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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandra Trower’

Mary Higgins Clark, The Hiltons And The Media Mob

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– DIANE CLEHANE

The sweltering heat (wasn’t it just snowing last week?) didn’t keep the regulars away from Michael’s today. The dining room was jam packed with authors, agents and media mavens all deep in conversation about who knows what. From the looks of things, the power lunch crowd here is gearing up for a busy season of neworking that has to be crammed into a four-day work week now that those summer cottages are open.  Oh, the pressure!

I was thrilled to join Vi Huse and Kira Semler for lunch today. I met them almost five years ago when I first started covering the scene at Michael’s and was fascinated by these two attractive, fun loving gals who always seemed to have a grand old time at their monthly champagne lunch (and always ate dessert!). Turns out these two good friends have been keeping their Michael’s lunch date with each other for over ten years! “This is only the second time we’ve sat in the dining room,” Vi told me.  “We always sit at the bar and it’s just become our spot.”

Today, the three of us sat with the big kids in the dining room to celebrate Vi’s 23 years as owner of Kerygma, a gallery in Ridgewood, New Jersey specializing in contemporary American art. Vi just retired yesterday but tells me she will continue to work with artists like Peter Fiore, Gerald Doudera, David Lee and Jane Owen online. Kira, a jewelry aficionado and freelance bookeeper, was one of Vi’s first clients and the gals have been fast friends ever since. Cheers!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Mary Higgins Clark, Carolyn Reidy and a table full of pals. The indefatigable 83-year-old author was the subject of a glowing profile in The Wall Street Journal last month which chronicled her success: she’s sold 100 million books in the U.S. alone, and all 42 of her novels have been best-sellers. With I’ll Walk Alone, released in April, she’s keeping her winning streak going. We’re in awe.

2. Michael Holtzman (Peter Brown’s VP and right hand man, so we’re told.)

3. Joan TischCandace Leeds and Marcia Stein

4. The always distinguished Stan Shuman

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Joan Collins, Dennis Basso And The Media Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The biblical rain didn’t keep the crowds away from Michael’s today. The media mavens were networking at warp speed (Bonnie Fuller, we mean you) while the social swans and style set enjoyed their usual air-kissed filled leisurely lunches.

Oh, to have a rich husband (or good divorce attorney) and deep-pocketed clients. We can dream, can’t we?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com‘s Bonnie Fuller jointly hosting what Gerry tells me is the first of a series’ of  lunches with “influencers.” The tastemakers at the table today were HL’s CRO Alyson Racer, Showtime’s main man Matt BlankCosmopolitan’s Donna Lagani, Caroline Hirsch, MediaLink’s Wenda Millard and Marie Claire’s fashion director, Nina Garcia.

2. Alexis Carrington lives! Joan Collins, sporting an ensemble that would have passed muster at the royal wedding, with husband Percy Gibson, producer Terry Allen Kramer and Joyce Rubin.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health head honcho David Zinczenko. This was Joe’s second lunch at Michael’s this week. On Monday, he came by with his sister Marilyn Spence and her husband Don who were  in visiting from Plano, Texas. The trio, I’m told, had a grand old time.

4.  Peter Brown and Liz Smith, looking none the worse for wear from a recent hip injury. The indomitable Liz, who got plenty of hugs from her pals in the dining room,  dished with fellow Texan Joe Armstrong until Peter arrived.

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Rachel Uchitel Creates A Stir at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Having covered the scene at Michael’s for some time now, I’ve been witness to plenty of Fellini-esque tableaus where the head-spinning mix of stars and strivers, masters of the universe, and alien-like actors never ceases to amuse and occasionally amaze me, but today was off the charts. What started as an afternoon of ramped up power lunches (Harvey Weinstein and James Dolan! RogerAiles and Jon Meacham!) turned into a game of Spot The Tabloid Temptress. I just happened to be at the front desk when regular Henry Schleiff came in followed by a blonde, pillow-lipped gal hiding behind her huge sunglasses. I immediately recognized her as Rachel Uchitel.  What was Tiger Woods‘ infamous mistress doing with Henry? I couldn’t wait to ask him. Before I could, she darted around us, averting my eyes and making her way into the dining room. Turns out she was on her way to meet Vanity Fair’s Michael Callahan. “Did you see who that was?” I asked Henry. When I told him, he quipped, “I didn’t recognize her with her clothes on!”

