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Posts Tagged ‘Aryeh Bourkoff’

David Pecker Holds Court; David Zaslav Jumps the Shark

1003_mockup.gifIt’s been a head-spinning summer of celebrity sightings and media maven mashups at 55th and Fifth, but today at Michael’s the mogul quotient was completely off the charts. I knew it was going to be one of those days when Discovery Communications honcho David Zaslav sauntered into the dining room sporting shades and carrying a stuffed shark. Oh, hadn’t you heard? The net’s Shark Week kicks off August 4. Funny enough, David was lunching with William Morris Endeavor’s co-CEO Ari Emanuel. I’ll let you insert your own joke here.

I was sitting squarely in the center of gravity with David Pecker and David Zinczenko and the experience was akin to being a fly on the wall to the lunchtime version of ‘This is your life, David Pecker,” as friends (too many to mention), former colleagues (ditto) and well-wishers (everyone else in the room), stopped by to pay their respects and get some face time with AMI’s chairman and CEO. (“I’m definitely going to call you about that, thanks!”) It was something akin to The Godfather without the tuxes, mumbling and cannolis (David opted for the ‘Michael’s burger and ‘Zinc’ had the Korean tacos).

Zinc (in the interest of clarity, I’ll refer to David Zinczenko by the catchy moniker of his book imprint) has garnered plenty of headlines this year with his highly publicized alliance with AMI, his Random House contract and a new deal with ABC (he’s got his first segment on “20/20″ airing this Friday). David has maintained, by comparison, a somewhat low profile — except for the fact that he was a contender for the top spot at Time Inc. this spring. AMI’s affable chairman (I discovered this man knows everyone — and I mean everyone) has opted to mostly let his game-changing decision of hiring Zinc and the success at the newsstand with his myriad of titles do the talking.

David Pecker, Diane Clehane and David Zinczenko

Fresh off the quarterly AMI board meeting in Connecticut this weekend, there was plenty to dish about over lunch. As you undoubtedly know, AMI publishes, National Enquirer, Star, Globe, OK!, the newly revitalized Men’s Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Fit Pregnancy and Shape and several other titles which reach a combined audience of more than 60 million readers every month.  With the birth of the royal baby and the can’t-make-this-stuff-up New York City mayor’s race, I just had to ask David what his tabloid titles have in store. Plenty, as you might expect, but each title addresses a very different constituency. When it comes to news about the royal baby, the ubiquity of the coverage poses a challenges says David.

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Tory Burch’s Ex Dines With Ron Perelman; Kelly Bensimon Goes Back to School

1003_mockup.gifAs much as we’d like to, we can’t deliver dish from Oscar winners (Shirley MacLaine) and supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Coco Rocha and Karolina Kurkova) every week. After a head-spinning cycle of chats with A-listers, the celebrity quotient at Michael’s was of the low-wattage variety today with reality television refugee Kelly Killoren Bensimon and comedian Robert Wuhl representing the famous (infamous?) contingent. We suspect after the Academy Awards and most schools’ winter breaks are over next week, things will be back to the usual Fellini-esque circus at 55th and Fifth.

I was joined today by SELF vice president and publisher Laura McEwen and the magazine’s director of public relations, Lauren Theodore. It was a fortuitously timed lunch (isn’t it always?), because the newly reinvigorated title is on a roll. Even before our lunch, the colorful cover of the March issue featuring starlet of the moment Julianne Hough caught my eye. It turns out, the issue debuted a new, more “extroverted” all-black logo which seems to capture the forward motion of the Conde Nast title perfectly. Since its launch in 1979, the magazine has been the bible for young fitness-focused women. Now, says Laura, the title has stepped up its mission and embraced a more encompassing philosophy of “Body/Looks/Life.”  ”They are all inseparable today,” explains Laura. “When it first launched, SELF started a movement but now it’s a way of life that has gone mainstream.”

