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Lunch: James Cameron’s Oscar Campaign Comes to Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was Hollywood on the Hudson at Michael’s today as Peggy Siegal hosted one of her legendary lunches right smack in the middle of the dining room. Today’s guest of honor was James Cameron. Looks like Peggy pulled out all the stops, rounding up quite an eclectic collection of actors, directors, and entertainment A-listers to celebrate the Avatar auteur’s nine Oscar nominations and, no doubt, drum up a few votes. Ballots are due March 2! In case you haven’t heard, Cameron is up against some stiff competition in the best picture and director categories. His ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, has been nabbing plenty of statuettes this award season for helming The Hurt Locker, and everyone in Hollywood is waiting to see who comes out on top on Oscar night.

I was squeezed into the bar with Redbook‘s editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison and Hearst’s director of public relations Alexandra Carlin. Stacy is about to publish her first book, Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce (Simon & Schuster) next month and it’s a real page turner. After spending a year “trying not to write the book,” Stacy decided to chronicle her painful but ultimately life-affirming journey from jilted wife of a year-old baby to happy single mother. The memoir, which seems destined for the big screen, took two years of writing and rewriting on weekends to finish. “I wanted to make people think differently about divorce,” Stacy told me. After tiring of deflecting people’s inappropriate questions about the split, Stacy says she ultimately thought: ‘If you want to see the real story, here it is.’ And she doesn’t hold anything back. From the nights spent sobbing on her kitchen floor to the painful conversations with her soon-to-be ex, it’s all there.

I asked Stacy if she had any misgivings about exposing so much about her personal life in the book, given her high-profile position as a relationship ‘expert.’ (She got her boss Cathie Black‘s blessing to write it.) On the contrary, she told me. “The book is a resilience road map,” says Stacy. Miraculously, she and her ex-husband have managed to remain friends (really!) and have a co-parenting strategy that works for the couple and their young son. Stacy even dedicated the book to the man who left her because, she says, “I couldn’t have written it without him in more ways than one.”

The book is getting plenty of good buzz and even earned high praise from none other than Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote of her own reawakening after divorce in Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert “loved the tone” of the book, calling it “real, without the slightest hint of self-pity.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Just an intimate lunch for 38 including James Cameron and pals Bob Balaban, Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (looking absolutely ageless), Avatar villain Stephen Lang, indie It girl Parker Posey, documentarian Ken Burns and director Julie Taymor, Jean Doumanian and Warner Music’s Lyor Cohen. Also in attendance: Les Moonves, John Stossel, Felicia Taylor, and “Mayor” Joe Armstrong. Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar odds-maker Dave Karger was also on hand taking it all in.


5. Showtime’s main man Matt Blank

7. The ‘Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia with a bespectacled fellow we didn’t recognize

10. Michael Holtzman

11. Radical Media’s Bob Friedman

14. Producers and best pals Joan Gelman and Susan Gallin

15. Playlist’s CEO John Sykes

16. United Stations Radio Network’s Nick Verbitsky

17. Herb Allen III

81. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower and Bloomingdale’s Anne Keating

18. Wayne Kabak

19. Paula Wagner

20. Discovery ID honcho Henry Schleiff (loved the preppy sweater!)

21. Jonathan Wald (long time, no see!)

22. Suzi Halpin

23. Jim Abernathy, CEO of The Abernathy MacGregor Group

24. Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne with beezag’s CEO Laurent Alhadeff and another formidable fellow

25. The always dapper Randy Jones, whose three piece pin striped suits earns him today’s Best Dressed honors, and George Green

26. James Rosenfield and Kay Koplovitz

27. Dr. Ruth Westheimer (in sneakers!) and Michael Kassan

28. Kathy Lacey

29. My pal, public relations maven Lisa Linden with private equity exec Jonathan Foster of Current Capital. Nice to meet you!

30. Conde Nast’s Maurie Perl

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

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