Even though the party girl-turned-private eye (according to The New York Post, she’s on her first case here in New York and awaiting her gun license) and Callahan were seated behind a pillar in the back of the room, word of her arrival spread like wildfire.  I wonder what the two of them talked about during their fairly quick lunch. Could it be that Graydon Carter has greenlit yet another piece on Woods? It would be quite cheeky of him to put Uchitel on Tiger’s tail, wouldn’t it? It seems more likely that Callahan is penning a piece on Uchitel’s post-Tiger life as a self-confessed recovering “love addict.” Stay tuned …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. It’s Harvey’s world and we just live in it. Shortly after noon, Harvey Weinstein arrived with two guys — one looked like Robert Pattinson‘s younger brother and the other like Vladmir Putin. Once the trio was seated, Harvey busied himself playing with his phone while his two babysitters? bodyguards? couldn’t sit still. One spent the entire time pacing between the table and the front door, while the other hopped up every other minute to look out the window as he talked on the phone. Could they have been tracking Harvey’s lunch date? All I know is when Cablevision’s James Dolan finally arrived, they took off.  Harvey then took out a pair of earphones to listen to a recording of some importance while Dolan sat by impassively. I don’t know what the hell really went on, but observing the scene felt like watching an episode of Mission Impossible.

2. PMK’s Cindi Berger and a handsome fellow we didn’t get to meet

3. Political commentator and marketing maestro Robert Zimmerman and Tad Smith

4. Random House EVP Jon Meacham and Fox News chief Roger Ailes, chowing down on burgers and fries. Jon arrived early and spent the time waiting for Ailes by chatting with the staff. We couldn’t help but notice that the ex-Newsweek editor looks a lot more relaxed since leaving the struggling magazine. It’s Tina Brown‘s problem now! Their table was clearly the center of gravity today as pretty much anyone who is anybody (read: all the suits in the room) stopped by to pay homage.

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Mogul Mania with Jack Welch & David Geffen

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today with moguls Jack Welch and David Geffen holding court at their respective tables while the celebrity du jour, none other than George Hamilton, caused more than his fair share of double takes. We overheard one fan gush, “I loved you on Dancing With the Stars!” (So did we, but we’re too cool to say so.) Meanwhile, the rest of the crowd was so busy air kissing and table hopping between bites it’s a miracle anyone actually got to eat anything. We’re glad we did, because the new fall menu is fabulous!

I was joined today by Debbie Phillips, life coach and founder of Women On Fire, and Sophfronia Scott, author and founder of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Debbie is busier than ever with her Women on Fire tea parties that have been helping women from all walks of life ignite their true passions since 2004. She’s hosting one at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in Gramercy Park on Friday, and there are others scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, Boston, Santa Fe and Naples this fall. Debbie is on track to reaching her important goal of “connecting 50,000 women to each other” through Women on Fire this year. You go, girl!

Sophfronia, who I first met when we worked at People together another life ago, got to know Debbie after she attended one of her tea parties. She is really on a roll. This mom of an adorable six year-old boy has been regularly cranking out books since she published her first novel All I Need to Get By in 2004. She recently published How The Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times (Two Harbors) in which she compiles words of wisdom from high rollers, including Donald Trump and Jack Canfield. Just how does she juggle it all? “I can write for about four hours at a time; then I have to get up and do something else,” Sophfronia tells me. See, it’s just that simple.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The “Imber Gang”: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer

2. Peter Brown and Grace Hightower (That’s Mrs. Robert De Niro to you.)

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong

4. Alan Grubman, David Geffen and Bob Daley

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Peggy Siegal, Pamela Fiori & the Winner of Lunch with Laurel

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— DIANE CLEHANE

While the regulars in the dining room at Michael’s chatted about their plans for the upcoming holiday weekend, it seemed only fitting that my lunch today was with Laurie Haspel Aronson, president of Haspel, the quintessential American company responsible for the creation of the classic seersucker suit. Laurie tells me it was the brainchild of her great grandfather, Joseph Haspel, who wanted to turn the fabric once favored by laborers for its cool comfort into a natty summertime staple of bankers and businessman everywhere.

