We missed LL Cool J by a day. Oh, well. That’s the great thing about Michael’s: If it’s Wednesday, you can pretty much count on an interesting scene.
Today, there was plenty of tasty people watching. On the menu: Brian Grazer and Tom Preston (together!), one of our favorite designers (Isaac Mizrahi, who, we’re happy to report, wasn’t wearing those unfortunate sandals he chose for a recent appearance on QVC) and, just for good measure, a random reality star (Ramona Singer who, was no doubt dishing the dirt on the newest Housewives to join the New York City catfight. This season’s previews look downright scary!)
I was joined today by EIC Dara Caponigro and publisher Jennifer Levene Bruno, the dynamic duo at the helm of Veranda, a magazine devoted to showcasing the homes, gardens and passions (by which we mean plenty of jewelry) of the moneyed but genteel set. The typical reader’s median household income is $149,000. Veranda isn’t a magazine to flip through while you’re in the elevator on the way to your apartment, but is best enjoyed sitting in your living room sipping a glass of wine. Get the picture?
This year marks the magazine’s 25th anniversary, and Dara just celebrated her second year at the helm, having assumed the title from founding editor Lisa Newsom, whose new book The Houses of Veranda is a stunning coffee table tome. Dara, formerly a founding editor of Domino (another one of our favorites!) told me she had long been an admirer of Veranda‘s “gracious tone” and wanted to continue with the magazine’s mission to “make Veranda about living well through the lens of home.” Since taking the top spot on the masthead, she’s expanded the book’s jewelry coverage (“Our readers are collectors”) and “beefed up the front of the book.” I told her I loved the “Personal Luxuries” column where style makers from around the country share their lists of must-haves from perfume to pillows. “That’s one of our most popular features,” said Dara whose love of gracious living was something she inherited from her mother who was a decorator.
Jennifer, who is only the magazine’s second publisher, is equally enthusiastic about the book. “Everything in the magazine is carefully curated,” she told me. Advertisers obviously like what they see. In Jennifer’s first full year with Veranda, ad pages were up 17% with over 95 new brands.
Dara and Jennifer have been working as a team for about 18 months. “[Hearst president of marketing & publishing director] Michael Clinton knew what he was doing,” said Dara. The duo spends a lot of time traveling around the country hosting panels with industry leaders and talking to readers.
Some of their stops this year have included Atlanta (“The women in the south love dishes!” said Dara) and Los Angeles, where they hosted a ‘Bucket List’ panel on decorating with celebrated designers, including Mary McDonald of Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators. Their winning formula is obviously working. Published six times a year, newsstand sales are up 7 percent and, says Jennifer, 35 percent of the ad pages year-to-date through July-August are ”new business.” See, gracious living does pay.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Leonard Lauder with some elegant looking gents
2. Peter Brown
3. Isaac Mizrahi (in all black, of course), getting plenty of air kisses from passers-by. Isaac was with a gal whose face we sort of recognized but just can’t place with a name. Anyone?
4. Charles Grodin (Does he ever take off that baseball cap?) and some pals
5. Showtime’s main man Matt Blank, who gets this week’s early bird award for arriving first today, with three “suits.” Act Two: Real Housewife Ramona Singer (two weeks in a row!) with two Us Weekly scribes, so we’re told.
6. Kevin Crotty and Candace Bushnell. Congrats to the Sex & the City scribe on having the novel’s prequel, The Carrie Diaries, picked up for production by Warner Brothers TV. It debuts this fall on The CW. We’ll be watching.
7. Debbie Bancroft and a well dressed gal pal
8. Du Jour founder Jason Binn, holding court at a table of business types
9. Scalamandre president Steven Stolman (my lunch date last week), sporting his Nantucket reds with Jane Scott Hodges. A little birdie told me Jane owns Leontine Linens, an ultra luxe New Orleans bedding collection and every swanky decorator’s secret source. Sweet dreams indeed!
11. Investigation Discovery’s Henry Schleiff
12. Jane Eisner (yes, Michael’s wife)
14. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this table: Brian Grazer and Tom Freston. We spotted Brian in his limo shortly before noon. The movie mogul mustn’t have wanted to cool his heels inside waiting for Tom to show up. He returned to his car to wait until things picked up in the dining room before going back inside.
15. Former CurrentTV CEO Mark Rosenthal
18. Sony Pictures’ Steve Mosko
19. Heather Randall
21. Forbes Media CEO Michael Perlis
23. Executive recruiter Michael Levine
24. ICM’s Chris Silbermann
25. Spinmeister extraordinaire Tom Goodman with HBO’s Janine McGoldrick. Tireless Tom is keeping very busy these days representing Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who has been making plenty of headlines on the eve of Facebook’s hotly anticipated IPO. Tom’s take on the stories that Eduardo ditched his U.S. citizenship to avoid the tax man: “That is not him. It’s not in his DNA.” He added, “He’s a great guy, even nicer than he was portrayed in The Social Network.” Okay then.
26. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower
27. Alpha Media executive chairman and TV Guide godfather Jack Kliger
28. Estee Lauder’s Pamela Van Zandt (Just asking, but who’s minding the store on Fifth Avenue?)
30. NBC’s Victor Garvey
Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
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