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Lunch: Musical Chairs With Sir Paul McCartney

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— DIANE CLEHANE

So you think you’ve got problems? Paul McCartney (that’s Sir Paul to you) arrived at Michael’s today shortly before noon to scope out a table for a quiet lunch with Barbara Walters. When he was ushered to Table One, situated in the bay window, he passed on perching at the power spot and asked to check out the room before settling on a primo corner table. Babs arrived shortly thereafter, as did a dark-haired beauty that some thought might be Paul’s gal pal Nancy Shevell (but we think not) and a distinguished mystery gent. But alas, the happy foursome couldn’t enjoy their lunch because the eagle-eyed former Beatle spied a pesky video cameraman taking it all in from the sidewalk, shooting through the window. We’re guessing it was those intrepid folks from TMZ who regularly stake out the joint. Well, Paul wasn’t about to give up on his quest for some privacy, so the gang moved once again to the back of the dining room and finally settled in for some good dish. Whew!

The rest of the room was buzzing, with tables shoehorned in all over the place to deal with the overflow of media A-listers. When I made my rounds, I stopped by my good pal Fern Mallis‘ table to say hello. She was nice enough to introduce me to her charming niece, Brooke Lampley, an assistant vice president at Christie’s, and internationally acclaimed museum designer Stuart Silver. The always-optimistic Fern wanted to talk about how well things are going as she prepares for next month’s Fashion Week. (We can’t wait for the Barbie show!) Contrary to published reports, says Fern, there are plenty of exciting designers and companies that are spending money to show at the tents — some for the first time. “I don’t understand why people want to focus on so much negativity,” says Fern. “Why not write about what new things people are doing to help their businesses?” It’s a good question. Many folks that I’ve talked to in the fashion biz say the reporting in this area is far too much gloom and doom, and it’s becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So come on, people! How about some industry cheerleading? It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman. We’re guessing Jeff Greenfield is a bit busy for lunch this week…

2. John Sykes (who was overheard telling Paul McCartney that he had dinner with Clint Eastwood last night and was singing the praises of his latest film, Gran Torino. ‘It’s great,’ enthused John!) and Frederic Fekkai

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Glamour editrix Cindi Leive

4. Fox 5′s Rosanna Scotto with her former colleague, newly-minted real estate mogul Penny Crone


5. Howard Rubenstein

6. My pal Brian Balthazar, who is loving his new-ish gig as director of original programming for HGTV with Today‘s Kathie Lee Gifford and her right-hand gal Christine. The lunch was a reunion of sorts since Brian left Today for the nesting network…

7. Vogue‘s man about town Andre Leon Talley with Manolo Blahnik’s George Malkemus. Andre told me he’s off to Washington for the inauguration this weekend — he’s going with Diane von Furstenberg (“I’m sleeping on her Murphy bed”) and is expecting a nonstop social whirl. “The invitations are pouring in,” he says. Andre is packing his long underwear and white tie (just in case). As for any inside scoop on what the new First Lady might be wearing for the festivities, Andre claims to have no inside track. “Whatever she wears will be fabulous, the whole thing is just so exciting and fabulous, and I’m so proud to have voted in this election and to be going.”

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia

9. Steven Swid

10. Linda Janklow and Cornelia Guest (Loved your color! Who does your hair?)

11. Bobby Friedman

12. Sherrie Westin, Lisa Dallos, Susan Mercandetti and Gahl Burt, who we’re told was a bigwig in the McCain campaign. (Remember him?)

14. Henry Kravis with his lovely wife, Marie Josee

15. Elle editrix Robbie Meyers (Loved you on last week’s Ugly Betty) with Chanel’s Barbara Cirkva

16. Nick Verbitsky

17. CNBC’s Jonathan Wald

18. Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne with Mort Zuckerman. Here’s some scoop: Gerry told me he’s launching “Movie Week LA” with former OK! publisher Tom Morrissey at the helm. “It’s going to be terrific,” says Gerry. “We’ve got the mayor of Los Angeles involved, and it’s all coming together now.” Since Gerry is the man behind all of Nielsen’s most important exhibitions and events for the entertainment biz, we’re expecting big things. For the moment, Gerry is off to the warmer climate of Sundance.

81. Page Six‘s Richard Johnson with Jill Brooke, who I met at the bar while chatting with Richard. Industrious Jill made a cottage industry out of writing about first wives on her site FirstWivesWorld.com. Says Jill: “Act like a second wife so you don’t become one.” Just thought you’d like to know…

19. Debbie Bancroft

20. Joan Gelman and Sandy Pearl, who were thrilled about nabbing three Geminis for “Triple Sensation.” Congrats!

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher

22. Samantha Topping

23. Sir Paul McCartney, Barbara Walters and pals

24. Nick E. Rubinstein

25. Fern Mallis, Brooke Lampley and Stuart Silver

26. David Carey

27. Zoe Baird, who was overheard saying she’ll be bringing “some people from the new administration in.” We’ll be watching…

28. Carol Weisman

29. Betsy Perry and Joe Versace

30. James Sarnoff

82. Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times

Faces in the crowd: The Garden Room was buzzing with power players Jeff Zucker, Jamie Peterson and Stuart Rekant. My friend Jason Allen Ashlock ventured into the front to come say hello to me at the bar and introduce me to his author Mallory Factor. Jason, who has just set up his own literary agency, Movable Type Literary Group, and is the subject of an interesting piece in this week’s Observer, is shopping Mallory’s new book Money Wars around town at the moment. It sounds like a page-turner not for the faint of heart. The timely tome examines the role money plays in the reshaping of the geopolitical landscape in the delicate dance of debtor nations versus autocracies. (I warned you it was heavy stuff!) “It’s a scary world out there,” says Mallory — particularly when you examine the role our country’s debt plays in our leverage (or lack thereof) against countries like China and Saudi Arabia. “It’s hard to talk to countries about their human rights policies and other issues when we’ve gone to them with our hat in our hand.” On that happy note, here’s hoping there’s plenty of post-inauguration optimism in the dining room next week. See you then!

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

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