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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Ross Sorkin’

Morning Media Newsfeed: Amazon Prime Price Hike | McCarthy to Wonkblog | Drone Covers Harlem

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Amazon Prime Gets Price Bump to $99 A Year (VentureBeat)
Nine years after it launched, Amazon Prime is getting an inevitable price increase. Amazon announced Thursday that Prime will now cost $99 per year in the U.S., a slight bump from the previous $79 a year price. WSJ The Seattle retailer said the 25 percent increase was needed to offset rising delivery and content-acquisition costs. The $99 price takes effect for new members on March 20. Existing Prime members will pay the higher rate when they renew. CNNMoney In February, Amazon said it was considering raising the price to $119 a year. Prime members get two-day shipping on a large number of Amazon items at no extra cost, plus the ability to borrow Kindle books and stream movies and television shows. The company also said that it has increased the benefits of the program, now offering free shipping on 19 million items, up from only 1 million nine years ago. It also introduced its video streaming service in 2011 and recently launched Amazon-produced shows. THR The $99 price point may open the door for a tiered pricing system that would allow people to subscribe to Amazon Instant Video or Kindle’s lending library separately. Amazon does not disclose the number of Prime members, but research from Cowen and Co. estimates that there are about 23 million members in the United States, representing a 37 percent increase year-over-year in January. The research also indicates that 95 percent of Prime members visit Amazon monthly and 85 percent make a purchase.

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Bonnie Fuller, Jill Zarin and Why Jeff Greenfield Skipped This Year’s State of the Union Address

LunchAtMichaelsYou’d never know hell had officially frozen over if you’d been at Michael’s today. The forsythias were in bloom, a few intrepid media mavens were barelegged (I kid you not) and the power-lunch scene was firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, my date was detained in the studio shooting a popular television show, but I soldiered on into Manhattan, bundled up in my long-forgotten fur coat (No judgment, thank you) that makes me look like Yogi Bear’s wife to make my appointed Wednesday rounds. And it’s a good thing I did. At Table One, Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller had assembled a particularly interesting roster of media types (including CNN’s Christine Romans, AOL’s Brian Balthazar , ”Mayor” Joe Armstrong and our own Chris Ariens among them) as well as the requisite reality-show refugee who, in this case, was Jill Zarin. A little birdie told me the former Real Housewives of New York City cast member is getting the Where Are They Now? treatment from none other than Oprah Winfrey for an upcoming episode. The fickle finger of fate has quite the sense of humor.

Lunch at Michaels

Meta moment: Does a power lunch at 55th and Fifth count if no one’s there to see it? I think we know the answer to that one.

Before the overflow crowd sat down to discuss Justin Bieber‘s latest contretemps and why Madonna looked like the love child of the Quaker Oats man and Mae West at the Grammys, I spent some time mingling with the crowd. Bonnie introduced me to her 23-year-old daughter Sofia Fuller who was “helping out” at today’s luncheon since Bonnie is currently without a publicist (but not for long, I suspect). Clever Sofia told me that she is “definitely” interested in a career in media and has her heart set on landing something in e-commerce.

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Joe Kernen, Andrew Ross Sorkin and the Skinny on Jessica Simpson’s New Role at Weight Watchers

LunchAtMichaelsNeither rain nor snow (not yet anyway) or a meltdown on Metro North’s Connecticut line (don’t ask!) can keep us from our appointed rounds on Wednesdays at Michael’s. Who else would tell you which talking heads (Star Jones, Joe Kernen, Andrew Ross Sorkin) were holding court in the dining room while pointing out the random sighting of a former beauty queen and even some titled ladies and lords? (Read on and you’ll find out.) We, not of the town car set, braved a very crowded train from Westchester (Note to fellow passengers: garlic on your breakfast isn’t a good thing!) to bring you all the earth-shattering goings on at 55th and Fifth today so you can eat at your desk while searching for Internet spoilers on Sunday’s series finale of Breaking Bad.

