I got several emails last week when I was on vacation alerting me to John Legend‘s presence in the dining room. “You’re missing him!” texted one faithful “Lunch” reader. “Oh well,” I thought, “next time.” Imagine my surprise when the singer magically appeared in the dining room today and even shot me a big smile on the way to his corner table. How thoughtful of him to schedule a return engagement on a Wednesday!
I was joined today by uber publicist Judy Twersky and her agency’s account supervisor, Jennifer Bristol, who I met in this very dining room through our mutual friend, Diane Dimond. A little birdie told me that Judy knows just about everybody and has represented a very interesting mix of famous folks so I knew lunch would be fun. I wasn’t disappointed.
Judy, who once toiled as media director for Ogilvy & Mather, started her own firm in 1992 and has had an impressive roster of clients, including Maury Povich, Dr. Andrew Weil and none other than actor James Earl Jones. (No word on how he felt being banished to the bleachers at the Oscars while Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy took to the stage). Judy, who tells me she gets most of her clients through word of mouth, specializes in authors but also handles her fair share of celebrities. Her current client list includes former CIA agent-turned-photographer Hank O’Neal, who has traveled the world chronicling street art. His new book, aptly titled XCIA’s Street Art Project (Siman Media Works), will debut in March along with a mobile app. None other than Tony Bennett praises Hank’s work as “one of the greatest contemporary works of art I have ever experienced.”
Judy also reps pianist Richard Glazier, whose PBS special, “From Ragtime to Reel Time: Richard Glazier in Concert” premieres on stations around the country next week. Judy first met Richard on a TCM cruise and was enthralled by his skills as a raconteur as he regaled the audience (who stayed up way past their bedtimes) with the stories behind the “Great American Songbook” and tales of his childhood friendship with Ira Gershwin. Richard is coming to New York next month to be feted by violinist Joshua Bell.
Speaking of great parties, Judy’s 60th birthday bash made “Page Six” recently with the news that Paul Shaffer wrote a song especially for her to mark the occasion. (Paul’s wife Cathy is Judy’s best friend, and Judy is now managing the couple’s 19-year-old daughter Victoria Shaffer who has aspirations to host her own talk show). Her good pals also arranged for The Naked Cowboy to come in and sweep her off her feet (literally). “You can book him for 15-minute sessions,” Judy told me with a laugh. “I couldn’t believe it.” Who needs birthday cake when you can be serenaded by a man in his underwear?
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Dan Rather and another important looking gent we didn’t recognize
2. Peter Brown
6. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko (Long time, no see!) and uber agent Mel Berger, talking books. Rodale publishes a head-spinning 90 titles a year and Mel is an industry legend. Obviously, these two had plenty to talk about.
7. Jason Binn and an elegant blond gal. Congrats to Jason on the launch of Du Jour Media, which marks his welcome return to the luxury market. His new venture will be anchored by a quarterly print magazine distributed in luxe haute spots like Aspen, Miami and the Hamptons, and a digital counterpart which will be sent to Gilt Groupe’s 3 million members. It’s being backed by James Cohen. Gilt Groupe’s Kevin Ryan is signed on as a “strategic partner.” How cozy.
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia with author Michael Gross, who was just named Avenue‘s new real estate editor, a good call since that’s a subject Michael knows plenty about. Reports say his latest book, Unreal Estate, is about to be picked up by HBO. 740 Park was an instant bestseller. I was happy to see David back at his usual perch. His presence was sorely missed last week when he had to forego the Wednesday lunch, because he was shooting an episode of Gossip Girl. Some people have all the fun!
9. Vidicom’s Christy Ferer, who introduced me to Rana Foroohar, correspondent to The Daily Beast/Newsweek. Christy, who I have known forever, tells me she’s just built a new studio at Vidicom where clients like Calvin Klein are doing some interesting interactive initiatives with their brand. Oh, those clever fashionistas!
14. Thomson Reuters’ Jolie Hunt
15. Sara Nelson
17. PR maven Lisa Linden and David Cornstein, former chairman of OTB. I just had to ask David what he thought of HBO’s new series, Luck, which chronicles the winners and losers at the track. “It was a slow start but I’m hooked,” he told me. That’s high praise from David considering he owned a horse, Proud Citizen, that once placed second in the Kentucky Derby. “The show does depict how exciting that can be. It’s much more fun when you win, though.” Indeed. Second seating: Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower who was dining with her mom. I stopped by the table to say hello. We all agreed we are absolutely at a loss on Sunday nights without our “Downton Abbey” fix. Will “Mad Men” fill the void? We’ll have to wait and see.
20. Shirely Lord
21. Stu Zakim and Neal Boulton, who had plenty to celebrate. Stu just moved into new digs to keep pace with his growing consultancy, Bridge Strategic Communications, and Neal, founder and editor of HeroinLife.com, was marking the occasion of getting his 100th person into rehab. A former addict himself, Neil has been able to fund these interventions through a series of private grants, mostly from musicans who were once addicted to heroin. “I’m really grateful for those donations and for the determination of the folks who wrote me asking for help,” he told me.
Neal is also one busy guy these days. He’s appearing in a new Ridley Scott film and is directing a documentary on HeroinLife.com’s mission. “We’re sort of the midwives of detox. I have this group of people all around the country who walk in, lock the door and sit with people who want to detox cold turkey,” he told me. The mission is a very personal one for Neal, who says, after several stints in rehab, his wife did the same thing for him. Talk about paying it forward. Amazing.
22. Joel Moser
23. David Michael
24. Ambassador Carl Spielvogel
25. Heidi Roberts
26. Today’s best-dressed duo: author Pamela Keogh in a very Jackie-O pink sheath by Michael Kors and navy fishnets with Joseph Montebello who accessorized his tweed blazer with a gorgeous purple cashmere sweater and matching scarf. Tres chic!
27. Martin Pompadur
29. Conde Nast’s Dawn Bridges
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