Haspel, which was founded back in 1909, has dressed some pretty iconic fellows including Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Jimmy Smits, who wore Haspel during his stint on The West Wing, will be sporting seersucker this weekend when he hosts PBS’ July 4th special and on his upcoming series Outlaw that premieres this fall.

Laurie explains how the venerable label remains a current fashion favorite (Russell Brand is a fan) but hasn’t alienated its old school clientele this way: “The great thing about it is it can be worn by everyone and looks good on everybody. It takes on the personality of the wearer.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Former Chanel president Arie Kopelman and his wife Coco with Pamela Fiori (in Chanel) and a distinguished looking gent we didn’t recognize.

2. A very blonde Peggy Siegal and a handsome young fellow.

3. Scribe Phoebe Eaton, looking very glam

4. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy

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Alex McCord & Simon van Kempen Serve Up Some Tasty ‘Real Housewives’ Dish

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— DIANE CLEHANE

There’s never a dull moment on a Wednesday at Michael’s. When I arrived in the dining room today I spotted LX TV‘s senior executive producer Amy Rosenblum shooting a segment for tonight’s show with host Sarah Gore and Michael’s GM Steve Millington about their famous $36 Cobb Salad. Who says lunch here isn’t about the food?

I had a delightfully dishy lunch with Alex McCord, one of my favorite cast members from The Real Housewives of New York City, her husband Simon van Kempen and their literary agent, my pal Jason Allen Ashlock. The couple is surprisingly down to earth given the histrionics filled season. “We’re trying to prove you don’t have to be an idiot to be on reality television,” says Simon.

At the moment, Alex and Simon are in the middle of their book tour for Little Kids Big City, which is now in its second printing. It’s a well-written, ‘mom-oir’ (as Simon likes to call it) that chronicles their transformation from DINKY (dual income no kids yet) couple to hands-on, working parents of two sons, Francois and Johan. Also in the works are a “relationship book” written in the same ‘he said, she said’ style as Little Kids, a possible cookbook, and Alex tells me she’s penning a “roman a clef about the dark underbelly of reality television.” Watch out Jill Zarin!

I just had to ask Alex what she thought of Jill’s tearful performance at the marathon three-part reunion show, which culminated in Jill basically begging former BFF Bethenny Frankel for a hug. (I’m told the women shot for nine hours with very little down time.) “It was a long day,” says Alex. “I don’t know whether it was genuine or not.” But she didn’t hold back in describing Jill’s backstabbing behavior overall: “When you have nothing else in your life, you can sit around and scheme like a character in Dangerous Liaisons.”

The couple was first tapped by Bravo to appear on what was to be called Manhattan Moms in 2007 before it morphed into The Real Housewives of New York City. “We didn’t know we were going to be paired with bitchy, socialite wannabes,” says Simon. With three seasons behind them, Simon feels Alex “hit her stride” this year. For her part, Alex says her friendships with Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, and Bethenny have grown and she’s spoken to all three of them “within the last 48 hours.” No decision has been made about who will be returning next season but Simon says of the couple’s plans, “At this point, it would be silly to not do one more season.”

You can catch Alex at her next New York City book signing on July 6 at Barnes & Noble on Lexington and 86th Street with New Jersey Housewife Caroline Manzo, who be on hand to promote Bravo’s new tell-all on the popular franchise.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Jimmy Buffett, Dr. Ruth and the Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Those corporate bean counters that put a crimp in expense accounts all over town must be loosening up a bit, because it was SRO today at Michael’s. A slew of magazine folks (See, print isn’t dead after all!), media mavens and the requisite flock of social swans were packed into the dining room. Jimmy Buffett showed up half way through lunch, and the place was so crowded I couldn’t even make out where he landed.

