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Harvey Weinstein Leads the Movie Mogul Charge

1003_mockup.gif Any Michael’s regular worth his or her weight in Cobb salad knows that on any given Wednesday you can find the who’s who of media in the dining room. Today we spotted a talking head (Andrew Ross Sorkin) and bestselling authors (Linda Fairstein, Karin Slaughter) but were really struck by the Hollywood on the Hudson feel of today’s lunch. Everywhere you looked there were movie moguls (Who’s hotter than Harvey Weinstein at this moment?) and studio suits breaking bread with money men (read: possible investors), we’re sure, in hopes of cooking up some big deal. We’ve noticed that there is an increasing number of movie moguls (both real and the wannabe variety) making the scene on Wednesday lately, which may account for the marked uptick in glad handing and air kissing.

I was just about to sit down with my lunch date, producer Thierry Daher to talk about his new film, God Save My Shoes and the film’s publicist Miriam Driot when producer Beverly Camhe came over to introduce me to Shawn Bercuson who, she noted, “was the talk of Sundance.” It turns out that Shawn, one of the original members of the team that started Groupon, launched a new site last year  perfect for the new ways we watch movies. Prescreen.com is a curated video on demand platform designed to promote and showcase premium content. Shawn tells me the site is the first to provide long form premium content through Facebook Open Graph intergration in the U.S. When he was at Sundance, he discovered there was no platform for aggregating the festival’s trailers and viola! Now there is. When I introduced him to Thierry, they had plenty to talk about, and by the time the group adjourned to our respective tables everyone had each other’s business cards. Who needs Los Angeles?

I was eager to hear the story behind Thierry’s latest documentary which explores the fascinating relationship between women and their shoes. His previous release, Just for Kicks, explored the sneaker phenomena and the origins of Nike Air Force One and Air Jordans. “It’s not the athletes that make these shoes so popular,” Thierry told me of his discovery. “It’s the hip hop and rap stars.” To wit: Just For Kicks featured Reverend Run, Missy Elliot and Grandmaster Caz. In light of the fact that this was his second documentary on footwear, I just had to ask him  if he had some kind of a foot fetish. Nope, he said. “I’m very curious about other people’s obsessions.” As a recovering Manolo Blahnik addict, I was more than intrigued. Its turns out the idea for God Save My Shoes came to Thierry while he was making Just For Kicks. When he learned that Damon Dash owned hundreds of pairs of sneakers, the thought occurred to him: If this is what the guys have in their closets, God only knows what their wives own. Clearly, he was on to something.

Diane Clehane, Thierry Daher and Miriam DroIt
Diane Clehane, Thierry Daher and Miriam Driot

Thierry told me he spent a year writing the film’s treatment during which time he unearthed just about anything ever written on the subject and sought out women to bare their soles. The film features interviews with Kelly Rowland, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas and Dita Von Teese who bare all about their devotion to shoes. Celebrated poker player Beth Shak, who owns over 1,000 pairs, opened up her extraordinary closet.  He also features another ‘star’ who was literally born to wear high heels: Barbie. (I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ve just got to watch). Designers Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik weigh in on their cult following and the curious bond between women and shoes.

Thierry told me it was essential that the film have a female sensibility, so he parted ways with his first director (a guy who couldn’t really tap into such a female-centric subject) and replaced him with his good friend Julie Benasra. When hiring crew members for the production, Thierry also opted for estrogen over testosterone. “Whenever possible, we hired a woman for the job,” says Thierry. His explanation was simple: “Most men are baffled by women and their shoes. I could tell this whenever I told someone about the premise of the film. If I was talking to a woman I always got a big smile and an enthusiastic response. With men, nine times out of 10 they didn’t get it.”

Happily, Thierry tells me the media response has been overwhelming, with the film earning high marks internationally from the fashion bibles, including  Harper’s Bazaar in Britain and the U.S. and French versions of Elle. After lunch, Thierry was headed to shoot a segment for Good Morning America that will air later this week. On Friday, the film will have its official U.S. theatrical release here at the Quad for an exclusive limited release run and will unspool at indie film festivals around the country this spring, including screenings in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The DVD comes out May 8.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. We spotted Harvey Weinstein pacing around the dining room on his mobile phone until he was joined by Showtime’s main man Matt Blank and UBS’s Aryeh Bourkoff. Whatever could these powerbrokers be cooking up together? Stay tuned. We want  to offer our congrats to Harvey on coming out on top in his battle to have the ‘R’ rating removed from Bully, the widely anticipated documentary from The Weinstein Company which chronicles the effects bullying has had on the lives of several high schoolers. It was decided this week that the film will be released without a rating thus allowing the audience who is ideally suited to see the film to do so. We have some idea what Harvey may have been talking about on his cell during lunch. It was just announced that AMC Theaters will show the film this Friday, March 30, in New York at Lincoln Square and at AMC Century City in Los Angeles. Bravo!

2. Jacqui Safra (Jean Doumanian‘s husband in case you didn’t know)

3. Investigation Discovery GM and president Henry Schleiff with Bravo’s Jennifer Geisser and Heart Television’s Rochelle Dire. The trio was having s0mething of a Court TV reunion where Jennifer and Rochelle worked for Henry during the late lamented network’s glory days.

4. The early show: money man Stephen Swid. Act two: producer Francine LeFrak and a gal pal we didn’t get to meet.
5.  Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman. Nice tan!

6.”The Imber Gang” minus one:  Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield and Michael Kramer. Where was Andy Bergman?

7. Thierry Daher, Miriam Driot and yours truly

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and financier Charles Stevenson

9. Beth Brenner

11. The Argus Group’s Maureen Reidy

12. Peter Price with, so we’re told, “some heads of some movie studios”

14. A novel idea: prosecutor-turned-author Linda Fairstein (thanks again for including me in last week’s fabulous lunch for Kate White!) and fellow crime writer Karin Slaughter.  The number of bestsellers between these two literary powerhouses makes the mind reel.

15. My good friend, producer Joan Gelman with her sons Josh and Gregg

16. Nick Verbitsky

17. Piers Morgan Tonight executive producer Jonathan Wald with newly minted Michael’s regular and New York Times and CNN financial oracle Andrew Ross Sorkin

18. Women’s issues advocate Sherrye Henry (she must be busy these days!) and Vernon Jordan, looking as dapper as ever

20. Literary agent Lynn Goldberg

21. Bridge Strategic Communications’ president Stu Zakim with The Wrap’s Brent Lang

22. Presidential historian (among other titles) Barry Landau

23. Parkview Pictures’ Beverly Camhe, Shawn Bercuson and Eliot T. Durbin, managing partner of Penny Black

24. Dewey & LeBouef’s Gordon Davis

27. Realtor Jeff Crisalli with Project Soulmate partners Lori Zaslow and Jennifer Zucker

29. PR maven Hanna Lee

Faces in the crowd: Designer David Biscaye enjoying a quick (Back to work!) lunch and taking in the scene at the bar. See you next week!

Please send comments and corrections to DCLEHANE at AOL dot COM and LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.

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