. As Tina Brown (who happened to be sitting a few tables away) once told me, Diana’s taste in men was truly horrendous. Patrick, though, has always been a dignified representative of the Diana era and seemed less than shocked by Paul’s disclosure. All of this, of course, made for a lively conversation between Patrick, Nick and myself. I’m sworn to secrecy on all of this (so sorry!) but suffice to say it will make for a juicy ‘Diary’ entry in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.

And get this, if we’d been there for breakfast, we would have met up with the entire cast of ‘Murphy Brown’ who stopped by for a quick bite after their appearance on ‘Today.’ I would have loved to talk to Candice Bergen to ask her what Murphy would have thought of this year’s presidential campaign season. Remember when Dan Quayle’s disapproving remarks about Murphy as a single mother made headlines? If the show was still around, chances are Hillary and Obama would be fighting over their shot at a guest spot.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerry Imber and the gang.

2. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and Conde Nast Traveler’s public relations director Jon Hammond. The inexhaustible Dave was fresh off taping an episode of Tyra Banks’ eponymous talk show. The ‘fierce’ and fabulous Ms. Banks devoted an entire hour to Dave’s runaway best seller “Eat This, Not That” tweaking the concept to include everything from fashion to finance. Sounds like a great idea for another Rodale franchise. Dave says he was wowed by Tyra’s high energy. “She’s amazing,” he enthused. “Smart, sexy, a lot of fun — and really tall!” When Dave departed, Terry Allen Kramer and her son Nathaniel settled in for a late lunch.

3. Matt Blank and another gent we didn’t recognize.

4. Dominick Dunne and Patrick Jephson.


5. Stanley Shuman and, we’re told, “a world famous economist.”

6. Henry Schleiff and a squadron of pals (Loved you in “Bernard & Doris”!)

7. Kim McCarty (Michael’s better half) and “Bettina,” former director of the Nicholas Robinson Gallery.

8. Ken Sunshine and former New York City Council president Andrew Stein. I had to ask Ken what he thought of the most bizarre moment of this year’s Oscars when Gary “How the hell did he get in here?” Busey pawed Jennifer Garner on the red carpet live on E! Ken, who represents Jennifer’s hubby Ben Affleck, says “It was a little scary.” To put it mildly. For those of you wondering about Ben’s whereabouts at the time, Ken reports the Oscar winner was with Jimmy Kimmel making news of his own. If you haven’t seen the outrageous video ‘Jimmy Kimmel is F——- Ben Affleck’ with it’s A-list cast of characters here’s your chance. It actually aired on ABC on Oscar night but it was late, so here’s hoping all the kiddies were safely tucked into bed. Who would have thought those happy homebodies Ben & Jen would generate two of the evening’s most eyebrow raising moments?

9. Liz Lange (looking even more fab than usual) and Meryl Poster. Liz says she’s busier than ever since selling her burgeoning business to Bluestar last November. Congrats!

11. Bob Friedman and John Josephson.

12. Esquire‘s David Granger and a table full of young bucks.

14. Elvis Costello, who arrived with a briefcase brimming with files and passed the time riffling through them until an unidentified British gent who was sporting a Safari jacket arrived a few minutes later.

15. Ed Blier.

16. First seating: Tim Arango; Second shift: Jaqui Lividini & a table full of pals.

17. Judy Price.

18. Tina Brown & Bill Haber.

20. A very glam looking Susan Magrino.

21. The Early Show‘s Steve Cohen and Lisa Anatos.

22. Steve Aarons.

23. Don Welsh and Chuck Wittingham.

24. Martin Puris.

25. Tom Goodman & Glen P. Roberts.

27. Liz Finkel.

28. Elizabeth Harrison — sporting a to-die-for all black ensemble.

Faces in the crowd: A contingent of People magazine pros: Rob Howe, Liz McNeil, Moira Bailey and Blaine Zuckerman lunching in the Garden Room.

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

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