It was a regular boys club at Michael’s today with not one, but two football legends (Michael Strahan, Frank Gifford), several captains of industry (William Lauder, Jonathan Tisch), publishing hot shots (Jack Kliger, Jared Kushner) and the hottest actor on broadcast television, Tony Goldwyn, who plays the adulterous, murderous President Fitzgerald Grant III on everyone’s guilty pleasure, Scandal. For the record, the power gal contingent was nicely represented by Norah O’Donnell and media mavens Katherine Oliver and Cindy Lewis.
Everyone (and I do mean everyone) was abuzz with Tony’s arrival in the dining room so, of course, I just had to say hello. He couldn’t have been more pleasant about doing an impromptu interview about the runaway success of Scandal and offered his take on being a red hot leading man at 53. It was a bit trippy, really, comparing the relaxed, friendly actor who was casually clad in a plaid shirt and jeans (he’s from Los Angeles, after all) with the uptight, angst-ridden politico he plays on the small screen. Grandson of legendary studio head Samuel Goldwyn, Tony’s has had a journeyman’s career with stints on film (most memorably as villain Carl Bruner in Ghost), television (recurring roles on Dexter and Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and several roles on Broadway, including the musical Promises, Promises. Surprisingly, Goldwyn has never been a staple in the likes of People and the other glossies. When I asked him what it meant to have true stardom come along relatively late in his career he told me, “It’s definitely different than if it had happened earlier; I’m very grateful.”
Speaking of grateful, more than a few of my friends look forward to Tony’s steamy scenes with his co-star Kerry Washington. (His wife, Jane Musky, doesn’t watch those encounters.) “We definitely push the boundaries,” he said. I told him it’s often hard to remember that Scandal is on network television rather than cable. “In a way, it’s because of cable that [series creator Shonda Rhimes] has been able to up the level of things and be more bold.”
We’d have to agree that sex on the desk of the Oval Office is pretty bold, and Tony says there’s more where that came from. “Shonda knows what she wants to do, and, even when the network tries to tell her [not to go there], I’m pretty sure she does what she wants anyway.”
The powers that be at ABC can’t be anything but thrilled, since this season’s record-breaking finale generated over 571,353 tweets alone and a stunning 4.3 million over the course of the season. As for what’s in store for season three, Tony couldn’t even speculate on what the future holds for Fitz and Olivia. “I like to be surprised,” he told me. Unlike a lot of other hot shows where the cast doesn’t get the full script, Tony tells me the entire cast gets the scripts in advance, but there’s no time for leaks because, “They are always working until the last minute on things.” Something tells me that even if the incredibly affable actor knew that President Grant gets his wish of having Olivia join him in the White House as his First Lady, he’s sworn to secrecy. We can’t wait to find out.
I was joined today by PR maven extraordinaire Catherine Saxton and the incredibly charming Michel Piranesi, whose stunning jewelry, Sintessi, has adorned the necks, ears and fingers of social swans on both coasts. Italian-born Michael came to the United States and studied to be a gemologist fresh out of high school before joining the family jewelry business and then striking out on his own a decade ago. He sees his private clients at his oh-so-chic Upper East Side salon and sells his stunning pieces at luxury emporiums Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. They range from $1,000 for a sapphire and diamond pave ring to $30 million –yes, you read that right – for one-of-a-kind pieces. His signature is fancy-colored diamonds which are extremely rare — did you know there were green and blue natural diamonds? I didn’t — and other precious colored stones like emeralds, rubies and sapphires designed in pretty, feminine shapes like camellia flower. He showed me one particularly beautiful pin done in mother of pearl and diamonds for a mere $14,000 that took my breath away. I didn’t ask, but perhaps he has an installment plan.
It was fascinating to learn that, according to Michel, an increasing number of serious collectors, especially those in Europe, are now buying his pieces as investments. “A lot of people are afraid to put all their money in banks and are looking for something with a high return. This is especially true of Europeans who don’t trust their banks. In the U.S., diamonds have appreciated 600 to 700 percent, and colored stones have appreciated in value over 1,000 percent.” he told me. “The richest families all over Europe have a lot of their money in diamonds. The Mubarak Family has hundreds of million of dollars in colored diamonds.”