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A Regis & Kathie Lee Reunion, Plus Harold Ford Jr., Carl Bernstein and Star Jones

1003_mockup.gifI love it when Michael’s is firing on all cyclinders. After a nasty bug kept me away from 55th Street last week, it was good to see the dining room jam packed with celebs of all stripes. Everywhere you looked there was a famous face — Kathie Lee Giffordwas first on the scene and did double duty. She had a glass of wine at the bar with Eduardo Verastegui and then joined the party celebrating Charlene Nederlander‘s birthday in the dining room. Between bites, she caught up with her former co-host  Regis Philbin, who was today’s most popular celeb among the high-wattage crowd and was nice enough to pose for a whole lot of pictures.

While waiting for my lunch date, I chatted with my Greenwich neighbor Kathie Lee about her kids (son Cody Gifford is graduating from USC Film School and Cassidy Gifford is graduating from high school). We both agreed that kids today are under more pressure than ever before and are being buried under mountains of homework (my first grader gets an hour’s worth every night). Kathie Lee told me her honor student daughter has passed up numerous opportunities to pursue her love of acting in order to keep her grades up in school.  But Kathie Lee has always made a practice of taking her kids out of school when there was an opportunity to experience something not found in books.  “I think that’s so important for kids. Some of the most important things I learned as a child I learned outside the classroom.  We’re not letting kids be kids.” I couldn’t agree more.

When Kathie Lee went off to join her pals, I watched the dining room fill up with plenty of boldface names, including Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones and late arrival Carl Bernstein. I grabbed Harold before he sat down to lunch to ask him what he thought of the heat the president is getting from his opponents for his secret trip to Afghanistan on the anniversary of the killing of Bin Laden. “I think the race will pivot on the issues of the economy and jobs,” he told me. “But I’m all for defining what the ten year plan with Afghanistan will be. If there’s one thing that both republicans and democrats agree on it’s getting out of Afghanistan. If the media wants to blow up one issue, that should be it.”

Eduardo Verastegui, Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin
Eduardo Verastegui, Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin

I was joined today by Bernard Clair, one of Manhattan’s most sought after divorce lawyers among the one percenters. Bernard grew up on Long Island, attended Adelphi University on an athletic scholarship, and graduated from St. John’s University School of Law. Bernard and his law partner penned what came to be regarded as the definitive book on the legal issues facing couples who decide to live together, Love Pact.  In a bit of fortuitous timing,  Bernard met famed matrimonial attorney Marvin Mitchelson whose claim to fame at that moment was creating ‘palimony’ and found himself handling the Mitchelson’s New York based cases by the ripe old age of 30.   Bernard, who has consistently been named one of the city’s “Best Lawyers” by New York magazine, has handled plenty of headline-making cases, representingCarolyne Roehm, Georgette Mosbacher and Jocelyn Wildenstein (aka The Cat Lady) when their marriages imploded.

There’s been so much talk about celebrity hookups and uncouplings lately that I hardly knew where to start, so I decided to jump in with deconstructing the upcoming Brangelina nuptials. “I’m sure there’s a 500-page pre-nup,” Bernard speculated, ”which makes sense when there’s 1,200 kids in the mix. I have no doubt in the world that the timing for the wedding will depend on when the prenup is executed.” On the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries 72-day publicity stunt wedding, Bernard offered this: “She’s not necessarily upset it’s being held up because of his claim of fraud that he was bamboozled. It’s keeping her name in the papers.” As for the hapless basketballer’s hopes of getting his $2 million ring back, he can forget it. “You never get the engagement ring back.” Oh, well. Better luck next time.

In this 24-7 media age, there are a whole new set of issues when it comes to celebrity divorces, Bernard told me. Namely, the unwanted attention these cases draw to the children of high-powered couples. “Most courtrooms are open to the public. The idea is Jeffersonian, but divorce law was not part of Thomas Jefferson’s ideals. Today, the open courtroom brings kids into the fray, because the media covers every aspect of these cases and that includes kids. Everything is grist for the mill.” Bernard’s suggestion for a legal remedy: “I think we should revisit the idea of closed courtrooms for the most contentious divorce cases.”

