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Lara Spencer, John Sykes & Dr. Ruth Ring in the Holidays

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I don’t know whether it was the wintry weather or the holiday decor, but the usual suspects were in a festive mood at Michael’s today. There were air kisses all around the dining room as the movers and shakers mingled while waiting for their lunch dates to arrive.  No sitting at the table glued to their iPhones today! So, rather than observe the random celebrity holding court (I’m really hoping to see Michael Douglas back here in fine form again soon), I watched the regulars launch into celebration mode by trading their ice teas for some red wine. ‘Tis the season!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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

2. Bloomberg’s Andy Lack

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who is just back from London, was pulling a double shift by  having two back-to-back lunches. “I’ll have to do double duty through Christmas to catch up!” Joe told me. His noon-time date was O magazine’s  book guru Sara NelsonKerry Kennedy arrived for Act Two.

4. Uber agent Esther Newberg and a sunny looking blonde gal we didn’t recognize.


5. Herb Siegel and another formidable looking fellow.

6. Project Playlist’s CEO John Sykes

7. Nicki Haskell, who got a big hello from Lara Spencer, and Page Six’s Emily Smith.

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Geraldine Fabrikant.

9. Public relations maven Lisa Linden

10. Liz Oliver and Ava Fiener, just in from Washington, DC

11. Fashionista Mickey Ateyeh

12. Festively attired Catherine Saxton and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who was working the room like nobody’s business. Judging from the hoots of laughter coming from the guys, I’m guessing the good doctor shared some of her trademark plainspoken sex talk when she stopped by Dr. Imber’s table to say hello.

14.  Best-selling author Linda Fairstein (Long time no see!). If you want to see what a fantastic author website looks like, check out her namesake site where she gives readers a detailed glimpse, along with some stunning graphics, about how she keeps churning out those page turners featuring her literary alter ego Alex Cooper.

15. Jim Abernathy

16. Discovery ID’s dapper head honcho Henry Schleiff

81. CBS’ Abra Potkin and The Insider’s Lara Spencer

17. Christine Taylor with Revlon’s Julia Goldin

18. Peter Brown and a dark haired beauty we didn’t get to meet.

20. Moet Hennessy USA’s CEO Mark Cornell

21. Stu Zakim. Showtime’s former spinmeister, looking fitter than ever, tells me he’s doing lots of consulting these days. Great to see you!

22. Allen & Co.’s Steven Greenberg

24. Writer Richard Wurman

25. Baker Capital’s Robert Manning

26. Attorney Michael Kassan

27. Phoenix House co-founder Dr. Mitch Rosenthal

28. Money man Adam Miller

29. John Steele

Elizabeth Edwards at Michael's restaurant in NYC

In memoriam: I’ve met many boldfaced names in this dining room over the years, but few have impressed me more than Elizabeth Edwards did when we had a brief chat. She was introduced to me by Joe Armstrong, who had arranged for her to lunch with Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Lesley Stahl and Nora Ephron. I watched from across the room as she held these media heavy hitters in her thrall. Before she left, she came over to say hello and we ended up chatting about motherhood and the challenges of juggling it all.

Knowing she was dealing with cancer and a complicated personal life (her marriage had not yet fully imploded), I was struck by her grace and her seemingly genuine interest in me, a stranger that she need not have bothered to meet. She took both my hands in hers and said, “Motherhood is the toughest job there is, but it’s the most rewarding.” I was reminded of that moment when I learned of her death yesterday. My heart goes out to her children.

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

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