Michael graciously declined to name names, since most of his clients prefer to be discreet about their love of all that glitters. (That is, as discreet as one can be while wearing millions of dollars of diamonds.) He’s most comfortable talking about his work with some of his favorite ladies on philanthropic projects. This spring, Michel worked with Susan Molloy and Nicole Hanley Mellon in Palm Beach to raise money through the sale of his jewelry for the American Red Cross. In the past, he’s partnered with Barbara Davis on the Carousel of Hope Ball in Los Angeles and with Nancy Davis to raise money for the Erase MS Gala benefiting her foundation devoted to multiple sclerosis research. Over the course of many years, he has donated more than 2 million dollars of his beautiful baubles.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Real estate scion, New York Observer owner and expectant father (congrats!) Jared Kushner, presiding over a table full of suits
2. Uber agent Rob Weisbach and Tony Goldwyn
4. Jonathan Tisch and Michael Strahan, one of this afternoon’s most popular diners. Since I was sitting right next to Jon and Michael catching up with Joe before the dining room filled up, I took the opportunity to chat with these real-life renaissance men who were seated at the next table. Jon, CEO of Loews Hotels and co-owner of the New York Giants, who is always lovely to chat with, told me the newly renovated Regency will be unveiled by the end of the year. I was thrilled to have the chance to talk to Michael and congratulate him on his success as co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael.
I first met the former New York Giant (likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer for his record-setting sacks in 2001), when I interviewed him for I Love You, Mom!, a book I co-wrote with his co-host Kelly Ripa on celebrities and their moms. At the time, Michael told me how influential his mother, Louise Strahan, had been in his career and how thrilled she was to do those iconic commercials for Campbell’s Chunky Soup. It was mom, he told me back in 2003, who instilled in him the strong work ethic that has enabled Michael to successfully juggle a bi-coastal broadcasting career. (During football season, he tapes Live! during the week and travels as an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday.) No word on what she thought of his Magic Mike moves when Channing Tatum appeared on the ABC chat show, but something tells me she was prouder than ever.
5. Herb Siegel and Frank Gifford. It was a true Kodak moment (I know — I’m dating myself, but still) when the gridiron great stopped by Jon and Michael’s table for a round of handshakes. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the Giants legends together, but I just couldn’t get over there fast enough. Next time.
6. Most of ‘The Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Michael Kramer
7. Catherine Saxton, Michel Piranesi and yours truly
8. Mort Janklow
9. Ready for their close-up: Katherine Oliver, commission of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and The Paley Center’s Janet Goldsmith
10. DuJour‘s Cindy Lewis
11. Simon Fuller of American Idol fame
12. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who made a point of stopping by Tony Goldwyn’s table to chat with ‘the president’
14. William Lauder and Melanie Knudsen
15. Marc Rosenthal
16. United Stations Radio’s Nick Verbitsky
81. Author Wednesday Martin and Elizabeth Gordon, whose new book, Simply Allergy-free: Quick and Tasty Recipes for Every Night of the Week, is sure to be a hit with its terrific gluten, dairy, nut and egg-free recipes. We’re keeping a copy in our kitchen.
18. Showtime’s main man, Matt Blank, with Daniel Glass
19. The Wall Street Journal’s Teri Agins, whose next book on celebrity branding (title TBA) is due out next fall.
20. CBS This Morning co-anchor Norah O’Donnell, who always looks so glam despite having to get up in the wee hours of the morning. What’s your secret?
21. Hearst Design Group EIC Newell Turner with Alex Hitz. While I was chatting with the ‘Mayor,’ Newell stopped by Joe’s table to say hello, and I found out these publishing powerhouses worked together way back when in the eighties on several different initiatives, including the first DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) benefits. “We were pioneers!” says Newell. Today, we traded stories on the best designer showhouses around, and I told Newell about my personal favorite, The Designer Showhouse of Westchester, benefiting Cerebral Palsy of Westchester. The sprawling 1915 mansion has been reborn thanks to the work of Lillian August, Debra Funt Interiors and many other swanky New York and Westchester interior designers. It’s the perfect weekend diversion if you can’t make it out to the Hamptons. There’s only two more weekends left, so don’t miss it!
24. TV Guide acting CEO Jack Kliger with PR powerhouse Tom Goodman and Michael Berman. Jack and Michael worked together when he was Hachette’s CEO and Michael was editing George with John Kennedy, Jr. But you knew that, didn’t you?
25. Steven Blacker
27. Producer (and the original Marlboro Man) Chuck Pfeiffer
28. Tech guru Shelly Palmer
29. Tom Kohl
30. James LeFrak
Please send comments and corrections to DIANECLEHANE at MEDIABISTRO dot COM and LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
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