I had a dishy lunch today with MarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman. (Sorry, but most of the good stuff was off the record). Jon, who has toiled for USA Today, BusinessWeek, and Bloomberg, has been writing an online media column since 2005 that’s a must-read for the Michael’s crowd. These days he churns out an average of three columns a week. His recent piece on whether Brian Williams is the new Walter Cronkite generated plenty of buzz and sent HuffPost commenters into overdrive. Jon’s take: Williams is fascinating because, even after getting “the job of a lifetime,” he’s “the rarest case of success because he’s still ambitious.” We both agreed that Brian really came into his own once he loosened up a little off the set and let audiences in on his dry sense of humor and self-deprecating wit through appearances on The Tonight Show and SNL. “A classic!” says Jon.

Earlier this year, Jon launched a weekly online broadcast of Media Matters where he talks shop with media bigwigs. Hearst’s Cathie Black is scheduled for the June 21 broadcast. We’re tuning in.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer. (Jeff Greenfield was absent.) I stopped by their table to chat with the guys about the fun piece in the Times‘ Style section last week covering their legendary lunches in the dining room. “It was great,” said the good doctor, who emerged as the star of the piece with some nice plugs for his latest book, Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted. Give that publicist a raise!

2. Peter Brown

3. Nick Simuneck (Terry Allen Kramer‘s hubby, in case you didn’t know)

4. The New York Observer‘s Jared Kushner

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Ralph Lauren, Jenna Bush, and the Media Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was good to be back at my regular perch at Michael’s today after a nasty bug kept me home last week. I returned to a scene buzzing with a head-spinning mix of fashion designers, famous faces, and the requisite media moguls. Don’t these people ever take a day off? I’m guessing not.

Today I was joined by W. Randall Jones (‘Randy’ to his friends), who I got to know right here in the dining room. Randy is, without fail, always the best dressed man in the room. (He credits Martin Greenfield, the Brooklyn-based tailor to Bill Clinton and Colin Powell, for his sartorial success.) When Randy arrived looking as dashing as ever in his three-piece navy pinstriped suit, we got right down to dishing.

This is a man who knows just about everyone, which is no surprise considering he’s had a stellar 30-year career in media. He launched Worth magazine in 1992 and was the youngest publisher in magazine history when he nabbed the top spot at Esquire at the ripe old age of 29. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” also launched The American Benefactor, the first magazine about philanthropy from the donor’s perspective and released his first book, The Greatest Stock Picks of All Time, to plenty of attention in 2004.

The tastiest dish is off the record, but I can tell you his latest tome, The Richest Man in Town, has been a big success. It vaulted to the number one spot on Amazon right after Randy appeared on Wall Street Week with Maria Bartiromo. These days, he’s working on a top secret television project. We can’t wait to hear more.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman, and Michael Kramer. A photographer from The New York Times was on hand to capture everything for an upcoming piece on the good doctor for the Style section. We’ll be looking for it.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis who, when I asked what he did for the website replied, “Whatever Tina tells me to do.” Nice to meet you!

4. Ralph Lauren (who kept his sunglasses on throughout lunch) and Buffy Birrittella, the designer’s longtime executive vice president of women’s design and advertising. We spotted them celebrating Buffy’s birthday with champagne and nibbling on some chocolate confection while chatting with the steady stream of well wishers, like Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey.

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John Sykes, Jared Kushner & Moguls on the Make

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting like recent visitors Michael Douglas and Glenn Close that gives Michael’s that jolt of adrenaline during our weekly Wednesday visits. And sometimes it’s the sheer power quotient of the dining room that gets our attention. As one regular told me: “I can always tell who is looking for money and who is writing the checks when I come here. It’s the best business scorecard around.”

