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Lunch: Politics As Usual

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Timing is everything. Just ask Hillary Clinton. If we’d come a day earlier we would have dined with Karl Rove. (Well, okay, we’d have been in the same room.) Our spy says the sight of ‘Bush’s brain’-turned-Fox commentator at table five had the joint buzzing (or was it hissing?). In any event, politics were still very much front and center today. My pal producer Beverly Camhe introduced me to Patricia Duff who had just yesterday hosted a lunch at the Friar’s Club with Paul Begala for her political think tank, The Common Good. According to Beverly, who says joining Patricia’s group has been “life-changing,” Paul told the crowd that he’s all but certain Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination. Since Paul is a Hillary supporter his prediction carries some heft. Patricia, who has also hosted Henry Kissinger and economic advisor Robert Hormats, is sure to have more heavy hitters hold forth on all things presidential in the coming months. Check it out yourself. After all, you can’t spend all your free time watching Gossip Girl no matter what New York says

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Eduardo Verastegui, Sean Wolfington and his lovely wife Ana, Kathie Lee’s right-hand gal Christine Gardiner and my new pal Today show producer Brian Balthazar. Seems those new BFFs Kathie Lee and Hoda have a regular Wednesday date to take in a matinee and then talk about it on Today the next morning. Today the girls were off to see Crybaby. Tune in tomorrow to catch their review.

2. Nick Simunek

3. Ron Delsener and John Eastman

4. Stan Shuman with a fellow we didn’t recognize …


5.Frank Gifford, Herb Siegel and wife Jeanne. Kathie Lee did stop by on her way out to offer kisses and hugs all around. Lunch flashback: Last week we speculated on what Star Jones and Page Six’s Paula Froelich might have been talking about at this very table. The news that the former truTV host has filed for divorce from Al Reynolds gives us a pretty good idea. For those of you who don’t watch Entertainment Tonight, Star, who famously plugged her wedding sponsors on The View, issued this statement: “Several years ago I made an error in judgment by inviting the media into the most intimate area of my life,” going on to say she wants to handle this with “dignity and grace.” Stay tuned…

6. Former New York City Council president Andrew Stein with four well-dressed gents engaged in lively conversation. The most sartorially splendid of the bunch (besides the always dapper Andrew) looked to me as if he might have been a bodyguard in another life.

7. LVMH’s luxury lord Daniel Lalonde

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia with publicity ‘empress’ Elizabeth Harrison. Seems DPC and Elizabeth have been fast friends “forever” — we’ve spent so much time together that there’ve been times when people even thought something was going on — especially when we all shared a summer house,” says David with a chuckle. “I’ve known her since she was four years old!” Oh, but we know how folks love to gossip (present company excluded, of course). It was good to catch with Elizabeth who I’ve known since the early days when she was first launching Harrison & Shriftman with her partner Lara Shriftman who, we hear, is now a new mom and loving every minute of it. Where does the time go?

9. Bruce Wasserstein with a lovely young lady who, we hear, may or may not have been his daughter. All we know is she did get high marks from the staff for her impeccable manners…

10. Cosmo editrix Kate White with Hannah Storm. We bonded over our mutual love of DVF dresses (thanks for the tip about toupee tape. I’m running right out and buying some this minute!)

11. Bob Friedman and Herb Allen

12. Alan Patricof

14. Jonathan Alter and Alice Mayhew

15. CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz with a gent we didn’t recognize…

16. Hallmark Channel honcho Henry Schleiff, Jennifer Geisser and Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times

17. Business Week’s media columnist (and hubby of mediabistro.com’s founder Laurel Touby) Jon Fine with CNBC’s Jonathan Wald discussing “the changing media landscape…” Sounds serious.

18. Lew Korman

19. Stuart Rekant

20. Beverly Camhe and Patricia Duff

21. Steven Swid

22. Jason Weisenfeld — whose partner Jaqui Lividini is featured in the new issue of Forbes Life Executive Woman. Executive editor Jim Brosseau was nice enough to stop by the bar and give me a copy. Jaqui, a Wednesday regular, was MIA today. But she looked every inch the Gotham glamour gal that we’ve come to know during her weekly Michael’s visits in the swanky spread where she shared her style secrets and opened up what must be her huge closet. Nice bags! She also cops to a “coat fetish” and calls the vintage Hermes green ostrich bucket bag she scored on Ebay her all time favorite fashion find. Just thought you’d like to know…

25. Warren Adler

26. Myrna Blyth and Jim Brosseau. Last week I wrote about how Myrna, in an editorial for National Review Online, was one of the many who have deemed Katie Couric’s troubled tenure at CBS a failure. This afternoon, Myrna made a point of telling me that on the evening that she watched Katie on the Evening News specifically for her piece, the beleaguered anchorwoman seemed “brittle and bored.” Duly noted. And, for the record, we’re happy you’re reading ‘Lunch’ with such interest!

27. Scott Donaton (“I don’t make it a point to come on Wednesday!”) and Tim Rogers

28.FT’s Chrystia Freeland and Scott Riding

29. My pal Pamela Keogh and the handsome John Florscu, who is David Frost’s producer. John — just in from Paris — and Pamela were toasting the publication of her new book, What Would Audrey Do? If you haven’t gotten your own copy of the dishy, delightful book, go out and get one now.

Faces in the crowd: Kira Semler and Vi Huse taking in all the action from the regular perch at the bar. See you next month, girls!

Attention faithful ‘Lunch’ readers: we’ve added a comments section. I love all those personal emails you send me (Don’t stop!) If you care to share your thoughts with everyone else, please feel free to do so here. Cheers and see you next week!

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

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