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Donald Trump, Star Jones, Wendy Williams, Plus Dish on the New Dark Shadows Movie

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Who knew there was a pre-Easter rush? Michael’s dining room was jam packed today with moguls (Donald Trump!), fashion mavens (Rachel Roy, Fern Mallis) and talking heads (Star Jones, Wendy Williams and Joe Kernen) before the town car set jets off to Florida and other more exotic ports of call for the holiday. We arrived early so as not to miss a minute of the mixing and mingling of the power lunch scene and were glad we did. Trump made quite an entrance with his bodyguard in tow. The last time we spotted anyone with protection stationed inside the restaurant was when Elton John met with some bigwigs at Table One several years back. Life can be so complicated when you have money.

I was joined today by Kathryn Leigh Scott, who starred in one of my favorite television shows of all time, Dark Shadows. If you grew up in the 60′s, then you — or someone you knew – probably ran home after school in time to catch the iconic gothic soap opera which aired on WABC at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Kathryn played Maggie Evans and Josette DuPres who was the ill-fated lady love of Barnabas Collins, one of television’s most famous vampires memorably depicted by Jonathan Frid. She also starred opposite Jonathan in the hit MGM film House of Dark Shadows (soon to be re-released on DVD and BlueRay).

Well, everything old is new again and next month Tim Burton‘s big screen homage to the show, Dark Shadows, starring super fan Johnny Depp hits theaters May 11. Kathryn, Jonathan as well as her former castmates Lara Parker (the original Angelique) and David Selby (Quentin Collins) have cameos in the film. “Lara and I plan to walk the red carpet together at the Los Angeles premiere wearing age-appropriate gowns and have a glass of champagne. This is really something to celebrate,” said Kathryn who has high hopes for the film. “It has all the elements the show had (fantasy, horror, romance and comedy), but it’s their playground with their own spin on things.”

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Diane Clehane
Kathryn Leigh Scott and Diane Clehane

The timing of the film couldn’t be better for Kathryn’s new book, Dark Shadows Return to Collinwood which has just come out to rave reviews. Designed by Cheryl Carrington, the book contains hundreds of rare photos from the show, as well as stunning images from the new film.

Kathryn told me she is “so grateful to Warner Brothers and to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp” for their “huge trust in me.”  The movie studio released the images from the film to her before they’d finished their own trailer or movie poster and did not ask for approval over their usage. The photos of Depp in full Barnabas regalia standing alongside the original cast members is really something to see, and Kathryn’s behind the scenes account of the experience of being in Burton’s film make the book a must-have for fans both old and new.

Over 200 fans turned out last night at Barnes & Noble on 86th Street to meet Kathryn, get their books signed, and talk about the show and the upcoming film.  They also got a surprise gift of posters from the new movie provided by Warner Brothers. “It was wonderful because it was a real mix of people,” she told me. “There were young fans who were excited to learn more about the show, and there were some of the longtime fans who were children when they stood outside the stage door of the show here in New York in the 60s. The legacy of Dark Shadows lives on!”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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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.

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A Party For Kate White and A Madoff Sighting

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It’s the rare Wednesday when I don’t leave Michael’s with a fistful of business cards from some striver or media maven intent on making an impression. That’s why it’s so newsworthy when the exact opposite occurs. Today was the rare occasion when a famous — make that infamous — name did everything he could not to be noticed. Andrew Madoff arrived with a woman named Catherine Hooper (Andrew’s fiancee) and a little girl in tow, having made their reservation online under Catherine’s name just minutes before. The threesome took a seat in the lounge to wait for their table a few minutes before noon with a handful of people who were oblivious to his presence. Andrew did his best to avoid eye contact with the people around him and said nothing while waiting for his table.

I spotted him through the window when I got to the front door and decided I would ask him what he thought of Stephanie Madoff Mack‘s media tour for her book, which happened to coincide with the publication of the book Laurie Sandell wrote with his cooperation and the participation of his mother, Ruth Madoff. Unfortunately, as soon as he realized I knew who he was, he was off like a shot and I’d missed my moment. If you don’t want to be noticed, why come to the media mecca on a Wednesday? Just asking.

