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Lunch: Special Evening Edition as Michael’s Celebrates 20 Years

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As much as we enjoy observing the social customs of the various media tribes during our Wednesday lunches at Michael’s, we jumped at the chance to mingle with the natives last night as they roamed free from the pecking order in the dining room. Michael McCarty threw himself quite a blowout to celebrate 20 years at 55th & Fifth, and a few hundred of his closest friends came out to mark the occasion.

By the time I arrived a little after six there was a line out the door where I crossed paths with my good pals — and Michael’s stalwarts — Lisa Linden and Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne. “I thought I’d get here early and beat the crowd,” Lisa told me. Nothing doing as we inched our way into the packed dining room. A camera crew from LX New York was there as the man of the hour personally greeted each guest at the door with a slap on the back (for the guys) and air kisses (for the gals). Michael’s wife, the talented artist Kim McCarty, whose artwork adorns the restaurant’s walls, beamed with pride. Just another fabulous night out in New York …

Here’s a rundown of the ‘cool kids’ who finished their homework in time to make it out Wednesday night.

Glamour editrix Cindi Leive (loved the leopard!) was chatting with attorney Lorie Almon (“She knows everybody!”) about next Monday night’s Women of the Year awards. Thanks for the invite; we can’t wait. When I asked Cindi what keeps her coming back to Michael’s she told me, “I like the food; I don’t even have to look at the menu. And I get to see people in my world, so I can check off that box. I’m a creature of habit.” Makes sense to us.

The fabulous fashionista, Fern Mallis sailed by, and I just had to ask her whether she’d heard if there was going to be another season of her reality show, The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi. No word yet from Bravo, says Fern. Stay tuned.

I stopped by the bar to say hello to HarperCollins’ David Hirshey and my old friend Michael Solomon, and we got into a lively discussion about our mutual obsession with Mad Men. The show’s season finale airs Sunday, and we’re all on the edge of our seats wondering if desperate housewife Betty will leave her unraveling husband Don Draper for that irksome Henry Francis. We decided that if it were up to us the couple would stay together unhappily ever after, but chances are series creator Matt Weiner has something else in store. Michael, who I got to know when we were both working for TV Guide, now toils for The Daily Beast as features director. After some catching up, we had a nice OTR chat about the good old days when people could still make a living as print journalists.

When I bumped into Investigation Discovery honcho Henry Schleiff, I offered my congratulations on his network’s new show, On the Case with Paula Zahn, which is garnering some good reviews. Kudos!


Stu Zakim, who recently left his post as Showtime’s public relations guru, was spotted chatting with How Not To Look Old author Charla Krupp.

A few feet away, Cosmo gal Kate White was interviewed by those LX New York folks while Lynn Scherr was overheard extolling the virtues of Michael’s to a scribe from The Daily Beast.

Blink and you missed him: I thought I saw Mediaite’s Dan Abrams, but when I turned around a minute later he was gone.

A smiling Ed Victor made the rounds. The uber agent told me he was dashing off to the London in the morning. Bon Voyage!

Seems like ‘The Imber Gang’ just can’t stay away from 55th & Fifth. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman had their usual Wednesday lunch earlier in the day and were out in force last night. Jerry Della Femina told me they’ve kept their lunch date at Michael’s for over 10 years. “It’s just feels like home here,” he said. Their good pal, the late Joel Siegel, was part of the group when the guys first started getting together. The beloved film critic so loved the ritual that the guys actually taped a tribute to him in the restaurant at their favorite table that was played at his memorial service. Nice.

Jerry’s wife, Judy Licht, spent much of the evening chatting with public relations powerhouse Susan Magrino.

Randy Jones, who was recently feted at Michael’s for his book, The Richest Man in Town, was chatting with the always elegant Barbara Tober.

A tuxedo-clad David Patrick Columbia kept busy taking photos of the festivities for New York Social Diary. DPC, who always has a jammed packed calendar, left early in the evening with Beth DeWoody to go to the Living Legends dinner across town.

Eighties redux socialite Cornelia Guest floated around the room looking gorgeous. Remember when she was dubbed ‘Deb of the Decade?’

Adding some gloss to the evening’s glamour quotient: model and artist Anh Duong.

Cablevision’s Barry Frey, one of the nicest guys in the biz, brought along two guests for the evening — Kevin O’Brien, Agora-X’s managing director of NY Operations and Marketing, and Sean O’Toole, FCStone Trading’s vice president of trading and technology. Sean was in from Kansas City and was fascinated by last night’s scene. I was happy to act as tour guide.

I had a fascinating chat about blogging with Steve Blacker of Blacker-Reinventions.com who told us he was a big ‘Lunch’ fan. Glad to hear it!

My pals, producer Joan Gelman and Sandy Pearl, who was sporting some fabulous eyewear, made a return engagement — they’d just been here for lunch!

My friend Bettina Zilhka made the scene with her cousin, Ephraim Linderbaum. Nice to meet you!

Long time, no see: Marcia Mossack, who is keeping busy these days consulting for Revlon.

Looking chic in head-to-toe black: Laurie Dhue. (Who knew she was so tall?)

The social swan contingent was well represented by the perennially best dressed Vanity Fair scribe Amy Fine Collins.

Spotted in the Garden Room: Joni Evans (looking gorgeous in black and white), Peggy Siegel, literary agent David Vigliano and my good pal Nick E. Rubinstein.

More faces in the crowd: Michael Gross, Town & Country‘s Pamela Fiori, Time Inc’s Ed Adler, author Pamela Keogh, Beverly Cahme (loved the sequined Yankee jacket!), Mickey Ateyeh, Richard Rubenstein, Adrienne Cleere, Myrna Blyth, Tony Hoyt, Michael J. Wolf and Tom Goodman.

It was good to see Michael’s hard working staff let loose and have some serious fun. Loreal Sherman got a much deserved break from the reservation desk to mix and mingle with the crowd and show off her adorable daughter Sophia, the hit of the party, and husband Aaron. GM Steve Millington channeled his inner rocker when he strapped on a bass guitar and rocked out with Don Allen’s Royal Trio to wrap up the evening on a high note!

I’ll be back at my perch next Wednesday for Lunch. See you then!

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

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