— DIANE CLEHANE
If you were wondering why the streets of midtown seemed a bit quiet today it was because everyone — well, almost everyone — was at Michael’s today. I could barely keep up as the A-listers filed in one after another (Tom Brokaw! Jon Meacham!) and random celebs (Trudie Styler, Joan Rivers) drifted by.
And to think I was worried I missed all the action when Gabriel Byrne and Chelsea Clinton made appearances last Thursday. If it’s Wednesday, you can pretty much always count on a head-spinning lunchtime scene at 55th and Fifth.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Joan Rivers, presiding over a table full of folks including John Miller and some execs from WEtv. We’re guessing the group was feting Joan over the ratings success of the first season of her reality show, Mother Knows Best. (Glasses of white wine were being raised.) The compulsively watchable series starring Joan and Melissa Rivers chronicled the roller coaster ride of their mother-daughter relationship. When it wasn’t making me laugh out loud, it had me in tears. I should have expected as much since Joan put it all out there in A Piece of Work, the documentary which chronicled her fascinating life on and off stage.
Before she made her way to her table, I grabbed her for a chat and asked if she’d attended the royal wedding, since she’s been a guest of Prince Charles at many a dinner party at Highgrove. “I didn’t go,” she told me. “I’m a friend of Camilla‘s and none of her friends were invited.” Even so, she gave the wedding party high marks in the fashion department. (Much to their relief, I’m sure.) “Everybody looked fabulous!”
3. Trudie Styler and two scholarly looking gents. (One was toting a folder from a school whose name we just couldn’t make out from afar) I’m thinking the fellows were from the Child Mind Institute at Hunter College where Trudie gave a well-received talk yesterday on her own childhood struggles with ADHD and dyslexia. Thanks to my pal blogger Beth Arky for giving me the heads up on this one.
6. The center of gravity: Tom Brokaw, Ben Bradlee (we still think that having Jason Robards play him in All the President’s Men was one of the most brilliant casting decisions ever), Ben’s wife Sally Quinn, political columnist Richard Cohen and Random House’s EVP Jon Meacham. The gang arrived at high noon (except for Jon) and almost immediately settled into what looked like a pretty serious discussion complete with lots of earnest nods and hands tucked under chins. The mood lightened a bit when everyone tucked into their Cobb salads (except Tom, who had soup). The big finish came when the group, joined by the staff, launched into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Jon. Tom ducked out a bit early while the rest of the gang lingered over sweets for the special occasion. Cheers!
7. Fashionista financier Julie Macklowe, at her new “regular table,” and some well-heeled pals.
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and author Wendy Burden. I had a chance to chat with David (quite the early bird today) while he was waiting for his guest, and we commiserated over this dreadful allergy season. I told him the safest way to enjoy New York City in bloom for me these days was to check out the fabulous springtime images he posts every day on his site along with round-ups of who went to what party around town. If you want a glimpse into how the other half lives, don’t miss it!
David introduced me to Wendy when she arrived, and the conversation turned to books. David says Wendy’s latest, Dead End Gene Pool (Gotham), is a searingly candid and witty look at her fascinating family life. ”She writes about it all!” he told me. “Not many people do that and do it well.” God knows Wendy has plenty of material. She is a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt whose family’s eccentricities would make a great Wes Anderson film. “It’s about the end of my family,” deadpanned Wendy during her tale of the decline of the blue bloods. Not entirely. “You’re still here!” chirped David. Next up for the prolific author with a penchant for catchy titles is Machinery of Love and Death, yet another memoir. This one tells her personal story about ”the consequences of loving a man and what happens after he dies.” We’re reserving one on Amazon right now.
9. Piers Morgan Tonight executive producer Jonathan Wald with the show’s set designer, Jim Fenhagen, who has also gotten Good Morning America, Martha Stewart and The Daily Show ready for their close ups. Jon struck ratings gold with Piers’ jaw-dropping interview with Sandra Bullock‘s ex-husband, Jesse James. Judging by the reaction to the interview on Facebook, we know we’re not alone in asking: What the hell did she ever see in him?
12. Scott Singer, who heads up Bank Street’s media practice, with his colleagues Rich Lukaj and Adrian Kingshott, plus Perry Sook, chairman and CEO of Nexstar Broadcasting and Tom Carter, Nexstar’s CFO. This being upfront week, the guys had plenty to talk about, since Nexstar is one of the largest owners of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates in the country.
14. Simon & Shuster’s Alice Mayhew
18. Quest’s Chris Meigher
22. Chic Simple’s Jeff Stone
23. CAA’s Robert Kenneally
25. Tom Goodman
26. William Rondina
27. Attorney Michael Kassan
28. Trident Media’s Robert Gottlieb
29. Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne
Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
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