Table 1 was the center of the action today where Linda Fairstein was hosting a lunch for good pal Kate White to celebrate the publication of Kate’s latest novel, So Pretty It Hurts, a Bailey Weggins mystery. I was thrilled to be among the table of fun, fearless power gals. The lively group, which included actress Stephanie March, Dr. Holly Phillips, Women’s Health editor Michele Promaulayko,  photographer Peggy Vance (Mrs. Cyrus Vance to you), Hilary Gumbel (wife of Bryant Gumbel) and Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Kelly Thompson, had plenty to talk about.

Before everyone arrived, I caught up with Kate to ask her about her latest Bailey book (it’s her sixth in the series and eighth novel in all in addition to several business books she’s written). So Pretty It Hurts finds crime writer Bailey at the center of the mystery surrounding the death of supermodel Devon Barr. The story kicks off when the beauty is killed during a weekend in the country at a music mogul’s mansion and the house guests become the suspects. The whodunnit  is in the style of those Agatha Christie page turners where everyone is stuck in the house (this time because of a snowstorm) and left to ponder if there is a killer among them. We’re starting it tonight.

Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March. Hilary Gumbel, Dr. Holly Phillips. Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson, Peggy Vance, Diane Clehane
Front row (L-R): Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March. Hilary Gumbel. Back row (L-R): Dr. Holly Phillips. Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson, Peggy Vance, Diane Clehane

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New York Observer Publisher in Hunt for Dodgers

Here’s a tip for all you Dodger ownership bid watchers. If you have not already, set up a Google News alert for “Bill Shaikin.” The LA Times baseball beat reporter remains the go-to source for breaking developments about the Frank McCourt sweepstakes.

Shaikin’s latest scoop, posted online last night, reveals that 31-year-old New York real estate entrepreneur Jared Kushner is among nine groups in the current running to buy the Dodgers. Kushner is the son-in-law of Donald Trump, as well as the owner of a Manhattan newspaper re-invented by former mediabistro.com editorial employee Elizabeth Spiers:

Kushner, who became owner and publisher of the New York Observer in 2006, has played a key role in expanding the family business beyond real estate. At 31, he would be the youngest owner in Major League Baseball.

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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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George Lucas, Jon Meacham and the Usual Suspects

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The media movers and shakers are starting to trickle back into the dining room at Michael’s for another year of power lunches, but the place isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders quite yet. Maybe it’s because the Golden Globes are this weekend (we are so rooting for Downton Abbey to sweep!), but the famous faces and TV titans we’ve become used to seeing were largely absent this week. Luckily, a sighting of Oscar winner and master of the Hollywood universe, George Lucas, more than made up for the dearth of divas. Practically every head in the dining room swiveled in that general direction when he walked to Table One. The force was definitely with him.

I was joined today by Tom Yellin, co-founder and executive producer of The Documentary Group, and Lisa Kovitz, executive vice president and media strategist for consumer marketing at Edelman. Tom, who previously worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings and still consults for the network, has produced a fascinating four-part documentary series, America in Primetime, which aired on PBS late last year and is just out on DVD.

Diane Clehane, Tom Yellin and Lisa Kovitz
Diane Clehane, Tom Yellin and Lisa Kovitz

Each one-hour episode, explained Tom, focused on one character archetype that has remained a prime time staple throughout the decades and has evolved over time. They are ‘The Independent Woman,’ ‘The Man of the House,’ ‘The Misfit’ and ‘The Crusader.’ The idea first came to Tom after he and Jennings had finished the much lauded The Century for ABC, and he became intrigued by the idea of “telling the story of television: the creative process from the perspective of the people who make it.” Tom soon discovered that the problems that arose from trying to produce such a series for ABC and getting the necessary clips from the other networks proved insurmountable.

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Tom Brokaw, Vernon Jordan and the Shy Divorcee

1003_mockup.gifIt was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much).  Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.

I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by.  That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.

Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.

Diane Clehane and Randall Lane
Randall Lane and yours truly

Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about.  Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.

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