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Andy Amill and Diane Clehane

I was joined today by my intrepid Greenwich neighbor Andy Amill, VP of Media Sales at Weight Watchers. I’ve been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers since my days heading up Danskin’s PR department (just try having to wear spandex to work) and wanted to get the skinny on all the incredible innovations the company has implemented over the past year. Have you seen Jennifer Hudson lately? Exactly. Andy tells me that Jennifer has been “an inspiration” to Weight Watcher members. The dynamic multi-media campaign featuring the brand ambassador which launched in 2010 has helped attract plenty of new members. I am also fascinated by the technology behind the company’s barcode scanner app, which members can download to their smart phones. It lets the user zap the UPC of thousands of products in the supermarket and instantaneously get the Weight Watchers PointsPlus value. What will they think of next?

When I mentioned that the Weight Watchers center where I attend meetings had undergone a pretty dramatic makeover a few months back, Andy explained that many stores have been redesigned in the past few years with a contemporary look and feel. “They’re all uniform so members can find a center anywhere and they all look the same,” he tells me. “It really helps them stay connected.” Read more

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.

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Dan Rather, Steve Kroft and An Encore Appearance by John Legend

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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.”

Jennifer Bristol, Diane Clehane, Judy Twersky
Jennifer Bristol, Diane Clehane and Judy Twersky

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

3. 60 MinutesSteve Kroft and  journo Jackie Leo, engrossed in some important looking papers

4. John Legend (in jeans) and Warner Music Group CEO  Lyor Cohen

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Katie Couric, Star Jones & the Fashion Week Flock

1003_mockup.gifThe media A-list has decided that winter is over (did it ever start?) and came out of hibernation in a major way at Michael’s today. Every square inch of the dining room was occupied by boldface names of every description from social swans (Amy Fine Collins) to talking heads (Star Jones, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jeff Greenfield).  The joint was really jumping by the time Katie Couric arrived for a late lunch and stopped by our table to say hello. Since it’s Fashion Week, we just had to ask her about the killer shoes she was rocking. “I got them at the Manolo Blahnik sample sale,” she told me. “They had way too many shoes in size 6 1/2!” From the ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ department: We couldn’t help but notice that Katie, who was sporting a glowing tan and an LBD accessorized with just the right amount of gold bling, looks better than ever. What’s your secret?

I was joined today by a fascinating trio of women. Psychic medium Char Margolis, her literary agent Corinda Carfora (who just happens to sing backup for Bruce Springsteen – I’m not kidding) and my good friend, psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig, who is the go-to therapist for the Today show and jewelry designer behind Gems en Vogue II, available on shopnbc.com. We got together to celebrate the publication of Char’s new book, Love Karma: Use Your Intuition to Find, Create, and Nurture Love in Your Life (Sterling Ethos). Char’s been busy taping segments on the book for The Doctors, Dr. Phil, Extra and Dr. Oz (whose segment will air during sweeps this month). She’s filming a segment for Dr. Steve tonight and then she’s off to more appearances in Amsterdam, where she had her own prime time television show for a decade, before going to South Africa for book signings and a speaking tour. (She’s also squeezing in a safari in her spare time). Char, who famously told Kelly Ripa she was pregnant during an appearance on Live with Reigs & Kelly, tells me that the most rewarding aspect of  her work is “connecting people with their loved ones in the spirit world” through private readings and small group sessions.  Not surprisingly, she said the hardest thing is working with someone who has lost a child.

Corinda Carfora, Char Margolis, Diane Clehane and Dr. Robi Ludwig
L to R: Corinda Carfora, Char Margolis, Diane Clehane and Dr. Robi Ludwig

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Manhattan’s A-List Turns Out for Harvey Weinstein’s Giants Pep Rally

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I’ve been covering  Wednesday’s at Michael’s for five years and have never seen anything like the head-spinning scene that unfolded there today. Harvey Weinstein and Steve Tisch threw a pep rally to end all pep rallies, and the media A-list all came out to cheer on their favorite team. Peggy Siegal and her minions descended on the place before the crowd rushed in with plenty of New York Giants paraphernalia, transforming the California cool decor into an indoor tailgate party.