Today I was joined by power publicist Catherine Saxton, who knows just about everybody but never spins and tells, and Richard Smullen, co-founder and CEO of Beezag and AdGenesis. We had a fascinating chat about the ‘wild west’ of Internet advertising and how absolutely maddening those unwanted pop-up ads are. When Richard launched Beezag last November with Laurent Alhadeff, they created a different kind of online advertising environment which they’ve cleverly coined as ‘Me-commerce.’ Richard explains beezag’s consumer-centric marketing concept this way: “It’s about relevancy and reward. Consumers watch entertaining branded content and video ads they love and get discounts they deserve because they’re thanked with special offers and incentives from advertisers.”

By matching brands to the consumers who want to hear about them, Richard reports that beezag delivers clients an average of 25 percent click-through rates. The members-only, opt-in multi-platform community has some pretty serious brainpower behind it. Richard tells me his ‘executive council’ of advisors includes Gerry Byrne, Wenda Millard, Michael Kassan and Bob Friedman. For someone who just landed in New York from South Africa in January of last year, Richard seems to have figured out pretty quickly how to make things happen in Manhattan. We’re impressed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Boy wonder Jared Kushner with his dad Charles, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers. The New York Observer owner must have had some big deal brewing, because he stepped outside several times to take a very important call. Or perhaps it was just the missus, Ivanka Trump, asking what to make for dinner.

2. My friend and PR maven extraordinaire Lisa Linden and former Bush administration advisor Charles Millard, celebrating the launch of Charles’ new venture specializing in pension funds and financial services, Cardinal Advisors.

3. Catherine Saxton, Richard Smullen and yours truly

4. LVMH’s David Anton

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Lunch: Glenn Close Talks Fatal Attraction

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I love when the stars align just right on a Wednesday at Michael’s, and I get to chat with a star I’ve always admired. I hit the jackpot today when I spotted Glenn Close in the dining room. Just last week, I’d seen Glenn on Oprah Winfrey‘s Oscar special where she and Michael Douglas did their first joint television interview about Fatal Attraction. “It was great fun,” Glenn, who looked positively radiant, told me. “We’d never done that before and it brought it all back for us.”

I don’t think anyone who saw the iconic thriller (nominated for six Academy Awards, including a best actress nod for Glenn) could ever forget her portrayal of book editor Alex Forrest. While audiences pegged Glenn’s character as a home wrecker and bunny boiler, the actress, after doing tons of research for the part, saw her much differently. “I never thought of her as a villain,” she says. Instead, she viewed the character as an unstable woman driven to madness over an affair gone wrong. Audiences made it the second highest grossing film of 1987, and it became a cautionary tale for men everywhere who thought twice, at least for five minutes, about having that one night stand. “We had no idea we were going to be part of a social phenomenon,” says Glenn, who happened to be lunching with Stanley Jaffe, the film’s producer. “But it was right at the time when there was a lot of feminist anger, and we touched something that was right below the surface.” I’ll say.

I was joined today by Myrna Blyth, who after spending two decades as editor-in-chief of Ladies Home Journal and later launched MORE, is now at the helm of BettyConfidential.com. (Full disclosure: I write a parenting blog for the site). Since launching two years ago, the site, which was co-founded by Deborah Perry Piscione and Shaun Marsh, now ranks seventh in comScore’s top ten in the Beauty/Fashion/Style category and was recently nominated by MIN for editorial excellence for their Best of the Web Awards — competing with Conde Nast and The Daily Beast. “What’s great about being online is that you can talk to women about what they want to talk about when they want to talk about it,” says Myrna. While so many in print are bemoaning the decline of magazines, Myrna doesn’t have time for all the whining: “The web is great. You can’t go backwards and you can’t fight it, so you’ve got to get with it.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today show co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb with Sunny Luciani. The gals ducked out early for their weekly Broadway outing.

2. Michael Fuchs and a blonde mystery gal

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Paula Zahn

4. Jonathan Wald and The Financial TimesChrystia Freeland. I told Jonathan that his Facebook posts on Sunday had reassured me that Cablevision and WABC-TV would, in fact, come to their senses and restore service so that their 3.1 million viewers could watch the Oscars. “It will be settled in time,” he predicted when things didn’t look good later that afternoon, and lo and behold, the show appeared 13 minutes into the telecast. Whew!

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