By noon, I counted at least a dozen paparazzi staked out at the entrance, and they certainly weren’t disappointed. Drew Nieporent was the first to arrive (“What’s for lunch?”), and in short order the lounge was flooded with famous folks, including Brian Williams, Gayle King, Piers Morgan, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb (wearing newly identical red dresses and looking fabulous), former governor George Pataki, Matt Lauer and various members of the Tisch family.

Katie Couric and Harvey Weinstein
Katie Couric and Harvey Weinstein

Everyone’s mind was on the big game; conventional wisdom says the Giants will be this year’s Super Bowl champs, but it’s going to be a close one.  (All except Jerry Della Femina, who predicts the Patriots will take it 27-24.) “I think it’s going to be a squeaker,” offered Andrew Ross Sorkin. “At least I hope so because it will be a better game.”

Not surprisingly, Giants legend Frank Gifford, who will be watching the game from his home in Greenwich with family and friends, predicts a 30-10 win for his former team. “Eli Manning has really come into his own as a quarterback,” he told me. “But a quarterback is only as good as his team. They’re a great team. If you were playing for the Giants, you’d be a great quarterback.” Doubtful, but we appreciate the sentiment. Brian Williams, who’ll be going to the game, refused to speculate on the final score for fear of tempting the gods. ”You just don’t do that,” he told me.

Diane Clehane and Brian Williams
Diane Clehane and Brian Williams (Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris)

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Roger Ailes, Barry Diller & The Squawk Box Super Heroes

1003_mockup.gifHail! Hail! The Wednesday gang is all here. The lunch scene at Michael’s was firing on all cylinders today as moguls (Barry Diller! Roger Ailes!), high-profile editors (David Zinczenko, Cindi Leive) and a heaping helping of talking heads (Kathie Lee Gifford, Ashleigh Banfield, Joe Kernen, Larry Kudlow and Andrew Ross Sorkin) made for a tasty media stew. There was actually gridlock in the dining room as the famous and fabulous stood in the aisles to intercept friends (and possible future employers?) on their way to their tables.

The biggest crowd was circling around Table One where Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller and Gerry Byrne (who is on parent company Penske Media Corp’s board) were hosting their monthly lunch where they bring together an interesting mix of folk to “cross-pollinate” says Bonnie, who leads the group as they chew over the latest trends in media (particularly in the digital space) and weigh in on how it affects their respective businesses. Gerry was the lone man among a table full of opinionated, highly successful women who weighed in on everything from reality stars — we learned Ashleigh Banfield is more than a little obsessed with the Kardashian sisters — to intellectual property. Designer Heather Thomson told the group that she spent $2.5 million in a lawsuit against lingerie giant Maidenform when she charged them with copying her patented three-panel tank top. She was awarded $6.57 million as settlement. Her takeaway: “Innovation needs to be protected.”

Leading the cheer for all that is digital, Bonnie said, “I’m so happy I crossed over from print” and is hooked by the immediacy of it all. “As a magazine editor, I felt like I was having a one-way conversation so much of the time,” she said of her stints as editor- in-chief at Glamour, Us Weekly and Cosmo. “At Hollywoodlife.com, we are intensely focused on our relationships with women with a need to know about the things they are about right now.”  Bonnie says the site is now getting 4.7 million monthly uniques who come to get their fix on everything concerning Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Justin Bieber and the Kardashian sisters.

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The gang at Table One

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All in the Family with Joe Kernen & A Dark Shadows Star is Reborn

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It was a bustling scene at Michael’s today as the power lunch crowd  crammed in some last minute networking before their late summer vacations. In the mix: talking heads (Joe Kernen, Andrew Ross Sorkin), hot shot editors (David Zinczenko, Joanna Coles), and beauty gurus (Estee Lauder’s John Demsey and Thia Breen at separate tables).

I was joined today by Kathryn Leigh Scott who I met years ago while working on a piece for TV Guide about the ongoing appeal of the ’60s Gothic soap, Dark Shadows. Long before Twilight, Kathryn starred as the doomed lady love of vampire Barnabas Collins. Like its eternal leading man, Dark Shadows just won’t die. Tim Burton, one of the show’s most fervent fans, is currently shooting a big screen version starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas and scheduled for a May 2012 release. Kathryn just returned from London where she shot a cameo role for the film. I was dying to get her take on how Johnny is sinking his fangs into the role, but Kathryn demurred, “I’ve been sworn to secrecy!”

We had plenty to talk about anyway. Kathryn’s  latest novel, Dark Passages (Pomegranate Press) is a love letter to Dark Shadows and is already getting rave reviews. Set in the swinging ’60s, it tells the tale of an actress moonlighting as a Playboy bunny who just happens to be vampire and is determined to make it in New York City without her supernatural powers. While working on the cult hit Dark Passages, she meets her nemesis, a 300-year-old witch. ”Anyone who, as a kid, ran home from school to watch Dark Shadows will love it,” Kathryn told me. (We’re starting it tonight.) On the 17th of this month, she’ll be at Barnes & Noble at 86th and Lexington signing copies. Then, on August 19 through the 21, she’ll join several of the original cast members at the annual Dark Shadows festival at the Brooklyn Marriott.

Kathryn is one author who has always taken that old chestnut ‘write what you know’ to heart.  Having worked as a Playboy bunny herself in the ’60s, she interviewed over 250 former bunnies, including Lauren Hutton and Debbie Harry, for her 1999 release The Bunny Years. The book was recently acquired by Imagine Television for potential use in upcoming episodes of The Playboy Club premiering this fall on NBC. With renewed interest in the subject, Simon & Schuster is releasing an updated edition next month with a new forward written by none other than Hugh Hefner.

While Kathryn is over the moon about The Bunny Years getting a new lease on life, she is livid with one former bunny who worked with her back in the day. None other than Gloria Steinem was part of a class of seven women who trained at The Playboy Club at the same time — but Gloria’s stint was a ruse so she could write a scathing expose on the women and the club. While she didn’t identify any of the women by name, she used stories they’d shared thinking they were talking to a friend. “What kind of feminism is it when you put down the women you work with?” asked Kathryn. “All of us were just as ambitious. She knew I was a scholarship student trying to build a career in acting.” What burns Kathryn the most is that Gloria is still bad mouthing the bunnies. “I’m in warrior mode,” she told me, “because this 46 year-old rant is tiresome.” Ms. Steinem, I think you’ve met your match.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller and Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne, a Penske board member, presiding over their monthly lunch. On the guest list:  Activate’s co-founder and managing director, Michael J. WolfKatherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment; Ritu Trivedi of Mindshare Interactive; Tribeca Enterprise”s Jon Patricof; Estee Lauder group president John Demsey; WWD‘s AmyWicks; J. Walter Thompson CEO Bob Jeffrey; and Penske Media president Aly Racer; and the company’s head of strategy and operations, Will Lee.

2. Marie Claire’s publisher Nancy Cardone and editor Joanna Coles (Loved that Alexander McQueen dress!) with Estee Lauder’s Thia Breen.

3. Discovery ID’s head honcho Henry Schleiff. Henry tells me last night’s premiere of Big Law starring former boxer Eric Esch who returns to his hometown of Jasper, Alabama as ‘Deputy Butterbean’ to exact some big justice was “a knockout.”

4. CNBC’s Squawk Box host Joe Kernen with  his lovely wife and adorable daughter, Blake (co-author of Your Teacher Said What? with her dad). The family stopped in for a quick bite before catching today’s matinee performance of Wicked.

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David Hockney, Lawrence O’Donnell And The Scandal-Scarred Manhattanite

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— DIANE CLEHANE

When I arrived at Michael’s today and found myself engulfed in a sea of suits, I chalked up the relatively quiet dining room to the usual January doldrums. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the reason things seemed a bit quieter than usual was that there were more than a few folks present who preferred to fly a bit under the radar considering what they might be talking about.  (Just a thought: This isn’t the place if you’re looking to have a low-profile lunch). An acquisitive media mogul dining with one of the city’s most respected media columnists?  A scandal plagued Manhattanite dishing with the Times’ financial columnist? The last thing on the minds of these guys was table hopping. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see what they cooked up over lunch.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Artist David Hockney holding court with a table full of ‘suits’

2. Allyn Magrino and pals

3. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy and some pretty preppy looking folks.

4. Uber literary agent Esther Newberg and a bookish bloke we didn’t recognize

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